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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. Mark from Middle River

    USA – You are right. I saw this post and I knew that there was a bit of dislike by some of the posters for people of Faith but these articles are almost Glen Beck'ish in their implied targeting. I mean, Foxnews is beating CNN in all the ratings but that kind of tactics is why I come here because it is not here.

    Come on belief blog, is not the first rule of journalism is to "report" the story not to create or be the story?

    February 8, 2011 at 12:33 am |
  2. SophyB

    Get a life people. If you don't like Christians, don't support these businesses. If you love Christians, spend a lot of your money with these businesses. Don't feel the need to try to convince everyone else that your opinion or belief is superior – it won't work. If we could expend this much energy on something that really matters instead of spreading hate and bitterness the world would be a much better place. Now go ahead and flame me – I'm going to bed and won't see it anyway!

    February 8, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  3. sublime

    See this is the problem. Christians argue. By definition, for true faith to exist, it must exist without proof. As a Christian, I have zero ambition to play in the "faith vs. science" sandbox. There is no reason to argue. For some reason, folks that don't believe in some sort of supernatural deity find great joy in pointing out the obvious. That being there is no proof of God's existence. Faith requires no proof (hence the term).Conversely, there is no proof that God doesn't exist. So ultimately, there really is no argument. So shouldn't we really gather together and fix issues that are wrong for everyone? I'm pretty certain that there is someone within 10 miles of everyone reading this that could use a hot meal, a warm coat or a decent job. While everyone is posturing about what is right and wrong, some little kid out there can't keep his(her) stomach from growling. For that, all Christians and Atheists should be absolutely embarrassed, equally.

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

      I like your appraoch. Kudos.

      February 8, 2011 at 12:02 am |
    • SophyB

      Sublime – you are the first person with a reasonable view of things on this site. Kudos indeed!!

      February 8, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  4. Sebastian

    Who cares who that gives free food to? If they give free food to gay organization, Christian groups would not complain about it. Let people do what they believe in. Gay community has more rights in US than anywhere else in the world. We have more important problems in this country now that free chicken give away.

    February 7, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  5. Reality

    Again since the topic is about religion and businesses, one must list Mormonism as a business that fronts as a religion that uses forced donations and "volunteers" to advertise said businesses.

    An update:

    The Deseret Management Corporation (DMC) is a for-profit management company of assets for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was established in 1966[1] by then church president David O. McKay[2] to hold already-existing church assets.[3]

    Subsidiaries
    The following are DMC subsidiaries:

    •Beneficial Financial Group: insurance, investment, and retirement services.
    •Bonneville International Corporation: owns radio stations nationwide, Bonneville Communications, Bonneville Interactive, and Bonneville Satellite Company.
    •Deseret Book: LDS publisher and bookstores chain.
    •Deseret Mutual: Provides medical, dental, life, and disability insurance, retirement and savings benefits to Deseret Management Corporation employees, and health insurance to LDS Missionaries and General Authorities.[4]
    •Deseret News Publishing: Publishes Utah's second-largest daily newspaper, the Deseret News, along with Mormon Times, LDS Church News and El Observador.
    •Hawaii Reserves: manages commercial and residential properties in Lā'ie, Hawai'i.
    •Temple Square Hospitality: operates downtown Salt Lake City properties such as the Lion House and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
    •Zions Securities: Real estate company which manages apartments and commercial property, particularly in downtown Salt Lake City.

    Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/deseret-management-corporation#ixzz1DL3EB256

    February 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  6. Future Lawyer/jew

    All companies i HATE (cept for in and out cause i have nvr been)

    February 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  7. Bill

    If Tyson is run by Christians, God must really despise chickens. it's hard to imagine a more disgusting and inhumane way to produce food.

    February 7, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  8. Ben

    eHarmony should be on this list

    February 7, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  9. CAMTGAL

    I worked for ServiceMaster, it is not so Christian. They are all about the money.

    February 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  10. THE WORST!

    The are the WORST OFFENDERS and producers of SHMEAT!

    NOSHMEAT.com is EXACTLY about what these 'faithy' companies make! Complete BS!

    February 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  11. THE WORST!

    The are the WORST OFFENDERS and producers of SHMEAT!

    NOSHMEAT.com is EXACTLY about what these 'faithy' companies make! Complete BS!

    February 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  12. No god? God no!

    Message to the good people of Earth:

    Stop believing in all this mumbo-jumbo and let's get to dealing with the world's true challenges. Not wether my space god story is slightly more compelling than your space god story. None if it is meant as literal truth, but as alegory. Just like Santa Claus, a nice story with a message. Not LITERALLY true.

    The Earth is 6000 years old? Please

    February 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  13. JDF

    Forever 21 has John 3:16 stamped on the bottom of their bags.

