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9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)
July 24th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

As the controversy over Chick-fil-A’s founder publicly opposing same-sex marriage continues - Mike Huckabee is pushing for a Chick-fil-A day, while the Jim Henson Co. is cutting ties to the chain - we’re republishing our list of 10 other religious companies.

Our initial list was provoked by an earlier Chick-fil-A/same-sex marriage controversy. Is our list missing any names? Tweet us at @CNNBelief to let us know.

Here are 10 well-known companies that don't make religious products - we're not talking kosher foods manufacturer Manischewitz here - but that nonetheless take their religious sides seriously (listed in no particular order).

1. Forever 21. The young women’s clothing company may be best known for its skimpier and saucier offerings, but it also exudes subtle piety. The words John 3:16 – a citation of a biblical verse popular among evangelical Christians - appears at the bottom of its stores' shopping bags. A spokeswoman for the company told The New York Sun that the message is a "demonstration of the owners' faith."

2. Tom’s of Maine. After launching the natural home products company in 1970 with his wife Kate, CEO Tom Chappell nearly left it to pursue full-time Christian ministry. While receiving a master's at Harvard Divinity School, however, a professor advised him to just treat his business as ministry. “He began bringing in different spiritual leaders to talk to the board about how they could use spiritual principles to run the company,” says the Tyson Center's Neal. Beyond environmentalism, the company seeks to "create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope."

3. Tyson Foods, Inc. The world's largest chicken company employs a team of chaplains who minister to employees at production facilities and corporate offices. Other corporations contract out such services, but it’s rare for a company to keep chaplains on the payroll.

"The chaplains provide compassionate pastoral care and ministry to team members and their families," according to Tyson's website, "regardless of their religious or spiritual affiliation or beliefs."

Tyson recently gave money to launch the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas, one of the first academic centers of its kind.

4. Hobby Lobby. The privately held chain of more than 450 arts and crafts stories isn't shy about its Christian orientation. "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles," reads the company's mission statement. "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured."

The company supports a slate of Christian interests, from Oral Roberts University to the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, and is known for taking out overtly religious newspaper ads around the holidays.

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5. ServiceMaster. Never heard of this corporation? Perhaps some of the residential services companies it owns, like Terminix and American Home Shield, will ring a bell.

The company was founded in 1929 by Marion E. Wade, who "had a strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did," according to ServiceMaster's website. "Translating this into the marketplace, he viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God's image - worthy of dignity and respect."

The company, formerly public but recently taken over by a private equity firm, still consciously tries to "do the right thing in the way that employees treat customers," says Theodore Malloch, who leads Yale University's Spiritual Capital Initiative. "It's a theological statement about servant leadership - think of the picture of Christ washing the feet of his disciples."

6. Herman Miller. The Michigan-based furniture manufacturer's founders were steeped in the Reformed Protestant tradition. "It retains a lot of that in practices that revolve around a notion of respecting the dignity of the human person and a strong environmental ethic that grew out of the religious responsibility," says Yale's Malloch. Indeed, Herman Miller - perhaps most famous for its Aeron chair - prides itself on environmental philanthropy and on regularly appearing on Fortune's annual list of best companies to work for.

7. Interstate Batteries. The car battery giant has a "self-avowed religious identity and is very open in their God talk" in internal training and communication, says Lake Lambert III, author of Spirituality, Inc. Former company president Norm Miller moved to the role of chairman to allow more time to address Christian audiences. Miller talks to those "interested in how he found the truth of Christianity," the company's website says, "and how he learned to effectively apply biblical principles to create a more successful business." Interstate employs its own chaplain.

8. In-N-Out Burger. Chick-fil-A is hardly the only fast-food outfit to make its founders' religious leanings part of its recipe. Western U.S. burger chain In-N-Out has printed citations of Bible passages on cups, wrappers and other pieces of packaging since at least the late 1980s. For instance, "John 3:16" appears on the bottom of soft drink cups, a reference to the Bible passage, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Read more on In-N-Out's religious side at Eatocracy, CNN's food blog.

9. Walmart. Treat this one as an honorable mention. Lambert says the Walton family, which founded the company and still own a major stake in it, has used Christian servant leadership models in building the world's largest retailer. And the company's Arkansas roots helped sensitize it to the shopping habits of churchgoers. It helps explain why Walmart long carries the kind of Christian books that were once the exclusive province of Christian bookstores. "You don’t find those kinds of things in J.C. Penney," Lambert says. But Walmart has been so successful with such material that it's now become a business threat to Christian booksellers.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey is a Buddhist. Whole Foods Global Public Relations Director Kate Lowery says that Mackey has never been a Buddhist. “John does not fit into any traditional religious category,” she said in an e-mail message.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Missionaries

soundoff (2,481 Responses)
  1. Hindu

    They have already managed to kick God out from public sphere. Now the war has shifted to next level - bully private citizens to kick God out of their private lives.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • JoeV27

