Top Ten American Religious Companies
Many folks know that Chick-fil-A, which recently kicked up a controversy by giving food to a group opposed to gay marriage, has a proud Christian identity. It's been branded into the memory of anyone who's gone salivating to one of the fast-food chain's stores on a Sunday, only to find its doors locked and the lights out.
But there are plenty of other name-brand companies that have intensely religious sides - even if they're not always visible to consumers.
Here are seven 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. Whole Foods. John Mackey, the organic food chain's co-founder and CEO, is a Buddhist who has worked to incorporate the eastern tradition's ideals into his company. “A lot of it has to do with caring for stakeholders and having a wider consciousness that it’s not just about profit but about sustainability,” says Judi Neal, Director of the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas (more about the center below). “It’s affected what’s being sold in grocery stores around the country."
3. 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."