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Does Faith/Religion Have a Place In Your Consideration For Food Purchases?


There are two places that have their fans and their critics, Chick-Fil-A & Baja Fresh. For the critics, their opinions may be valid on certain levels, but I suspect that for some they also have misconceptions about the companies and their operating procedures in management and specifications for their menu items.....my question is not about the food itself, but rather the management aspect. Do you stay away simply because the corporation has a strong belief in faith and family values?


  1. They could worship Satan for all I care, I just want some food.

    1. simply - no

      (people w/out a strong belief in faith don't have family values?)

      1. The first time I ever ate at Chik-Fil-A (somewhere outside of Charlotte, NC), I knew nothing about the chain. As we were looking at the menu, I was shocked to see a poster on the wall that said something like "At CFA, our mission is to serve God by serving our customers...". I was very uncomfortable with that blatant advertising of religion in a restaurant, and it was several years before I returned to CFA. Now it doesn't stop me. I wasn't aware of Baja Fresh's "principles" but I don't think it will impact my decision to eat there (though it isn't one of my preferred chains). My discomfort with advertising religion like this is likely to be the same no matter what type of business is doing it - a restaurant or any other retail establishment.

        1. <Do you stay away simply because the corporation has a strong belief in faith and family values?>

          This is worded like a push-poll question. Who would say yes? Corporations don't have beliefs. People do. I think you're really asking whether you would still do business with a corporation if you disagreed with some of the things that corporation does - donating to Operation Rescue, perhaps, or offering benefits to the same sex partners of its employees.

          1. I avoided Domino's for years because of the founder's anti-choice beliefs (well, that and lousy pizza). There was a local supermarket chain here in the Richmond area called Ukrop's whose founders were big-time fundies--like Chik-Fil-A it wasn't open on Sundays, it wouldn't sell beer and wine (had no problem with tobacco though), etc. At the one nearest my house there was a publicly displayed large painting of a church with the caption "Please attend your local house of worship" which thankfully disappeared when the chain got bought out by the company that owns Giant supermarkets last year. I thought that was a little excessive.

            I look at it this way--as long as the company in question isn't putting crosses or bible verses on the wrappers or forcing its employees into prayer sessions it can believe how it likes. I'm sure there's atheists working at Chik-Fil-A. I've been in little southern diners that OD on Jesus stuff, but the servers know that you're there to eat, not to be witnessed to.

            1 Reply
            1. re: MandalayVA

              Welcome to the land of In-n-Out Burger, where the bible verse is printed on the bottom of your soda cup. I don't really have any feelings about it one way or the other because I patronize Asian restaurants that have shrines, a candle and herb shop that has a Santeria altar, a gift shop that displays a star of David, and I'm sure there are a million other examples I could offer but I'm just not that observant! If I'm not being headlocked and forced to listen to a prosetylizing spiel, what's the problem?

            2. I will not support a business that supports bigotry or crams their beliefs down my throat.

              And I agree with thew - atheists don't have family values? Puh-lease.

              1 Reply
              1. re: linguafood

                +1 I won't avoid them due to their having a particular faith, but the moment I get a whiff of anti anyone else's rights, I find a more palatable place to spend my money.

                That's not anti faith (which has nothing to do with family values, IME), It's pro values.

              2. I'm pretty strongly secular in my beliefs, but I'm also a Southerner, so public displays of religiosity don't surprise or bother me. Being closed on Sunday strikes me as fairly progressive- having part of the weekend off is a quality of life boon for the employees, especially given that it's the Sabbath for most people in what is a pretty religious society.

                1. Do I stay away? Absolutely. I try to put my money into things that I believe in -whenever I can. I really don't want to support any corporation or private person that is active in working against my values.

                  1. I've got enough going on in life to worry whether my chicken sandwich is deriving profits that allow an owner to exercise free speech. Its a trivial matter. I watched Two and a Half Men, and apparently that means I was bankrolling CS's coke-and-hooker habit? Henry Ford was an anti-semite, but its was his factories that helped build the bombers and tanks that stopped Hitler.

                    And I suspect a decent percentage of women who won't buy a Domino's pizza are wearing a conflict diamond on their hand...

                    So it has a place, but not a very big one..

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: grant.cook

                      Pro-choice does not in any way, shape or form mean anti-marriage. Conflict diamond indeed.

                      1. re: mamachef

                        I never implied anti-marriage.. I implied that many people will go to the barricades over an issue that's fairly insignificant (if I thought Dominos had a master plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, I might give that $7 pizza purchase a bit more thought) whist ignoring others that may be much more horrid either through ignorance or because the issue might make life a bit more inconvenient to them.

