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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Religious foundations of many successful businesses not well known by the public

Comments from Chick-fil-A head Dan Cathy about traditional marriage has shone a spotlight on businesses based and bolstered by religious beliefs. What's not widely known is that many widely known U.S. businesses build upon religious beliefs as part of their ongoing success. 

Among the more surprising faith-based businesses is Forever 21, a young women's clothing company known for skimpy outfits.

Among the more surprising faith-based businesses is Forever 21, a young women's clothing company known for skimpy outfits.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/5/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Chick-fil-A, faith-based businesses, retail, customer service


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online)  - Among the more surprising faith-based businesses is Forever 21, a young women's clothing company known for skimpy outfits. However, the words John 3:16 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."

CEO of Tom's of Maine Tom Chappell originally left his natural care products to pursue a ministry until a professor told him to run his business like a ministry. Beyond environmentalism, the company seeks to "create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope."

Tyson Foods, Inc., the world's largest chicken company employs a team of chaplains who minister to employees at production facilities and corporate offices.

Hobby Lobby, which comprises 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."

ServiceMaster, 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 Web site. "Translating this into the marketplace, he viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God's image - worthy of dignity and respect."

Michigan-based furniture manufacturer Herman Miller is also steeped in the Reformed Protestant tradition. 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.

Car battery giant Interstate Batteries has a "self-avowed religious identity and is very open in their God talk" in internal training and communication.

In-N-Out Burger also makes its founders' religious leanings part of its recipe. 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."

Retail giant Wal-Mart has used Christian servant leadership models in building the world's largest retailer. Wal-Mart also carries the kind of Christian books that were once the exclusive province of Christian bookstores. 

Door-to-door cosmetics firm Mary Kay founded by Mary Kay Ash attributes the company's success to a decision to "take God as our partner." Much of the company's strong religious culture has prompted many critics to label the company a cult.

Company CEO Jeff Swartz of Timberland says his commitment is directly tied to his Jewish faith. Swartz pointed out in an interview, "It says in the Hebrew Bible one time that you should love your neighbor as yourself, but it says dozens of times that you shall treat the stranger with dignity."

After a period of trial and error, Alaska Airlines discontinued passing out prayer cards with meals. The cards included an excerpt from the book of Psalms on a card with a scenic photograph.

Marriott International - John Willard Marriott, founder of the international hotel conglomerate was a devout Mormon who held positions of leadership while building the empire bearing his name. In 2011, the chain made headlines when they announced they would no longer offer pornography among the pay-per-view in-room movie selections. The chain also has a history of sometimes placing the Book of Mormon in hotel rooms alongside the Gideon's Bible.

Founder and CEO David Neelman JetBlue is a devout Mormon who says his faith has led him to make certain he serves his customers, much in the same way he learned to serve others as a full-time Mormon missionary at the age of 19.

At times, religious values in business have led some companies into hot water. According to a 2010 ABC News report, the Michigan-based weapons-sight maker Trijicon inscribed "coded" references to New Testament Bible passages on the sights, which have been used by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. military rules prohibit the promotion of any religion in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Former heavyweight boxer George Foreman became an ordained minister after a religious experience in 1977 and continues to share his religious experiences in the media and on Christian television today. George Foreman Cooking has grown from the George Foreman Grill into other products, including cookbooks, home and car cleaning products, vitamins and supplements, and personal care products.

In addition, Founder of Texas and Mexico supermarket chain H.E.B., Howard E. Butt Jr., is the voice of "The High Calling of Our Daily Work," a 60-second series of religious radio spots that airs on more than 2,000 radio stations across the nation.

Religious faith in business has always skirted controversy. As an example, Curves founder Gary Heavin is a born-again Christian who's staunch political conservatism and support of anti-abortion causes has cost the women's fitness chain some memberships.



EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article stated that Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey is a Buddhist. After speaking with a representative of the company, we have verified that this is incorrect and the reference has been removed.

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