Campbell’s Soup, Gap, JC Penney and Sears Have Opportunity to Prove Religious Liberty in Survey from American Family Association
TUPELO, Miss.—Religious freedom has certainly been a key issue in America over the past year, and will continue to be, especially for the 2016 elections.
And American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) knows that savvy consumers want to be better equipped to align themselves with corporations whose values match their own, and to feel confident about where they are spending their hard-earned dollars. Therefore, AFA’s newest effort, the Corporate Religious Liberties Index (CRLI), will do just what consumers are looking for—inform the nation about the companies that value religious freedoms, and those that don’t.
Of the dozens of corporations that have received the short, simple seven-question survey from AFA, four companies are being named this week as those that have been asked to communicate their views on religious liberties: the Campbell Soup Company, The Gap, which also owns Old Navy, JC Penney, and Sears, which owns Kmart.
“We know that these four corporations have received the CRLI information, and are dragging their feet to respond,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “This leads us, and ultimately consumers, to believe that religious freedom in the workplace and in their stores is not at the top of these corporations’ lists regarding concern for employee protections. Over the phone, Campbell’s Soup committed to completing the survey in December, but has not. Likewise, AFA received a letter from The Gap, which stated that the company was declining to complete the survey, but has a ‘comprehensive non-discrimination policy’ and prohibits ‘discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in our workplaces, including on the basis of religion.’ AFA is certainly glad to know such a policy exists, but how can The Gap claim to support religious liberty in theory but refuse to state publicly that its employees are free to exercise that freedom in a concrete manner? A hypothetical freedom doesn’t ease the mind of Christian employees, nor prompt the loyalty of Christian consumers.
“Interestingly,” Wildmon continued, “these four companies have completed the lengthy 52-page Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign, which rates American workplaces on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. All four of these businesses have received a rating of 100 for the HRC index. We are asking they spend a fraction of the time to complete seven simple yet comprehensive questions on where they stand on religious liberties.”
Wildmon added that unlike many common ratings and indices that are based on the opinions of others, the CRLI directly surveys each company and evaluates their core values and the religious freedoms they offer their employees—so companies are rating themselves based on what they are currently doing in the name of religious freedom.
The CRLI 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.
AFA is encouraging those concerned about religious liberties in America to contact these four companies and urge them to the complete the CRLI survey questions so that consumers will know where these corporations stand on this important issue.
Campbell Soup Company
Denise M. Morrison, President
1 Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103
The Gap (owns Old Navy)
Arthur Peck, CEO
2 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
Marvin R. Ellison, President
6501 Legacy Drive
Plano, TX 75024
Sears (owns Kmart)
Edward Scott Lampert, CEO
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179
Every week, AFA will name the companies who have or have not responded to the CRLI so that thousands may contact them and either thank them or urge them to publicly announce their religious freedom stance. Additional companies that received the survey include: Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Big Lots, Chick-fil-A, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dollar Tree, Fred’s, Foot Locker, Hallmark, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, Interstate Battery, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Marshalls/T.J. Maxx, Michael’s Stores, Office Depot/Office Max, PepsiCo, PetSmart, Procter & Gamble, Staples, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us and Wal-Mart.
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. Going forward, a yearly report will also be generated and released each September.