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

    I would rather die Believing there is a JESUS CHRIST when maybe there really isnt, Than to die believing there isnt when there really is!..........................Father 4give them for THEY know NOT what they have done.................God have MERCY on you ALL!

    August 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • Brad Ashtari

      Oh so it's like lottery. You don't win if you don't play. You sure showed me...

      August 2, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I would rather die Believing there is a JESUS CHRIST when maybe there really isnt, Than to die believing there isnt when there really is!..........................Father 4give them for THEY know NOT what they have done.................God have MERCY on you ALL!"

      Pascal's Wager fail.

      Pascal's Wager:
      In effect, Pascal's wager states that while we can't know with absolute certainty whether the christian god exists, a rational evaluation should lead to a belief. If having to choose between believing (in the christian god), or not believing, the reward for being correct, and the price for being wrong, tips the balance in favor of believing.

      It says, if you believe and are correct, you will gain heaven, while the price for being wrong is nothing. On the other hand, if you don't believe, it says you will gain nothing for being right, yet lose everything if you are wrong. So, belief results in a win/neutral, and non-belief in a neutral/lose position, tipping the balance clearly in favor of the "belief" position.

      Why Pascal's Wager is a fallacy:
      a) Pascal's Wager assumes that there are only two options.
      b) Pascal's Wager assumes the christian god doesn't care whether someone actually believes, or simply goes through the motions.
      c) Pascal's Wager discounts the price paid for belief before death.
      d) Pascal's Wager vastly overestimates the odds for the reward and the risk of punishment.

      Positing only two options is ridiculous. There are, of course, thousands of possibilities when it comes to gods. Based on the evidence available for these gods, it is not reasonable to assume one is more likely than any of the others. To increase the odds of a positive outcome of this wager, the believer would have to believe in, and worship, every possible god. Including the ones that haven't been invented yet. Aside from the drain on the available time, it presents the problem that quite a few of these gods are pretty selfish. They frown upon believers believing in other gods. In some religions that is enough to not be eligible for the reward (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      Also, just going through the motions and pretending to believe may fool your community, but it can't fool an all-knowing god. It is very unlikely that anyone would gain the ultimate reward for simply faking belief (making the belief position a lose/neutral one).

      The price paid for the belief position isn't nothing. It involves going through the rituals, day after day, week after week. It may have severe side effects on physical and mental health. Sex life suffers, too.

      In estimating whether the cost of any given action is worth it, an evaluation of risk versus reward is in order.

      Risk is (simplistically) the chance that a negative event occurs, multiplied by the cost of that event. As an example, being hit by a meteorite carries a very high cost (probably death), but since the odds are extremely low, the risk associated with it is low. Similarly, the chance of getting rained on is pretty high, but the cost is very low, representing also a low risk. On the other hand the cost and chances of, and therefore the risk associated with, a traffic accident are high.

      The choice whether to mitigate a risk depends on, among other things, the severity of the risk, the cost of the mitigation and the tolerance of that risk. In the above examples, the cost to mitigate each risk are; exorbitant, low and high, respectively. Methods to reduce or eliminate the risk of meteorite impacts are cost prohibitive and far exceed the risk. An umbrella and a check of the weather forecast effectively mitigate the risk of getting rained on, and is easily worth the cost. Car crashes, and their after-effects are mitigated to various degrees by expensive technology (from street surface technology to driver training, airbags and traction control). People bear those costs to their financial ability and tolerance for the risk.

      A similar reasoning applies to reward. The choice whether to pursue a reward is guided by the perception value of the reward, the perception of the odds of gaining the reward and the cost to pursue it.

      In the belief versus non-belief question, believers tend to irrationally overestimate both the reward for belief, and the risk associated with non-belief.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  2. California

    The pro-gay's can not dictate to everyone how to think or control their 1st amendment rights.

    August 2, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "The pro-gay's can not dictate to everyone how to think or control their 1st amendment rights."
      You are free to believe whatever nonsense you want. It's a free country and stupidity isn't illegal. You have the absolute right to hold whatever bullshit beliefs you want. You don't have the right not to have those beliefs questioned, even less to have those beliefs forced on anyone else.

      You are free to live your life according to your fairy tale. It's your life, have at it. I don't have any issues with the bigots expressing their "ideas" until they try to legislate that nonsense into law.

