Conservative evangelicals often patronize and defend "Christian businesses." But the term conflicts with some of their central theological beliefs. - Image courtesy of Brian Wallace (http://bit.ly/1q1hsTD)

Conservative evangelicals often patronize and defend “Christian businesses.” But the term conflicts with some of their central theological beliefs. – Image courtesy of Brian Wallace (http://bit.ly/1q1hsTD)

From Chick-fil-A to Hobby Lobby to In-N-Out Burger, some of America’s best brands are also widely considered to be “Christian.” As it turns out, this label can be good for business.

According to a 2011 Barna Research survey, one-third of all U.S. adults said they would be more likely to purchase from a company that “embraces and promotes the Christian faith.” Active participants in Protestant churches were the most attracted to such businesses. Only 3 percent said a Christian connection would make them less likely to support an organization, resulting in a favorable-to-unfavorable ratio of 12 to 1.

This data undermines many conservative evangelicals’ claims that “Christian businesses” are placing their companies at risk for proclaiming their values. But should this faithful faction even use such a moniker?

Conservative evangelicals’ politics often lead them to accept “corporate personhood,” a belief increasingly prominent in capitalistic societies stating that corporations should be granted the same rights as individual human beings. The concept of a “Christian business” springs from this belief. But the term runs into conflict with the group’s theological commitments.

In order to understand the term “Christian,” we must first ask what the word means. Conservative evangelicals’ view of salvation is understood purely in individual terms. Only a person can become a Christian and only by repenting of their sins and believing on Christ. Can an organization or corporation be “born again?” The answer is no.

Additionally, conservative evangelicals believe that a Christian is a person who is actively engaged sanctification, the process of becoming more holy. They accept that this process is accomplished by the work of Christ through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But a corporation can neither accept Christ nor be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

So if someone (or something) can claim the label “Christian” without repentance, belief, salvation, or sanctification, what is left? Or put a finer point on it, what makes a corporation “Christian” exactly?

Some would say that if a business has a Christian owner or founder, that makes it Christian. But by this standard all sorts of non-religious businesses would also be labeled as such. Can you become Christian by proxy?

Or perhaps we might say that a “Christian business” is a corporation that does Christian things (closes on Sundays, gives money to the poor, prints Bibles, or opposes political policies that conflict with Christian values). But this requires one to essentially accept a corporate form of works righteousness—the idea that we are saved by what we do—something conservative evangelicals reject.

But even more confusing is the way this label conflicts with conservative evangelicals’ view of divine revelation. The group believes that the Bible is the central, if not the only, true and trustworthy form of divine revelation. They claim that we must always look to the Bible to authoritatively guide us in belief and practice.

The New Testament never—not one time—applies the “Christian” label to a business or even a government. The tag is applied only to individuals. If the Bible is your ultimate guide, the only organization one might rightly term “Christian” is a church. And this is only because a church in the New Testament is not a building or a business, but a collection of Christian individuals who have repented, believed on Christ, and are pursuing a life of holiness.

Journalists or cultural commentators might use the phrase “Christian business” in colloquial or cultural terms, but conservative evangelicals must admit that the term makes no theological sense for them given their views of salvation, sanctification, and revelation.

Ironically, the same Christians who use this term also decry that we are entering a cultural moment when “Christian” is being emptied of all its meaning. Richard Weaver was right, ideas have consequences. And so does language. If something can mean anything, then eventually something will mean nothing at all.

** Quote for consideration: “‘Christian’ is the greatest of all possible nouns and lamest of all possible adjectives.” – Greg Thornbury, President of The King’s College**

88 Comments

  1. Jonathan. Just a note: Having grown up with In-n-Out burger just down the street, I can’t ever remember them referring to themselves as being a Christian business. We all knew that they were run by evangelical Christians (you can’t miss the Bible references on the wrappers and cups), but I don’t think they ever promoted themselves as such.

    And how I miss In-n-Out living in the east :p

        • Just as Christian as Hobby Lobby.

          Once you start declaring corporate religion, you will see the end of corporate taxation. Everything will be declared a church. The whole notion is a partisan inflected joke.

