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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. Kathy

    I for one will definately use these companies! Everyone has a right to their own religious beliefs but it seems that some people are offended by Christianity. I deal with all of the other beliefs, I am am AMERICAN! That means FREEDOM! You have a right to shop, eat, and purchase products where you please. So do Christians, if you are offended deal with it, we do every single day

    February 8, 2011 at 6:38 am |
    • xd

      Fools! You Christians are being duped and used. Can you justify this as something Jesus would do?

      "Currently birds who are killed for Tyson are dumped onto conveyor belts and slammed upside down by their legs into metal shackles–a procedure that often results in broken wings and broken legs. Birds are still conscious when their throats are cut, and many are then scalded to death in defeathering tanks."

      You might want to rethink you're support for these heartless money mongers

      February 8, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • nepawoods

      The Bible explicitly affirms eating meat is OK. It doesn't say much about how to kill a chicken.

      February 8, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  2. Eric

    CNN is anti-religion, but the tone of its articles on Christianity are much colder and darker. No objectivity. This one was *supposed* to be about "faithy" businesses. That non-word sounds like little like a put-down. He could have used a well-understood and respectable term like "faith-based". Also, like others have mentioned, this only focused on firms having a Christian foundation or affiliation.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      Hmm... I've posted this once already, but it also seemed to fit here. I imagine I'll find more places for it as I continue reading:

      Something occurs to me: an awful lot of you are complaining about CNN publishing a list of overtly Christian companies, saying that it unfairly hurts Christians specifically. You're also saying that Christians are some kind of persecuted majority.

      Now, if Christians are in the majority, how does publishing a list of Christian companies hurt those companies? Shouldn't that just help them get business from the majority of people that support their cause? True, they might lose business from some of us in the minority, but who cares about such an insignificant portion of the population?

      With that in mind, I have this message: CNN, please stop unfairly supporting Christians. I demand you publish outright attack-pieces to keep things balanced.

      February 9, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  3. opinionated

    Thanks CNN for this article. I want to put my money with these businesses when I can.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  4. jcpl789

    Don't forget the founder of Buck knives! Very strong Christian beliefs!

    February 8, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  5. kryga

    These are good companies because of the Christian values of most people who run them. Give me a list of good companies run by atheists - nada.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:26 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      Actually:
      Everything owned by Warren Buffett (American investor, industrialist and philanthropist), Dennis Publishing, the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, Sinclair Radionics, Science of Cambridge Ltd., Sinclair Research Ltd, Soros Fund Management, Amstrad, and Facebook.

      That was by no means an exhaustive list, just popped up when I looked at Wikipedia's list of prominent atheists. I recommend it:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_%28miscellaneous%29

      February 9, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  6. CB

    Who gives a rat's ass if these companies are "faithy" as the author suggests? I have to wonder what the author's motive really is.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      As an atheist I care, and I would imagine a lot of christians care, too. Nothing wrong with spreading facts.

      February 9, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  7. vsb

    You all need gelp

    February 8, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  8. stacitjones

    This website printapons and retail me not very beneficial to increasing the speed of online shopping as well as the ease of finding the best price and coupons, which is the whole reason for shopping online.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:16 am |
    • No god? God no!

      I have no clue what the h__l you are talking about. Please take your meds EVERY day.

      February 8, 2011 at 6:43 am |
  9. zimmerman

    and then there is Creare in Hanover NH which does classified government work and is run and operated by fundamentalist christians that frown on any non-believers.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  10. cray

    Corporate capitalism and christianity go hand in hand. Both are a mockery in the needs mankind.
    The bible says god made man in his image, but corporate christianity created a god in their image.

    February 8, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • Kryga

      Christianity and Captilasim go hand in hand, really? How about Jews who run almost all the banks in the US, and maybe the whole world? Businesses are run by anybody.

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

      @Kryga: "How about Jews who run almost all the banks in the US, and maybe the whole world?" ... How about stop accepting as fact all the neo-nazi propaganda you read? Jews were prominent in European banking prior to the 1930s. Never in the US, and nowhere today (outside Israel).

      February 8, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  11. MJ

    I live near a Tyson plant. It really speaks volumes when the workers go to a restaurant and ask if their chicken is from their own store... if it is, they don't eat it. Therefore... I don't eat it.

