Monday, December 18, 2006
Christian CEO brings faith into workplace
When I visited Bart Azzarelli's construction company north of Tampa, Florida, it was almost like going to a church. The day began with prayer and bible study in a standing-room-only conference room. At lunch, employees lined up for grilled hamburgers and hotdogs while they listened to personal testimony of a man who had accepted Christ. There is a large painting of a cross in the lobby and the mission statement is posted for all to see. It reads, "The purpose of our company is to glorify God."

Azzarelli, the company's owner and CEO, is part of a new wave of executives who view their businesses as ministries. He brought his faith overtly into the workplace and actively keeps count of how many souls are saved on the job. So far, he says, four hundred have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. He will also tell you that business (the dollars and cents kind) is good, and he attributes that success to God.

But while Azzarelli believes that the only way to God is through Christ, he knows there is a line he cannot cross in the workplace. Federal law prohibits any act that might make an employee feel coerced into participating in this kind of religious activity. To avoid complaints about discrimination by non-Christian workers, he says he tries to make sure everyone is treated equally. So far, he says, there have been no complaints.

Azzarelli believes that part of the reason he been able to walk this tightrope is because he bases his management style on Biblical principles. He says that to him, this means genuinely caring for his fellow man. He says he wants his employees to know he loves them and treats them with care and respect. Employees told me they've never worked at any construction company where they felt more appreciated. Some even told me that working for Azzarelli had turned their lives around.

What I didn't know going into this report was just how many Bart Azzarellis there are today in American business. Azzarelli is one of about 20 members of just one chapter of C12, an association for Christian business leaders with franchises all over the country. And there are a number of other business organizations with a similar focus and membership throughout the United States.
Posted By David Mattingly, CNN Correspondent: 11:36 AM ET
I don't necessarily agree with a CEO using his power position in a business to essentially preach his religious beliefs to his employees as though it's a ministry. He could still "walk the talk" with his beliefs but why create a "church-like" atmosphere by beginning the day with prayer and bible studies? I'm guessing that this construction company does not employ a large number of people. If this management style was practiced in bigger businesses, I'm sure those CEO's would get some complaints!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 12:30 PM ET
My initial reaction was confusion. This is a level of faith and religious practice I cannot understand, really, and the concept of a religion-based work environment seemed ridiculously unprofessional. I checked out the C12 Group site for a better understanding and overall, it doesn't seem so bad. It offers the chance for more community worship which of course is considered fundamental for many. Besides having a strictly Christian board and trying to save at least one life for all of eternity (I'd be so incredibly annoyed at work everyday...), the mission statement includes promoting balance in all aspects of life, moral coaching and guidance and as a business, it encourages a healthy yet very productive work ethic. If it is 100% true that everyone else feels comfortable working for Azzarelli, then it seems like an amazing company to be a part of. I just can''t accept the fact that it's focused so intensely on one religion. And let's be honest, the main goal in business is to profit, not to "glorify God." They know it.
Posted By Anonymous Sabrina, Montreal, Quebec : 12:44 PM ET
David, I think this is very scary. Religion(I prefer spirituality) is a personal thing as is a relationship with God.As we watch on a daily basis how fundamentalist Islam eats away at the rights of people, we should be wary of fundamentalist Christianity doing the same thing here. Once people get the idea in their heads that there is one way to God(funny,its always their way), then they begin to force their way on others. I feel sure that those who work in Mr. Azzarelli,s company and are not practicing his brand of religion, feel very uncomfortable. God in his greatness has offered us many paths to salvation. As a recovering alcoholic, I found my path thru AA, and their wonderful advice to find a God of my understanding has kept me sober and given me great solace.
Posted By Anonymous Brett, Oriskany, VA : 12:59 PM ET
I just checked out the C12 Group website. On the surface, in one way, I see it as a great way to network within the Christian business community. But as I read more of the website under "Empowering Christian Leaders in Business", I wondered if this organization may be on the fringe of the Capitalist Christians agenda as it was described on AC360 segment, "What is a Christian?"

I feel uneasy with..."The Biblical qualifications include that God has an external plan for believers' life and that includes your business."

Also, "Each company within a C12 Group of 10-15 firms typically has an on-going opportunity to touch more people than all but the largest mega-churches! Imagine the personal blessing of empowering these local Christian business leaders to fruitfully respond to the opportunities they've been given as stewards and servant leaders of the Lord's provision in your local marketplace."

In addition, it reads "As a primary vocational focus, you'll find C12 to be a unique opportunity to earn an attractive professional income while serving the community you've come to know so well, and becoming an integral part of C12's cadre of highly talented and committed Area Leaders across America."

I do admire Bert Azzarelli's commitment to his faith and making it a part his every day business life. But, the Biblically qualified C12 Christians written about in the website is connected with 1 Timothy and Titus books in the Bible. What are the chapters and verses?

I am also uncomfortable with the Member Experiences page where it reads, "C12 is all about results and is committed to helping our members discover that operating according to timeless Biblical principles is the best way to generate results that really matter!" and references to the "fruitful" CEO's and owners....

So, as a Christian businesswoman, I am intrigued, but I also feel guarded and see some red flags about "exclusivity" and interpretation issues in the Biblical teachings and qualifications of this "inclusive" organization.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 1:41 PM ET

These C12 are all over Florida. The C12 organizations just had a huge rally on this side of the state about 6 weeks ago.

They claim this is the work of the Lord to bring religion into the workplace and by doing this they have been rewarded with wonderful gifts like increase sales and increase bottom-lines. These are the Christians who believe God will lead you to great abundance and wealth. I think Mr. Doss calls these the "capitalist" Christians. First time I ever heard that term was last week.

Before hiring someone, they ask for your church affiliation. If you are a building sub-contractor, they check your tax returns to make sure you are donating at least 10% to God's works. It is an interesting way of doing business.

I learned about these folks about 5 years ago. One of my clients told me about it. At one manufacturing firm in town they only play Christian music in the world place. They formally pray at noon before lunch. The owner comes on the speaker and does a prayer. If he is on vacation doing God's work on a missionary trip, he brings in a "guest business owner" to pray with his people.