          • Maybe that is just being humble Christians. :)

            Not praying loudly like those hypocrites, “for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others”.
            Matthew 6:5

            Not really my point anyway. The whole stupidity of the Hobby Lobby argument is:
            1. Declaring a corporate religious belief undermines the purpose of incorporation. To insulate a business from the personal life of its owners.
            2. Nobody in their right mind wants the courts to be the arbiter as to who (or what company) has “real” religious beliefs.
            3. Having a religious belief has never been a valid excuse for avoiding laws of general application
            4. What really keeps companies from declaring themselves “religious” by going through some token marketing plans.
            5. It invites corporations to create their own religions which have to be legally recognized under the law.

          • Larry, I agree with your follow-on points (about the convoluted HL argument), but would observe the following about corporate “religion” and taxation: 1) corporations already do not pay their fair share of taxes, 2) there is considerable abuse already of “non-profit”, and 3) the definition of “church” (and the boundaries between church activities and other activities) are pretty well defined. I think it would be better to consider eliminating “non-profit” and corporate tax loopholes, but allow enterprises which engage in defined public services (direct service, not political action, for example) and can document expenditures be allowed to take credit for tax payments “in kind.” And I would make the in-kind qualified list pretty darn stringent.

      • The Great God Pan

        While I’m not normally one to defend either the inexplicably overrated In-n-Out Burger or anything related to Christianity, I have to say that they that they are pretty low-key about the Christian angle. The bible verses, as far as I have seen, are in tiny text and are basically hidden. And I think they are literally just chapter and verse citations, not even full-length quotations.

        And apart from the verses, they do not–to the best of my knowledge–do anything to identify themselves as a Christian business, let alone engage in the shenanigans of companies like Chick-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby. This may be down to their being based on the West Coast instead of the South or Midwest.

          • @Scott,

            What people do after work is nobody’s business.

            Morning after pill, sex on Saturdays, smoking.. – if the law allows it Hobby Lobby and the others should keep their fascist nonsense in their churches where it should stay.

            This is a country of grown-ups, not a Nanny State!

          • Conscripting their employees as unwilling acolytes into the religious faith of their owners counts as shenanigans in any sane person’s book.

          • The Great God Pan

            “What ‘shenanigans’ are Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby engaging in? Running their business according to their beliefs?”

            If you like.

            Regardless of what you call it, In-n-Out does not, to my knowledge, donate money to right-wing political organizations, make public statements about the validity of other people’s romantic relationships or bring cases about healthcare law to the Supreme Court.

          • CarrotCakeMan

            “Over the years, the company’s operators, its WinShape Foundation and the Cathy family have given millions of dollars to a variety of causes and programs, including scholarships that require a pledge to follow Christian values, a string of Christian-based foster homes and groups working to defeat same-sex marriage initiatives.

            “The company’s Christian culture and its strict hiring practices, which require potential operators to discuss their marital status and civic and church involvement, have attracted controversy before, including a 2002 lawsuit brought by a Muslim restaurant owner in Houston who said he was fired because he did not pray to Jesus with other employees at a training session. The suit was settled.”

            http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/30/us/30chick.html?_r=2&pagewanted=2

      • CarrotCakeMan

        In-n-Out is a privately held company, like Chick Fil A, but unlike Chick Fil A, In-n-Out ONLY has company owned stores. Their employees are the best paid fast food workers in the industry. Two company presidents ago put the Bible citations on the wrappers, in insignificant places. I’ve looked up the citations, I think they’re pleasant, not one of those “clobber passages” from Leviticus. That same two-presidents-ago gave $25,000.00 to a failed California state proposition to establish “school vouchers,” that was in the 1980s, and it’s the only political activity I could find in my research. It just isn’t accurate to compare In-n-Out to the other fast food owner who knowingly donated corporate profits in the millions per year to anti-gay groups he knew would use them to throw anti-gay Hate Votes. Even the New York Times commented on the chicken chain owner’s financing of anti-gay Hate Votes.

      • Which means that I am one of the apparently smaller percent who would NEVER make a purchase from such a business…they want my business, they have to respect me first.

    • Which means that I am one of the apparently smaller percent who would NEVER make a purchase from such a business…they want my business, they have to respect me first. -

  2. What I like about Chick FIL A is that they aim to serve others with excellence, generosity, and grace. I truly wish that this would be what people talk about vs their preconceived belief that CFA is out to covert us all and convert our way of thinking. They show love because they understand what love is.

    I can only hope that my own small business and the way I work with others reflects the hope and love that I have and the grace and forgiveness I’ve received.