      So how about you keep your religious bullshit within your religion, without trying to poison our secular society with them.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  3. Chris

    Good, I know what other American Taliban companies to boycott. I hope all the Christians/American Taliban members have a heartattack on their Chik-Fil-A grease patty sandwitch.

    August 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  4. Mike

    Now I can't even get a chicken sandwich without being embroiled in some religious debate.

    August 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  5. DJensen

    Dobie, Nicki, and all the rest – doesn't matter who you are, one day – EVERY knee will bow.

    August 2, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • B

      So your god makes you bow to him? Sounds more like a tyrant than a god.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Jonathan Delafield

      DJensen, You're speaking with a lot of certainty there, aren't you?

      Won't you be surprised when you die and find there's nothing there? No, wait, you'll just be dead and will have wasted all that time bending your knees.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • voyager746

      Amen to that DJensen. And CNN Thanks – now I know where to spend the money God blessed me with so that it can go back into His kingdom.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sharon


      August 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Sharon

      B and Jonathon Delafield................Or it could back fire and go the other way..........Think about it!

      August 2, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Brad Ashtari

      Your "paradise" sounds an awful lot like North Korea. No thanks.

      August 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • on judgement day

      look for brad ashtari it will be one of the ones with the oh sh it look on its face

      August 2, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Jonathan Delafield

      So Sharon, I guess we have to worry about Zeus and Thor too? Gotta cover all bases, right? Make sure none of those possible gods get mad?

      What makes you sure that you picked the right one? Maybe it's Allah and you screwed up?

      August 3, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  6. Omar

    The argument isn't with the owner for Chick-fil-A, it's with God. God said that man laying with mankind as he does with woman-kind is an abominiation (Leviticus 20:13), not the owner of Chick-fil-A. Your beef is with God. When you stand in judgment what you need to say to the very God who is judging you is "but God, you were wrong on this one". Let me know how that goes for you.

    August 2, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • D


      There ain't no god. So why are you quoting from a poorly written collection of human folk tales to justify your pronouncements on morality?

      August 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  7. Nicki

    I can't even believe people are getting so bent out of shape out of all this...LOL. THIS IS AMERICA. Period.

    August 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  8. lonecroat

    Most of the forefather were slave owners also. Being a beleiver in god would only interupt the cush lifestyle they were living.

    August 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  9. Dobie

    This country was founded on freedom 'from' religion not freedom of religion. Most of the founding fathers were athiest .

    August 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Devi Hunter

      I am sorry, but freedom of / from religion means freedom from having the government form a religion and making you follow it. Kind of like worshipping at the alter of big government, which the lib's love.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • lulu

      Also it was not founded by an atheist, please learn your history.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • David

      Actually many of the founding fathers were not Christian and spoke out against Christianity. Google it. There are some pretty harsh letters written by the likes of Ben Franklin, John Adams, and even Thomas Jefferson himself. I'm a Christian but I also have a minor in history, and the truth is the truth.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Charles

      True. It's founded on freedom from the state's religion. This is to allow individuals and groups of individuals to be free to exercise their religion. That includes religions whom command their adherents to virtues outside of the four walls of their meeting places. I'd even argue those who seek to impose moral judgments, constructions of fairness and invocation of justice are doing little more than imposing a state religion called secularism.

      BTW: Natural law political theory, English common law, all of western tradition of course are heavily influenced by Christianity. So much of what we see as secular is a deposit from our Christian forebears. Perhaps if they were able to build all this, their inspiration for doing so should be carefully studied, not ridiculed to pursue our own selfish sinful ways.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  10. Henry Ring

    Why is CNN stirring the pot on these non-issues? Why are they pushing an anti-religious, secular agenda?

    August 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  11. Glenda Harms


    August 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • midwest rail

      1, Break your caps lock key.
      2. Break your exclamation point key.
      3. Breathe deeply
      4. Try again.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Janet


      The Biblical condemnation of homosexuality is based on human ignorance, suspicion of those who are different, and an overwhelming concern for ensuring the survival of the people. Since the Bible regards homosexuality as a capital crime, it clearly assumes that homosexuality is a matter of free choice, a deliberate rebellion against God. We have learned from modern science that people do not choose to be gay or straight; hence it is neither logical nor moral to condemn those whose nature it is to be gay or lesbian.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Chic-A-Hate

      Glenda Harms you might want to lay off the coffee or jesus Juice Energy drinks. Please explain how people protesting is taking away someone elses right. Now I want you to really focus and think about this....remmeber FOCUS

      August 2, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • Jonathan Delafield

      Glenda, your outburst is offensive.

