October 17th, 2007 04:30 EST
Investments In and Profits from Abortion and Pornography
The world`s two largest "ultra- conservative" denominations currently invest hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars in companies that profit from and/or promote what their own doctrines describe as two major sins - abortion and pornography.
Surprisingly, with the increase in demand for Morally Responsible Investing one would think that these two organizations would be on the cutting edge of this movement. (1)
In what might be construed as deceptive policies however, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops (USCCB) have written investment policies that appear to avoid such investments.
The SBC through Guidestone Funds states that their "funds do not invest in any company that is publicly recognized, as determined by Guidestone Financial Resources, as being in the liquor, tobacco, gambling, pornography, or abortion industries, or any company whose products, services or activities are publicly recognized as being incompatible with the moral and ethical posture of Guidestone Financial Resources".(2) Companies publicly perceived as being involved in issues contrary to the dictates of the SBC may indeed be very difficult for the average pastor or investor to understand.
Even if the average investor or pastor does not publicly perceive a company as being involved in abortion, does that excuse the fact that the Guidestone Equity Index Fund invests approximately $7.5 million in Johnson & Johnson a company that manufactures abortifacients, conducts human embryonic stem cell research and corporately funds Planned Parenthood (the single largest provider of elective abortions in the nation). (3)
As of March 31, 2007, the Guidestone Equity Index Fund invested approximately $113 million in companies that profit from or promote abortion, i.e. insurance companies that cover elective abortions, conduct human embryonic stem cell research or philanthropically support Planned Parenthood. Not only that, but this fund also invested approximately $35.5 million in companies profiting from or distributing pornography. One has to wonder what the pastors and other Christians that invest their assets with Guidestone would say about that.
The USCCB through Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) states that "The USCCB will not invest in a company that derives a significant portion of its revenues from products or services intended exclusively to appeal to a prurient interest in sex or to incite sexual excitement".(4)
By the same standard, determining what constitutes a significant portion of revenues (being derived from explicit (X-rated) films, videos, publications etc.) would seem a monumental task for the average bishop, priest and/or investor.
Yet, while not officially categorized as "X-rated", New Line Cinema`s (Time Warner, Inc.) upcoming film Sex and the City is based on a well known sitcom and has been lauded for its openly promiscuous characters. One character in particular is described as having the sexual appetite of a nymphomaniac while avoiding any emotional involvement. Time Warner`s HBO also has produced a documentary film, Thinking XXX. CBIS, through its Core Equity Index Fund alone, owns approximately $4.9 million Time Warner, Inc. (5)
Catholic bishops, priests and investors may be shocked, even horrified, to learn that in that one fund alone, CBIS invests approximately $60 million in companies profiting from or distributing pornography. What`s more, CBIS invests approximately $151 million in companies that profit from or promote abortion, i.e. insurance companies that cover elective abortions, and companies that conduct human embryonic stem cell research or philanthropically support Planned Parenthood.
The Baptists and Catholics are not alone. Other "denominational investments" also fail to screen their investments. (6)
Fortunately there are investment alternatives, tools, and organizations available for concerned investors who want to "put their money where their mouths are". The Timothy Plan Mutual Fund Group, Ave Maria Funds and Stewardship Partners top the list of morally responsible investments. A screening tool available for financial professionals performs moral audits of current investment portfolios is the eVALUEator software. Also there are at least two associations that are attracting Christian Investment Professionals seeking to offer their Christian clientele a biblical alternative to secular investing - the National Association of Christian Financial Consultants (NACFC) and Kingdom Advisors. (7) If these issues concern you, ask your financial professional if he/she subscribes to the eVALUEator, or is a member of the NACFC or Kingdom Advisors.
So when it comes to investing, either through your denominational retirement plan or investment professional, in the words of the late President, Ronald Regan..."Trust, But Verify".
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