    • I agree with Andy. This is the sole reason I stopped going to McDonalds and I choose Chic-Fil-A most when I am going to eat fast food (which isn’t often). At McDonalds I am usually treated with disdain and arrogance (why do you think MADtv, SNL & others have parodied them so well?) while at Chic-Fil-A I’m treated with grace and appreciation for being there.

      I understand that those same “Christian principals” that seem to be the reason for smiles and “my pleasure”s are the same ones that caused them to make comments like their recent ones on marriage–and that’s a part I don’t like.

      For-profit “Christian” corporations are not in the politics or religion business. (Although I agree with Jonathan that people are Christians, Jewish, Muslim, etc, and not companies anyways.) As a business though, it would be my suggestion to allow those faith principals that directly impact selling a product to be what drives the business & to stay out of the other arenas. While they can still choose to take any stand in their personal lives, I know some die-hard conservatives aren’t happy unless anyone claiming to be Christian is always willing to die on the same hill they are choosing to plant their banner on.

      • As a Christian business owner you would have me put my principles and faith aside and act as though what my business does is outside my faith. Should I have to support birth control or abortion because it is a matter of business not faith??? As a Christian, every square inch of my life belongs to God. Everything I do and say should reflect my belonging to him. What is disgusting in His eyes should be disgusting in my eyes. I’m glad Hobby Lobby won. As Christians, they understand the immorality and do not want to play a role in supporting it. You say they should because their lives as Christians and their business is separate? There should be no duality in our lives as Christians. No personal religious life and life outside of church. Christ should permeate into every single decision and action we take.

        • Ann Krajewski

          It must be so nice to believe in some guy sitting on a cloud in the sky. Do you have any clue how deranged that sounds? No you don’t, because religion is about controlling the behavior of the masses and it WORKS!! Tell the same story over and over and people buy it. Also, people don’t want to believe that their lives are expired once they die. They want to believe they go on to a better place.

  3. Chris is correct in that Chick-fil-a, In-n-Out and Hobby Lobby don’t call themselves “Christian Businesses,” but they are run or owned by Christians.

    Hobby Lobby’s assertion that ObamaCare would cause them to go against their beliefs as businessmen/women doesn’t mean they are a Christian Business, but rather a business run by Christians. How is this hard to comprehend?

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with running a business and holding to your beliefs and allowing them to dictate how you run the business. It’s called having ethics. Being a follower of Christ should impact and affect everything in your life, therefore, selling arts & crafts, making burgers and making great chicken are all influenced by your faith. I fail to see how that is a bad thing.

    • There is something wrong in using one’s religious beliefs to attack the rights of one’s employees and to avoid compliance to a law/tax which affects one’s business. There is nothing ethical about making others suffer for your convictions. There is nothing ethical about treating one’s employees as unwilling conscripted members of your faith. Being a follower of Christ does not absolve one of the obligations to respect the lives of others.

      The religious part of a business is pure marketing. An attempt to appeal to tribalism and niches. Nothing having at all to do with the nature of running a for-profit business enterprise.

      There is no such thing as a Christian business. A business is a for-profit entity. The religious beliefs of the owners or any personal aspects of the owners is immaterial to its existence. Corporation insulates owners from personal liabilities. In exchange a corporation can’t be treated as the personal plaything of its owners.

      • Attacking?!? Really?

        Not paying for the “Morning After” pill is hardly an attack.

        Hobby Lobby was just a successful business until they voiced their concern about ObamaCare and the effect it would have on their business. That’s when their beliefs came to the forefront.

        • Yes, its is denial of a benefit and right the employees are entitled to under the law.

          “Not paying for the “Morning After” pill is hardly an attack.”

          It is an attack when you have no business making the decision for others who may use it. If it is using money which belongs to the employees as compensation for work rendered.

          Health benefits are not paid as a gift to employees to use at their discretion. It is a form of compensation and now its considered a legally mandated right for a full time employee under the law.

          Hobby Lobby is not refusing to pay for contraception, they are banning their employees from paying for it using their own health insurance.

          You neither understand what health insurance is nor what rights an employer really has to exercise with it. Besides, Hobby Lobby has no religious belief. It is not Steve Green. It is what he uses to avoid using corporate profits from being declared personal income.

        • CarrotCakeMan

          Trying to force their employees to live the tenets of the owner’s religion sounds to me like an attack on their Freedom Of Religion.

          Please don’t act like all Christians share the peculiar beliefs of the Hobby Lobby owner, scott. That simply isn’t the case.

