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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. MarineVetern

    You can choose to believe, or not. There is plenty of proof out there if you just remove your BLINDERS. JESUS is the ONLY way into HEAVEN. On judgement day, EVERY knee WILL bow, and EVERY tongue WILL confess, that CHRIST IS LORD.... Like it or not, i pray that all of you non-believers have a wake-up call before it's too late. Think about this, If i am wrong, then when i die i have absolutely nothing to lose. But if you are wrong you have evrything to lose, and it will be too late........

    February 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Nugs

      There is NO proof! The whole "born of a virgin" "did miracles" "died and resurrected 3 days later" has been told throughout the world for thousands of years with different names and characters. It is all an elaborate fairy tale. You are free to believe what you like, but don't force it on anyone else and leave others to pursue happiness without hurting others.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Actually, I like to think of myself as more of a Satanic Atheist, which is to say that, confronted with the sudden knowledge that there is a god, I would side with the other guy. God always seems like such a jerk in all your silly stories.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • I am YOUR Samurai Cowboy

      Christianity is a phony, made up religion with absolutely no basis of any kind of proven, historical fact. It was invented during the fall of the Roman Empire as a way to continue the habit of keeping the great unlettered and unwashed in line by making threats of horrible retribution by the Invisible Man in The Sky.
      The Bible, written by a man, is a complete and total work work of fiction comprised of myths, legends and outright lies. Nothing that takes place in the Bible can be proven to have ever happened.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  2. albie

    Thanks for the warning – 7 companies I will never patronize again

    February 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • jesus

      I will not patronize these places as well. Thank you CNN for exposing these corporate hypocrits and con artists..

      February 7, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  3. tallulah13

    I imagine these places would be uncomfortable to those who work there but don't share that belief. If they could get jobs there at all.

    I don't really shop at any of these places or use there products, but I might think twice if I did, only because I think that anyone hired to do a job should be able to focus on the work, not on religion.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  4. Aubeef

    When is CNN going to put out a list of all the companies that lean heavily to the left like they're putting out lists of companies that lean heavily to the right? My guess is never since CNN is such a shill for the democratic left.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Justin W.

      Oh, you should probably watch FOX.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  5. Unusualmommy

    Ok , so this is an interesting "conversation" I stumbled onto. I am a married woman with three small daughters who is not welcome into a church environment because I am tattooed and choose to color my hair vibrant colors (which I dont get because the PASTORS wife is totally not a natural blonde!) My girls are taught faith not religion and I know I will get flack for this but I think religion was the downfall of faith. These companies will recieve no more or no less of my business than before. They can be christian, catholic, wiccan or atheist and my point would be that arent we supposed to still love them like our brothers and sisters? Were we recently appointed judge and I missed the memo?? I dont get the ability to hate upon learning something we may not agree with. What is your life like that you cannot just tolerate those around you who are not exactly like you? I have many friends, freaks, geeks, ministers, and shamen who I love and respect because of the differences and the things that are there to be learned.

    BTW I really wish in and out would open in Texas!!! We finally got a Carls Jr! ^-^

    February 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Loren

      A legitimate church based on real biblical principles should never shun you. What you said about the preachers wife dyeing her hair is hilarious! I used to get in arguments with my mom regarding tatoos, piercings, and multicolored hair and I used to always bring that up! Like your highlights are all that different from someone with purple hair. Its just another way to express yourself.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Unusualmommy

      I completely agree! Its funny when the fanatics start preaching about tattoos and such when if they look back at where their gospel came from some of the most religous were often tattooed to show their devotion to god with mind body and heart. It got to be a problem when my 5 and 8 year olds were bullied about mommy and daddy not being able to go to heaven. UGH! But I still encourage faith and goodness to them and offer to take them to whatever church might catch their fancy. All we have is the ability to learn and when that goes...... you get what you have here people who just can tolerate what they dont have knowledge of.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  6. Deephaven