I wonder, "Will I stop in purgatory -- temporary because I didn't push my religious views on my employees and staff?" Can someone answer that question for me?
Posted By Anonymous Renee Bradenton, FL : 1:48 PM ET
I would definitely not work at this place. I firmly believe in separation of church and state and I absolutely believe that religion should be kept out of the workplace. It seems like it's perfectly fine to alienate or insult agnostics or atheists, but never members of organized religions. I sort of think it's slightly dangerous to push religion at work-and make no mistake-that's exactly what's going on here. Studies indicate that most people want to feel like they're part of a TEAM at work-not a religion. This is how problems start because no one believes in one thing, nor should they. This country was built on religious freedom, so if I want to worhsip Buddha, for instance, I shouldn't feel intimidated at work if I'm not a Christian. That's why worship should be saved for the church or home. Organized religion has been at the root of most wars. Let's keep it where it belongs.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie Darby, Denham Springs, LA : 1:53 PM ET
I think bringing religion to the workplace is wrong. Too many people have too many beliefs. It's hard enough to get along with your co-workers without bringing religion into it.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 2:00 PM ET
"The purpose of our company is to glorify God."

If this was posted at my employment, I don't think I would want to work there. I am an athiest and the last place I want to be subjected to someone's religion, is at work. If business decisions are being made to glorify God, then I would prefer to work for someone with a more clearer vision of the future prospects. If they can't decide on an issue due to a religion belief, then this is not the employer I want to work for in my community.
Posted By Anonymous Nicki, Calgary, Alberta : 2:23 PM ET
A person's religious (spiritual) belief is a personal matter and should remain so. It has no place in the workforce of a nation which is supposed to accept and treat everyone equally.

Do these businesses treat their atheist, gay, and non-Christian believers in their employ equally? Is attendance at these religious services mandatory at the start of each day

Since the U.S. is supposed to accept all religions, will the Muslim owner of a public business be accepted as equally as these Christian businesses when they require the same thing of their employees?

There can only be dissension and conflict in this nation if such practices continue and spread.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 2:23 PM ET
What is the definition of �fundamentalism� for reporting purposes? At what point does the term �fundamentalist� apply? I know that CNN has not used the term here, however three comments in and we�re already talking about fundamentalist Christianity. I wonder if it really applies here? In my understanding (limited though it may well be) fundamentalism often carries with it the idea of a small, often violent offshoot of a given religious group. The comment has been made that prayer times and Bible studies could make non-religious employees uncomfortable, I don�t disagree with that, but is it fair to equate discomfort with suicide attacks and the threat of teenage plural marriage?

It reminds me of an earlier discussion on this blog asking when the term �terrorist� could fairly be used. It was asked, is a terrorist simply the other guy in a conflict? In the same way, is a fundamentalist merely someone who practices a form of faith I don�t agree with? Have we moved into a new phase of political correctness where I can call you whatever I like as long as I use the agreed upon words for �not acceptable� ?
Posted By Anonymous Claire Colvin, White Rock BC : 2:24 PM ET
As I read the blogs on this page it is amazing to me to the lack of understanding of what being a true believer means. For us who believe God is exactly who He says He is, and that Christ as His son was sacrficed for our sins, and also believe that the Bible is His word to us, there isn't any separation between personal lives and business. Serving God is who we are and biblical principals is how we do that, in every aspect of living. It is how we worship, serve our fellow man, glorify God, and be ministers regardless of our job title. How amazing and how sad the preceeding statements seem to me.
In my job at a very large global corporation I work as I live; publically proclaiming my faith, working with integrity, and when I serve my supervisors I recognize that who I truly am serving is God and work accordingly.
Yea for the corporations whose foundations are built on absolute, not subjective, truth.
Posted By Anonymous Rikki Shaffer, San Diego, CA : 2:29 PM ET
I would have to disagree with the headline 'brings faith into the workplace'. In this form Religion has been brought into the work place and we need to just look to the Middle East, FLDS, the Catholic-Orthodox schism, the history of the Dutch Reformed, Catholic-Anglican-Episcopal thing and too many other examples to be sufficiently warned that in faith we can unite, but religion is a divider that crosses the ages.

I worked for a long time for a successful business that was headed by a man of faith and his decisions were testimony to his principals. Religion was never in his work place, but morals and ethics were. I also worked in a religiously influenced environment that was seriously flawed by righteous religious closed mindedness.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 2:47 PM ET
This is a Human Resource professional's nightmare!! I'm glad I don't work for him. Can you say "lawsuit?" If Azzarellis wants to live his own life by these principles, that's his personal business, and good for him. But leave the rest of us out of it. Why do so many people think they know what's right for everybody else? Good grief, man! Here's your Christian Taliban in operation!
Posted By Anonymous Beverly, Fairfax VA : 2:48 PM ET
So as a Jew and having no affliation with a local synagogue I would not be hired to work at this company unless i converted to Christianity? Seems like a clever disguise for discrimination.
Posted By Anonymous JP Margate, FL : 2:55 PM ET
We need to stamp out this sort of rot before it spreads.
Posted By Anonymous Ray, Virginia Beach, VA : 2:56 PM ET
AMEN! Praise God for men like these. What a victory in a world that rejects the Truth...I am glad some people are willing and able by God's power and grace to take a stand for Jesus...because He IS the way, the truth and the light. NOONE is able to come to the Father BUT through Him. We need more people in this world like that - not afraid of sharing God. Because whether one believes it or not...God is the Truth. Amen!
Posted By Anonymous Erin - Allentown, PA : 3:00 PM ET
Saying that religion is a "personal matter" is just plain wrong. No religion commands that a person keep their religion to themselves. This is a man-made idea to keep ideas we disagree with out of our lives. True religion should ring out from within, regardless of what that religion is.