          • They can by their own morning after pills. Who is stopping them? Forcing a Christian business owner to pay for it for them, now that would be an attack on the Freedom of that business owner’s religion.

        • Not paying for the “morning after” pill is an attack in a sense on the rights of the employees who work for Hobby Lobby and other Christian run businesses. These are rights, per the same Supreme Court, that are afforded to every American citizen, regardless of religious affiliation.

          What makes this ruling terrible is now we have taken a law of the land that was applied universally and objectively and eviscerated it with subjectivity. It was already legislated but now the courts have said one minute, if you are a closely held corporation with certain religious views you are exempt from this law. Closely held corporations can, for the most part, be easily determined, single ownership or small partnership businesses would qualify, however, the tricky part is now, as others have stated, how do you tell the charlatans from the true believers. Good luck separating that chaff from the wheat.

          But the worse part of this ruling, in my opinion, is not that it opens the door to a theocracy as some on the left are hysterically claiming but that it further pushes us towards an oligarchy. The more the SC confirms in rulings that corporations are people like you and I, the more power is ensconced within corporate American and taken from the individual citizen. First a corporation had free speech rights equal to you and I and could donate without limit to political organizations. Now, a corporation can have a religious belief.

          The SC, in this decision, has narrowly defined the religious belief concept as being only for closely held corporations but honestly, does anyone not doubt that McDonalds, Haliburton, Lockheed Martin, etc. etc are not working on court briefs to argue that if one type of corporation has religious beliefs than all types must? Are we not threading water now where some day we might see corporations with temples on their campuses to exempt them from local, state and federal taxes (not that they pay that much to begin with).

          At what point do we pull back on this idea and determine that a faceless entity that exists through some legal documentation is not the same thing as a living, breathing person and therefore not entitled to the same rights as one? It surprises me greatly that adherents to the Abrahamic faiths (which I profess I am not) do not fight these rulings tooth and nail. For isn’t your humanity, the notion that you are unique, with a soul saved by your savior or to be saved by your savior, what makes you special in all the universe? Does it not trouble you as an affront to your belief system when the courts rule that a corporation is equivalent to a person? Perhaps I missed it during my Catholic years, does it say somewhere in the Good Book ‘blessed are the corporations for they shall inherit the earth?’

          • Corporations are run by individuals who have faces and are accountable to God for the decisions they make regarding the running of their businesses. Knowing God is pro marriage between a man and a woman, and knowing God is against murder – as a Christian business owner I should not be forced to support/fund anything that conflicts with this.

      • Religious = marketing? No, these business owners have conviction. This means their religion is more than a name. It is more than a club to which they belong. They shouldn’t be forced to support immorality as it goes against the very core of who they are.

        Rights?? I know we live in a nation full of those who believe they are entitled to everything they want, but the morning after pill is not a right.

        People do have a right however to find a job elsewhere if they don’t like the benefits.

    • If Hobby Lobby is truly a business run by Christians, why does so much of their product come from China – a country run by non-believers, who have performed abortions at the moment of birth?

      Unless they’re misogynistic hypocrites, they must cease doing business with China immediately.

      Shall we all hold our breath to see how fast that happens? Methinks the bottom line is more important than supposed Christian values to the Hobby Lobby family.

  4. Jonathan,

    I’m not sure I understand why you are doubling down on this issue. The whole discussion itself undermines the influence that Christians are having in the secular business world and beyond. Call it whatever you want, but why not focus more on this influence rather than on the way Christians happen to refer to the corporations they contribute to? The problem is not that Christians refer to their business as Christian, which you are correct is confusing from a salvation standpoint. The problem is either that Christians don’t think they can influence others towards Christ in the secular business world, which they can, or that the outside world does not see this influence as positive to the flourishing of society, which it is. Could you please talk about those problems instead? That seems like it would be more helpful for everyone.

    Respectfully,

    Joey Elliott
    @jgibsonelliott

    • Jonathan Merritt

      Joey,

      1) I’m a journalist. I explore the intersection between faith and culture.
      2) The goal of the Christian life is not greater influence, but faithful service to Christ.

      Blessed are the meek // The last shall be first // Take up your cross and follow me

      Jm

      • Jonathan,

        Since you brought it up,
        “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5)

        Is insidious nonsense outside of a hysterical, Apocalyptic context. It has no place in democracy.

        It is an argument against responsibility and taking initiatives against evil for the purpose of letting things be whatever they will be as God so deems it.