    February 8, 2011 at 5:54 am |
    • xd

      Wow! Thanks for the info MJ! How about someone inform the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

      February 8, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  12. Kris

    You people seriously need to lighten up and stop being so offended when someone "outs" a company as being Christian. He isn't criticizing these companies. He is just pointing out to people who aren't Christian and who are so up in arms about Chick-Fil-A and its Christian beliefs that they also might be buying products and services from other Christian companies that they might not have known were Christian. If anything, he is pointing out the stupidity of the consumer who will buy from a company blindly. Unfortunately, your comments take away from the obvious stupidity of the consumer and put the stupidity on you guys and your lack of reading comprehension.

    February 8, 2011 at 5:44 am |
  13. battle54

    Regarding ServiceMaster, for another perspective on "do the right thing in the way that employees treat customers", please refer to

    http://www.syix.com/emu/html/svmc.html.

    I am puzzled as to why religion is a factor in discussing any business enterprise. Reputation, integrity, trust and honesty are the fundamental building blocks of any individual transaction between a business and a customer. Living day to day, all that is important is that a business 'does the right thing' in interacting with a customer and vice versa.

    February 8, 2011 at 5:35 am |
  14. Bill

    Servicemaster/American Home shield??! The way they screwed me didn't seem very Christian

    February 8, 2011 at 5:24 am |
    • YougurtGun

      American Home shield??? I deal with them on a regular basis. If they're "christian-like" then we must be talking about the Swaggart,Bakker,Haggard's of the religous world.

      February 8, 2011 at 5:45 am |
  15. Ang

    Thanks for this story. I'll make sure I patronize all of these companies as often as I can. I'm an American who's tired of seeing Christian's get ill treatment. God bless them all!

    February 8, 2011 at 5:22 am |
    • Mike

      More often than not, it is the christians that ill treat non-christians.

      February 8, 2011 at 6:16 am |
    • xd

      Good luck and enjoy! You can have them. Just get insurance so we don't have to pay for your quadruple bypass surgery.

      February 8, 2011 at 6:18 am |
    • CAREBEAR-666

      Good, that'll be another Christian with a coronary, 'god bless them all' isn't that like saying Unicorns think kindly of you.

      February 8, 2011 at 6:43 am |
    • No god? God no!

      Or go to a proper country that has a proper health care system

      February 8, 2011 at 6:46 am |
    • Cat

      I wish I had the religious freedom Christians have in this country. I am an "eclectic spiritualist" who follows Buddhism, Hinduism and Neopaganism and this offends so many people especially here in the south. I am a vegan because of my beliefs and I am constantly berated and ill treated because I do not believe in eating animals. It's amazing how refusing to eat a food just because it doesn't feel right by me (And it's not like I think everyone should be like me either) causes me to receive so much hate and discrimination. I am not allowed to talk openly about my beliefs the way Christians are and if I speak about why violence and eating animals is wrong I am told "God made the animals for you to eat." Sorry but my "God" doesn't believe that animals are for eating and I also don't believe my path is the only path... but apparently this is "wrong."

      If this article was written about 7 companies founded on Paganism, Islam or anything else, the Christians would say "OMG discrimination!" or "they just need Jesus!" So sorry I don't buy that Christians are constantly persecuted. If anything being a part of the mainstream religion means everyone respects you. I had no idea that my beliefs of non-violence and meditation were considered so "evil" until I thought one day maybe I could partake in that same religious freedom Christians get. I was wrong, so wrong!

      February 8, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • TJustSaying

      As a Christian I find nothing wrong with your beliefs in Buddism, Hindu, or any other faith. I respect your right to believe in it and see nothing wrong with the fact you do not eat animals. Nothing in the Christian religion says go out and make fun of those that do not believe as you do. And I apologize for any Christians that go out do that as they are not behaving as Christians. Judge not he least Yea be judged.

      But with all that said I doubt you will be seeing your religion on the public Black List as the head religion it also makes you the biggest target. Keep this in mind Christians have something that tells them not to criticize you for your beliefs there is no book you can use to hold non religious folks accountable for how they might belittle your faith.

      February 8, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • AmazingSteve

      Which blacklist are you talking about, exactly? Something occurs to me: an awful lot of you are complaining about CNN publishing a list of overtly Christian companies, saying that it unfairly hurts Christians specifically. You're also saying that Christians are some kind of persecuted majority.