Putting religion in a box doesn't do it justice.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, Arlington, VA : 3:03 PM ET
No true believer in God and the Bible, force their belief on anyone. It is our purpose as true believers to try to save as many souls as we can. God did not provide many ways to salvation, the Bible tells us of one way through Jesus Christ.
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Homestead, Fl : 3:03 PM ET
The term `fundamentalism' has its origin in a series of pamphlets published between 1910 and 1915. Entitled "The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth," these booklets were authored by leading churchmen and were circulated free of charge among clergymen and seminarians. By and large, fundamentalism was a response to the loss of influence traditional revivalism experienced in America during the early years of the twentieth century. This loss of influence, coupled with the liberalizing trends of German biblical criticism and the encroachment of Darwinian theories about the origin of the universe, prompted a response by conservative churchmen. The result was the pamphlets. In 1920, a journalist and Baptist layman named Curtis Lee Laws appropriated the term `fundamentalist' as a designation for those who were ready "to do battle royal for the Fundamentals." Go to and find out more.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Eugene OR : 3:12 PM ET
As I read through the preceding entries I became more and more confused. Why, exactly, is this wrong? Why do we feel the need to deny someone their freedoms in order to make someone else "comfortable"? I think what Mr. Azzarelli is doing is wonderful. As long as he is operating within the guidelines of the legal system, and it sounds like he is, then what is the problem? We have something wonderful in this country called "at will employment". Not one of Mr. Azzarelli's employees HAS to stay there. They obviously CHOOSE to. So, again, why is it wrong?
Posted By Anonymous Danielle - Louisville, KY : 3:21 PM ET
I was always told "never talk about religion or politics". This seems like a good practice at work or school. Guess all the employees are little robots!
Posted By Anonymous Connie, Louisville, Tn. : 3:28 PM ET
Wow, what an amazing business. How awesome it would be to work for a business like that. Azzarelli's business is succeeding because he is glorifying God through his work. God blesses those who obey and serve Him. The key message to this story is that the only way to God is through Christ. Way to go Azzarelli. May the Lord keep blessing you as you serve Him.
Posted By Anonymous Ace, Moscow, Idaho : 3:29 PM ET
What is wrong with a man running his business the way he sees fit. No one is forced to work there. As far as I know this is not a publicly or government owned business. If you dont want to wear short shorts or wear tight t-shirts you dont work at hooters. If you dont want to pray dont work for this man. Its your choice!!!
Posted By Anonymous Greg Okc. Ok. : 3:30 PM ET
I am a born-again believer since 1989 and I'm ashamed of this proliferation of our faith in Jesus Christ. The very nature of Jesus Christ and His ministry was to "Seek and to save the lost" not to gain popularity or recognition. I'm tired of "Fundamentalists" putting our faith in Christ in a bad light. Just live your life for Christ and let His word flow from your heart. This business ideology is commercializing faith in Jesus Christ. So all I can say for Mr. Azzarelli's is - "..and in that day many will say...Lord, Lord did I not prophesy in thy name...and He will say to them...depart from me I NEVER knew you!. Mr. Azzarelli's, Jesus Christ does not need you efforts to spread His gospel. So, let Him do the work and you just run your business with integrity.
Posted By Anonymous Jay, Kansas City MO : 3:32 PM ET
Doesn't Scripture say that only a hypocrite prays in public, and that the true believer prays in his own room? Or don't they teach that in Dominionist Sunday Schools?

I am churchgoer and have a degree from a major seminary, and I am HORRIFIED at the idea of a company CEO who sees his construction company as a ministry (!) and believes that part of his job is to "bring people to Christ." If he believes so strongly in missionary work, he needs to sell his company and serve the poor and the forgotten, as Jesus did, and not try to bully his workers into becoming born-again.
Posted By Anonymous L.J. Evans, Easthampton, Massachusetts : 3:48 PM ET
I work at a large corporation and Christmas is just way overdone here. I had to balk at having my cubible decorated with the trappings of Christmas, I gave away my Christmas ham - we don't eat pork, and missed the "Holiday" party for our department, which was scheduled on the first night of Chanukah.

I agree with other readers that when you meet a person who actually lives, to the core, his beliefs, that this person is a blessing and one who stands out among others. These people are the true spokepersons for the best that their religion can produce. Not the showman.......
Posted By Anonymous Kim , Midland, MI : 3:51 PM ET
I live in Sarasota, FL and work for a construction company as a bookkeeper and all I can say, is thank goodness I'm employed because there is no way that I would work for this company. As it is, it's one of the reasons that I quit working for a major home builder in Bradenton becasue I was uncomfortable with this type of stuff.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Sarasota, FL : 4:03 PM ET
Totally agree with Rikki Shaffer's comments above, as well as several other entries along the same lines.

I would add, for those who scoff at "our" way of salvation being the "only" way of salvation, it isn't OUR way at all, it's GOD's way...consider the following: John 14:6 (Jesus is the speaker) - "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but by me." Not sure how much plainer it gets than that.

As for Mr. Azzarelli's business, it sounds as though he is living Romans 1:16 - "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes." I don't perceive that he's forcing salvation on people, he's providing a Godly workplace while being sensitive to the legal parameters of such practices. And as someone stated above, nobody's being forced to work there. Free will, baby!
Posted By Anonymous Kim, Greensboro, NC : 4:04 PM ET
If this CEO were to brought out by a Muslim company, how would he feel if he were forced to pray five times daily using the Koran?
That being said:
1) How does it effect the bottom line?
2) How can you tell?
3) Most business execs eschew "group think"
4) How many non-Christians have they discriminated against kbnowingly or unknowingly?
5. How do they define Christian?
6. Why are they taking their lord's name in vain?
Posted By Anonymous Jerome Wolfe, Springflied, VA : 4:05 PM ET
I can't believe all of spouting and ranting about "separation of church and state" and keep religion of the work place. NOWHERE in the article was it stated that participation for ALL employees is MANDATORY! Also, this is a public displayed business practice, which it appears to be, then why would you apply to work there in the first place if you don't like their practices. That's like someone who does not like alcohol, applying to work in a bar, and then complaining about it??? If you don't like the way they treat their customers and employees, LEAVE!! If you are any good at your job, someone else will hire you! Keep you politics and "Big Brother" socialism out of MY PRIVATE business.
Posted By Anonymous Doug, K.C.Mo. : 4:08 PM ET
A very interesting story -- I'm a Christian but not sure how comfortable a work environment it would be for a secular business (e.g., construction, as opposed to a Christian bookstore) where church-like activities are front and center.

