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Several businesses harness Christianity as part of their corporate culture, either as a way to reflect certain beliefs of their owners or in order to appeal to Christian consumers. This corporate Christianity reflects a broad range of beliefs and expresses itself in a variety of policies and practices.
Corporate Christianity tends to focus on cheap religious signaling, ranging from slapping Bible quotes on products to refusing to carry pornography. Understandably, most businesses are hamstrung by the society they do business in. They can't explicitly fashion themselves as fundamentalist Christian, as that would alienate many mainstream consumers. They can't model themselves after leftist forms of Christianity, because they'd have to sacrifice profit for that. And marketing is the death of nuance.
The options that remain are slapping Bible quotes on wildly inappropriate things, and adopting generic culturally conservative policies (e.g. no abortion coverage in company health plans, no "obscene" products in stores, etc). Due to the shallowness of this theology, however, it's not uncommon for policies to contradict and lead to hypocrisy, like when it was revealed that Hobby Lobby refused to cover contraception under its employee health plans while still investing employee retirement funds in contraception manufacturers.
Like X, but Christian
Some businesses are formed as a Christian-friendly alternative in industries perceived to be too obscene or anti-Christian:
- eHarmony.com, a dating site for Christians. Their marketing responds to the fears of some conservative Christians that internet dating promotes easy hook-ups by focusing on interviews with happily married couples who chastely snuggle with each other. The company bills this as "revolutionary".
- Record companies have created a genre of "white metal", a Christian variant of the largely "evil" and "satanic" black metal. How different this is from Christian rock is open to debate.
- "Faith and Redemption" is a trading card game meant to be a substitute to Magic: the Gathering. Players of the latter see the former as redundant, seeing how Magic has endured similar controversies in the past and nowadays only really has the stigma of the game being "cardboard crack" attached to it; and the designers of the game have drawn inspiration from numerous mythical and religious entities in the past...including the Bible.
Sticking Bible quotes on stuff
Forever 21 is a clothing store known for offering merchandise with John 3:16 on it, alongside more conventional items such as underwear with "Y is for yummy" printed on it. Maybe they should use Song of Solomon 1:2 instead?
Trijicon, an American manufacturer of firearm sights, has a long tradition of engraving references to Bible verses on their product. Nothing particularly wrong with that… until it turned out that they supply sights to the US military for use in the Iraq War. Conspicuously, the list of quotes that were used lacks stuff like Matthew 26:52 and Micah 4:3.
Ezekiel Bread, claim they make their bread "in the likeness of the Holy Scripture verse Ezekiel 4:9 to ensure unrivaled honest nutrition and pure, delicious flavors," and proudly display the Bible verse on its wrapping. This verse reads, "Take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt; put them in a storage jar and use them to make bread for yourself. You are to eat it during the 390 days you lie on your side." They don't mention the second sentence in their advertising, seeing as it's a bit weird, and has to do with bearing the sins of the people of Israel. Just be thankful they don't use Ezekiel 4:12.
In-n-Out Urge In-n-Out Burger loves to stick bible references on its stuff (not the burgers themselves though, that would be a bit strange). The burger wrappers feature Revelation 3:20 ("Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me", or Nahum 1:7 ("The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.") The soda cups feature John 3:16 ("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.") Their milkshake cups feature Proverbs 3:5 ("Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.") Paper water cups used exclusively by restaurant staff feature John 14:6 ("Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.")
Alaska Airlines formerly gave out prayer cards with meals to all passengers, then in 2006 they cut costs and gave them only to first class passengers. In 2012, they decided to eliminate them altogether, finally deciding after 30 years that "religious beliefs are deeply personal…"
Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain, notoriously refuses to cover birth control under its health plans. After Obamacare prohibited this, Hobby Lobby sued the government, claiming its policy was an extension of religion and therefore couldn't be regulated. They also refused to carry non-Christian paraphernalia (e.g. anything having to do with Judaism) until 2013.
Would you like some homophobia with your fried chicken?
Chick-fil-A is a fried chicken restaurant chain whose business it is, apparently, to dictate what the United States' policy on same-sex marriage should be. After public statements on the subject in the summer of 2012, the company became a rallying point for conservatives opposed to marriage equality. And they sold a lot of chicken in the bargain. The irony of making statements about homosexuals based on Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, while selling food in violation of Leviticus 3:17 and not informing customers of Exodus 23:19, was lost on the company and their patrons.
The act of "showing up the queers and liberals" by paying for fried food that clogs their own arteries was also fairly humorous. The benefit is that Hobby Lobby would cover the procedures to save yourself from your eating habits. However, it does not seem trusting the Lord's plan for one's life if medical science intervenes.
- Dr. Bronner's Soap, for the hippie version of corporate Christianity.
- Mother Jones article discussing Hobby Lobby's Christian policies.
- Molly Redden. Hobby Lobby's Hypocrisy: The Company's Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers. Mother Jones. 2014 April 1.
- TV Tropes' page for "The Moral Substitute" gives a rundown of some examples of this from across pop culture. Not all come from the Christian market (they also note educational, secular political, and nationalist examples), but most are, and the page's introduction notes how their status as a large, moralistic subculture wielding substantial political and economic power caused them to embrace this phenomenon.
- Meet Our TV Couples. eHarmony.com.
- eHarmony. A Social Revolution. YouTube. 2013 June 3.
- Deborah Kolben. Evangelism in Fashion. New York Sun. 2006 August 18.
- Tahman Bradley, et al. U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret 'Jesus' Bible Codes. ABC News. 2010 January 18.
- See the Wikipedia article on Trijicon biblical verses controversy.
- Food for Life Baking Company — About Us.
- Ezekial 4 at Bible Gateway.
- Alaska Airlines drops prayer cards during meals
- Associated Press. Obamacare faces religious challenge in supreme court. The Guardian. 2014 March 23.
- Yvette Alt Miller. Hobby Lobby’s Hanukkah Decoration Fiasco. aish.com. 2013 October 7.