One of the more visible signs that consumers have regarding a company's religious views is whether the business operates on Sundays. A 2005 article from the periodical The Guardian quoted Pope Benedict XVI, who called on his Catholic followers to focus on Sundays as a religious day to stem against "rampant consumerism and religious indifference."
A number of high-profile retail firms, including chicken fast food provider Chick-Fil-A, arts and crafts store Hobby Lobby and furniture giant R.C. Willey, proudly state on their websites that they are closed on Sundays. Capitalists are quick to point out that Sundays are among the most popular days for shoppers who work during the week. Additionally, missing a single day means being closed for 14% of the week.
Warren Buffett called into question R.C. Willey's decision to remain closed as it expanded out of its home state of Utah, but lost out to a "higher authority," as the stores are still closed on Sundays. Mr. Buffet isn't alone, however, when it comes to keeping business practices separate from religion. Below are some famous businessmen and investors who have proclaimed themselves non-religious.
Buffett has admitted to being agnostic, which is consistent with his rational views on business and life in general. He was said to not have been originally hired by his mentor Benjamin Graham because they did not share the same religion. A number of quotes and interviews have detailed Buffett's agnostic attitude toward religion. One suggested he liked the agnostic view as it meant no one is wrong when it comes to religion, which sounds logical enough.
The companies Buffet invests in are well known, and every trade he makes seems to be scrutinized by those who wish to be as successful as he is. That said, if you want to invest like Buffet, you might consider Walmart, Wells Fargo or Coca-Cola.
Apple founder Steve Jobs wavered on the existence of God. Much of Jobs' thoughts on religion were released as part of Walter Isaacson's research in putting together his biography on Jobs. Transcripts and interviews detail that Jobs became more religious following a cancer diagnosis, but he also detailed that he thought the chances were "50-50 maybe."
Jobs also thought that life and death may simply be like an on-off switch on an electronic device, and alluded to the fact that he didn't add the switches to Apple devices because he liked the thought of the existence of an afterlife and not the finality of passing into it.
Gates, who serves on the board of directors of Buffett's Berkshire-Hathaway, is said to prefer a scientific approach to "why things happen and how they happen," over one that is based on scripture or other religious views. In an interview from the 1970s, he was quoted as not believing in certain Christian beliefs and not being a regular churchgoer. In another interview with Walter Isaacson, he stated "There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."
Gates' portfolio holds a lot of financials, but he also likes big names; some of his top holdings include McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Caterpillar.
Georgesoros.com, the "official website of George Soros" states that the billionaire investor identifies himself as an atheist and that he "respects all faiths and religious practices." Specifically, "he believes that people of faith and faith communities contribute to the public's understanding of pressing social issues and often add a principled, moral aspect to debates that are too often dominated by politicians, statistics and polling."
Some of Soros' newest buys include Cvr Energy, Chevron, Suntrust and Macy's.
The Bottom Line
Often business leaders and investors generally prefer to keep their religious views to themselves and focus on serving their customers and clients. Success does allow certain professionals, such as those above, to state their views without impacting their personal bottom lines. Overall this makes sense, considering that many beliefs concerning the afterlife are, for some obvious and practical reasons, difficult to prove.