Having said that, the comments show how ignorant and hostile folks are -- ignorant in that church/state separation refers to government-controlled or -sponsored entities and activities, not private business; a private business is pretty much free to run their businesses however they want as long as no local, state or federal laws are being broken.

Hostile in that folks of various backgrounds are suing or threatening lawsuits for students' references to God in schools, public Christmas displays or, or so on. So if it's OK for folks to boycott businesses because of the beliefs or action of the business owners (or even private individuals), folks or private organizations should have the right to patronize those same business or individuals for the same reason.
Posted By Anonymous David, Tulsa OK : 4:10 PM ET
That is awesome that you are a born-again believer. Praise God! You are right, Christ can spread the Gospel by himself but he chooses us to spread the Gospel as part of out faith and worship to Him. Christ had disciples to help Him spread the Gospel and he calls us to go and make disciples. I think this is what Azzarelli is doing through his business.
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Roy, WA : 4:11 PM ET
I cannot believe some of these negative comments on this simple news story. I have know Bart Azzarelli for over 20 years, I recently started working for his company and I have to say you folks who are critizing him are dead wrong. CNN selected his company to do the piece. All of the companies spiritual activitys are voluntary. He has over 150 employees of all walks of life, religions and non-Christian believers. Anyone that knows the Construction business would know it would be impossible to staff workers based on a Christian agenda.
HIs company is successful because he has a fantastic group of leaders of which some share Azzarelli's faith and believes. The big difference is people don't go to work afraid for their job, being managed by fear or intimidation or motivated by greed. He is successful because the extremely competive underground utility market recognizes a good company that stand behind its work and does what is say's it going to do. It is called taking pride in your work and doing for others what you would want them to do for you. It is time for more people to stand up for their faith and walk the talk. For every negative comment in this blog I believe there are 1000 others that wished they worked in the same conditions created at Dallas 1.
Posted By Anonymous Vito Saputo, Tampa, Florida : 4:20 PM ET
With all due respect, no where in the article did I read that people are forced to accept Christ. Accepting Christ is a personal decision. As a business, i'm assuming people need to apply to a position, go to an interview and be hired before beginning to work at this company obviously. If you don't want to work there, then don't's as simple as that. I don't understand what is the problem on working at a company where the boss actually cares about the staff. Many need to open their eyes. There is only one way and that way is Jesus. Praise God for giving this man the strength to open a business where God is glorified. It is our duty as Christians to bring the good news to those who have not heard it. Those who don't want to hear it, take a look at your life. You will never be complete until you have God. Amen
Posted By Anonymous Sandy, Clifton NJ : 4:21 PM ET
This phenomenon is almost unbelievable. Why can't a business be run with integrity and respect without the religious nonsense? As the Christian taliban plots its way further into the power structure, it's high time that rational thinkers started to speak up more.
Posted By Anonymous Bob Goldie, San Francisco, CA : 4:21 PM ET
This is a wonderful article. I wish more CEOs would build their organizations on faith.

I am so happy for his success and the success of his employees; thanks be to God!
Posted By Anonymous Toni Suarez-Harmonson, Los Angeles, CA : 4:29 PM ET
What would happen if an atheist applied for a job with one of these companies? What if he got the job, worked very hard, and showed lots of talent? Would he be just as likely to be promoted to a high-ranking position?

Would anyone seriously argue that an atheist could expect fair and equal treatment at one of these "Bible-based companies"? If not, then these "evangelical bosses" are guilty of religious discrimination. It's that simple.
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania : 4:32 PM ET
This is so awesome!! I have a feeling that his employees are happy and productive. If people find this offensive, I would imagine that they would simply choose to apply elsewhere. This is the type of thing that makes America what it is.
Posted By Anonymous Sandy Watson, Tacoma, WA : 4:36 PM ET


"Azzarelli, the company's owner and CEO,"

Again, "the company's owner".

If you guys don't want God involved in your daily lives, go start your own company.


Jason B
aka kingneb
Posted By Anonymous Jason B, St Pete Beach, FL : 4:37 PM ET
As I read the comments that every one has so kindly given, I want everyone to know that as an employee of Dallas 1 Construction and Dev, Inc.
I live this everyday. It is a joy to come to work and know that as a Christian I can minister and fellowship with fellow Christians. The difference here, is that Bart Azzarelli is not afraid to put his Christian values on the table for all to see. He doesn't push Christianity down anyone's throat, because that is a choice we all must make. He gives us encouragement to make the choice that the Bible tells us to take. For the Bible tells us to Choose Life and not death. This company gives an opportunity to those that are not given that 2nd change. With Bart it is not about how much money his company makes, but how many lives he can change by giving them a 2nd chance. He has more compassion in one finger than most people have in their life time. The biggest problem with Christians today is that it is so very important for them to be politically correct and not correct according to Jesus. In my opinion the reason that the muslims are becoming more powerful than Christians is because they are not afraid of what other people think of them and their believes. Come on, as a Christian, I am not afraid to speak of my God or Of my Lord Jesus, for with out Them I would not exist. When are we as Christians going to be bold and stand up for our beliefs.
New employees are told that this is a Christians company with Christian values and they choose to work here.
It is very refreshing to work in a place that has true christian values. I have worked in places that has proclaimed the fame of being a Chrostian company and we so worried about being policatily correct that we couldn't even mention othe God.
I trust in Jesus as my lord and savior. I am BLESSED and HIGHLY FAVORED and I don't care what other people think of me. For I am a Child of God and love him.
Posted By Anonymous Shirley, Thonotosassa, Fl : 4:43 PM ET
I'm an atheist, and I think it'd be great if people believed in good morals for its own sake instead of in an invisible man telling them to follow certain morals and say prayers to go heaven. That way there wouldn't be any problems like the one presented here of infringing on someone's rights.
Posted By Anonymous Dan, NY, NY : 4:45 PM ET
I pray everyday that I will come to work for an organization like this!

