Selling Religion: 5 Companies Humanists Should Boycott

The CEOs of these companies can’t seem to keep religion out of their (and your) business. Meghan Hamilton reports on five companies that humanists should avoid if they don’t want to see their dollars supporting religion.

Living in a consumer based economy where nearly everything is for sale can be a bit overwhelming for a shopper. With more options than any person would ever need, investigating the moral standing of individual companies is usually the last thing on the shopper’s mind. But here’s something else we don’t consider: when we purchase the products of a company motivated by specific causes, we are ultimately supporting their morals as well.

When our consumerism is partnered with America’s other great enterprise—religion—it’s difficult to be a responsible humanist consumer. Thanks to alert activists and major media coverage, most of us are aware of companies like Chick-Fil-A, which uses funds to oppose marriage equality initiatives, but you may be surprised to learn of others that operate their business on Biblical principles. So to help all of you humanist spenders out there, here are five companies that should be avoided if you don’t want to support their religious initiatives.

Forever 21

1. Forever 21. Forever 21 is a wonderland packed with everything a fashionable young girl would need to just barely cross the line of questionable taste and inappropriateness. But there is a more subtle message being told that you may not have discovered: it can be found right on the shopping bag.  “John 3:16” is conveniently printed on the bottom of every Forever 21 yellow shopping bag. Now, some might say, “Well, it’s just on the bottom of the bag, no one can see that.” Then why put it on the bag at all? No doubt the purpose is to proselytize, even if it appears to be a subtle and harmless way to do so. But if you do happen to miss that sneaky little message, the array of religious graphic tees, such as “Jesus Loves You,” will surely catch your attention.

Mary Kay

2. Mary Kay. For decades, Mary Kay has been a top seller of beauty products, constantly expanding their line and introducing new, high quality merchandise. They even allow many people to create a successful business independently by becoming beauty consultants. But the underlying motivation for the beauty giant from the start has been the company’s founder, Mary Kay Ash, and her  dedication to God. In a 1997 interview, Ash explained that she began the business to “let women be the beautiful creatures God created” and that God has blessed her company.


3. Curves. Curves provides fitness and health facilities targeted towards women allowing them to reach their physical goals in a comfortable setting free from pressure and competition. Incidentally, you can use God as a workout buddy at any Curves location. The brain child of a born again Christian, this is a company not only dedicated to women, but also to anti-abortion and Christianity. This gym chain may want you to look and feel your best as a women, but as far as they are concerned, you can go ahead and throw all other equal gender rights out the window.

Alaska Airlines

4. Alaska Airlines. For many, visiting the awe inspiring state of Alaska sounds like a dream vacation with its breathtaking views and amazing wildlife. Flying to this land of wonder may be a different story. Alaska Airlines carts endless visitors to and from this dream destination, and always with God as their co-pilot. The airline thanks you for your patronage with an inspirational message conveniently printed on a notecard containing passages from the Old Testament, though the CEO claims that this practice has ceased due to customer complaints. But their argument for such blatant proselytizing was this: “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.” As if Judeo-Christian beliefs are the only religious beliefs that exist out there.

Hobby Lobby

5. Hobby Lobby: As we cover the fashion, beauty, health, and travel industries, let us not forget that God also seems to play a great part in the business of creativity. Major arts and crafts supply retailer, Hobby Lobby proudly expresses their religious views through the company’s mission to “honor the lord.” and “operate the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles.” The company is even modeled to operate consistently with biblical principles. Not only was the company launched from a religious platform, but it continues to inject religious principles in every aspect of the company including employee benefits. Unfortunately for those employees who are not devout and want to participate in a socially responsible sex life, Hobby Lobby along with its affiliate companies was excused from a 2010 healthcare law requiring companies to provide insurance coverage that included birth control coverage.

As a consumer it is difficult to know exactly who you are buying products from.  For those of you who no longer want to financially support the intrusive beliefs of others, a simple Google search can be of great help. For some companies, it’s a gamble. With religious institutions continuing to over power and continue to be so integrated into every aspect of society, it is difficult to avoid them. It didn’t take me long to realize that if they couldn’t sell me their religion, they would sell me their products to support it.

Meghan Hamilton, Executive AssistantMeghan Hamilton is the executive assistant for the American Humanist Association.