    February 7, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • J. Baldwin

      ha! that's too funny - and they also have been over the years on the receiving end of many state and federal investigations int copyright/trademark infringement and labor law violations. As I said in another post – publicly espousing "christian values" does not mean that you are not a hypocrite.

      February 8, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  14. USA

    A list of the Christian based businesses? Is this a call for boycott? a hit list? what is the point? So CNN has stooped to targeting businesses that are run by Christian people? Better yet CNN, why don't you give us a list of all the reporters/journalists (I'm laughing as I write the word journalist) in your Time Warner corporation who are Christians and let people decide if they still want to read, watch or listen to their stories. Don't be hyprocrites, I want to see your personal resumes. What a bunch of hate baiters, up until now I thought CNN was above a MSNBC stunt like this, but guess I was wrong.

    February 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Justin W.

      Maybe those journalists put more to their writing than a god or a jesus? Alot of people put science before fairy tales.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • SophyB

      Justin W.

      "I will not judge someone who belives in any religion, or who has faith."

      And yet you CONTINUE to judge......

      February 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Justin W.

      Am I condemning you to a pit of fire or damnation? No. Do I feel like your lifestyle is wrong? No. Maybe...if you don't like my "fairytale" comparison...you don't have to read it?

      February 7, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • listenclose

      so justin yet again all your hate is hypocracy and guess what if you dont like what i read you can just poke your eyes out and you think christians are condeming you to a lake of fire. No I and no other human can do that but you can do that to yourself by your actions and lack of faith its like if someone calls you ugly and you kill yourself did they condemn you to death no your just a moron and you couldn't take the heat

      February 7, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Justin W.

      No, hiding behind your belief is worse than standing defiant. Why can I not say my piece? I am not hateful like some of the religious folk tonight. Your belief is your own. I just feel those who do not believe in god have as much right as those who feel that of the opposite spectrum.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  15. Joe from Joe

    Christian companies? Do they give their profits away?
    "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
    - Matthew 19:24

    February 7, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Yes, I knw for a fact that Chick-fil-a does indeed give away a significant portion of their profits.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Sitnalta

      Not if that camel is ground up to a slurry and force-injected through that needle eye. Which is probably how Chick-fil-a makes their sandwiches.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  16. Jim

    Ah, the new politics of hate - a gay group doesn't like that some Christian groups don't support gay marriage so they threaten to boycott a company that supports Christian groups.

    February 7, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • AmazingSteve

      ...in a peaceful, nonviolent fashion, using only their weight as a consumer in protest. I think I much prefer this to the old form of hate, where you guys burned people you didn't like.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Justin W.

      Touche, Steve.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • the unknown

      That hurt more if this was the 1500's steve.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Justin W.

      Or maybe like, the last 10 years, when gays have been burned for thier lifestyle...

      February 7, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  17. Incognito

    @nugs: You are obviously uneducated!!!YES there is proof.I guess you are one of the morons that think that everything just happened, BAM!! That makes sense. Then whats the point of life?? Nothing to live for or look forward to. You might as well just go jump off a cliff, why not? you have nothing to worry about right?? It is ppl like yourself that make this world a very miserable place to live for everyone else. The only ppl i see pushing stuff on others are mainly the non-believers. Especially all the gay rights groups out there that try and shove their lifestyle down everyone elses throat.

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

      You're absolutely right, Incognito. Curse all those gay rights groups for trying to force us to be gay!

      Wait...

      February 7, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Justin W.

      Actually, I think those that oppose gay rights tend to be the "oppressors". Those kind tend to hold another down. Why would a person not want to embrace individuality. Oh, right....That kind of lifestyle directly hinders you and the way you live.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Edwardo69

      Didn't your god come from "Bam" nothing? doh!

      February 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • Queso Mal

      So what you are saying is that your belief is proof? You didn't write any sort of cogent argument so that must be the case. Of course it seems to me that CNN has some agenda here, not quite sure what it is, but it is there. For the record, don't believe in any religion and don't attempt to pretend I know the secrets of the universe, but I also try hard to not belittle those with beliefs, no matter how irrational I find them.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Magic

      Incognito,

      "You might as well just go jump off a cliff, why not? you have nothing to worry about right?? It is ppl like yourself that make this world a very miserable place to live for everyone else."

      Right back at ya', Bud.

      Why don't you just jump off a cliff and get to your 'paradise' sooner? Why treat your diseases or wear seat belts? Go, already.

      February 8, 2011 at 2:21 am |
  18. Rachel

    WALMART?????? WHAT A JOKE!!

    February 7, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • I agree

      Wal-Mart, that's a JOKE!!
      Service Master, those folks are Crooks!! Ripping off Insurance Companies.. I know first hand!

      Who came up with that list???? OMG!!

      February 7, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  19. IMIHS

    As true Christians, we are not to pass judgement on anyone lest we be judged. If u r not a Christian, it's still a good lesson to learn & live by.

