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. martin

    thanks for listing these other bigot companies I can now boycott

    August 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • LaLa

      so YOUR discriminating against a company because of their views? isn't that what your claming they are doing to gays? that makes you look smart... waaaaa they dont like me so I won't like them...waaaa...

      August 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  2. Keith

    Wall Mart long ago abandoned Christianity for profit making. The Wall Mart business model is destroying America.

    August 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  3. Dark Poet

    Yes but when Al Gore still gives money to "Westboro Baptist Church" and has been supporting them for over 30 years you don't see a SINGLE voice against him in the media......

    Its because he is a democrat....

    August 5, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Keith

      Al Gore is a liar, scoundrel and thief. Him giving to a church that spreads hate and bigotry does not surprise me.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  4. Vance

    Religion is toxic to a civilized society. Ignorant people will always seek out religion to give them cover for their predjudices and fears. As in the case of Wal-mart and Chik Fil A, they use it to maintain their supremacy over others. Enlightened people prefer education.

    August 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Edward

      assuming that you are educated and enlightened, can you explain how wall mart anc chickfilla have a superior hold on any thing, other than desperate narrow minded pawns. I support traditional over gay, GOD over enlightenment. And yes I own guns.

      August 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  5. eltoro

    Everyone thinks their way is best; you wouldnt be doing it that way if you didnt. the point is, is to really be right.

    August 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  6. Deborah Coleman

    The Brim's Snack Company is, also, based on their faith. They even have a verse of scripture on the back of every bag. I'm not sure where the company is based, but the snacks are sold SE Georgia. I am proud to buy their products, as I am all the other christian-based companies. They all deserve our business and support.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  7. RayJacksonMS

    Have any of those other companies paid a lobbyist to make sure Congress doesn't condemn Uganda's Kill the Gays bill like Chick fil A did?

    August 5, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  8. CNNNN

    More companies to boycott, hooray!

    August 5, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • lightandsalt

      more companies to support, Hooooray!

      August 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  9. ItsOnLyME

    I have no qualm with whatever anyone chooses to believe personally. However, if they choose to wear their religion on their shirt sleeve, and to actively practice hypocrisy and bigotry, I and a lot of others will vote with our wallets. I've not stepped foot in a Wal-Mart for well over 25 years, and won't be starting anytime soon. I've not set foot in a Chick-Fil-A since the early 1980s, and won't be doing so anytime soon. Mixing business and religion is a bad idea, just like mixing with business and politics. If you want my custom, keep your personal beliefs and viewpoints to yourself and we'll get along just fine. And if, like (for example) Wal-Mart, you bill yourself as a "Christian" organization and you then treat your employees the way Wal-Mart treats them, don't expect me to participate.

    August 5, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • edweird69

      Yep... heard Walmart even jips their employees out of a lot of benefits, they could easily afford. We're talking about one of the wealthies families on earth. The bible is riddled with quotes about greed, but fools fall for the "shop here, and show gays how holy you are" mentality.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  10. GenXcynic

    More proof of the hypocrisy of religion. WalMart – really?! My favorite is Chick-Fil-A though – closed on Sunday but employees are there cleaning and prepping. Can you say "Marketing Gimmick"?

    August 5, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  11. alphacheck

    You miss the point. People aren't upset that it's a religious company, people are upset because they're contributing money to anti-gay causes. Lots of Christian people are nice folks that just look down on gay people. Companies that take action against them, get to hear what people think of those actions. They're free to give money to any cause they want, but there may be repercussions because people are free to express what they think about those actions.

    August 5, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Edward

      What are these anti-gay causes? I would like to supprot them. Where do you get your information, or do you fabricate as need be

      August 5, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  12. PAUL

    I Want Someone To Feed!!


    August 4, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  13. A. Burns

    Its not an issue of religion, but and issue of equality. I have no problems with religion in companies but when someone is using the money I give them to fight against what I say is an issue of equality I will no longer give them my money. Obviously a lot of people feel the same.

    August 4, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Dale

      Well if your so upset about what these companies have taken a stand against, then don't purchase their product. Them not receiving your money is not going to hurt their bank accounts one bit.

      August 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • J-Man

      Feel free not to shop there. You there are others that feel the same way you do. However it appear that more feel that it is great that Chick-fil-A had the courage to do what they did. I'll bet that millions of Americans showed up to show their support of the chain on Wednesday. I know I did and had to wait for 50 minutes. There were stories of people waiting for 3 hours on Wednesday and many locations ran out of food.

      August 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • edweird69

      Standing up for what you believe is one thing.. crushing the rights of others is another. Their religion grants them freedoms that are not provided to other families (yes, many many gay people have children, and a spouse they love... I fit that category).

      August 5, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  14. Tim W.

    What a bunch of hypocrites these people are ! Does it not also say Love the sinner and hate the sin ? If your a believer then you believe everything God made is perfect, guess that just dont compute ! How many of you believe in the Bible and your God, believe you are perfect because God made you that way ? Well then tell us just how many of you have had plastic added to your bodies to change things a bit ? How many of you feel that even if God created you, he could have done a better job so you get your bodies fixed, paint your faces, color your hair, etc ? How many of you are married to someone you do not really love but stay married because your religion says you must ? If your religions make you a better person and you wish everyone peace and happeness then good for you BUT if your religion makes you a person full of hatred, if you wish harm on others and feel you are superior to others...........well your religion is BS !

