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. Christian_Forever

    The only hope for the atheist is a Christians love and prayers. True Christians have nothing to argue about, all issues about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are accepted as written in the Holy Bible. I pray that when everyone meets God they are ready to be judged for their beliefs.

    August 8, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  2. pdbabe

    add Barnhart Crane and Rigging to that list!

    August 8, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Jon

      Forget about Barnhart Crane. They claim to be a religious but giving away money to organizations does not make you a good person. Most of them are hypocrites and would stab you in the back at the first chance. Sorry but they have no true morals. Barnhart crane is a horrible company to work for, sorry but true.

      January 15, 2014 at 9:11 pm |
  3. Ryan Cameron

    The catholic church is a mega corporation that is religious, as is pretty much every mega church in America...its all about bums in seats and revenue generation for them all, since god, the creator of the universe, cant hold on to a few bucks on his own.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Hils

      Don't lump all Christians into the Catholic category.
      True Wisdom has it right.

      August 8, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
      • Ryan Cameron

        Truth does not expect worship or even acknowledgement. Gravity works as it does regardless of how much respect we pay it. Lies, on the other hand, require attention, and literally die when people stop believing them. Thats how I lump them all together.

        August 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  4. justintarthur

    B&H Photo Video's owner practices Sabbath and the store closes on the Shabbat of every week. The online store disables purchases during Shabbat as well.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  5. scooba

    I never really shop at these places anyway, so I guess I'm not really affected by it. And Walmart's a garbage company that treats its employees like dirt. Seriously, on your next visit, steal from them. Just rip off the barcode and walk out the door.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • 1man+1woman bear fruit!! Gays don't


      August 7, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, "bear fruit", I hate to break it to you, but I have a good friend who's a lesbian. She just gave birth to her second child.

      Guess that blows your screen name all to hell.

      August 7, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • 1man+1woman bear fruit!! Gays don't

      justify your sins to others

      August 7, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • 1man+1woman bear fruit!! Gays don't

      Tomy, have you ever seen a girl shoot sperm through her tongue? I haven't and you never will. Tell your friend to tell you the truth. Maybe when you were little your mom and your dad took you to those creepy circus that show the "elephant head" woman.

      August 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • Steve Wilcox

      You are a meathead! I shop at WalMart regularly and have many friends among the store employees. I have yet to meet one who is not glad to have a job there. The rabblerousers are the Unions who want to organize WalMart and will put out any bad publicity to do so. I bet you also believe GW brought down the Pentagon and Building 7 to give authority for his decision to go into Iraq.

      August 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "1man+1woman bear fruit!! Gays don't


      Gays and Lesbians have their own children too. So based on your poor logic then older people and infertile couples shouldn't be allowed to get married either. Oh and lets take it one step further any couples who don't have children no longer qualify to be married. Duh! Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      August 8, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      1 pin-head: Gays aren't sterile, you moron. They can have children just as many other couples do–by means of surrogates and artificial insemination. Are you suggesting that infertile women should not be permitted to marry? How about couples who don't want to have children? How about sterile men? Do you think IVF is sinful?

      You're an idiot, so it's not really fair for me to expect you to understand basic biology or the rule of law. Sixteen-year-old dunderheads are notoriously incapable of reading and comprehending much beyond p0rn and WOW.

      There is no requirement that anyone who wants to marry be able to procreate, nincompoop.

      If you have difficulty reading this, ask your mommy to help you.

      August 8, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  6. C. Garica

    Scandia Amusement Park is also one. They are christian based, on their receipts have CTR, which means Choose The Right, and varies other things. It is a Family based place.

    August 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  7. Bill

    I don't think most of you have ever read the Bible. So much misinformation in the responses about God and His Word. Perhaps try reading it and asking God to open your eyes to His Son Jesus Christ so you can know the truth and the truth will set you free.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • scooba

      Fun fact: The Bible and Jesus are not the only paths to God. I also recommend the Talmud, the Koran, the Vedas, Popol Vuh, the Tipitaka, the Kojiki, or any other book pertaining to any religion that brings you personal enlightenment. To think there is only one way is ignorant and naive.

      August 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  8. Anomic Office Drone

    I'm betting some of those companies aren't so much religious as they are pandering to religious people.

    August 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  9. david

    Walmart corp. officials have some nerve to think that they deserve to listed with real Christian companies such as Chick fil A or Tyson foods. They have a disgraceful record of mistreating their employees. They have been sued for equal pay benefits by thousands of female employees who have not been treated fairly! Did they pay to get this publicity?? Shame on those losers who would disgrace the name of Jesus.

    August 7, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Paul

      Thank you....one of the worst companies ever.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  10. Balls McGhee

    christian socialism: sin all you want as Jesus has paid for them all by dying for us already.