        It is an invitation to become a vegetable.
        The meek will inherit a polluted neglected world of their own making.

        Jesus is dangerous nonsense.

      • I don’t see how those two points address my concern. You might be missing the center of the intersection in this case. I am saying its not what we call our businesses; its how we contribute through our businesses to serve Christ faithfully, which is what I meant by influence. No matter what we call those businesses, what matters is the service to Christ. That is happening in so many ways that I think the exhortation from this article undermines, including at Hobby Lobby and Chick Fil-A, among other places.

        It would be helpful to see how you would respond with some of the points raised in Bart Barber’s post: On Christian Businesses.

        • The problem is defining how you serve to “serve Christ” through your business, and whether it really is “your” business to use in service of your religious beliefs.

          Do you do so at the expense of the employee’s beliefs and rights?
          Do you do so at the expense of the laws which govern your business?
          Is the company and the people working for it yours to control in such a manner?

      • Jonathan,

        Your second answer is over simplified and does a disservice to the Biblical narrative. Arguably, (one of) the goal(s) of the Christian life is influence THROUGH faithful service to Christ.

        The Kingdom of God is like salt//light//yeast//mustard seed//treasure//seed. These metaphors all speak to the influence that God has on the world through the faithful life of service. We don’t serve Christ simply for the sake of service – we serve Christ because the self-giving act is our participation in the Divine reconciliation and restoration of all things.

        I appreciate wanting to be journalistic and speaking to current issues. I appreciate wanting to write clearly and succinctly. But when you accomplish those tasks at the cost of truth and reality, it is not helpful.

        A fair journalist would acknowledge that the Green family most often says that they are Christians and they choose to operate their business according to Christian principles. Your criticism of a lack of sanctification for the corporation is misplaced in that situation.

        Similarly, having read the briefs for the Hobby Lobby cases before SCOTUS, the issue is not (as you have asserted here) the personhood of the Corporation, but whether or not the operation of the Corporation is legitimately an expression of the religious belief of the shareholders. Good journalism should acknowledge this distinction.

        On a personal level, it is problematic that you view the Christian life as divorced from influence seeking yet make use of simplistic, divisive, and sensational posts to increase your own influence at the cost of truly thoughtful reflection.

        • “they choose to operate their business according to Christian principles.”

          Which evidently involves treating employees as personal plaything for his faith, trying to coerce a public school board to adopt his personal illegal agendas, abusing all notions of laws of incorporation, and taking a heaping dookie on the notion of religious freedoms.

          • Larry,
            If by “personal plaything” you mean paying a livable wage, giving time off, and providing health insurance to their employees in the first place, you are right.

            Interesting that you can’t respond to the substance of my argument. We’ll see a more cogent response – positive or negative – when SCOTUS renders a verdict this week. In the meantime, your rhetoric speaks for itself.

          • He is using his employees compensation as a tribute to his own alleged piety. He is violating the privacy of his employees in service of his singular faith. He is wasting corporate assets for a purely partisan and frivolous conflict.

            Plus Green bribed a public school board to adot an illegal agenda and tried to hide it from the public.

            Sam, you don’t have an argument to speak of. You are simply spouting off religious babble. You have mo substance. You think invoking Christ’s name absolves someone of any and all actions. That it gives one the right to compel others to follow your faith.

            Evidently you can be the biggest egomaniac, liar and bully if you say you are doing it in Gods name. That is the morality of Christianity. Might makes right.

      • Faithful service will result in a greater influence.
        Faithful service will also be the result of living according to God’s word…in every aspect of life (even in how you run a business)

    • The problem is Christians are under the mistaken belief that their religious beliefs entitle them to privileges over others. To force others to abide by their views, to willfully ignore laws which affect everyone equally. They don’t seek influence, they seek compulsion to their views. They seek to use their views to override any notion of the privacy of others. They show no respect for the religious views of others, nor deserve it themselves in such situations.

      Steve Green didn’t ask his employees whether they wanted the contraception coverage, he just took it upon himself to declare it was not for them. Healthcare coverage the employees EARNED for work done. Hobby Lobby has no business micromanaging the personal, private healthcare choices of their employees in such a fashion.

      • Larry,

        The law does not affect everyone equally. That is the crux of the brief filed in the Hobby Lobby challenge. Neither are they seeking compulsion to their view (they are not seeking to divest anyone of the ability to purchase abortifacient drugs), they seeking not to be compelled to do so against their religious beliefs. The state ought not be able to compel an individual to offer compensation for work that is at odds with their religious beliefs.