      Well, I'm just as proud to be an atheist. You think you christians have some corner on being moral?

      "Living off our hard earned freedoms" ??! I fought for those hard earned freedoms and they didn't have anything to do with your christianity.

      You talk about 1st amendment freedom of speech and then whine when we speek publicly about issues that counter your rigid beliefs?

      Don't worry about my soul. It doesn't exist, just like yours.

      August 2, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • chick-fil-a-hate

      Morally correct is to hate anyone? To exclude people who do not share your beliefs? Who is delusional?
      Acceptance is moral, not hate.
      Grow up Glenda.

      I find it sad that the people preaching morals and tolerance are the most hateful and intolerant people in the world.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Chic-A-Hate

      Glenda is the classic example of hateful Christians with blinders on who think they have the moral high ground which to cast judgement.

      August 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Doodlebug2222

      But who is to say what is morally correct? A man that is condeming you – on one hand, while taking your $$ to put in their bank account on the other? < this is where I find issue.

      August 2, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  12. gb

    Is it not the lgbt doing the attacking? As far as I can tell most folks are going about their business when the lbgt decides it's time to point fingers, boycott and name call. lgbters don't seem to have any problem driving cars with gas in them bought from middle east religious folk who are very much not lgbt tolerant. Why not try walking to denounce lgbt rights in the middle east. Hypocritical?

    August 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Possibly the most disingenuous and illogical post ever – and that's saying something, on these threads.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  13. J

    Heaven forbid some privately started companies hold on to their own values.

    August 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  14. AG

    I somewhat agree with the previous statement that the Old Testament is out, very true in a way. The issue, however, is that it is stated several times in the NEW Testament (Romans 1: 18-32) The Old Testament was a time when people had to sacrifice to be forgiven. When Jesus died on the cross, he became the ultimate sacrifice making the killing of animals and sheep and whatever unnecessary. The Old Testament is a group of History books. Things that we can learn from. Accounts of the way life used to be, so that we can be grateful for the now.
    Now, having said that, I am in no way implying that I am faultless or sinless. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Immediately after Romans 1: 32, the verse reads, "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." I do not pass judgment on anyone who believes differently than I do, but I don't agree with being told it is hateful to share the truth. All we are called to do is plant the seed and love unconditionally, it isn't up to us to decide who goes to Hell. If one chooses to be a believer, one spends their entire life working on their own life, learning, and sharing. Just because some use " The Word" for their own benefit shouldn't be a reason to throw it out all together.

    August 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Omar

      fyi – there is nio physical hell. You must mean the death by everlasting fire. meaning the punishment is everlasting, not the fire.

      August 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  15. Rae Ann Pointer

    Thanks for the list. My car needs a new battery. I will give Interstate a try this time.

    August 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  16. ahk

    Thanks for the list. I will definitely patronize these traditional franchises. It is okay to have a difference of opinion on all issues. America is suppose to be a freedom of speech and religious nation. Or have we forgotten about that? How was this country built and why?

    August 2, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • midwest rail

      No one's 1st Amendment rights have been violated. There is no war on religion. This was a charade shrewdly exploited by a businessman who made millions from it. Next.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Scott M

      People actively speaking out against Chick-Fil-A, like myself, aren't doing it simply because they're religious. They've always been religious, closing on Sundays made that pretty obvious and I still loved their food. The issue comes to light in their public statements about inequality and hate speech against a specific group of people, as well as the millions of dollars in donations to actively block equal rights to those people. It has nothing to do with "free speech" but the practice of going beyond speech and actively trying to force legislation on the rest of the country, whether they share those beliefs or not. All 7 of these companies can be religious as they want and I have nothing against them. It's not about that at all.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • gailb59

      We are not a Christian country. We are a capitalistic country, who allows its citizens to participate in some form of religious ritual on the weekends, after a week of storing treasures on earth.