    Walmart may have started off with a Christian orientation, but now they prefer to stock their stores with goods made in factories located in communist countries manned by communist workers who lack basic freedoms we take for granted here.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  7. Another Dave

    What is the point of posting this list of faith oriented companies? Chickfila wasn't getting attacked because of their religious beliefs. They caught flak because they were donating money to odious groups devoted to fighting marriage equality for gays. Which is a point that seems lost, they weren't just giving sandwiches to these groups they were hosting them at their Winshape retreats and donating money. Also, their Winshape group refuses to allow gay people to attend any of their retreats or functions. Of course as soon as these objections were raised it somehow made us anti-religious bigots, but nevermind when christians boycott gay friendly groups.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  8. sassypants

    If AmazingSteve could just pick up his own baggage so that the rest of us don't have to carry it for him... I would appreciate it.. thanks!

    February 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      See, now I'm confused. What exactly are you trying to say here?

      February 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Nugs

      Sounds like YOU are the one with the baggage. Why is it so many right wing Christians are fat anyway?

      February 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  9. Sydney

    After Chrisrt returns for those Christians like the bible teaches, you unbelievers can shop anywhere you want without worrying about shopping with a busineses with Christian principals because there will be no more Christians left here on earth. They will be GONE and then you can enjoy shopping freely without fearing those awaful Christian folks. Hope you enjoy your shopping then????

    February 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Justin W.

      So, saying "after christ comes back for christians, etc" does not sound rediculous to you? How do you believe this...?

      February 7, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • S.R

      I'm sure "Chrisrt", whoever he is, can't wait to come and meet you.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Wait... that sounds pretty great. As an atheist, I'd like to say that I wholeheartedly support this "rapture" idea. That, or any other way of getting all the "True Christians (TM)" to leave the rest of us alone.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Nugs

      So when is this *ahem* Chrisrt coming to pick up you mindless fools in his magic spaceship? Hopefully soon. If only the Muslims had a rapture as well. That would be perfect.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Justin W.

      Likewise. I can't wait to meet "him".

      February 7, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  10. TE

    I wonder if you were to survey employees within these companies, if they'd say the same things that this article reports. Wal-Mart has been known for years to act in defiance of employee rights, and they are absolutely vicious to you if you are one of their vendors, yet somehow this behavior gets portrayed within the media as Christian? Give me a break.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  11. John Q. Public

    It never ceases to boggle the mind how conservatives call themselves Christian but their actions and greed define them as anything but. Everything from how poorly they treat their employees to the environment which they believe their deity created, to their fellow members of society whom they will deny any right or freedom afforded them. They are the very definition of hypocrite. So speak with your consumer dollars and deny these freedom hating hypocrites the revenue they so crave.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  12. Cletus

    "Faithy?"

    February 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  13. Chris

    After watching Food Inc. it's funny that Tyson is so righteous.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  14. Justin W.

    There is no god. Join the scientific community. If you want to be malicious, so will I.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  15. NevadaGal

    Christians have historically been the biggest givers and made the greatest sacrifices to help others in need and a true Christian understands that to truly give you should give in a way that you expect no payback or even recognition. We do get raked over the coals by others who do not understand, but that is part of the deal. Go ahead and quit patronizing these businesses, you were never their source in the first place. As long as they put God first and continue to honor Him, they will prosper.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      I would be interested to see your list of sources for those claims.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • jesus

      Thank you Joel Osteen. Now go count your millions and laugh about all those sheep that made who you are today – a very rich religion huckster.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Walt

      @ NevadaGal: Hey, go ahead and post your address so I can send a box of snakes appropriate for "handling."

      February 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Still waiting on those citations, by the way.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  16. Justin W.

    I'm glad I do not supports any of these companies. I respect the religious folk, but have no desire to support it or them. Seriously.....it's all a bit silly.....

