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. Sharon

    Praise the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 2, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  2. Shayna

    Thanks – now I have a list of companies to avoid.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  3. MDWhite

    Interesting...now how about putting some effort into a list of those companies that support "Gay Pride Parades."

    August 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  4. JC

    Good to know. I have no problem with Christians, but I would prefer spending my money with businesses that don't actively seek to prevent equal rights for all. Works out just fine. They can feel happy that they are abiding by their Christtian values and I can feel happy that I'm abiding by mine by not supporting them.

    August 2, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  5. wisdomVS

    The Chikin folks have always been known as a Christian company (never open on Sundays) so Mr. Cathy's comment was no surprize. He doesn't hate gays but his company does financially support organizations that directly create havoc for them. The church is struggling to survive in this age of technology and growing intellect. Basically, it is dying because it is running out of uneducated morons to fill it's pews. So, when a story like this hits the news they give their battle cry and huddle together and make as much noise as they can. Thus creating a debate so they can use the news media to reach the masses with their messges of control, hatred, and manipulation. I have reached the conclusion that Hell is for believers.

    August 2, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  6. dave

    The news exploits such small problems any more...(interview) Person: So your company is a christain one I hera? CFA: yes Person: do you believe in gay marriage? CFA: no Person: why not? CFA: im christain........they dont bash they just have religious beliefs. But America has got so butt hurt about everything lately. If your gay be gay. If your not, thats fine to.

    August 2, 2012 at 3:05 am |
    • RIGHT ON

      THank you @Dave.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Tai


      August 2, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  7. Tay

    I would love to share this with you and your guest...It's a truth ministry that can help...
    Please click on the link or go to You tube and type in "TGHC Conroe". New messages are posted every week!



    and start at 22:15 for the above youtube

    LOL in Christ

    August 2, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Guedde

      I didn't realize Mr. T was a preacher.

      August 2, 2012 at 8:53 am |
  8. jg

    I think this is fantastic and will boost CNN ratings by watching and visiting the website more if you do. See I have nothing I can stand for because I'm a married white Guy. I don't care what anyone does. But if its not one poor me grooup its another group that is compelled to expose their cases of the rumbaed. Look let people live and let people die but mind your own damn business. I like chick Riley's chicken because the others give me heartburn. But if I am labeled because I like their chicken then lets filter some of the BS out and u labelers go jump in the lake. Labelers and poor me groups which I don't match any of are on my nerves. If I was gay I would still shut the hell up and go about my day rather than showing companies that are chrostain that I am a flaming nut. What do you get out of that. Flamers dudes friends chill the hell out and pass bills in Congress and Leave me alone. What is your agenda anywway do.you want to turn the world gay? If you do your no better than an extremest but if you chill and pass legislation's. Then you have won while not getting in my way.. so leave me and my chicken alone we have not hurt anyone.

    August 2, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  9. James Nelson

    Non-Christians preach about tolerance as long as you agree with them. Where is the tolerance towards Chick-fil-A?

    August 2, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Guedde

      Believers preach/believe in tolerance and turning the other cheek. Where is religion's tolerance of alternative lifestyles.

      August 2, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  10. wilson ihonvbere

    In my opinion, Chic-fil-A has made a very bold and clear statement by unequivocally stating her position on this issue. They should establish more of their fast food companies in every corner where there is a McDonald's or otherwise. I stand by Chic-fil-A and I definitely will continue to do business them.

    August 2, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  11. JJ

    Please expand your list to include "anti-Christian" companies. Can't STAND those pukey non-Christians.-(back at ya!)

    August 2, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • wilson ihonvbere

      I feel your pain. The moral decadence in this our "God's own country" has escalated with the recent approval of gay rights. I just can't understand the rationale of people washing their dirty underwears in the market square. It looks to me that the church is also part of this problem as they for so long kept mute on this issue. They treat this matter lackadaisically for fear of losing the members of their congregation. I am appalled to see this happening to our generation. May God grant us all the wisdom to phantom a better solution in resolving this anomalies.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  12. Caron

    Thanks for letting me know which companies to avoid doing business wiith. Can't stand those pukey christian companies.

    August 1, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • MDWhite

      wow...how open minded and oh-so-morally superior.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  13. MsVar

    I agree with Rob- Texas. I would like to know who these hate groups are and why their considered to be hate groups. Hate is one thing but standing and supporting what u believe in is another.