      August 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  17. Dayo Adewoye

    Reblogged this on The Christian Mind and commented:
    Do you still think christianity and work does not mix? The companies below don't think so.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  18. Manda

    No more Hobby Lobby for me. I am fine with the owners of a company having personal beliefs of many forms, but I am not comfortable knowing that the money I pay to Hobby Lobby then goes to Oral Roberts "university".

    August 2, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • laura

      That's fine Manda. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

      August 2, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Jonathan Delafield

      Laura, I doubt it. Maybe it's Allah who's the big dog? He's gonna come over and put a big jihad on both of your behinds.

      August 3, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  19. Michael

    This one goes out to all you fundamentalist Christians out there. Selah! I may be too narrow addressing this to just the fundamentalists. Many traditional Christians also fit the bill. Really, it’s anyone who believes that homosexuality is a sin, and that somehow God, infinite and eternal creator and sustainer of the very Universe, is ‘against’ a tiny human behavior that harms no one. So, in other words, uneducated and ridiculous people everywhere.

    Officially, the majority of Christian churches say that homosexual behavior is a sin, thus proving that the theologians behind those churches don’t understand their own Bible. There are a whole bunch of goofball laws written down in the Old Testament that everyone ignores. Why is being bigoted toward homosexuals the one people latch onto?

    The various Christian brands go through the Old Testament, picking and choosing the parts they consider cool. No one accepts the whole thing. No one. I mean, when was the last time a cheating spouse was actually put to death in keeping with the commandments of the Bible?

    Using the Old Testament to determine if something is a sin is simply a matter of human and not godly opinion. It’s meaningless and certainly not ‘the word of God’. His teachings aren’t some basket of fruit for you to pick over. You either have to accept the old law in its entirety and start killing lots and lots of people or reject it in its entirety. Hand-picking the stuff you like is bogus, especially when you only pick the stuff that seems to legitimize your meanness to other people.

    So the Old Testament is out.

    Before we all start playing REM’s “Losing My Religion,” consider this denying someone the right to marry is not Christian, and certainly not American.

    The people who are opposed to gay marriage, and by extension, gayness itself have no excuse. They are bigots and bigots alone. They can’t use their special book to justify their hate, even according to the special book itself. They have no one to thank but themselves. They take the Lord’s name in vain and feel righteous about it

    Yes, they take the Lord’s name in vain. Most people believe incorrectly that this commandment is about cussing, but it’s not. It’s about using God for yourself, for your own vain (personal) ends. They hold the Bible in the air and use it like a bitch to bolster their own prejudices and bigotry and hate and that is vanity, all is vanity.

    The teachings of Christ are plain enough: love and forgiveness, tolerance and healing, acceptance and rebellion. Nothing more, nothing less. Nothing more needed. Add what you will to it; it still won’t be from the Christ. It will come from your own (black?) heart.

    Jesus Christ is the origin of the word ‘Christian’. Perhaps we should pray about that a bit more.

    Today’s Christians tend to be followers, accepting of the notion that religion is just a box built by someone else into which they must stuff their spirit. They are naive and willingly line up like lemmings wherever told. They have a casual ignorance that tells them the Beast will come in the obvious guise of science or secularism or liberality. They cannot conceive of the Father of Lies actually lying to them.

    Sinclair Lewis said that when fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying the cross. When the Beast comes to the world, you can bet your sweet ass he will be thumping the Bible and preaching a hate disguised as love.

    August 2, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • OboeLife

      Bravo Michael! Looks like those people that are not fundamental, intolerant Christians are going to have to find their own "new world" to escape from religious persecution. The message is clear...if you are not a Christian you have no say in anything; that includes your own body, your own religion that is not Christianity and your own political affiliation. That's what this country was founded on as the Puritans came here to be "free" and escape religious persecution. Now it's the "Puritans" that are doing the persecuting.

      August 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jesus

      You obviously have no real understanding of the bible, relegion, or faith and should probably stop posting about it. Go to church for a few weeks or take a bible study class then come back and post.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • J

      You basically just took up a whole page on here to basically say how intolerant you are of hearing anything Christians believe in. If you don't like Cathy then don't eat at his restaurants. But if it's Christians you don't seem to like then it is you who is being intolerant.

      August 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  20. RWil

    Why is that the US says "equal rights for all" but really mean "equal rights for all as long as you agree with popular opinion"?

    August 2, 2012 at 11:22 am |
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About this blog

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.