Posted By Anonymous David Roberts Brooklyn,New York : 4:51 PM ET
I thought the constitution said that the government could not establish religion. I don't know where the separation of work and religion comes from. It did not say that anyone could not exhibit their personal religion in public or in the workplace. No one is forced to work for or with Azzarelli's company. Some will not be satisfied until there is no religion allowed anywhere. This is a great country that allows diversity in our workplaces, and citizens can chose how to conduct themselves. Go Mr. Azzarelli.
Posted By Anonymous David Chadwell Tampa Florida : 4:51 PM ET
I didn't notice the report saying that the workers were threatened with being fired if they don't participate in religous activities. I saw no mention of anyone being herded to devotions at gunpoint, or threatened with beheading, if they don't accept Christ. All this whining about being discriminated against or left out is getting old. Whiney people are boring. Grow up.
Posted By Anonymous Debra M, East Prairie, Missouri : 4:55 PM ET
This man clearly values evangelism and conversion, and attempts by people of one faith to attempt to convert others is by nature insulting, so I have a hard time seeing this as benign. I don't appreciate an atmosphere that is filled with the symbols of a point of view that believes me somehow flawed because I haven't yet been "saved."

I don't think religion should be a taboo topic among individuals, but to focus the workplace on it that way is, frankly, too much, and I get the sense this man would go farther if the law would permit it.
Posted By Anonymous Diane, Philadelphia PA : 5:00 PM ET
Man did this story spark some controversy or what? First, there is NO separation of business and religion (church and state) required here. Why does this man living out his coonvictions and stating his convictions make you guys so uncomfortable? Don't lie, cheat, steal...when did those become bad things to tell employees? Lastly, had the CEO's of Enron, Worldcom, Tyco, etc. run their businesses on the principles this man does 1000's would still be employed, retirements would be intact, and we wouldn't have Sarbanes - Oxley. Who and what are you guys really so mad at?
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Franklin, TN : 5:01 PM ET
I, personally, would not want to work for a company like that, but feel that Bible-beaters have rights too. As long as it's "supposively" not bothering anyone there, live and let live.
Posted By Anonymous Jake - Newark, NJ : 5:03 PM ET
Azzarelli's management style is based on Biblical principles? I wonder which specific Biblical principles those might be, since there are so many. I hope they don't include the stoning disrespectful employees, or putting to death of the homosexual ones. I hope they don't include the Biblical principle of killing employees who share their non-christian beliefs, or the subjugation of female employees to males in the office. I wonder if they make animal blood sacrifices too?
Posted By Anonymous Albert, Anaheim CA : 5:08 PM ET
I am a C-12 member in Virginia Beach, Virginia where we were named Small Business Success Story for the state. I have taken the lessons, support, and knowledge to grow my business from one to six stores in 2 � years. Our purpose is the �transform relationships� using fine jewelry because our client generally doesn�t just want a ring, he aspires to become happily engaged. People who have aspirations will only entrust them to companies which share their world view and ethical convictions. All commerce involves moral choices regardless of whether you are manufacturing goods, providing services, creating experiences or guiding the transformations of your customers. Each level of added value raises the �moral ante� to the point where we can no longer ignore the ethical, philosophical and indeed religious implications of business.

For our part, my personal desire is to be a blessing to each of my employees. To me, this includes providing a living wage, and the education and training to help them become �more employable� if they leave, than when they started. We were named number five of our areas best places to work because we try to create a good environment for everybody. I don�t really know what religion my employees embrace, but I do know what I believe and try to live it to the best of my ability. Running a company according to the C-12 principles is not about how the employees feel or what they believe or what the customers believe; it is about what the CEO believes and how he/she expresses it through his company to be a blessing to each of his �stakeholders.� As a C-12 CEO, my responsibility before God and man is to try to bless those around me and not be a curse.
Posted By Anonymous David Nygaard, Virginia Beach, Va : 5:09 PM ET
I am a former employee. This company is not about religion. This company is about the love of God. There is a spiritual war going on and we (Christians) are His warriors and we welcome the chance to show God's love to ANYONE. God loves us so much and I would welcome anyone with that much love to be a part of my business and the Head of my business. Bart has definitely gotten people to talk and people are responding. Uncomfortable? Good-this means you are becoming aware of your choice to choose Him or not too. I pray in Jesus' name you rebuke satan and do choose Him.
Posted By Anonymous Kim Walker, Wesley Chapel FL : 5:12 PM ET
thanks for the interesting story
what is the harm i think it is great
the business world would be better off if employer and employees treated each other better and abided by biblical principles
thanks again for a refreshing story -something you dont here about every day
Posted By Anonymous cathrine waterloo iowa : 5:14 PM ET
We live in a free nation and an independent business person should be able to run there business the way they see fit, within the law. As for the thought about separation between church and state, it was set up to protect religion from the state not the state from religion. Our forefathers, God bless them, didn�t want to see us have a state religion like we see in other nations.

I just wish folks would get this upset about how porno businesses are being run and give these good folk a break. Would I want to work there? I�m not sure, but it might be better then working for most of the other constructions companies in Florida.
Posted By Anonymous Paul - Windsor, CT : 5:30 PM ET

As a Buddhist, I would never work there. But I don't have to. That's the beauty of the USA.


Are they getting the same tax breaks as churches? Churches are places of employment for a good number of people around the country, but they are not taxed as normal businesses are. Is this company working over our tax system under the guise of being "Christian"?
Posted By Anonymous Heather, Chicago, IL : 5:31 PM ET
I apologize for the length of this comment, but...

As I read through the comments already posted on this story, I see a thread of misunderstanding running through some of them.

The first is that it is somehow against the law for a private company to establish the type of working environment it desires. It is not. As long as no laws are broken and no one is forced or coerced against his or her will, Bart Azzarelli is free to promote his beliefs as he sees fit, as long as other individuals' beliefs are respected.

The second is that Dallas 1 employees are forced to "convert" in order to work there. This is not true either. Yes, Bible studies are offered at the workplace, but attendance is not mandatory. Would Mr. Azzarelli prefer that his employees attend? I'm sure he would, because he understands the value of a serious study of scripture and the many positive benefits to be gained in such a pursuit.