    February 7, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Nugs

      I don't support any of these, but sometimes by Tyson chicken. I will make sure not to do that any longer. Their products are sub par anyway. They also should have added Domino's pizza to the list. The owner is a wacked out religious loon.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Walt

      Justin: I detect you are an idiot.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Justin W.

      No "Walt", I am toally fine. Just open minded. An somewhat in tune to reality. Maybe that is what confused you.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  17. Paul Welch

    If you have a problem with Chick-fil-a Christian values then don't eat there. Go to McDonalds. Because you are gay do not give you the right to dictate business practices to a privately owned company. When will the Majority stop being afraid of the minority?

    February 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      Possibly when they stop giving the minority a reason to violently revolt as their only recourse against continual oppression.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • TJustSaying

      Well you are in a free society and can vote out leaders who do not agree with your ideas. Oppressed minority hardly. I doubt you would trade places with Blacks or Muslims the two groups you compare yourself to most often and neither group seems to be in danger of a revolt in the US. If those groups whined as much as Gays did I have a feeling White people would feel under constant attack of being racists and hateful. So if the groups who are lower on the social scale as you do not revolt it is very unlikely you will either.

      February 8, 2011 at 7:12 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      Just so we're clear, I'm not gay. I just feel like I ought to be on the right side of our generation's civil rights debate. I assure you, this will go the same way as black rights and womens' suffrage, it's just a question of when. It may be that we have to wait for people like you to die off – something that will only be aided by Chick-fil-A – but I hold out hope that, with adequate ostracizing, public opinion can be turned against all you morons. Who knows, some of you may even join the winning team.

      February 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  18. Diane

    I don't understand the purpose of this article. Is it for people to "blacklist" other companies with a religious foundation?

    February 7, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Calvin

      CNN hates Christians. That is the reason for the article.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • TJustSaying

      Good question. Maybe CNN will enlighten us about the purpose. I like to be an optimist and say oh they are just letting Christians know businesses they should frequent more but the cynic in me says it is to alert liberals as to the businesses they should black list.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • travis

      Faithy. Nice term CNN. You get that from Palin?

      February 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Paolo

      I was thinking the same thing Diane. Come on CNN, seriously? You're better than that.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
    • jesus

      Yes, that's the purpose. I shall not darken the doors of any of those hypocritical bigoted and narrow minded companies.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • Josh

      If this story were on Fox News it would be the very same format only "exposing" companies that have atheistic leadership. Fox News refer to atheism as if it were a disease. At least CNN and the author of this article didn't put a negative spin. The information is presented and its up to the reader to decide what it means to them.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Nugs

      @ Calvin: Overly sensitive much? If CNN hates you Xtians so much, why do they have a belief blog on their site? Grow up and lose the prosecution complex. You people know that you are losing power in this country to control and influence others lives and it scares the hell out of you.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
  19. Amazed

    Walmart.....................really................give me a break

    February 7, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • jesus

      Ironically most of Walmart's stuff comes from a primarily irreligious culture – CHINA! It's all about the benjamins!

      February 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  20. Edward Nashville, TN

    I believe everyone has a write to believe in their owbn religion as well as be athiest. I don't believe anyone one group should push their beliefs on others it is a personal matter. Gov't should have separation of church and state. In the case of these businesses you should know what you are getting into before you go to work for them.

    February 7, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Frank

      Probably a production job with an hourly wage and benefits. You'd be surprised how many are willing to work for a company with ethics.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • jesus

      THANK GOD (i.e. God or your invisible & imaginary guy in the clouds) I'M AN ATHEIST!! Tyson slaughters God's creatures with no feelings of remorse. It's all about the benjamins. They profess to love the Lord and yet kill his creatures. What brutality! They're all going to that mysterious place where there's a lake of fire.

      February 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Nugs

      @Frank, try living in the real world. Companies like Tyson hire tons of illegal immigrants and treat them like toilet paper. American used to be "capitalism with a conscience" but those days are long gone.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:03 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.