                        Taking a stand on Dominos, a mediocre pizza place? There's likely a dozen pizza places nearby - whoa, big sacrifice.. that's not exactly a profile in courage. Take a stand on not wearing a diamond, because at some level it supports an illegal trade built upon basically slavery, I see that sort of courage and belief in an issue a lot less frequently.

                        If you want to take a stand on something that matters, don't eat any mass produced pizza AT ALL - the mass farming tactics they have to use to produce tomatoes, cheese, pepperoni have a lot of side effects globally that are pretty bad.

                        1. re: grant.cook

                          I'm thinking I misunderstood the point of your response re: the conflict diamond remark.

                    2. I don't normally choose to patronize businesses based on their owners' religious faith or lack thereof; a company is an expression of the combined efforts of many people. To single out the values of the CEO is to dilute the contribution of every other employee and ignore the individual workers who also stand to benefit from my patronage.

                      But the moment people start attacking a company on account of the owners' religious faith (or lack thereof), I am more inclined to support them. To be sure, I won't lower my standards and start buying inferior products just because a company is being persecuted for its owners' beliefs, but there is an aspect of my personality that makes me want to express my solidarity with those who are unfairly singled out by intolerance.

                      1. I only do so when I'm in the mood for Indian vegetarian food. Perhaps I'm misguided, but the food at restaurants (in the East and West coasts) run by certain spiritual lineages seem fresher and less oily than the norm.

                        I'm not Indian,and haven't been to India, so I'm speaking from a novice's point of view.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Riverman500

                          God, I hadn't even thought of Indian food. My friends and I used to frequent a chain of Indian restaurants in South America that's run by the Hare Krishnas, who proselytize to you while you're in there. They make a hell of a dal, though.

                          1. There was a regional coffee/donuts chain in Connecticut called Bess Eaton's. Some became DD and at least one became Tim Horton's (Clark's Falls) now closed. I was familiar with them from the East Haven, CT location.
                            In the mid 1990s I stopped at the Clarks Falls location off I-95 to get a cup of coffee. When I was handed the cup, I found that the printing, logo etc, included a LARGE cross and a message about Jesus.

                            As a non-Christian, I found this proslytizing highly offensive, walked out and never spenbt another cent in the chain. You are entitled to practice your religion, you can take the proceeds from my patronage to support your religious institutions, BUT, don't subject me to the mission/message. i am not a down on my luck bum being fed at a Bowery soup kitchen.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: bagelman01

                              I'm Jewish and I have no problem with a corporation promoting a religion that is different from mine. And I happen to like it when people say, "Merry Christmas". I do however, make a point of not supporting any country or corporation that is Anti Semitic or Anti American. Lots of countries have lost our vacation dollars because of that.

                              1. re: DaisyM

                                Like Carl's Jr.? Word has it Karcher is anti semitic. We won't go there.

                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                  "Word has it."

                                  I hate when people do this. You don't know for a fact and yet you propagate.


                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Sorry for the choice of words, Davwud. Perhaps I should have said "it's common knowledge".

                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                      First of all, it's owned by a giant conglomerate. They tend to not have any sort of agenda in that way,

                                      Secondly, if it's common knowledge how come a simple "Carls Jr. + anti semitism" shows nothing that's really conclusive.


                                      1. re: Davwud

                                        They force all of their restaurants to wear a yellow star.

                                2. re: DaisyM

                                  I did find it offensive when the cup had a large cross and a message that unless I accepted Jesus as my saviour I was damned.
                                  I certainly don't accept Jesus as my or anyone else's saviour, but the greedy bast*rds were happy to accept my damned money.

                                  As to people saying Merry Christmas, I always respond with the words 'thank you' As some who practice that religion complain, the holiday has lost some of its religious meaning. The day itself is a legal holiday in the US for all, whether they celebrate the religious holiday or not.

                                  I would not have cared if the company had a sign that they tithe their profits to their church, that's their business, not mine. But the religious symbols and messages on every transaction were unacceptable to me.

                                3. re: bagelman01

                                  Everyone's entitled to their opinion, so feel free not to respond, but what was was it that you found so offensive about seeing a cross and message on your coffee cup? As someone who regularly dines at restaurants with very prominent altars to La Virgen or Taoist deities next to the cash register, shops in stores watched over by Ganesh and responds "Walaikum assalaam" to the greeters standing before the giant Shahada at the local take away, I've always regarded other folks' religion a part of the rich multicultural milieu in which we live.