If something you'd participated in had transformed your life in many positive ways, would you be reluctant to suggest it to people you cared about or even worked with? Probably not. In this, Mr. Azzarelli is no different from the rest of us.

By the way, there are about 7 C12 meetings taking place in Tampa during any given month. The "20' members Mr. Mattingly refers to is the approximate membership of just Mr. Azzarelli's group.

As for the comments re: C12 being part of the "Capitalist Christian agenda" alluded to in the 360 segment on "What IS a CHristian?", it is just not true. Of course C12 members desire that their businesses show a profit. That is the very nature of business. However, the basic premise of C12 is that God has established these businesses for His purposes, and selected these men and women as stewards, charged with running them in a manner that honors Him, draws others into the Kingdom and impacts lives in positive ways.

How do I know these things? For the last year, I've been working as a freelance writer with the Tampa C12 chapter, producing its website copy and bi-monthly newsletter. I can tell you that they are a group of business owners and CEOs committed to excellence and investing in the lives of their employees- Christian and non-Christian alike-suppliers, customers and even competitors. They are serious-minded business leaders but also compassionate and concerned CEOs who treat their employees with respect, rejecting the modern notion that employees are a means to an end- corporate profitability- and taking a genuine interest in the lives of others. Many of them give generously to ministries and charities, which is also in keeping with C12 precepts and principles.

All I can tell you is that, in my associations with them- and that includes Mr. Azzarelli; I do some freelance work for his company- I find them to be genuine- meaning they have good qualities and areas of weakness, just like all of us- in their lives, their faith and their families. They have definitely changed how I view my own business, as well as my commitment to Christ and what that means to my business. They are in C12 because C12 persuades them that they are accountable to God for not only for how they run their businesses, but also for how they care for their families and impact the lives of others in positive ways.

And yes, I am a Christian. If you knew me, you'd know how skeptically I view things like C12. However, my experiences over the last year have shown me an organization that is committed to helping business owners become better Christians, spouses, parents, businesspeople and community members.

If this is wrong, them maybe we all should be as mistaken as they are.
Posted By Anonymous Jay Winchester, Tampa, FL : 5:33 PM ET
It's really refreshing to hear about this man. I'm very,very weary of the stupid political correctness and trashing of Christianity that we have every day, and especially from the media. One would think that just because President Bush professes to be a Christian, the media hates Jesus Christ.
The biblical principals are the ideal on which to base life and business.
Thank you sir for your strength.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Boca Raton, Fl : 5:36 PM ET
I find is sad that a country that was started because of religious freedom now sits and condemns religion itself. Do I support the CEO, yes. Just like any other job in the world. If you dont like working there then get another job.
But lets look at the big picture. Have we become a society where every little thing offends people. For example, people that do not believe that there is a God. Why would they be upset at someone that says there is. If I say the sky is green and you say it is blue, then who cares. If you believe what you believe then why get upset when someone tells you other wise. What is to be gained?
I am a Baptist, but I have have the abilty to think. If something makes you unsure or bothers you, why stay in that position?
We all have our opinions just like the one your reading now. If you agree or disagree that is fine.
But remember this.

What is seems like to me is that as a society we have lost control of our lives and our goals. So we try to gain control over something. If this means ruining someone elses dreams then we have control of that and can control that person in a small way.

In the end I am pround of that CEO and would be more that happy to work for him. Religion or no religion it sounds like a company that will put family before work, rather than work before family like so many companies today.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Phoenix, AZ : 5:43 PM ET
Sarah (Posted By Sarah, Roy, WA : 4:11 PM ET),

You missed the point of what I was saying. The business ideology is wrong! I know how Christians think and have been taught throughout the past 30-40 years. We have been trained to share our faith with as many as possible because our mission is the great commission...right? We agree that Christ uses us as a vehicle to spread His gospel.... however, we often presume to know that vehicle and use EVERYTHING in life as that vehicle. My supposition is that this business is essentially tearing down the name of Christ by it's very organizational behavior. Just read these posted comments - who is being glorified? It is certainly not the name of Christ but our own self perceptions of what service to Him is. I'm as guilty as Azzarelli in bolstering faith in Jesus Christ publically. I'll point you to the lesson found in John 15 - abide in the vine and you wont need a company or platform to share your faith. People will be drawn to you because you reflect Christ - not because you preach Christ.
Posted By Anonymous Jay, Kansas City MO : 5:43 PM ET
I was employed by Bart Azzarelli for 8 years. I can tell you first hand that his faith is not forced upon anyone. He simply does not leave his faith at home but instead prefers to share the good news with others. For those that doubt his motives, Bart puts his money where his mouth is. His company has a better benefits package than any other construction company I know of. He donates 10% of the profits to charity. A "ministry committee" (comprised of volunteers) decides where the money will go. In my 8 years I saw his company donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to charties both national and local. If Bart kept his faith to himself, as most of these bloggers suggest, he'd simply stuff all this money in his pockets.
Posted By Anonymous B Larsen, Kenneth City FL : 5:47 PM ET
This man, Mr. Azarelli has wisdom and understanding. He is being honest and staying true to his faith in private and public.

If most business leaders and government leaders did the same, we would have a much better world. All Christian morals are well tested and lead to success in life. An environment (business private or public) without morals and spiritual principles quickly swindles into chaos and confusion. I think other business leaders should take a page out of Azarelli's book. May God continue to bless him and his business greatly!
Posted By Anonymous AOE, Austin TX : 5:55 PM ET
While government does regulate business practices to an extent, essentially anyone is free to set up a business. Amazingly, with this freedom they are allowed to run the company how they see fit, including presenting a religious environment. What do the people complaining about this man get in return? The freedom to find a company they would like to work for that doesn't have this sort of environment. I'm not sure why people are so offended by religion.
Posted By Anonymous David K., Pensacola, FL : 6:01 PM ET
The unemployment rate in this country is at about 4% (which economists view as full employment: anyone who wants a job can find a job. The market is there for those people who can't buy into the firm's motivational efforts.

