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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. Tarah Nicoli

    I'm extremely inspired together with your writing abilities and also with the format to your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it's rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays..

    August 15, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  2. +1 for God

    I am against hateful groups that spread lies and try to turn people against each other. That is why I think the gay groups are evil. No one spreads hate more than the gay groups, that is all they do is spread hate.
    Also, Christians did not say being gay is wrong, God said it is wrong. Christians believe what God says. And one day so will all gay people, when they are standing before him and have to account for their sins. Chief among them is not only being gay, but for hating God.
    I think if you want to be gay, then go for it. You have free will. But don’t try to take free will away from us Christians. The problem is not with us, it is with you.

    August 15, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • Melvin

      "Also, Christians did not say being gay is wrong, God said it is wrong. Christians believe what God says. "

      The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being. The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality" deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual orientation. Those acts are labeled as wrong out of the context of the times in which the writers wrote and perceived those acts to be either nonmasculine, idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan. The kind of relationships between two consenting adults of the same sex demonstrably abounding among us - relationships that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling - are not dealt with in the Scriptures.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  3. Henry James

    Believing and Truth are not the same thing. When you believe in spite of the evidence to the contrary, it just makes you confident and wrong. This closed mindedness prevents you from learning the real Truth. If you do not allow yourself to learn Truth then you are swimming upstream against the current of reality and make your life harder than it has to be. Often it is not you that pays the most for your beliefs but those closest to you. Many times the people that realize you are wrong and do not want you ruling their life and making it worse. I wonder how many families have been destroyed due to sons and daughters being shunned out of intolerance?

    August 15, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  4. Jack

    Good evening folks. Everyone is cordially invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    August 14, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  5. BKspirit

    Thank goodness there are companies with strong character. My friends and i all applaud them. Freedom of speech-right on. The Chick-Fil-A owner voiced his opinion, that's it. He didn't try and push his beliefs on anyone else and he states that he treats ALL people fairly. We applaud all,of you who have differing opinions, but guess what. They are are opinions, they're yours- so don't push them on us.

    I love my gay friends and want them to create ubions and get all the same benefits of a married couple – my personal belief is that they don't call that a marriage.

    August 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • BKspirit

      *create unions

      August 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • wabob62

      A cival union is a great compromise if both the gay and religious community can come to an understanding. But in this day and age no one wants to compromise and that is a shame, I'am not gay or religious and I feel this issue should be put to rest. I had to respond to you because it is nice to see a person of faith not condeming people.

      August 14, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "A cival union is a great compromise if both the gay and religious community can come to an understanding"

      They tried separate but equal with African Americans and it proved it doesn't work. Equal civil rights is a guarantee under our constitution.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  6. myfamilyneedsamiracle

    God bless you all. Please read our story and help if you can. I have a medically needy daughter and I don't know where else to turn.

    http://www.myfamilyneedsamiracle.wordpress.com

    August 14, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  7. Cynthia T

    By the way, spirituality usually creates good business ethics. I would much rather work for a company who's leadership wanted to honor God, than worship the almighty buck! And I would rather shop there, too.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • What

      Where R fu cing god? You don't get it, there is none

      August 14, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • jim

      lol religion not worshiping the all mighty buck, now that's a good one!

      August 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  8. Cynthia T

    You did not include J.C. Penney. J.C. Penney was a preacher. And his first store was called "The Golden Rule." In his ethics, his store was the first one to allow consumers to return merchandise.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • Kevin

      Cynthia, JC Penney may have been started by someone with values, but it has abandoned them now. There is a reason why JCP stock is hitting bottom and digging. They decided to thumb their nose at traditional values.

      August 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  9. ty

    Really? Walmart made the list? You've got to be kidding me!

    August 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  10. 111Dave111

    Mormon God is a Space Alien, LOL
    Mormons Baptize Dead People, L&LOL
    Mormon Religion, Big Money, Big Bigotry. L&L&LOL
    Mormon man in white underwear, a reference to special Mormon garments. L&L&L&LOL

    August 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • BKspirit

      111Dave111 LOL you seem really intelligent LOL

      August 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  11. Whatdoiknow

    It's funny to see Tyson Chicken on this list. Considering Mr Tyson back in the late 90s was married but had girlfriends who he lavished with gifts like homes corvettes and such. Things that make you go hmmmm.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  12. YeahRight

    "Gays aren't missing any rights, gays are the dinkus's that get loud when people do not recognize them as being "owed" something."

    Marriage was defined by the US Supreme Court as a civil right. Recognized federal civil rights law in the United States is grounded in the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court. By this standard, marriage has long been established as a civil right.

    The rights they are missing are: Tax Benefits
    -–Filing joint income tax returns with the I R S and state taxing authorities.
    -–Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.
    Estate Planning Benefits
    -–Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
    -–Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
    -–Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
    -–Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse – that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.
    Government Benefits
    -–Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
    -–Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
    -–Receiving public assistance benefits.
    -–Employment Benefits
    -–Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
    -–Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
    -–Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
    -–Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.
    Medical Benefits
    -–Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
    -–Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.
    Death Benefits
    -–Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
    -–Making burial or other final arrangements.
    Family Benefits
    -–Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
    -–Applying for joint foster care rights.
    -–Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
    -–Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.
    Housing Benefits
    -–Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
    -–Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.
    Consumer Benefits
    -–Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
    -–Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
    -–Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
    -–Other Legal Benefits and Protections
    -–Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
    -–Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
    -–Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
    -–Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
    -–Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
    -–Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • I'm not gay, but your dad is

      So...then it really is not because their love for each other is true?

