These Companies Have Made Being Religious Part of Their Image
There are a few topics employees are urged to avoid at work or with friends: politics, personal finances, and religion. Introducing such heated topics can be doubly dangerous for businesses. Still, the threat of backlash doesn’t scare some religious companies whose faith outweighs a potentially damaging PR nightmare. Some of America’s biggest corporations are also intensely religious — and they have no plans to hide it.
Ahead are 15 popular and wildly successful companies who are religious to the core.
1. In-N-Out Burger
The Snyder family maintains private ownership of the popular burger chain, allowing them to reference particular Bible verses on its products. Unlike other religious companies on this list, In-N-Out’s website is free of religious messaging, but customers will notice proverbs printed on milkshake cups, French fry holders, and Double-Double wrappers. Lynsi Snyder — the chain’s billionaire president and founders granddaughter — is a Christian who says she found peace through religion.
Next: A company sending (somewhat) mixed signals
2. Tyson Foods
The world’s largest chicken company speaks openly about its Christian beliefs. Founder John Tyson employs more than 120 chaplains who provide religious guidance and “compassionate pastoral care” to employees. Tyson’s core values also state that it “strive(s) to honor God” and “be a faith-friendly company.”
This is also the same company accused of subpar working environments and unethical employee practices.
Next: Outwardly Christian faith
Chick-fil-A is perhaps one of the most notable outwardly religious companies in America. For one, its devout Christian leaders require all locations to close on Sundays to observe the Sabbath. President Dan Cathy has also been vocal about his opposition toward same-sex marriage, choosing to promote traditional family values instead. Their charitable contributions to anti-gay groups have been the source of countless protests from customers offended by their views.
Next: Sending prayer messages to the skies
4. Alaska Air
Inspirational notecards referencing a passage from the Old Testament used to accompany every Alaska Airlines breakfast tray until in-flight meals were stopped in 2012. Though some fliers took issue with the effort, Alaska Air responded with a faith-based message.
“The quotes have application across many Judeo-Christian beliefs and are shared as a gesture of thanks which reflect the beliefs of this country’s founding as in the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, Pledge of Allegiance and every U.S. coin and dollar you handle.”
Even former CEO Bruce Kennedy began conducting missionary work after leaving the company.
Next: Religious companies in hot water with fans
5. Hobby Lobby
Religious companies like Hobby Lobby make no effort to hide their beliefs from the public. They frequently run full-page religious ads on Easter and Christmas holidays and always close its stores on Sunday. Even their mission statement vows that they “Honor(s) the Lord … in a manner consistent with biblical principles.”
Most recently, the privately-held company successfully argued that it should not be required to supply birth control under the Affordable Care Act because of the owners’ religious beliefs. This sparked outrage among employees, shoppers, and Americans everywhere.
Next: A southern staple
6. Cook Out
Cook Out, the south’s version of In-N-Out, has a cult-like following. It’s also a burger chain steeped heavily in religious beliefs. Bible verses can be found on milkshake and soft-drink cups and the corporate owners prefer franchisees to play Christian music through the restaurant loudspeakers – – though it’s not enforced.
Next: Buddhists beliefs
7. Whole Foods
Buddhist ideals are woven throughout Whole Food’s company mission and values. Among them is the reference to being “a servant leader” who cares about others above all. Mackey and co-founder Walter Robb believe companies should commit to a higher purpose than just being profitable, so both men maintain a salary cap. In 2007, Mackey reduced his salary to just $1 a year.
Next: More proverbs
8. Forever 21
This budget-friendly clothing retailer has been struggling to pay the bills recently, as is evident in its decision to demote full-time workers to part-time status to avoid paying benefits. Critics see this as a direct conflict between their outwardly religious beliefs. Forever 21 and was founded by the Chang family, born-again Christians who don’t shy away from their faith. The company also prints John 3:16 on its shopping bags, reportedly keeps Bibles at company headquarters, and sells a slew of religious-themed apparel.
Next: Religious companies putting bibles by the bed
Marriott’s religious roots originate from John Willard Marriott’s faith. He launched the chain of hotels after completing a two-year mission for the Mormon Church in New England. Marriott International supplies a Bible and the Book of Mormon in every hotel room in the franchise.
But the company decided to forgo offering religious materials at two of its newest millennial-oriented hotels, Moxy and Edition hotels, “because the religious books don’t fit the personality of the brands,” Marriott spokeswoman Felicia Farrar McLemore said.
Next: Guns and Christianity
Look closely, and you may find coded references to bible verses encrypted on your next Trijicon firearm. The company, which makes optical sightings equipment for firearms encountered backlash for putting bible verses such as John 8:12 on its products as a reflection of company values. However, they later vowed to remove those references for all military-issued products and inscribe religious messages on consumer products only.
Next: A southern grocery store founded in religion
11. H-E-B Grocery
Steeped in Christian faith, Texas grocery store chain H-E-B. stayed closed on Sundays and prohibited the sale of alcohol until 1976. So much so that former chairman Howard E. Butt Jr. chose to become a preacher and oversee a Christian retreat center in Texas rather than run the chain himself. He also joined Reverend Billy Graham in the 1950s to create spiritual programs for business professionals — all of which influence culture at all H-E-B stores.
Next: A religious effort that seems to have paid off
Wegmans, a family-owned grocery chain, leans on Catholic principles to guide business. Founder Robert Wegman believed the most important goal in life was to make it to heaven. The company put Catholic social teaching to good use by referencing the four pillars in their mission: solidarity, subsidiarity, the dignity of the human person and the care of the common good.
Wegmans’ religious influences must be paying off. Fortune named them the second-best place to work in 2017.
Next: A company recognized for religion
13. Interstate Batteries
The Interstate Batteries website speaks strongly toward the company’s religious identity referencing their mission “to glorify God” while serving customers. Interstate Batteries serves the community via its Chaplin’s Group and former company President Norm Miller was recognized for his “strong Christian leadership” by Dallas Baptist University.
Next: A company who modified its religious verbiage
Terminix is one of many religious companies touting beliefs via its website for all to see. Marion E. Wage, founder of iconic brands like Terminix, American Home Shield, and Merry Maids, believes each employee and customer is “worthy of dignity and respect.”
At one point, this page also included the verbiage “made in God’s image,” though the phrase has since been removed amidst controversy surrounding companies who intermix religion and business.
Next: Airline making big changes
Founder and former CEO of JetBlue David Neeleman is a Mormon and father of nine. When it comes to customer service, he said, “I learned to treat everyone the same. If anything, I have a disdain for the upper class and people who think they are better than others” in The Mormon Way of Doing Business.
JetBlue also implemented “homesourcing,” which entailed relocating its phone reservation system to stay-at-home workers based in Salt Lake City. This was viewed by many as a nod to his religious roots.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
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