Unless the guy receives contracts from federal,state, or local government, he can hire and fire anyone he wants. Actually, even then there is wide lattitude.

This method works for him. Lets all leave him alone. If you don't like his views, don't hire his firm.
Posted By Anonymous Terry, Fairfax, VA : 6:05 PM ET
Sorry to double post but some of these comments got my Irish up.

Would Gloria Steinem work at Maxim magazine? Would Dick Cheney work at PETA? Would Pam Anderson work at a fur coat company? Don't think so. And an atheist wouldn't likely want to work for Mr. Azzarelli's company.

However, what makes America great is that all these businesses are free to exist. The key word here is 'free'.
Posted By Anonymous xtina - Chicago IL : 6:13 PM ET
Someone had posted this frightening example of how wars start:

"Because whether one believes it or not...God is the Truth."

I'd like to ask this poster to please prove to me that God is the Truth.

Every religion purports to be the Truth, and considers all others to be pagan, heathen works. It's this kind of closeminded, narrow self righteousness that causes death and horror on our planet.

I don't need to fear an invisible bearded sky fairy to be a good person.
Posted By Anonymous Shawn, Toronto, Ontario : 6:29 PM ET
To Jake W. in Tampa,
Thank you for your point of view as a freelance writer for C12 newsletter and website. But please understand as a freelance writer myself; the concept of a Christian "collective" makes some individuals very uncomfortable. It may provoke visions of organized control and manipulation. I have spoken to many individuals who have been "traumatized" through negative experiences through childhood churches and organizations. In addition, many feel the political far right "bought the claim" of Christianity, of because of that notion, has alienated many from the loving and compassionate teaches of Jesus Christ.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon D., Indianapolis, IN : 6:33 PM ET
I have a question for you and for Bart Azzarell - how many illegal and "guest" workers does his company employ? We know that the construction industry has been one of the largest employers of these workers. Estimate are as high as 2/3 of ordinary workers - virtually all painters, concrete workers, insulation and drywall installers. This has led, as is the case with the undocumented workers at Swift, with a wage decrease of more than 50% (meat packers and painters and roofers and drywall installer and were all paid $18 or more an hour in 1980, today they are paid $10 or less per hour). This, more than anything else, is the cause of the wrecking of countless Ameican families. If Mr. Azzarell is such a spiritual man, and examplary member of the community, can we assume he is doing everything to ensure that his employees and subcontractors (the loophole used by constructon companies to hire illegals) are all U.S. citizens and that he pays them at east 1980 wages?
Posted By Anonymous Mike Brooks, Eugene, Oregon : 6:42 PM ET
Good job Mr. Azzarelli. I agree 100% with you Mr. Azzarelli. I do not understand some of the few negative comments I read. I think what Mr. Azzarelli is doing is wonderful. Another person commented: "As long as he is operating within the guidelines of the legal system, and it sounds like he is, then what is the problem?" I agree. What is the problem? GOD is in control. GOD knows exactly what HE is doing. Mr. Azzarelli certainly appears to be in the center of GOD's will and I doubt Mr. Azzarelli will be easily swayed by a few negative comments. GOD owns everything and HE is patient with those who do not understand HIS will. I pray that Mr. Azzarelli will stay the course and keep on doing what he has been doing. Let your light shine Mr. Azzarelli. You are a great role model for all business owners.
Posted By Anonymous Mike Thomas Peachland, North Carolina : 6:51 PM ET
Growing up and in college I worked with my parents who were business owners. What I learned is that if a worker is treated well, that worker tends to stay loyal to that employer. And if a customer is treated well, he or she stays a customer as long as that business is open. Are the employees of Christian companies happy? Are the customers coming back? And why would someone work for a company that has policies that they cannot stand and be miserable anyway? If these companies are beating their competition, maybe corporate America should look at why. Maybe it's time for a values shift.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 7:06 PM ET
We need more business' that use these practices. For those of you who are "worried" or "scared" of these practices, then go someplace else for your contractor.
It's a strong and brave man who can bring Christianity back into the spotlight and not be afraid of the doubters or non believers.

If you dont like it, then take your business someplace else!
Posted By Anonymous Valerie - Coos Bay, OR : 7:09 PM ET
It seems to me that all the comments posted are from terrified people, who seem to think C12 type of companies are somehow threatening to infiltrate their lives. It also seems that everyone interprets "religious freedom" and "rights" to mean we only have rights to believe and behave religiously in private, but never in public, or even in our own companies! I wonder why this is not proposed or demanded of gays or muslims? When they "flaunt" there beliefs and lifestyles publicly it's an act of sacred American freedoms. But when Christians do, it's bigoted, "insensitive," "capitalist Christianity." Go figure.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Pessina, Sandwich, IL : 7:11 PM ET
Bart is my friend, a mentor and a brother in Christ. And rather than responding critically to postings that I know first-hand to be factually off-base, I would rather just stand up and applaud and say "well done, good and faithful servant." Having the opportunity to blog about Jesus Christ in the workplace on a CNN website, because of a nationally-aired CNN story about The C12 Group and Dallas 1, a company Bart, Jan, BJ and Paul are running run for God; well that's the point. Praise Jesus!
Posted By Anonymous J. Boe Ellis, Tampa FL : 8:29 PM ET
For those of you who have a bias against a company operating like this, please remember that each person has a choice as to where they work. I would feel very certain that Bart Azzarelli explains his company's beliefs and practices to each applicant he considers and that, should they wish to work for his company, these practices are voluntary. That's what we do. Our weekly Christian "Lunch and Learn", our prayer before our company meetings and functions are all voluntary. We have people of many different denominations and faiths and we all have a great time working together.
Posted By Anonymous Greg Kelley, Arkansas City, Kansas : 8:38 PM ET
you know people just don't understand.what they are saying. i am very glad what those people are doing. and i hope that theirs more companies like them in the world today. i'll work for this company any time. May GOD richly bless you my brothers and sisters in CHRIST. JOB WELL DONE
Posted By Anonymous charles anderson, houston texas : 8:38 PM ET
One problem with these "christian" businesses is that they advertise as such, drawing in christian consumers who are expecting fair and honest deals evens if they can't afford much. I used to work for a christian attorney who would take cases from clents that were referred to him because he was a christian and a member of a christian attorney network. Those clients that generated minimal income for him were ignored regardless of his "christian" values. A lot of these christian work members use their identity to draw in new clients for purely economic reasons. Thats wrong, deceitful, and all too common.
Posted By Anonymous Dawn, Spokane Washington : 1:53 AM ET
Virtually no one in this thread seems to get the central issue. Religious discrimination is illegal.

