Why Evangelicals Shouldn’t Call a Business ‘Christian’


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.