    OK... so what's all the hype about working for a Christian-based company? I work for one, and I'm very proud and grateful that we are Christian. However, not once do we as a company, have a problem hiring a non-Christian, nor do we PUSH our belief system on anyone. And yes we start off every business meeting with a prayer or a devotional; if an employee does not want to attend or be part of it that is their choice, they are neither chastised nor looked down on. If you are unfamiliar with this reaction or experience, it is called... love and acceptance, something Jesus taught us. And yes, all of us forget it time to time, and some more than others.

    To all the good people who are not Christians, please know this about us Christians... If we do not act and live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ, then we as Christians are only fooling ourselves, as we are Christians in name ONLY.

    As is written in the New Testament in the book of Revelation, chapter 3, I believe... God calls Christians, who act like this, lukewarm and He will spew us out of His mouth. So... The joke is on us... Blessings to all God's children!

    February 7, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Justin W.

      I will not judge someone who belives in any religion, or who has faith. But those who say my athiest point of view is wrong, or who judges anyone for a different point of view needs a reality check. Do not preach. You are not making your fantasy reality.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • SophyB

      @JustinW
      But Justin you just DID show judgment in your statement by belittling someone's belief as a fantasy.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • Justin W.

      True. I am guilty of that. But, science is science. so...it is really more a fantasy than reality.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • listenclose

      so justin you do it again science is science hu one group of scientists said global warming is a fact the others say its a fantasy one group of scientists said there is no other intelligent life in the universe the other said thats fantasy one group said the world is flat the others said its fantasy if you believe in science you are living in the fantasy of what others have told you is fact. A scientists idea of a fact is what he can see hear and ration right here right now because he cant see hear or feel anything greater then the bubble they spend their life in

      February 7, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • Justin W.

      so, listenclose...you think the world is flat. you don't think there is other life in the universe. You think there is god. That's fine. I will say that is not true. I do believe that is as much a "story" as anything else that has no scientific backing. I do not persecute your beliefs. I will, however, not give you my money or my backing. If my saying it is a "fairy tale" or whatever...then don't read my statement. or disregard it. Me and you will both die and rot in the ground eventually.

      February 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  20. Justin W.

    I find it funny that as a majority, religious groups say that, generally "If you don't like a christ-like company....you don't have to go there......." but for someone to say they won't go there based on what that company believes is persecution.....

    February 7, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • martin isenburg

      Some of the worst businesses in America are founded on "Christian beliefs"? Let's take Tyson and Walmart, for example. They violate health codes, torture animals, pay minimum wages with minimum benefits, prevent workers from unionizing, import plastic crap from China (Walmart), pollute the environment (Tyson), drive once proud poultry farmers into becoming wage slaves (Tyson), sell cheap products with high-profits produces by "modern slaves" in China and other third-world countries (Walmart), ... WWJB? Read "fast food nation", "nickel and dimed" and google for "not for sale" ...

      February 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • listenclose

      chick fila didnt kick up a controversy cnn did and now that they have spent 6 days attacking the chick for believing in god they thought they should attack other christian companies for believing in a god as well shame on you cnn for your bigotry and shame on all you hate filled commenters on here day in and day out attacking 97% of the world for believing in a god because statistics prove time and again less then 3% of the world is athiest

      February 7, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • miller

      In the mid 90's I took an overseas marketing course and they told us that in the Islamic world if you're marketing a product not to even consider marketing anything that wasn't in a green package. They said if the package has any blue (israel's colors) on it no one will buy it.

      And yet here we are hating ourselves because there are a few "religious companies" hereabouts. No one in America has the slightest clue what a religious company even is. The rest of the world is dominated by this, but we have to pick ourselves apart because someone decided to put a bible verse on the bottom of a bag.

      I don't like religion, but I like the fact that we hate ourselves so much even less.

      February 8, 2011 at 12:05 am |
    • oh please...........

      Persecution? I can hardly believe this thread, especially as it's under "Faith." Faithy companies?? Really? There was a time, not so distant (for some of us), where business closed on Sundays, pretty much everywhere.........and JC Penney was known by its founder's ethics/beliefs. How funny that Penney's is now the alternate to WalMart.

      Freedom apparently is valued by CNN's folks as long as it comports with their values...........and if not, well, your just another bunch of extremists. My wife and I have toyed with ending any viewing of CNN as they no longer have any sense of the objective. This whole line of stories, not to mention so many others, just drives that point home.

      Be happy! Piers Morgan is still news........right?!?!? Self promotion runs rampant.

      February 8, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Justin W.

      No. The thing is I can peacefully say I chose not to go to openly religious stores. You say I am an extremist. Just as many christians would avoid a store of mine if I made my claim as athiest. which I do.

      February 8, 2011 at 12:26 am |
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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.