      Yes...to all that...again

      August 1, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • spike

      About time. Not a minute too soon.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • kayaker247

      if by "bully" you mean, finance groups to aid and restrict the human rights of gay people", then yes. let the bullying continue.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • The Dude

      Only if we do not want him (or it). You believe what you want, I choose to be a free thinker that does not need fairy tales to make me do the right things. I do the right things because I choose to, not because of religion. I use my hands to help, build, support, praying is a waste of time and gets nothing accomplished. But I respect your beliefs, you just do not respect ours

      August 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Hindu

      @kayaker247 - you the rights and freedom to finance the groups that support gay rights. and you have right to eat chicken at a business where they donate to groups that support LGBT views. What you cannot do is use political power and official govt position to bully and discriminate against those whose views do not agree with yours. If that is the version of democracy you believe in then the day is not far when this nation will plunge into a thousand civil wars.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • JoeV27

      kayaker247...read it again! It CLEARLY says, "PRIVATE citizens to kick God out of their PRIVATE lives". Where did you get, "finance groups" from???

      August 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Robert Rogers

      So many comments out of context and with so liitle meaning.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • JoeV27

      The Dude...how is calling our belief, "fairy tales" respectful. Also, a TRUE free thinker would never call themselves a free thinker you would be just thinking freely. The difference in respect levels are evident, anyone that doesn't believe in God in the media is furiously vocal and demonstrative against us and the 98% of the true quiet believers don't care that you don't believe.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  2. joesmith

    now certainly we must have some very fine corporations whose Jewish traditions are promoted..could CNN locate any..what about our Muslim brothers/sisters..certainly must be some..and of course the Jehovah Witnesses, are you sure you have really investigated CNN..seems like you can only find 10 companies, out of the thousands that make up the backbone of America that are faith based..shame on you..

    August 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • JoeV27

      As always joesmith, going after those that will not retaliate with violence.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  3. kimberly

    the fact they are christian run and owned makes no nevermind to me. What does though is them coming out and supporting anti-gay causes. I dont care WHO they worship! Please dont make this against Christians, because all Christians are not hate mongers like the ceo of chick fil a

    August 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  4. Hindu

    @Mr Gilgoff – it is shocking that you are using CNN belief blog as your bully pulpit to publish a "hit list" of companies whose owners practice Christian faith. Are you trying to bully Christians into agreeing with your views and give up their faith? Why cant you respect and tolerate the views of those who disagree with you? Isn't that the very basis of vibrant democracy – otherwise we would have a thousand civil wars. Is that what you are trying to provoke? May we know what your beliefs and views are? So that we know what is your agenda behind such articles on CNN.com Belief blog.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • JoeV27

      Yes...to all that.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Ron

      I don't give a dang which fairy anyone choses to worship, but the issue is when or if they impose those beliefs on others either through discriminating hiring practices, supporting political positions, etc. Have whatever belief you want, company founders, but as patrons just realize you may influence some people's choices of where they spend their hard-earned cash when you flaunt your narrow views. Aren't Christians suppose to be non-judgmental? I don't get it!

      August 1, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  5. Not Keen On Established Religion

    I think the point is not that the companies are of any particular faith, but of it's actions. There are a lot of good people/companies of different religions that support their religion but don't try to subjugate others into their point of view. They say their piece and allow one to make a choice to follow or not. They tend to help those that can't help themselves. These are the companies and people I tend to support. When someone puts me down just because I am not willing to follow their ideas and/or way of life, I quickly run the other way. They are not the ones to judge me God is. And if his/her judgement is against me, that is my problem; not anyone else.

    August 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Hindu

      Mr Cathy only expressed his personal beliefs when ASKED. He honestly answered professing his personal belief in "traditional" marriage. He was not trying to bully anyone into accepting his belief. He did not even say anything against gay marriage. On the other hand, many city mayors and the media are trying to bully owners of Chik-FIl-A and other companies to renounce their faith. That is a shame!

      August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  6. Margaret

    Interesting, most of these places have low wages and minimal benefits. Prayer is free.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • roannao

      The heirs to Walmart, six in all, now have more money than 40% of the entire U.S. population. Many Walmart workers are on food stamps. How is that religious, moral, or ethical? We are subsidizing Walmart by making up for a lack of a living wage through food stamps and Medicaid so that these six billionaires can increase their billions upon billions of dollars advantage to over half of the population. There is NOTHING about this that anyone who follow the Bible can claim is generous in spirit, helpful to families, or just plain right. If you want more traditional families, pay a living wage so marriages and families can survive. Shameful what Walmart has done to America. Shame on the people who shop there to save a few pennies.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Stan

      Even more interesting, your opinion and potential bias is based on wages and benefits. Casting stones in glass houses are we?!