                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    Don't you understand, it is not cool to hate on Buddhists and Hindus. Now, Christians, well...

                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                      .... that's not cool either. But what some interpret as hate is really opposition to a dominant civil religion or expression. Not too long ago PBS played series that explored the history of religion in the USA. There's been an ongoing tension between freedom to believe (in a particular way) and express that in the public sphere, and the freedom to deviate from that, or even to not believe at all.

                                      As other explain, the (potential) issue with Chick-Fil-A is not the personal beliefs of the owners, but the political dimension of those beliefs.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        exactly. as a member of a minority religo-ethnic group, i feel like i have christianity shoved at me all the time. why is christmas a federal holiday? why are post offices closed on sundays? etcetcetc. i think people are allowed to believe whatever they like, i think it's all nonsense, but it's your reality tunnel so do what you like with it.

                                        but when people support political actions found offensive, like discrimination or anti-abortion stances, that is no longer about religion, it is about human rights

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          But most people who are devout feel that their faith is so much a part of themselves it cannot help but affect their political views. I'm sure the owners of Chick-Fil-A feel this way. It's not reasonable to expect a business owner to simply suspend belief when it comes to the political arena. As a customer, you just have to decide whether it bothers you enough to stop patronizing the place.

                                          There are several businesses (all local) that I won't patronize because I am offended by their POV, which I assume is informed by the spiritual beliefs of the owners. But this is a private matter for me, and I'd never tell other locals about it or try to organize a boycott based on it.

                                      2. re: JungMann

                                        please see my reply to Daisy, I resented being damned for not accepting their belief.

                                      3. re: bagelman01

                                        how is having a cross and a bible verse proselytizing....because last time i checked proselytizing was trying to get u to change your religion against your will...

                                        it sounds like your more anti-christian rather than anti-religion....
                                        so if they had a star of david or an islamic crescent and star on the cup that you would have been ok with that?
                                        or like jungmann said ..then u dont eat at a chinese food place that has buddha on display?
                                        or other religions? like hindu?

                                        1. re: srsone

                                          Proselytizing is like Porn...you know it when you see it :)

                                          Maybe bagelman is like me- some religions he supports/likes/values and others he doesn't. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it is not just a religion itself- but a "brand" of it, like fundamentalism that is objectionable. Maybe you like the religion okay, don't mind the brand of it- but the establishment is wallpapering the place with slogans or symbols that feels creepy...like you you don't know whether to eat or pray. I think restaurants always take a bit of a risk when they go over the top with advertising their religion in their business that has nothing to do with religion. But it is a free country and I say go for it! I am happy when they make it obvious- then I know who to avoid ;)

                                          1. re: srsone

                                            Just a quick clarification: proselytizing is defined as trying to change one's mind about religion or beliefs. This doesn't include the idea that this change would be against one's will. The concept is more along the lines of conversion.

                                            I understand that people don't like to be approached about religion. I had no idea about Chik-fil-a. I don't think I've ever eaten there.

                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                              i didnt really word that well...
                                              basically i mean coming up to u and even after saying no still trying to convert you...
                                              i always took it to mean it in a bad way of forcing you to to change or at least trying to...

                                              at no time have i ever gone into any establishment ,even if they have religious or political or any other displays and felt proselytized to just from the display...because last time i checked the constitution says people can practice any religion they want

                                              i was reacting to bagelmans statement of just having the cross on cup..he makes it sound like the donut shop was hitting him over the head with a bible and a crucifix...

                                        2. Have to say I won't but the brand at the health food store with bible quotes on the packaging.

                                          1. i guess i have to say im kinda surprised by how many people have actually been negatively influenced by these things. but thats probably because as a Christian i am normally happy to see people standing up for our faith in ways that are seen by so many people. while i dont agree with all of the beliefs held by (or at least reportedly held by) the owners of Chick-Fil-A and other companies like it, the fact that they are open with their beliefs i find encouraging.

                                            i also think its strange, because no one seems to have any issues with Jewish delis, or indian and asian restos with shrines. or even other beliefs that are not religious. for example, i'm certainly no member of PETA, but i dont avoid Chipotle because the back of their cups preach about the ethical treatment of its animals.

                                            im gunna go brace myself for the backlash to this post now.

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: mattstolz

                                              Well, you shouldn't get any backlash mattstolz. That is the cool thing about America- you can pick and choose what you want to believe in and support. If you didn't want to support PETA- you could not go into Chipotle. Simple. If you don't give a rip..then that is not a problem either. Same with Chick-fil-A or the Jewish deli. I don't see the conflict.