        An atheist ought not be compelled to provide their employees with a Bible as part of their compensation. Muslims should not be compelled to provide alcohol as part of their benefit package. This does not mean the atheist is infringing the rights of their employees to own, read, or access the Bible or that the Muslim is infringing the rights of their employees to be intoxicated.

        It will be interesting if SCOTUS finds against Hobby Lobby and they close their stores to preserve their religious conscience how those on the left will spin the lost of thousands of $15+/hour jobs due to federal violation of constitutional rights.

        • All for-profit businesses are expected to comply with the law. The law which passed muster with the Supreme Court under the Federal government’s taxation powers. Conservatives just want to re-fight a battle which they already lost.

          “Neither are they seeking compulsion to their view ”

          Yes, that is exactly what they are doing. You are dead wrong. They are trying to compel their employees to adopt Steve Green’s religious views and trying to compel the government to overlook the company’s unwillingness to comply with the law.

          “The state ought not be able to compel an individual to offer compensation for work that is at odds with their religious beliefs.”

          A company is not an individual. It is not even a natural person which can have religious beliefs.

          The problem is you are framing the issue dishonestly by mixing owner Steve Green with the business entity he currently runs. Hobby Lobby is a corporation, a gestalt legal person for the purposes of doing business. A religious belief is not an inherent aspect of performing business functions. It cannot be assigned to a corporation.

          The law has demanded that health insurance packages meet minimum requirements. The government ALWAYS had the right to determine what those minimum requirements are. That is the nature of insurance.

          Your entire view is based on deliberately ignoring the nature of incorporation and how insurance works.

          “It will be interesting if SCOTUS finds against Hobby Lobby and they close their stores to preserve their religious conscience ”

          Hobby Lobby doesn’t have a religious conscience any more than your bank account or toaster.

          Such a move would be perfectly in line with the selfish, spiteful, infantile nature of its owner. If Mr. Green can’t use his employees as personal playthings for his religious faith, he doesn’t need them. Its telling that threats have to be lobbied in order for him to get his way.

    • How, exactly, is taking a healthcare decision away from a woman and her doctor and making it between a woman’s employer and the woman’s employer’s religion going to convince more people that your evangelical ways is the belief system we should all adopt. Do you not think that is seemingly obtuse?

  5. Here is a saner reason you shouldn’t call a corporation Christian, its not an actual person.

    A corporation is a legally fictitious person for purposes of doing business under a single banner and for insulating its ownership from personal liabilities and tax effects from income the business generates. It is not its owners. It can’t have religious beliefs. It is a form of property interests.

    This is nothing more than a lame excuse to duck out of a perfectly legal tax and law of general application to all businesses. A partisan attempt to fight a law which already passed Supreme Court muster on its own merits.

    For example:
    If Chik-Fil-A or Hobby Lobby got sold to a Japanese keiratsu, would the company suddenly convert to Buddhism/Shinto?

    Would a change of management require excommunication?

    Does this mean the board of directors can never hire someone outside of a given faith?

    Does this mean a company whose directors are of different faiths are religiously ecumenical or atheist?

  6. This makes me wonder, can there be Christian products? Like a business, a “Christian product” like a book, CD or picture frame is still just a thing. It can’t be saved or sanctified, but it seems pretty logical to use the term “christian” to describe it. Is this whole discussion just semantic, because it involves describing something using the best terminology available, even if it is a little misleading? Jonathan, maybe you just need to coin a new phrase.

    • Christian toasters!
      They won’t toast matzoh, challah, pitas or rice cakes.

      Orthodox Jewish cars! They won’t run on Saturdays.

      Buddhist hot dogs! They are the one with everything.

  7. CORPORATE PIETY is a Jesus invention.

    “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Jesus (Matthew 5:16)

    What is this sickening blurb from the sermon on the mount
    but a call to piety and self-righteous display?
    What else is this but using your ‘religious performance’ for coercive effect?

    It is not a call to thought, or debate or pursuing one’s curiosity
    but a call to perform ones godly duty and project one’s faith in a public manner.

    Jesus is disgusting.

    He is not merely a wolf in lamb’s clothing (pun intended)
    he is a fascist.
    And anyone who follows a fascist
    Will become one.

    Religion must be abandoned before we all blow ourselves up over these delusions.