    August 7, 2012 at 12:00 am |
    • B(iraq) Hussein Osama

      my brother – in – law once killed his neigbour and stole his money. buried the poor sod in the backyard and the police never found out. later on he was worried about his sin and going to hell. someone told him to convert to christianity and "believe in jesus". AUTOMATIC HEAVEN, no questions asked. no need to report the crime to the police and no need to return the money either. no need to spend it on good deeds either. just believe in Jesus and you are straight in to heaven.

      he is so happy now. loves jesus.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:36 am |
  11. Blog making money online

    Hello There. I discovered your weblog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I'll make sure to bookmark it and come back to read extra of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  12. Sharon Mervin

    How nice that Wal-Mart was founded on Christian beliefs. That said, why do they pay their workers so little? Why did they make workers clock out, lock the doors, and make they work overtime for more pay? Why do they cut the hours of people who can't be available 24/7? Why are their benefits so poor with as much as $1,000 deductible/year that people are forced to go on Medicaid . We shouldn't have to subsidized a billionaire dynasty. Funny way for Christians to act.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Sharon Mervin

      Correction-not for "more" pay-for NO pay!

      August 6, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      No really, it fits in with the cgristian way of thinking.

      As long as they are sorry and ask forgiveness, they can do what they want and jesus will pay for their sins...

      August 6, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Name*faustino puga

      What are you doing to help society?

      August 7, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  13. Lindabp

    CNN: you are so messy! There are posts from articles of February. What the h...?

    August 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  14. Ann

    You missed O'reilly Auto Parts. In their company policies can be found instruction that they do not approve of married women or men cheating on their spouses, but it is put in politically correct and religious wording, of course.

    August 6, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Lindabp

      How can they prove it? This makes me laugh.

      August 6, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • James

      That just sounds like smart business, regardless of wording. People sneaking around on their spouses always leaks into the workplace and causes residual problems...and considering that many people cheat with others from work...? Good business sense.

      August 7, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  15. Duke

    I don't think people have problems with business owners being religious. It is when those owners use company funds to advance hate groups that are out to work "AGAINST" equality that bothers people. Chick Fil A as a business wasn't a problem until people discover it's owner contributed money to hate groups masked as "family values" that work against equal rights and protection of gays and lesbians. There are so many white supremacist masking themselves as Christians and Republicans. It's a dangerous time when you see a white supremacist killing people at Sihk temples, southern church refusing to let a black couple wed in their church, and donations going to religious groups in Uganda to pass laws that would allow killing of gay people. The way I see it, our laws protect religion from discrimination, but it fails to protect people from religion. We need to change the law.

    August 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Judywire

      Our job while on earth is to love one another and leave judgment for God. Peace!

      August 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Ryan

      Shall we make a law then that bans private businesses from giving money to charities? Or maybe just charities that the President or Congress say are 'good' charities.
      It's a private business, they can give their profits to whatever charitable cause they want, and if you don't want to support them, then eat McDonald's.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  16. Maritza Vazquez

    Left from the list: Buck Knives USA

    August 6, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  17. audry

    i think it's great to have spirituality in the workplace. I think the idea of a chaplin on the payroll is wonderful. the miltary has it. There are many wonderful teachings, values, and morals in all faiths. Any business who uses spiritual teachings in their structure tell me that they see employees as humans, not just an employee number. It's too bad some CEO's had to ruin it with voicing their private prejudicial opinions in a very public mannor. As long as the religious messages dont preach hate, intolerance, or prejudice – i wish more companies took on a spiritual side.

    and i am speaking as a wiccan.

    August 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  18. wowsers

    The writer of this article seemed unaware that he mentioned John 3:16 twice (he explained it the after the second mention). Or maybe it was sloppy editing, he possibly changed the order without changing the content.

    August 6, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  19. Jessica

    Thanks for the info now I know where to bring my business to.

    August 6, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • PRISM 1234


      August 7, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  20. Joe

    People who hate are not christians. As a christian, what offends me are the hateful bigots who support Chick f-A and call themselves christian when they are not following the example of love and inclusion set by Jesus.

    August 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • JohnO

      I heard another voice from heaven, saying, "Come out of her, my people, that you have no participation in her sins, and thatyou don't receive of her plagues, think of it as a balance to love and inclusion

      August 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • One God, One faith!

      wait, so its a sin to support Chick-fil-a now? I do NOT hate gay people, I hate where it all comes from (The Devil)! People are overtaken by the sins of this world. Honestly, we never had this many 'gay people' till it started getting popular to be gay! Seriously it is just people following the crowd to 'fit in"

      August 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • MY Hate is OK

      People who hate are not christians. As a christian, what offends me are the hateful bigots who support Chick f-A and call themselves christian when they are not following the example of love and inclusion set by Jesus.

      So I take it Joe you just removed yourself from the Christian group.

      August 8, 2012 at 5:53 am |
    • True Wisdom

      Jesus did not practice inclusion to the extent of accepting every person who came to him. His followers had to be willing to set aside everything in order to go with him. The rich young ruler did not make the cut, nor did certain "religious" people who were filled with their own righteousness. The path to Christianity is narrow and demanding. Saying you are a Christian doesn't make you one. If you are not living in a manner that reflects the true nature of Christ to others, then you might need to reconsider exactly what you are reflecting.

      August 8, 2012 at 2:58 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.