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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. Brownsugarmama

    THANK YOU CNN for posting this list of christian businesses. I will definetly be supporting these businesses. It is so good to see REAL companies standing for Christ these day.

    August 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  2. EPAB

    I appreciate this article. Nine more businesses I will NOT patronize, specifically Interstate batteries and W/M.

    August 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Brownsugarmama

      EPAB-Good that you will not be supporting these fine businesses. Heathens are not welcomed anyway. So there.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  3. welll

    Most who oppose Chick-fil-A are not anti-religion but anti-hate. Chick-fil-A donates to groups who promote discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry. Certainly any CEO has the right to his/her own religion, and business practices may be strengthened by spiritual principles. It was the reputation for religion-inspired honesty in business dealings by Quakers that led Quaker State oil and Quaker Oats to adopt the name as a "brand." But when the profits of a business are used to do harm to individuals, then why should I choose to contribute to their profit? I see no reason, however, to be concerned about the religiosity or spiritual principles that guide business leaders.

    August 6, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  4. john316

    Just a post script ....thanks for printing the names of the companies in your article.....I like to vote with my wallet....it seems to be the only thing they respond to.....

    August 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  5. Joel

    interesting article though the list shown has the taint of a "hit list" given the reaction of so many people nowadays to any organization that claims to follow religious principles...specifically Christian principles..in it's approach to business.
    Also,stating that John 3:16 is a Bible verse popular with many evangelical Christians seems to suggest it is somehow controversial or outside the scope of mainstream Christianity.This verse is central to our faith and is popular with EVERY Christian regardless of their affiliation.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • jk6411

      CNN's war on Christianity continues..

      August 6, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • midwest rail

      The war on Christianity is a myth perpetuated by those who enjoy the mantle of victim-hood and crying persecution. Utter nonsense.

      August 6, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • pauline

      When it comes down to it, every person on the face of the Earth practices some form of religion. Let's boycott everyone and live alone in our own huts!!!

      August 6, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  6. nottolate

    Good for them.

    August 6, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  7. Roger

    Why is it people think the reason people are mad at Chick Fil A has *anything* to do with dan Cathy saying they support the biblical definition of marriage.

    NOBODY is mad about that.

    What people are mad about, is that Chick Fil A, owned by *1* family... donates MILLIONS of dollars a year to groups like the FRC.. the president of which has been QUOTED as saying he would either EXPORT gays from America or made it a crime to be gay and JAIL them.

    It has to do with them giving money to Exodus International, which tries to "pray the gay away" which almost ALL medical practioners say both doesn't work and it very harmful to people.

    THAT is why people are upset. It has NOTHING to do with someone saying, "I'm christian and I support the biblical definition of marriage"

    August 6, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • pauline

      Is this true? It's news to me. At this point, how do we know that Cathy gives any of Chick-Fil-A's proceeds to these groups?

      August 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Mel

      You are totally wrong because you can find coutless blogs and statements made by people regarding their distate of Chik-fil-A's statement well before any donation information came to light. I just wish people would really read and investigate before posting in open forums. Misinformation is so wrong.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  8. Tracy

    Being religious and being discriminatory are not always the same thing. I applaud a company that was built on religious ideas, if they do not discriminate or use company profits to discriminate against anyone. The CEO of Chik-fil-a certainly has the right to feel and speak how he does, just as I have the right not to spend my money to help him spread his company's anti-gay marriage agenda. Unfortunately, the media has skewed his words and made this whole topic into a war.

    All I can say is "Do unto others...."

    August 6, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  9. eville11

    Wait.. the word FAMILY soon will be a derogatory slam against Christians... wait, you can hear it already.

    August 6, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  10. LIberalsSux

    Dan Gilgoff~way to spread more hate! But, obviously your kind of hate is OK.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  11. GOD PARTICLE UK Dave

    VIDEO CAMERAS READY!

    IT'S THE LAST OF THE ARGUMENTS TODAY! 🙂 🙂

    August 6, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  12. Bill

    With all due respect to In 'N Out, Chick-Fil-A and Tyson, I don't need you to state your 'morals' to know what you stand for – poisoning our country through your disgusting fat foods which makes our citizens obese and leads to a significantly higher risk to many deadly diseases. The bottom line is that your food kills Americans, and while it's great your executives are God-fearing, your products certainly do not make any of you a 'Christian company'.