    Jesus is nonsense. And a cancer to our democracy.

  8. The Great God Pan

    “But the term runs into conflict with the group’s theological commitments.”

    Why doesn’t this lead you to question the seriousness of those “commitments?” Is their theology something they are “committed” to, or merely a tool they use to achieve the usual ends of power and money?

    “Additionally, conservative evangelicals believe that a Christian is a person who is actively engaged [in] sanctification, the process of becoming more holy.”

    Do they believe that? Or do they merely claim to believe it? How might their actions help us answer this question? Do they act like people who are engaged in a process of “becoming holy,” or do they act like people who are already “holy” and have earned the right to lord their “holiness” over the rest of the population? A possibly related question: Why do they tend to brag about being “humble?” Do humble people describe themselves as humble?

  9. That’s simple. A business, unless it is a church itself or one of its operations like a religious bookstore, has no standing in religion. It is an operation that exists to make money for the owners from public activity, pure and simple.

    The Hobby Lobby-Green family affair is just the Green family’s efforts to force their employees to submit to the Greens’ religious beliefs. We have no idea how much all the Greens themselves practiced any kinds of control to prevent births themselves. Meaning people are hypocrites, even religious people.

    Like all businesses that have objected to the Affordable Care Act, whether it’s contraception or any other aspect, they have done so to avoid paying the premiums. They do it to get out of paying their employees a fair wage in the form of benefits so they can increase their profit margin. It’s selfish greed, it’s not religion.

    Even hospitals, orphanages, and other operations maintained by churches, have no right to accept one cent of city, state, or federal funding if they are going to use their operations for the practice of their religion or its canons in any way. If you want public money, you should not expect to mingle your public function with your religious practices.

    First clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. History. Church and state is an evil potion. Through our government, even the life-term judges of our federal courts, we have already transgressed that right brazenly.

    Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion!

  10. So here’s an honest question:

    If the owner of a company believes that smoking in all forms is wrong and bans it from all of it’s employees, is that any different than not allowing employees to have abortions or use the morning after pill?

    • Alexander Griswold

      No Christian business, to my knowledge, bans its employees from having abortions or using the morning-after pill. Indeed, it would be illegal to do so.

      Instead, they object to being forced to pay for them. That’s a lot different than “not allowing them.” By your logic, they “aren’t allowing” ANYONE to use the pill, not just their employees. And yet, somehow its use continues.

      • “Instead, they object to being forced to pay for them. ”

        That is a flat out lie that is being repeated by the ignorant and the dishonest.

        They object to their employees being able to use their health insurance, compensation for work performed, for contraception.

        The employers are saying that their religious beliefs trumps the personal private choices of their employees.

    • Yup. Because your employees are not slaves.
      They aren’t your property.

      If your company rules go against the constitution your company can be closed, you could be arrested or your company could be sued.
      A company has no controls over what people when not at work – except in those cases where the employee has agreed to those terms.

      You can ban smoking on the job because it injures workers.
      You can ban drinking on the job because it injures workers.
      You can ban sex on the job because it can injure workers.
      You can ban table tennis on the job.

      You cannot ban people from doing things when they are not on the job. Those problem cases where off-duty behavior causes a problem for other workers at the company must be handled on a per-employee basis.

      • There are companies that you can be fired from for smoking… that’s a fact. No matter if it is on the job or during your life after and away from work. Do some research.

        The main company I know of is Scott’s in Ohio.

        • @Scott,

          Read what I said to you before you claim I need to do ‘research’.

          “….except in those cases where the employee has agreed to those terms.”

        • CarrotCakeMan

          Smoking tobacco always causes harm. Only defective birth control medicines cause any harm whatsoever. Some birth control medicines are used for heath issues other than contraception. Your analogy is false, Scott.

    • Your question is not honest. Its a rather crappy analogy.

      Banning smoking in the workplace has a rational purpose which can be justified. Banning smoking off duty and off premises would not. Firing someone for smoking in their home would be outrageous.

      Obviously people are not supposed to engage in sexual relations during work hours. But what they do in their own time, what they use their compensation in the form of healthcare is none of the business of an employer. Its no more their business than an employer telling workers they can’t use their paycheck to buy cigarettes.

      • CarrotCakeMan

        Oops, Larry already correctly identified that your analogy is false, Scott. Maybe “crappy” wasn’t the kindest word to describe it, but I think it accurately describes your intent, Scott. Spare us these obvious false analogies.

