Lutheran, Methodist and Southern Baptist CEOs recognized by Forbes for 'faith and spirituality'

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |

HOUSTON, Texas (Christian Examiner) -- When Forbes Magazine published an article this week listing seven prominent CEOs of public companies who claim to be "inspired by faith and spirituality," three Christian executives landed on the roster.

Donnie Smith, CEO of Tyson Foods; Daniel Amos, CEO of Aflac Incorporated; and, Arne Sorenson, CEO of Marriott International, Inc. were identified in the article as those who are open about their Christian Faith.

Smith, a Southern Baptist who attends Cross Church in Springdale, Ark., has been CEO of Tyson Foods since 2009. The 55-year-old executive teaches a Bible study at the church and is described by Senior Pastor Ronnie Floyd as "a passionate leader in his faith as well as in the corporate setting." Floyd also is president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Amos, 63, a Methodist, became CEO of the Georgia-based Aflac company in 1990. His son, Paul Amos, is the current president and will become chief executive after the senior Amos' retirement. The family is known for incorporating their faith, values and principles into the Aflac culture and have been recognized for their charity work, involvement in the community and humanitarian causes.

Sorenson, a Lutheran, became CEO of Marriott International in 2012. The 55-year old son of a Lutheran minister is the first non-Mormon to lead the family-based company. In addition to his business management degree, Sorenson holds a religion degree from Luther college.

When Sorenson was appointed as the company's president and chief operating office in 2009, Bill Marriott, the company's executive chairman and chairman of the board told the Washington Post that Sorenson was selected because he was "humble" and shared similar family values. Marriott is known to be a devout and high-ranking member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day-Saints.

Though many executives prefer to withhold their religious views to avoid general comment or criticism, Andrew Wicks, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business told Forbes that an openness about their faith helps leaders define themselves.

Other executives who openly voice their faith include a Hindu, Buddhist, Jew, and Roman Catholic.