In visiting Chick-fil-A's headquarters, which are tucked among the trees on a large plot of wooded land outside of Atlanta, the first thing you'll probably notice, as I did when I visited in the fall of 2011, is the Jesus statue. It's probably three or four feet tall and depicts Jesus washing the feet of a disciple—"a symbol of servant leadership," said a spokesperson. Other religious artwork is on display in the large atrium at the entrance of the building, including Bible quotes and crosses. There is also a fleet of pristine, extremely expensive-looking cars, with a row of model T's and a reproduction of the Batmobile.
This combination of Christian symbolism and display of extreme wealth is a fitting metaphor for the way S. Truett Cathy, the company's late founder, ran his company. Since he opened his first chicken-sandwich stand in an Atlanta mall in 1967, Cathy openly incorporated Christianity into his business, from putting Bible quotes on the styrofoam sweet-tea cups to closing the entire chain on Sundays. He has also made billions of dollars, which explains the decorative sports cars.
On Monday, Cathy died at the age of 93. He was involved in the day-to-day operations of the company well into his 80s; his son Dan is now the president and chairman. Before he died, he created a contract with his children stating that the company should never go public; theoretically, transferring ownership out of the family could jeopardize the business's overtly religious mission statement "to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us" and "to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A."