      August 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Rosann

      Excellent. Well put. I am constantly stunned when people claim that gays are not missing out on any rights afforded others. Thanks for taking the time to list it out plainly for all to see.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • US Infidel

      I think I shall borrow this, well put.

      August 14, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • What

      U r the sickest on here.....is scary to read your comment

      August 14, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • pervert alert

      There is no right to perversion.

      August 15, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • YeahRight

      "U r the sickest on here.....is scary to read your comment"

      Oh poor baby FACTs always hurts the prejudice bigots.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • YeahRight

      "There is no right to perversion."

      The experts have proven you wrong and you know it which is why you TROLL on this blog like you do. Does your ego feel better now? Seek professional help for your low self esteem issues.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  13. BG

    Paul

    You should also think before you speak. There's this thing called spelling and grammar, you should learn it. Gays are not going to take over the world. Please just let them be, and do not crush their dreams...You don't have to agree with them, just give them their rights. All men are created equal. Everybody just love everybody.

    Gays aren't missing any rights, gays are the dinkus's that get loud when people do not recognize them as being "owed" something.

    I do not care one whit about chic fil a, or anybodiy's beliefs

    I was truly happy when teh loudmouthed gays had their "plan" backfire this badly

    August 13, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Sam

      BG, did anybody ever tell you you're a tool?

      August 13, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • jesse

      It makes you "truly happy" to witness a public display of discrimination and bigotry? what's wrong with you?

      August 13, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  14. Randi Meehan

    Great article! Send more listings of those who witness the Word of God.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • What

      Can I F god? there is no god. show me people..........................................

      August 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  15. Bruce B

    If these companies make their religious beliefs public, then they need to take the heat. Good business is all inclusive and does NOT exclude one group of people or their friends and family. The traditional family went away during the 60s. Today, the traditional family is a single mother raising 4 kids on welfare. HELLO! The gays pay their taxes to support this "new traditional family." , yet we are denied over 1100 rights that those families get. These are not special rights, they are the same rights.

    I challenge anyone to name one special right that the gays would receive that you don't already have.

    I am waiting.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Randi Meehan

      Their union is bless by God.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • YeahRight

      "I challenge anyone to name one special right that the gays would receive that you don't already have. "

      Tax Benefits
      -–Filing joint income tax returns with the I R S and state taxing authorities.
      -–Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.
      Estate Planning Benefits
      -–Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
      -–Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.
      -–Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.
      -–Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse – that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.
      Government Benefits
      -–Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.
      -–Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.
      -–Receiving public assistance benefits.
      -–Employment Benefits
      -–Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.
      -–Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.
      -–Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.
      -–Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.
      Medical Benefits
      -–Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.
      -–Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.
      Death Benefits
      -–Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
      -–Making burial or other final arrangements.
      Family Benefits
      -–Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.
      -–Applying for joint foster care rights.
      -–Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.
      -–Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.
      Housing Benefits
      -–Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."
      -–Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.
      Consumer Benefits
      -–Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.
      -–Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.
      -–Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.
      -–Other Legal Benefits and Protections
      -–Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).
      -–Suing a third person for offenses that interfere with the success of your marriage, such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation (these laws are available in only a few states).
      -–Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.
      -–Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.
      -–Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.
      -–Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  16. von

    i dont get why american companies like to call themselves worlds largest or international i honestly have never even heard of some of these companies.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
  17. gigi

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1lFYO5zE-c&w=640&h=360]

    August 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  18. Ramiz

    Chick-fil-a has the same right as all of us in USA. We are free to believe or not. I believe that all this gay think is going to far ,as if all of us have to join the gay club or face the media.
    I personally believe this gay stuf is becoming a commercial and everyone is obligated to watch we Rae not in comunizm. Just think for a moment I the all world is gay there is no world. Please just think.

    August 12, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Paul

      You should also think before you speak. There's this thing called spelling and grammar, you should learn it. Gays are not going to take over the world. Please just let them be, and do not crush their dreams...You don't have to agree with them, just give them their rights. All men are created equal. Everybody just love everybody.

      August 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  19. Steve M

    Thank you for the informative article. Midway thought the list i thought "So what?". Do any of these listed companies publicly and financially support hate groups? That is the crux of the Chic Fil A story..not that they are of a particular religious persuasion, but that they send money to hate groups and attempt to affect bigoted political change in the US and in foreign countries.

    August 12, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • Whatdoiknow

      Thank you! Exactly it's not what they believe in so much personally it's the hate manger groups that they support. In America we vote with the almighty dollar, and I don't want to see my dollar go to groups that promote hate and bigotry. That is why I won't visit chick fila.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Julie

      Word for word what I was going to write. I don't care what people believe, I care about what they DO.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  20. Sue H

    Tyson. Really? Isn't this the company that keeps chickens cooped so they can't move during their short and inhumane life. Yes, how we treat animals is one mark of our humanity.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Mike B

      And wouldn't you agree, a far more important mark of our humanity is how we treat our unborn children?

      August 13, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Whatdoiknow

      Also the man who was married and had girlfriends whom he kept around town!

      August 13, 2012 at 11:30 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.