    August 1, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • ReedBoyer


      There's a start for you. And try Googling "Chick-Fil-A" and "anti-gay hate groups" and see what else pops up.

      August 2, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  14. Rob-Texas

    So be on notice America- GNN has spoken.

    August 1, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  15. laredotx

    I always loved chick-ful-a since I was young. Always have, always will. I thank God there's 1 in downtown Chicago. (More are being build around the subs)

    August 1, 2012 at 11:20 pm |

    Nomatter how you criticise those who incorporate the teaching of the bible in their company operations, God still continue making them prosperous.

    August 1, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
  17. Name*wilson ihonvbere

    In my opinion, Chic fil A should establish more of her companies in every corner where there is a McDonald's. I stand by Chic fil A and I definitely will do business them.

    August 1, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • americano

      "do business with them?" don't you mean stuff your face with fries in their building for ten minutes then leave?

      August 2, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  18. CAWL

    Many of us who have decided to not support Chick Fil A aren't doing so because they are "Christian"...it is because they provide millions of dollars to hate groups. We simply do not want OUR money thrown into that pie.
    How short sited of CNN to not see the difference.
    We aren't anti Christian, we are pro humanity.

    August 1, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • TDW

      Exactly CAWL. When a corporation donates money to hate groups who are trying to deny or want the government to deny civil rights to its citizens, that's when I get angry. A company can be Christian all they want and can put Biblical quotations on their products or packaging. I have no complaints. This country is based upon separation of church and state and some of these organizations, if they had their way, would make this country a western version of some Islamic countries where the religious leaders are the people pulling the strings, not the political people. Some Christians rant and rave about the Islamic countries but want to do the same thing here. As I said, this is a civil issue not a religious issue and corporations need to find better uses for their donations than giving it to hate groups. disclaimer--I am not maligning people of the Islamic faith. Some of my best friends are Muslims. I am pointing out the reality that in some Islamic countries the religious leaders are in the background pulling the strings while the political people are basically puppets mouthing what the religious leaders tell them. Ask some Muslims why they are in THIS country instead of their home country. You might be surprised by some of the answers.

      August 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Divdar

      That's your right not to support companies you don't agree with. I don't support Home Depot for the same reason. They provide millions of dollars to hate groups as well, disguised as Gay and Lesbian organizations. We aren't anti-gay, just pro-humanity.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Rob-Texas

      So who are these hate groups? Do you mean organizations that lobby against gay marriage laws? You sound like this a groups that burn crosses in yards, which it would hardly be the case. Please list these hate groups and how they promote hate. Do you know that many Christans support equal rights for LBGT Americans but do not support G-ay marriage laws?

      August 1, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Lady Jane

      What hate groups are you writing about? It will be interesting to hear aboout them.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Some, like me, are however anti Christian, I already do not use any of the mentioned companies. I dont go out of my way to find out about the religous practices of a company, but IF they push it in my face, even once, then they will never get my money. There is a little mom and pop pizza place next to my apartment, that makes yummy pizza. But the flyer they put on my door has the little jebus fishies on it. I will not eat there any more.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • mickey1313

      exactly, what your detractors seem to forget is that weqal rights means equal for all. It a company was to come out and say they did not suport interracial marage, the nation, and the government would throw a fit. So what is the difference. why should anyone who is not a brainwashed theorcrat, want to say the two people who love eachother can not marry. For that matter, why polyamourous love illeagal.

      August 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
    • MDWhite

      "Pro-humanity..."? And how are things up there on the moral high ground? Like most libs, hypocrites like you will support anyone else's opinion...so long as it's the one you hold.

      As for "Hate groups..."? Please name one and while you're at it...name one incident where Chick-Fil-A has discriminated against, refused to serve or hire or otherwise ill-treated a gay person. Ball's in your court, sunshine. Put up or shut up.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Matthew

      CAWL, what about if someone is against Incest or Polygamy? Does that make them a hate group? Can someone marry an animal if that makes them happy? Where does this slippery slope end?

      August 2, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  19. sog1

    God bless America

    August 1, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  20. POed Amircan

    Sorry about the grammar dans Siri

    August 1, 2012 at 9:54 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.