  11. Alexander Griswold

    So should Christians call a nonprofit “Christian?” Because that’s just as much a corporation as a business, and there’s certainly no mention of them in the Bible. Will the next blog post be entitled, Don’t Call the Salvation Army Christian?

    And if it is the case that nonprofits can be Christian, what is it about profit-seeking that magically makes a corporation no longer Christian?

    • Right.
      Christian non-profit.

      The Catholic Church is such a so called Non-profit organization.
      That is how it amassed more wealth than any other company on earth.
      It sits on 1 trillion dollars worth of value in its museums alone.

      Religion should be considered a scam and it should be taxed out of business.

  12. This is a straw-man argument that Jonathan created and then proceeded to tear it down. He knows very well what the intentions are behind calling a business Christian, and it never had anything to do with salvation. You can do better, Jonathan.

    • “He knows very well what the intentions are behind calling a business Christian, and it never had anything to do with salvation.”

      The intentions behind calling a company “Christian” are:
      1. to claim religious exemption for avoiding laws which control for-profit business

      2. to make another partisan attack on the ACA.

      3. An excuse to force employees to follow the whims and caprices of an employer. To satisfy the ego and power fantasies of an employer. “Look how pious I am, I am forcing people to do things for my religious faith”

      4. A marketing ploy to appeal to separate naive Bible thumpers from their money.

      • CarrotCakeMan

        Larry is 100% correct in pointing out when an owner wants his business to be known as “Christian,” it’s usually because he’s looking to avoid laws and demand special rights.

  13. Hobby Lobby is objecting to the Obamacare contraception mandate on the basis of religious belief. The Supreme Court has upheld that rights assigned to individuals under the Constitution also apply to companies in certain but limited instances, including the First Amendment (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010). While the premise of your argument may have merit, the issue of corporate personhood here may necessitate that Hobby Lobby use that language. Further, whether the language itself is “correct” or not, I wouldn’t agree with a stance that limits a privately held company’s leadership from acting or defending itself based on religious belief. In making the argument about the language, the larger point is missed–can the government impose its will on a company against the leader’s religious beliefs and still be said to act under the banner of “religious freedom.”

    • CarrotCakeMan

      I think the owner of Hobby Lobby is trying to push his own political beliefs onto his employees. Calling his attempts to interfere in their private lives “religious” is just another instance of hiding political activities under the long skirt of a “religion.” It would be different, for example, if all religions agreed on contraceptives, something we know is anything but true. Not even all Christians agree on contraceptives. No, what I see is right-wing types are trying to drag all Christians down to their level for unfair political advantage. Why else would all the terms that mean “evil” be flung by these same political operatives at anyone who doesn’t share their tea-addled political agenda?

    • Hobby Lobby has no religious belief. It is not a natural born person. Merely a legal fiction used for the streamlining of business operations and to insulate the owners from personal liabilities derived from it.

      Corporate speech and political interests exists because it has a direct rational relationship to the operations of a business. Corporations have interests in how the government taxes and regulates them. They have speech in the form of press releases, internal communications, marketing and advertising. You can rationally relate corporate speech and political actions to the ability to do business.

      Religion has no rational relationship to corporate operations in such a manner. It is simply the owner of a company violating principles of incorporation to push personal agendas. If religion was important to corporations, maybe you can tell me the religious faith of the Fortune 500 companies?

      Citizens United not only does not apply, but its corporate supporters, the people who wrote many amicus briefs for their position are silent on Hobby Lobby. Corporate America largely finds what Mr. Green is doing to be an attack on principles of incorporation and frivolous in nature.

  14. Jonathan, this is silly. You’re looking for a sense of theology, logic, and reflection where it’s not to be found.

    “Christian” is an omnibus adjectival blessing. It’s like “Biblical.”

    It means nothing.

    Consider words such as “wholesome” on food product advertising? What does it mean?

    A kids’ sugary cereal can be “wholesome goodness.”

    Think of “Christian” describing a business or a product more like “Lucky” can be used to describe “Charms.” “They’re magically delicious.”

    Essentially don’t expect to find the kenotically cruciform in this style of popular Christianity.

  15. CarrotCakeMan

    The more outrageous the lies anti-gays fling around, the more that normal, non-homophobic readers just laugh at anti-gays. Fortunately, these threats “Doc” posts are nothing more than that, idle threats from an anti-gay frustrated at the defeat of his anti-gay agenda.

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