    August 6, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • Bob

      Obviously, you feel the same way about Ben and Jerry's, Starbucks, etc.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  13. 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!

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myUfzeQuEK8&w=640&h=360]
    ...start at 26:23

    and

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fe8ZfFEVArE&w=640&h=360]
    ...start at 22:15

    LOL in Christ

    August 6, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  14. June

    DeeCee1000, I.think you need to read more of the bible, the whole bible not just the beginning. Or what you think fits the occasion. Thats in the old testament, but now we live by GRACE thanks to my LORD AN SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. I goin to name 2 women who did big things in the bible Ruth, Deborah, just 2 for you to read on. There more but start with them... God is Good...

    August 5, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  15. Anne S.

    I've never ever given it a thought where I shop at, or eat at, or whatever. Makes no difference to me if it's run by Christian people or not. This is so stupid, you mean to say if all businesses were run by Christians you wouldn't shop there? Guess you would starve to death then. Same thing for all other businesses too.

    August 5, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
  16. albie

    Thanks for the list, now I know who I should never patronize – already swore off In-N-Out when I found out they were mentally challenged - isnt blockbuster also a bible pounder company?

    August 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Bob

      Ahh,,,bigoted people are still alive and well. Isn't that right albie.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:27 am |
  17. mork

    christians are dumb

    August 5, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  18. Tom

    I am sorry, but I have a intendancy to shy away from businesses that claim to be a christian ran company. On many different levels I have to say that just like other times a business like this is just riding the wave. And just like people find out later, after the fact that many of these people who offer their so called faith is breaking so many other laws of the bible. I run two businesses but have never felt that I needed to push my beliefs on anyone and I don't want them to do the same to me.

    August 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Bob

      No ReligiousLeft type things such as recycling, environmentalism and anti-global warming Tom?

      August 6, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  19. Diane

    It's sad when a company that was built on faith has to deny God or be attacked for it. Dan Cathy was asked, he didn't offer his beliefs and now their company is being attacked for it. I'm glad they're standing up for God. "Deny me before man and I'll deny you before the Father" as Jesus said. You have to stand for right by God's Law. People say God loves all people and he does, but everyone is NOT a child of God. The Bible says that when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and saviour then you have the right to be called children of God. You can't accept him if you refuse to follow ALL of his Word and not take the parts that don't offend or change it. The Word also says those who change the Word of God, be it a curse unto them. The last days are here. Men call right to be wrong and wrong to be right and bully those who refuse to side with wrong. Isn't that what Christians are accused of all the time???? So, it makes them no better.

    August 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • steve

      Preach it sister in Christ !

      August 5, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Tony

      AMEN SISTER!!!!!

      August 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • Nikki

      Amen! God is GOOD ALL the TIME, and ALL the TIME GOD is GOOD. Preach it sister in christ!

      August 5, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Chick-fil-a is dependent on customer support for it's profits. Dan Cathy and the PTB at Chick-fil-a have given millions of dollars to groups that are working to legislate their religious discrimination against a minority.

      As a person who believes discrimination is evil, I am glad for this information because I try to avoid spending my money with companies who support things I consider evil. I do not want my money to support malicious attacks on fellow Americans.

      August 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Diane, are you aware that the "Word of God" clearly states that women have no business speaking out in public on matters of faith. In fact your bible clearly states that women should keep their mouths shut when it comes to faith and speaking publicly. Aside from THAT I will bet you that there are MANY things mentioned in you 'bible" that you and others of your "faith" don't follow. . .but yet you still feel compelled to force SOME things found in your bible on other citizens of this country. I am mostly saddened by people such as yourself because in order for you to feel good about yourself, you feel you have to impose your own beliefs which you do not follow as you should, on others.

      August 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Bob

      Hi Tallulah. Will you support a company that is working hard to legalize polygamy and sibling marriage? Surely we can end this discrimination as well.

      August 6, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  20. KM

    Domino's Pizza is another company for the list.

    August 5, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • eville11

      slow, down, otherwise we'll have a bunch of starving LGBT people out there.

      August 6, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • skm

      Absolutely! Tom Monaghan of Domino's has been building and funding churches in the US and other countries, established a religious university (Ave Maria) and has worked to establish a Christian-only residential subdivision in Florida.

      August 8, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
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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.