      August 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Not Keen On Established Religion

      I don't shop a wallyworld because I can't save money there. Over the past two years, I compared the prices of certain items and every time the prices has increased. People keep thinking they are saving money but they are not. When you can go a smaller chain store and purchase things cheaper (not even on sale), tells the true story. Wallyworld has most people brainwashed into thinking they are the cheapest priced store. Actually, they are just the cheap store.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  7. jo

    How about all those "religious" New Agers and their healthy foods products – why discriminate in your list CNN???

    August 1, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  8. Wendy

    Really? Tyson Chicken? How can Tyson claim to be a Christian when you consistantly mistreat animals. WWJD? He wouldn't eat Tyson chicken! Shame on Tyson for being such hypocrites! Disgusting!

    August 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Lisa

      Employing chaplains does not make a company religious nor Christian. And, just because Sam and Helen Walton were good Presbyterians doesn't mean that their company is religious or Christian. Ironically, a friend of mine served as a chaplain for Tyson after she retired from ministry – she was the associate pastor at the church where Sam and Helen Walton were members.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • nina gardley

      Don't forget Jesus did eat fish...and cooked it for his disciples!!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Ron

      Agree....Tyson chicken is crap and loaded with hormones and antibiotics. Not to mention their abhorent practices. Enjoy!

      August 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  9. Bryan

    Once again CNN gets it wrong... the issue is not over Chick-fil-A's Christian orthodoxy... it's about who they donate money to and the fact that they do so to organizations whose sole purpose is to undermine the standing of the LGBT community in society. Other companies that would be more appropriate to compare to Chick-fil-A would be Exxon/MObil and Urban Outfitters.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Henri

      Bryan, Thank you! I do not want my hard earned money being spent on companies that would use it to take my rights away. That is the main issue, not that someone is Christian. Gays can and do believe in God.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Kat

      THank you, yes! I have refused to eat at Chik-fil-a for years because I know to whom they donate money. Believing in what ever you want has no effect on me as a consumer, but the minute part of the money I am paying goes to a hate organization, that is when I am out. I refuse to fund hate organizations by giving companies more money to donate to them. Believe what ever you wish, but I will not pay for it.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  10. trumod

    One would think Tyson would demonstrate its "Christian piety" by improving plant conditions and paying its employees a decent wage.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  11. shadowdiver

    What does faith have to do with bigotry. Oh yeah, all the so-called chrisitan are bigots. They believe that Jesus preached hate.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Niccole

      You ,obviously, have no idea what Christianity is. So please stop talking down something you have no clue about.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • MarineVet

      "Jesus preached hate," eh? No, but many so-called Christians practice it. Usually the low-intellect ones like yourself, ShallowDiver.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  12. rbud

    I didn't get the connection between Chick-Fil-A and.these other companies. Are you saying that any religiously valued or founded company is automatically an anti-gay hate-monger? If so, it's a terrible, ignorant assumption.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Ray

      Chick-fil-a ,as far as I know has not denied service or employment to anyone,straight or gay. Seems like the major " crime "here is that the owner doesn't agree with the gay lifestyle. Is he not entiltled to his own opinion?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Jen

      @Ray it has nothing to do with the fact the guy doesnt believe in it. Its that he spends millions trying to deny people their rights. gays pay taxes and all the other things that non gay citizens do. They should have the option to marry if they want. Marriage to me is about religion but to many is not. Atheist get married everyday bc they see it as a union...not that they must to live in a godly manner!

      August 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Ray

      Jen, So if a company spends alot of money supporting gay marriage rights,all the people who don't believe in it should shun them ? We are going to destroy ourselves from within if this becomes our solution to everything.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Ron

      @Ray: The fact that you refer to being gay as a "lifestyle" seems to infer that you think it's a choice. That alone shows your ignorance. Have you ever considered that it may be a hormonal difference that drives this so-called "choice"? Do some research, it might expand your mind.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Ray

      Ron- Sorry, I responded but screwed up the post. Follow down to 4:52pm oer so if you want to continue

      August 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  13. Wade

    Yes, tweet any missing from this list so CNN can further enable their boycott.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  14. SSampson

    john 3:16 – yup – more proof that religion has to do with the fear of death.....

    When you die – you die..... even if you do beleive in a mythicl being....

    the only one I miss is In'N'Out Burger – I can't go to places that print rubbish quotes on their stuff.... Of course I just don't go to Wal-Mart – not just becuase they censor what can be read on the premisis... while employees are on break – but because they are one of the greatest reasons why our manufacturing sector is shot..... SURE they hire people – but they hire FEWER people than small shops would.... and remember.... we STILL will buy stuff....retail jobs are diminished by these stores – and all support jobs also....