      Now, if Christians are in the majority, how does publishing a list of Christian companies hurt those companies? Shouldn't that just help them get business from the majority of people that support their cause? True, they might lose business from some of us in the minority, but who cares about such an insignificant portion of the population?

      With that in mind, I have this message: CNN, please stop unfairly supporting Christians. I demand you publish outright attack-pieces to keep things balanced.

      February 9, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Shawn

      I hope a chicken bone lodges in your throat and chokes you to death. If there is a god I'm certain he/she/it would be disgusted by all you good religious folks.

      March 6, 2011 at 12:03 am |
  16. D

    Oy Vey....what about B&H and similar

    February 8, 2011 at 5:13 am |
    • Dick

      oy-vey!

      February 8, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • nepawoods

      I was thinking 47th street photo, but how well known are these? And, if you ever been to the store, you can't miss that they're Jewish, so doesn't exactly fit the "not always visible to consumers" aspect of the article's theme.

      February 8, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  17. kryga

    CNN will probably end up with a lawsuit if they keep this bigot Dan Gilgoff who singles out companies that promote Christian values in this article "7 Religious Companies." Gilgoff equates religious companies to companies with Christian value orientations and founders. He does not mention companies with Jewish, Mormom, and Muslim orientation, values, background, or founders in his article. He is a bigot.

    February 8, 2011 at 5:05 am |
    • nepawoods

      Mormons are Christian (believe Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected, use the same KJV Bible that Protestants do). That leaves Jews and Muslims. Your criticism presupposes that there ARE some large, well-known companies that, unknown to most (unlike say, a Kosher food manufacturer), has a strong Jewish or Muslim culture (and is not merely owned by Jews or Muslims). Are you aware of any such companies?

      February 8, 2011 at 7:06 am |
  18. mamae

    i just think CNN is anti-christian period

    February 8, 2011 at 4:55 am |
    • xd

      I am an American and I choose to eat non-religious burgers. Thank you CNN for this insight.

      February 8, 2011 at 6:03 am |
    • CAREBEAR-666

      In the name of God I hope so...!

      February 8, 2011 at 6:40 am |
  19. kryga

    The author definitely hates Christianity. Beliel blog co-editor Dan Gilgoff is anti-Christian and should be fired. How about companies run by Jews, Muslims and Mormoms? He is prejudiced against Christianity because he mentioned only companies which somehow promote Christian values. Dan Gilgoff is a bigot and CNN should FIRE him.

    February 8, 2011 at 4:50 am |
    • Ivanna

      How exactly does mentioning Christian stores make him hate Christianity? Bring some logic into your accusations, please. We're not all going to accept sh**talking based on faith alone.

      February 8, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • xd

      Um, just an article with facts. Sounds to me like you Christians hate more. Live your life and go eat Chick Fillet. I can't wait to see the list of Atheist food joints. Oh wait, those might be vegetarian or use free range chickens, wheres the profit in that?

      February 8, 2011 at 6:11 am |
    • kryga

      Ivanna, I won't discuss with a low IQ person like you who can't analyze the content.

      February 8, 2011 at 6:13 am |
    • xd

      Don't let it get to you so breathe deep and relax.. it's ok because most other people can't comprehend the logic either. Besides, how many intellectuals are reading your comments? Then how many of those are actually influenced towards your perceived beliefs?

      February 8, 2011 at 6:33 am |
  20. Wendy

    Hearing this makes me smile...big companies who love God..I think that is why they are so blessed. I love in and out and after reading this article makes me love it even more!!!!! For those who comment about not wanting to go there...I only feel pity for you.

    February 8, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Dannon

      You're an idiot. Religion and high cholesterol... yeah, thats a combo number 1 for you.

      February 8, 2011 at 5:15 am |
    • xd

      Supersize that deep fried heart attack while you're at it

      February 8, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • CAREBEAR-666

      No it's the Prosac that's making you smile...

      February 8, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Shawn

      So good X-tian companies like Wal-Mart who won't pay a livable wage, force their employees to suck dry the state coffers for health care, censor books and records they don't approve of makes you happy? You are a sick twisted individual. Corporate America bows down to one thing and one thing only and it sure as hell isn't god. It's the almighty dollar and screw anyone who gets in their way.

      March 5, 2011 at 11:51 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.