This gentleman is perfectly free to run a Christian company if he wants. However, [b] by law [/b] he is required to treat employees of all religions equally. If he does, then my hat is off to him and I wish him nothing but success. What I am questioning is whether an atheist employee could reasonably expect that.

Think of it this way: how would you Christians feel if your boss held "skeptic meetings" every day in which he discusses reasons why one should not believe in God? What if he openly described Christians as "lost" and said that they live "empty lives"? Would you not find it hard to believe that such a boss would treat you fairly? Yes, you could simply work somewhere else, but is it not a good idea to ban religious discrimination in the workplace?
Posted By Anonymous Kevin, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania : 7:57 AM ET
As a Christian businessman and owner of a company, I too practice this appropriate conduct. I appreciate CNN's courage to report this positive and uplifting report. Thank you.
Posted By Anonymous David M. Pujals, Fairmont WV : 8:58 AM ET
The biggest concern I have after visiting the C12 site is that there's virtually no diversity. If they believe that we're all children of God, where are the red, yellow black and brown people? Maybe heaven is only reserved for white males like some of the country clubs where the C12 groups hold their meetings.
Posted By Anonymous Janet, Newport News, VA : 10:04 AM ET
I had decided to sit out that story but after seeing the story on the show, I couldn't anymore. When the CEO said that anybody who doesn't believe the words he's preaching are wrong?!? I cringed! I don't believe in any God, but I have faith. And I respect each and everyone's choice of religion. What I can't stand are those who try to shove their religion down our throats using the pretext that they want to show us the right path. With billions of people on earth, to say that your religion is the only one that is true and that every body else is wrong, well, I call that ARROGANT and JUDGEMENTAL! And most of the comments from people that believe is to tell the others that we are afraid. Well, that's your thing, being afraid of hell. I'm at peace with myself, I am a good person, I do free work in my community. I'm not on the road to perdition. With over 30 conflicts in the world, around 20 have their roots in religion. How about that? OH! sorry, it must be because they haven't found your GOD. Live your religion where you want I don't give a damn. But don't try to push it on people.
Did you ever notice that everytime some of us say that we don't find our place in any church or don't believe in God we don't say in the same breath that the others are a bunch of religious freaks. To each his own. We don't judge. But what do you do? You try to convince us that we must be afraid, try to steer us toward the light. Well, there's plenty of light where I stand! Only, judgement and arrogance are casting a shadow. Enough already!
P.s.: I'm not talking about those who practice their religion with respect for others but about the ones who think that it's their way or no way!

Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 10:37 AM ET
Since Bart Azzarelli owns the company, he can run it as he wishes as long as no laws are broken. I, personally, would be very uncomfortable working with people who feel it is their purpose in life to "convert" me to their way of thinking.

I'm always astounded by the number of people who justify their behavior by citing "the bible". This is just a book, written by men centuries ago, edited and translated by more men several times since. While it may provide interesting reading and ethical/moral guidelines for living, it is NOT the "infallible word of god". Neither is the Talmud, the Koran or any other manuscript that was written by human beings. Inspiration from god can be interpreted in many ways, and written to reflect personal beliefs. This does not make the words TRUTH, merely opinion.

Walking the walk is much more important than talking the talk. Remember the saying "actions speak louder than words"? If Bart Azzarelli backs up his beliefs with his actions he is in a minority in the christian world.
Posted By Anonymous Deb, Richmond VA : 11:56 AM ET
Posted By Anonymous DALE KISHBAUGH,LAKELAND,FL. : 12:38 PM ET
The fundamental issue is simply that religion in all forms in WRONG!
Posted By Anonymous Rob, Potomac, MD : 12:55 PM ET
Wow, lots of posts since I made my earlier entry. Reading thru people's comments, I'm struck by a few things:

1 - Lots of people saying they don't need to believe in a judgemental god to be a good person are missing the point -- Christianity isn't about being moral or good, it's about accepting Christ in your life and then living that way, including acknowledgement of God and worship.

2 - Folks say that Christians are close-minded -- well, if you really believe in something as fundamental as a religious view, don't you by definition reject the others? That's not to say anyone should be openly judgemental or condemming, which unfortunately happens.

3 - One could reasonably observe that those professing a Christian perspective are stereotypically "conservative", while those arguing against Christianity and the C-12 business are stereotypically "liberal" -- and the Christians are typically being sensitive and open, while those oposed are being close-minded and judgemental. How interesting.

4 - Lots of people responding as though they are being threatened, and not sure why. The odd part of that is, "threatened" or "biased" is the way a lot of Christians and conservatives feel these days anytime they try to display a Christmas sentiment or even just watch the evening news.

Anyway, enjoy posting everyone. Hopefully folks will at least consider what they're reading and writing.
Posted By Anonymous David, Tulsa OK : 1:43 PM ET
Too many of these evangelical Christians are the same ones who denounce me for being a practicing Catholic.

Clearly, they don't think I believe in the same Jesus that they do.
Posted By Anonymous Mel, Philadelphia, PA : 2:08 PM ET
I have to say that I agree with Vito Saputo's comment. i am one of those people who wish I could work for a company like that. It so much easier to go to work and be around other people who beleive like you and will not persucute you. Persucution will happen to you if you are a Christian. However, God said that you will be blessed for being persucuted for his names sake. That is why there is so much negative feedback for this story. This CEO is being persucuted for his believes, therefore he is truly blessed for spreading the good news of the gospel.
Posted By Anonymous Nicole Sellers, Church Point, Louisiana : 2:10 PM ET
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