Many big brands are intensely
religious, even though consumers may not realize it. Most of the time,
it comes from a devout founder passing his or her values on down the
Some companies put their religion right out in the open, and are
proud of their identities. Chick-fil-A is infamous for closing on
Sundays, and In-N-Out puts Bible verses on its packaging. Interstate
Batteries' mission statement states up front that it exists "to glorify
God" while selling its products.
Still, it's risky for brands to affiliate themselves with a religion
directly. Since it's just a polarizing subject, it often opens companies
up to controversy.
a skimpy $15 top or $19 skirt from trendy but budget-conscious clothing
retailer Forever 21 and you may notice "John 3:16" printed on your
Printed on the bottom of each of the store's bags, the biblical
reference is perhaps the most obvious reference to the religious beliefs
promoted by the store's owners, the Chang Family, who are born-again
Mrs. Chang told Business Week
last year that the store had religious roots, citing that "God told her
she should open a store and that she would be successful."
by devout Southern Baptist Truett Cathy in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia,
Chick-fil-A has since expanded to become a major American fast-food
chain, with more than 1,500 locations in 39 states.
Throughout its success, the company has stuck to its founder's religiously-motivated decision to be closed on Sundays.
"(Cathy) believes that all franchised Chick-fil-A Operators and their
Restaurant employees should have an opportunity to rest, spend time
with family and friends, and worship if they choose to do so," according to the restaurant's website.
"That's why all Chick-fil-A Restaurants are closed on Sundays. It's part of our recipe for success."
In a 1997 interview Mary Kay Ash, founder of the cosmetics behemoth of the same name, attributed her company's success to the choice to "take God as our partner."
She expounded on these views in her biography, "Mary Kay: You Can Have it All,"
where she stated, "God has blessed us because our motivation is right.
He knows I want women to be the beautiful creatures he created.''
In-N-Out, the California-based burger chain is beloved for its commitment to fresh ingredients and its secretive "special menu."
It is also well known for the citation of Bible passages printed on the chain's cardboard cups, containers and wrappers.
The company does not address religion or the passages on their website. Company spokesman Carl Van Fleet told USA Today in 2005 that the founders' son Richard Snyder instituted the practice. "He told me, 'It's just something I want to do.'"
Timblerland CEO Jeff Swartz is well-known for his commitment to promoting corporate social responsibility.
For example, Swartz moved to sever the company's ties with a Chinese
factory where human rights violations were allegedly occuring despite
the fact that it took a hit to the shoemaking company's bottom
line. Swartz attributed his motivation to his own personal Jewish faith in a 2008 Fast Company profile.
"I can't show you the scripture that relates to the rights of a
worker, but I can show you text that insists upon treating others with
dignity," he said. "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."
"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. Alaska Airlines is an international
carrier with very diverse customers, and we have no intentions of
offending anyone or their beliefs. An overwhelming majority of our
customers have indicated they appreciate the gesture, and those who
don’t are not forced to read it."
And it's a
big reason Neeleman prioritizes customer service. "My missionary
experience obliterated class distinction for me," he said to author Jeff
Benedict in "The Mormon Way of Doing Business."
"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."
Interstate Batteries speaks to its own religious identity in its mission statement.
According to the company's website,
the mission is "to glorify God as we supply our customers worldwide
with top quality, value-priced batteries, related electrical
power-source products, and distribution services."
Lobby, a national chain of roughly 500 arts-and-craft stores in 41
states makes the company's religious beliefs quite clear.
The company's first mission statement is "Honoring the Lord in all we
do by operating the company in a manner consistent with biblical
principles," according to its website,
and ends with, "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that
Hobby Lobby has endured. He has been faithful in the past, we trust Him
for our future."
Since 1997, the company has run full-page religious ads in every newspaper in which they advertise for holidays including Easter and Christmas.
may not be a household name, but several of its brands — which include
Merry Maids, Terminix and American Home Shield — are.
Former Minor League Baseball player Marion E. Wade founded the
company in 1929 and worked to incorporate his "strong personal faith and
a desire to honor God in all he did," according to the Service Master website.
This translated into the company's "foundational commitment" to "Honor God in all we do."
George Foreman Cooking
Jeremy O'Donnell / Getty Images Entertainment
leaving behind a successful boxing career, George Foreman gained
new-found fame as the boisterous hawker of low-fat cooking grills.
a grocery-store chain with hundreds of stores in Texas and Mexico, grew
from a single-family owned store opened by Florence Butt in Kerrville,
Texas in 1905.
Company Vice Chairman Howard E. Butt Jr.
is also a self-described "spiritual reformer," who joined with Rev.
Billy Graham in the 1950s to create "spiritual programs for business
professionals." He also oversees the administration of "Laity Lodge," a
Christian retreat center in Texas.
Curves gyms are nationally known for creating a men-free environment where women of all shapes and sizes can work out.
It's lesser known that the company's founder Gary Heavin, is a
born-again Christian who has garnered criticism for conservative
political views and donating to anti-abortion causes, according to a 2004 Houston Chronicle profile.