    August 4, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Dale

      The Bible does say love the sinner hate the sin, but that still does not give the excuse to sin. The Bible plainly states what marriage is and I am sorry that if it is to much for you and your friends to handle. Its obvious that the only reason you are upset is because the Bible and the religious make you feel uneasy.

      August 4, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Badcyclist

      They aren't all the same. In-N-Out, for example, treats their employees well, while Walmart doesn't. It is one thing to talk the Christian talk, quite another to act on Christian principles. This is where chick fil a - and a lot of the right wing nut jobs who comment here– fail big time.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Kevin JUng

      Okay, lets think a bit
      first of all, isn't is a bit narrow minded to only call Christians hypocrites. Human's are generally hypocrites because we're aren't perfect. You just demonstrated that by pointing your fingers at them. Even non believers agree with that. Moving on, our religion does say that God created us perfectly but it also says that we ate the fruit of knowledge and became imperfect. Also your taking the "love the sinner hate the sin" thing out of context and using it as an excuse to justify sinning which is not the message it was meant to portray

      You should have done your research Tim before you went off to attack others 🙂

      August 5, 2012 at 5:14 am |
    • brickphil

      Gayness is not a natural thing. Peolpe that are gay have some sort of mental illness that can be addressed by a doctor.

      August 5, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • Texanonymouse

      "If your a believer then you believe everything God made is perfect," You've got that wrong, but I can't go into a long explanation. Take time to learn for yourself what we did:

      Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29 KJV)

      August 5, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • eltoro

      Your understanding of religion is very rough at best Tim. God is perfect, but his creation is not. We are all potential that needs guidance to be actualized. Maybe you just need to be more selective in the people you associate with? The people you speak of sins are self punishing. You sound like one of the people you dont care for. your religion is just godless.

      August 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  15. OK


    August 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Rufus T. Firefly

      Screaming will not make it so.

      The United States is a free country and, if we can avoid a takeover by people like you, we always will be.

      August 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      Always is a long time. Don't be so sure. People who have decided what religion people in a country are to elong to really have no idea what the founders said and thought.

      August 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Dave

      You obviously haven't read anything from the founders of our nation. I am trying to get in their heads too. The US has always been a Nation of many faiths. John Jay and Alexander Hamilton were Christians, Thomas Paine and James Madison were Deists (believed in a God, but not the divinity of Christ who was a respected teacher of morality). George Washington kept his faith to himself mostly from what I've found, and Southern church goers tried to BLOCK Thomas Jefferson from taking his oaths of office on the basis that they believed him an Atheist. Turns out he was Deist too. So please do a little reading before you post next time.

      August 5, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • ItsOnLyME


      August 5, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Scott

      "In God we Trust", "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, one nation, under God". "America...America... God shed his grace on thee". Yes, we our a Christian country with a very loud minority of people who can't stand the freedom of speech and religion that the rest of us 250 million people, love, and enjoy, "God Bless America".

      August 5, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  16. Alma Marmolejo

    Why should this be so STRANGE; that it makes news? Shows how far educators, media, politics and broken homes have tried to eradicate Judeo-Christian beliefs. How sick, making what is pure seem evil or odd...Ppfft!

    August 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      Actually it is strange because this is not what has happened in America in the past. In America religion has usually been fairly much a private thing which is how it should be. An individual's relationship with their God. Americans have always come in most religions, yup we had Muslims in the US before there was a US as well as practicers of the Hindu faith and other religions. We have often been a tolerant country though not always we spent a lot of thime and effort trying to eradicate the beliefs of the Native Americans. No one needs Judeo Christianity shoved down their throat. Not at school or at work or when shopping.
      I am glad to see the list because I now know what businesses do not respect faiths other than their own and I can avoid them.

      August 4, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  17. Bucktooth

    Funny about Tyson Foods..they have affliate companies that treat the livestock horribly..there is video of farm workers kicking/torturing baby pigs, mother pigs, and creating a NOT very christian value like atmosphere for your eating pleasure! This is why you pray over your food..angry workers, angry chefs and people who prepare your food!
    These religious groups have holdings in other companies that.behind the scenes don't even care what they do! HYPOCRITES!!
    Don't shop in Walmart..it always smells in there, and I'v never eaten in the chickie place..not sure what's in their food???

    August 4, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Jane Yavis

      That was my first thought when I read about Tyson. – I still conclude Pastor Huckabee's Marketing Skills on this Created Contraversy makes Donald Trump look like a Piker.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Angela Birch

      Agreed, it is always interesting when companies parade their religiosity but fail to live up to the ethics involved. Both Tyson and Walmart fall into that catagory

      August 4, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  18. Loris Weber

    Jen: Just one correction to your remarks re: Mary Kay Cosmetics. Mary Kay founded her company on the principles of GOD first, (not just faith) then, family, then career!

    August 4, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  19. billy

    It's all marketing in the end. Finding niches to fill and keep the money flowing in. Wal-Mart being on the list should indicate how much b.s. this is. The problem with the United States isn't godlessness, it is greed and manipulation. No one's perfect, but when your m.o. in life is obviously making money, blowing your horn about being religious is phoney-bologna.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  20. Jen Wade

    You left out Mary Kay Cosmetics! They were founded on the principles of faith first, then family, then career!

    August 4, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Jane Yavis

      Yes I thought that was one they missed...... I think Tupperware, Princess House and lots of those sell to the neighbor style Companies are Christian based,,,and tell you right up front. (I am not sure why they have to tell you that,,,,but their marketing skills are very good.

      August 4, 2012 at 2:05 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.