    Shopping at Wal-Mart is like driving a stake into the heart of our country..... Shopping, investing and supporting wal-mart is everyones right....but you just made your neighbor unemployed –

    (can you tell how much I like that – ahem – store?)

    August 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • JoeV27

      Why do liberals always want to use derogatory terms for God "mythicl being'? As a Roman Catholic I realize that not everybody believes in God and as a religion we have some very very serious shortcomings, but what is the reasoning for being so bitterly infuriated with the very concept that someone could possible believe in God. I don't consider myself a bible basher...or any other kind of basher for that matter, so why bash the beliefs at such a continuous rhythmic rate? Why is it not enough for you to not believe quietly the way I choice to believe quietly (I'm obviously not one of these wackjobs screaming that if you don't believe your going to HELL lol)...meaning I never force my ideals on anyone, and I'm not now. Why did Larry David peeing on a picture of Jesus knowing it would be offensive to a particular peaceful population? Why does a NY artist choice to take a picture of the last supper and dress all the people in leather and S&M attire? As 98% of the people in my religion are not the people you make fun of, but when you do it hurts quiet peaceful people like me...one of the 98%

      August 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  15. dowdotica

    thats fine and dandy but i'm a randy dandy with a lilt in my voice and wiggle in my jiggle. i like wearing my pants tight and talking with a lispe. i have to degrees in business and am a licensed manicurist and hair stylist. i go to church 2 times a week because i am a devoted christian. CAN I WORK FOR YOUR COMPANY?

    August 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  16. jimdog33

    Wasn't this article called something like, "9 Other Faithy Companies"? Guess they edited it?

    August 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  17. cannoli4me

    CNN, are you trying to generate a "hate list"?? I believe that Hitler's people did that with the Jewish business in pre-Nazi era. Why does personal religious beliefs have to do with a company? Is Chick Filet discriminating any of their customers? CNN is better that this. Go back to your proud tradition of fair reporting and stop this bias, hate promoting reporting. Your standards have truly hit bottom with this "list" of faith based business. I'm sure employees of Chick Filet and others that you mention have their own beliefs and values, but want to retain their jobs....... Shame on you!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • PDirt

      Your comparison is spot on. This is the face of fascism today. It is open season on Christians and CNN is just one more useful idiot leading the charge towards total fascist intolerance and complete erosion of our rights.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • shadowdiver

      You don;t like it go kick rocks. You little bigots and your false god are sickening.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • joe blow

      Maybe that's why CNN's ratings are going down faster than Barney Frank's pants in a steam bath.

      August 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • jo

      How about all those "religious" new agers and their healthy foods products – why discriminate in your list CNN?

      August 1, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Ron

      Why the resentment over religion? That's pretty easy. Mankind has moved forward with science. Plus, a person can be spiritual without the orthodoxy of structured religion. Why not have the same reverance for nature and our planet/environment? Instead many so-called Christians are quite happy to deplete our natural resources, breed endlessly, and screw with our environment (thus health). Denying global warming is one prime example held by extremists who seem to lean toward the religious right with respect to political ideology. In fact those same "Christians" are happy to deny people healthcare! Or, they are dead set against abortion, yet don't want to pay for unwanted children. If I'm wrong; I accept that. The world is not flat, we have progressed since the Dark Ages. Religious people seems stuck. I can treat my fellow man with compassion without belonging to any religion and it doesn't make me any better or worse than Joe Blow who goes to church every Sunday yet screws his neighbor. I was raised Catholic; I got an education and got away. Enough said.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  18. c

    All these tax dodging; slave wage gazillionaire's- the real christians. Yeah right. Bunch of hypocrits.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  19. PAUL

    CNN fueling hate, and causing more problems in our society

    August 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • roannao

      Why would this fuel hate? I am a non-believer, and I would not not shop somewhere because of their principles...unless, they choose to use their money to deny people rights based on their religious beliefs. I will not contribute to bigotry. This list is not an attack. It is just an interesting angle about a particular kind of business model. The fact that you want religion to operate in secret is the exact reason why I avoid religious individuals such as yourself.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  20. Bribarian

    I guess CNN trying to help these businesses out by crying.

    August 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Name*Fryingpan2005

      Criminal... There is not even more gays then drug addicts and alcoholics....less then 9%.. Yet they want to be like indangered animals... And make the other 91% of us bend over backwards to support the sodomite life style.... And CNN communist news network loves the controversy makes them millions........ill watch Fox news its more American value type brainwashing...entrtainment/news

      August 1, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • mikeM

      Name*Fryingpan2005: almost right: They want the other 91% to bend forward.

      August 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.