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American Family Association Asks Companies Simple Questions at Critical Time of Year: How Do They Value Religious Liberty?

Monday, November 30, 2015 @ 11:30 AM

TUPELO, Miss.—Through its newest educational campaign, American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) is letting the country know about companies that value religious freedoms—and those that don’t. 

The new Corporate Religious Liberties Index (CRLI) is a short, simple questionnaire that seeks to gauge the importance of the broad issue of religious liberty for the nation’s major companies, including large-scale retailers, restaurants and manufacturers. The index is in direct response to the growing threats against religious liberty in the U.S., including but not limited to, faith in America.

“This survey will seek to bring to light the policies that some of the nation’s biggest companies have on religious liberties,” said AFA Executive Vice President Ed Vitagliano. “For example, do their non-discrimination policies include religion, or do they allow their employees to use such greetings as ‘Happy Easter’ and ‘Merry Christmas’? These are questions that will communicate to Americans which companies value religious freedom in the workplace. The answers will have an influence on where those who value their religious freedoms will spend their money, not only during this Christmas season, but throughout the year—and religious freedom covers every religion, just as our Constitution states.”

The first company to complete and return the seven-question survey from AFA was Wal-Mart, which scored a perfect 100, with its answers demonstrating that the corporation respects and values religious freedoms.

Companies that received the survey include: Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Big Lots, Campbell Soup Company, Chick-fil-A, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dollar Tree, Fred’s, Foot Locker, Hallmark, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Interstate Battery, J.C. Penney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Marshalls/T.J. Maxx, Michael’s Stores, Office Depot/Office Max, Old Navy (The Gap), PepsiCo, PetSmart, Procter & Gamble, Sam’s Club (Wal-Mart), Sears Holdings Corp., Staples, Target and Toys ‘R’ Us.

The survey includes seven questions that deal with corporate policies and practices. As companies take the survey, the answers will be scored, compiled and assigned an “index number” that will indicate whether or not companies are favorable, indifferent or antagonistic to religious liberty. The index number will fall on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 indicating full support for religious freedom.

The questions include:

1.      Does your company include religion in its non-discrimination policy?
Explanation: This would include “religion” in the company’s list of protected categories, such as age, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.

2.      Do you allow your employees to exchange religious greetings with one another and your customers, such as “Happy Easter” or “Merry Christmas”?
Explanation: For employees, this would apply to internal and informal communication, as well as employee interactions with customers or the general public.

3.      Does your company use the name of religious holidays for business purposes?
Explanation: This would include holiday advertising, internal communications, or communication with the general public.

4.      Do you allow employees to express their religious beliefs during working hours?
Explanation: This would apply to worker breaks, when other employees are free to discuss sports, politics, pop culture or other personal matters.

5.      Do you expressly allow employees to decorate desks or other work areas with religious symbols, messages or literature?
Explanation: This would refer to a policy that allows employees to decorate personal space with items that communicate their interests, including religious expression.

6.      Do you allow employees to express without penalty their religious beliefs on their own time, even if those beliefs are contrary to those that underlie corporate policies?
Explanation: This means employees are free to espouse their own religious beliefs outside working hours, on their own equipment, on blogs, Facebook, etc.

7.      Would you ever reject a job applicant because of his or her religious beliefs about controversial issues, such as the nature of marriage, human sexuality or the sanctity of human life?
Explanation: This would apply to the pre-hiring screening process, during which some companies might check Facebook posts, blog posts, etc.

AFA will release results of additional company surveys in the coming weeks, especially as consumers prepare for the busy Christmas shopping season and align themselves with businesses that honor their values. Going forward, a yearly report will also be generated and released each September.

AFA expects the report to garner widespread attention and especially consumer interest, as it highlights those companies that are champions of religious freedom and those that are hostile to it. For more on the Corporate Religious Liberty Index, visit the AFA Journal.

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