                                              1. re: sedimental

                                                "thats the cool thing about America"

                                                i think that is why i was most surprised. we have friends from all different religions, and i think that would play waaay more into a friendship due to the fact that it would likely work itself into discussions, how time is spent, etc than it ever would into how my chicken nugget tastes (although i have to admit, dont think ive found a place that has a better nugget that a fresh chick-fil-a nugget)

                                                1. re: mattstolz

                                                  Yes, but you don't give money to your friends to help them support values that conflict with yours. That is the issue with supporting businesses, some people like to feel good about where they put their money. Others don't care, as long as they get what they need.

                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                    very true. guess i didnt really think about that part of it. and i also guess im lucky that places that support religions i would have trouble giving money too arent very common. not very often you see a place printing verses from the Devils Bible on their cups eh?

                                              2. re: mattstolz

                                                The only issue I have is when a business is known for actively supporting causes to deny citizens their constitutional rights, e.g. donating money to organizations that "defend" "traditional" marriage.

                                                Whether the owner of a business goes to church every Sunday or not, or likes bible quotes on his walls doesn't bother me at all.

                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                  "The only issue I have is when a business is known for actively supporting causes to deny citizens their constitutional rights..."

                                                  I am curious, would you then have issue with a company that was, basically, against the 2nd Amendment?

                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                    <I am curious, would you then have issue with a company that was, basically, against the 2nd Amendment?>

                                                    I'm curious as well, about this against-the-2nd-Amendment company. Does it, basically, exist? Or is it your own invention?

                                                    1. re: DougRisk

                                                      I have an issue with the second amendment, if that's your question. But please, point me to a company that is against it, and I will give them all of my cold. hard. cash.

                                                  2. re: mattstolz

                                                    i've never seen a jewish deli print commentary from the talmud on the menus, cups, or napkins......

                                                    1. re: thew

                                                      No, 'cause proselytizing is traif.

                                                  3. There is a brand of cookies here that is a family brand. The family that ran it had very strict views on religion, to the point that they refused to run their ads on the radio or TV on Sundays or participate in adverstising in newspapers that were to be delivered on Sundays. I knew this because I was involved in the media industray and I was interested in their prohibition.

                                                    I would not have known about their religion if I had not asked about their views based on this 'rule': they were discrete, but happy to explain if asked.

                                                    They had principles in accordance with their faith. They were also very strict about the source of their ingredients. Long before the days of the Body Shoppe or 'organic' or locavore movements, they cared about where and how things were sourced. They were much admired for their labour practices. They were all round good corporate citizens-way before that term would have had meaning.

                                                    They did not preach or even flaunt their 'values'. They lived them. To this day, I will purchase their products over any competitors whenever I see them. They are excellent packaged goods. Had they opened a restaurant I would have been pleased to eat there.

                                                    I definitely think there is a connection between people having the courage of their convictions, living their faith, stewardship of the planet and respect for the palate. Living out a thoughtful faith practice is consistent with careful purchase and preparation of the bounty of the earth. How does this NOT contribute to excellence in all things culinary?

                                                    1. Many on this thread are talking about faith, but with Chik-Fil-A, my issue is not with faith, but the fact that they funnel money into organizations seeking to deny rights to gay people. I don't have an issue with Christians, I have an issue with denying Americans their rights. I believe the right to marry should be shared by all, and I will not give them my money so that it will be passed on to organizations that are based on fighting against civil rights.

                                                      I think some of the statements above are nice--those who say that the beauty of this country is you can believe what you want, I don't care who they worship--but with Chik-Fil-A, it's not belief, it's financial support of causes meant to keep some Americans from having the full rights of American citizens.

                                                      So I don't stay away from restaurants that promote family values. I love family owned and run businesses. I don't believe homophobia to be a family value. I don't believe dividing our citizens is a family value. Whether or not these things are informed by faith, they are not the values of my family.

                                                      Two disclaimers--I realize that not everyone shares the belief that marriage, adoption, etc, are civil rights. I do, so I let that belief inform my decisions and spending habits. I'm not saying everyone else has to act the same way. And I haven't read the article nor do I know the issues with Baja Fresh, which is why i limited my comments to CFA.

                                                      1. This is cool. Back when I first started posting on CH (2002ish) I was pretty hot and heavy about the Moonies (Unification Family Church) owning all the sushi joints that had Sakura in the name (like Sakurabana). But every single post I made about them was taken out by the mods. Now we can apparently talk all we want to about religion in the food business. Excellent!

