Written by John Bonynge
Unimpressed. That is the one word that sums up everybody's reaction to The Timothy Plan's "Hall of Shame."
I recently discovered a "Hall of Shame," a supposed guide for Christian Investors who wanted to steer clear of buying stock in companies that are involved in practices contrary to Judeo-Christian principles.
Why are all my Christian friends so unimpressed? "It stinks of Legalism," they say. And what are the motives of The Timothy Plan in publishing this list anyway? Jesus had a way of looking into the heart of a person and beyond the surface of an issue. I could imagine in my mind that Jesus might accuse The Timothy Plan of publishing the "Hall of Shame" in order to scare people into investing with them (of course, if Jesus accused them they would be wrong - I can only speculate). The Timothy Plan sells Morally Responsible mutual funds and they do include information on their portfolios, but I have a suspicion that, with a fine-toothed comb, even their top holdings might turn up "Shameful."
Most reasons nobody was impressed can be summed up as follows:
1. Jesus never drew a holy bubble around him in his personal dealings while he was here on earth. In fact, quite the opposite; he interacted with prostitutes and tax collectors and sinners. Jesus did not live in a bubble and shun the world because it was corrupt. Jesus did however, remain sinless, and therefore there are obvious conflicts of interest when investing in Playboy, for example.
2. If you are investing in mutual funds, aren't you therefore supporting these companies in a small way? So are you saying, for example, a fund that mirrored the S&P 500 would not be a good investment?
3. Only the Amish can throw stones (referring to John 8 where Jesus tells a crowd that whoever in the crowd is without sin may be the first to throw a stone at a woman accused of adultery). Let's take, for example, General Electric. If they are on the Hall of Shame because they support alternative lifestyles by providing benefits to same sex partners of employees, then should we not buy their light bulbs? It is a modern day reality that employers provide benefits to same sex partners of employees, and to avoid companies who do so seems overly legalistic.
4. If we pay our taxes, aren't we in essence supporting our government? When asked if taxes should be paid, Jesus responded in Luke 20:25 with, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's." Meaning yes, pay your taxes. And if we are supporting our government then aren't we supporting all of the atrocities that our government has perpetrated? You may say that taxes are different because we must pay taxes, but we don't have to pay taxes. We can sit in prison.
5. In conclusion, if you doubt that an investment is moral then you should invest in something else. I should not despise my weaker brother who only invests in a certain few companies. Romans 14 explains that we all will give an account of ourselves to the Lord and I do believe this includes our financial decisions.
Disclosure: I have not sold my positions in Disney (DIS), Microsoft (MSFT), or General Electric (GE) even though they are on the "Hall of Shame". I'm not advocating that you buy them either. Do your own soul searching/research.