                                                        The Church today is more involved in wholesale fishing and supply rather than continuing with their retail establishments. They supposedly no longer practice repressive, cult-like behavior. After all Sun Myung Moon is all legit nowadays - having been in the White House visiting dubya and all. He made all the money he needed from us crazy Americans eating lousy sushi!

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: applehome

                                                          Can that be true? Sakura means cherry blossom, surely the word hasn't been taken over exclusively as a name for restaurants owned by members of a religion that originated in Korea.

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            I think I know what Sakura means, since Japanese is my first language. Certainly, not every place that was named Sakura was owned by the Moonies - but many were. This happened in the 1990's and before - it's all past tense. The whole strategy that Moon (an ex-Korean CIA agent before declaring himself the second coming) set was to unite Japan and the US with Korea - this was his territory, his goal to convert and profit from. The story that he came up with to sell the youth in Japan and the US was what attracted many of us (half-Japanese/American)... coming from the East, etc. There used to be a listing on line of the Moonie places. Sakurabana in Boston and Sakura in Chelmsford were definitely on the list. I personally spoke to the glassy-eyed Korean kids at Sakura in Chelmsford and knew right away what they were. They always had a "special dispensation" to lie about being Moonies, as they were persecuted as a cult. The kids were trucked in and stayed in small rooms. That seemed really bad to me at the time, but since then I've learned that half of Chinese restaurant workers are treated the same. Like I said, I tried to post about all this years ago, but was always taken down - and it wouldn't surprise me to see this taken down as well - it really has nothing at all to do with food.

                                                            I have no idea where things stand today - I doubt very much that the church is still as involved as it once was with the retail end - I see very little about it on line. Here's a left over site that lists some businesses - you'll see a lot of Sakuras in the state listings. http://www.ex-cult.org/Groups/Unifica...

                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                              This is very interesting! Thanks for posting.

                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                Excellent article, thank you for finding the link.

                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                  I didn't know you were Japanese-speaking, applehome, and regret any offense taken.

                                                                  That's very interesting, I had no idea. They certainly glommed on to a name that has a big cultural context, fiendishly clever.

                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                    Sorry I was snippy - this used to be a very important subject for me. I had some personal experience with them and so took it personally, but I've come to see that there's really not much difference between a nun selling beads on the road to a pilgrimage while living in a cloister and a brainwashed kid living communally and serving pre-sliced sushi or begging at an airport. The pope sleeps in a gold-gilded bed and Moon owns newspapers and politicians. One's an established religion, the other a cult. Either will sell anything, food and otherwise, for a buck. What else is new?

                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                        In Japan, Sokka Gakai, a huge Nichiren Buddhist cult, has managed to own and fund so many businesses (including profitable restaurant chains) that in daily life, it's almost impossible to avoid the ubiquity of their interests. They've also managed to create the 3rd largest political party, as well as a significant and complex network of followers overseas- including in the U.S. Their leader is basically a tycoon.

                                                              2. Faith/religion tend to have little to no consideration in terms of food purchases for me.

                                                                But it's different for all people, whether it comes down to faith or ethics or political beliefs and so on. It's a proverbial free country and you're free to spend your money on various retail establishments as you see fit.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: josquared

                                                                  Religion belongs in the home and in the place of worship, not public life or in business. The destruction and misery religious people cause world wide is bad enough, to force on others unfounded beliefs based on fairy tales is out of line.

                                                                  1. re: davidne1

                                                                    I generally believe that myself re: religion in public life/business as well as prosthelizing in general, but how far really do you want to go with that concept in relation to the food business?

                                                                    To go to an extreme example, should there be laws that forbid any display of religious symbols, textual passages, etc. related to food establishments and their corresponding paraphenalia, for example?

                                                                    I'd say the power of the dollar/peso/euro/(insert your particular form of currency) is your vote, so to speak. If it bothers someone that the big guys like Chick-Fil-A/Baja Fresh/In N Out have those ideals, all the way down to the little corner place that might have some representation of the Virgin Mary/Buddha/Surya/(insert deity/religious figure of your choice here) behind the cash register, no one is forcing you to buy from them.

                                                                    Likewise, if that's a plus and it matters that much to you, then spend your money there and eat what I hope are some tasty vittles.

                                                                2. Folks, not surprisingly, this thread has gotten very personal, with people attacking the beliefs or lack thereof of other people. We're going to lock it now.