culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Praying for your money. Faith is sticking its ostrich head everywhere, from US government programs to personal investments (Alan Lavine in
Financial Advisor Magazine):
Today, there are 50 faith-based mutual funds with $17 billion in assets, up from just a handful of funds with $500 million in assets ten years ago, according to Chicago-based Morningstar Inc.

“Probably the fastest-growing subset of socially responsible funds is religious mutual funds,” says Morningstar analyst David Kathman. “These funds won’t necessarily perform better than their mainstream peers. But they can give peace of mind to those who prefer not to own investments that conflict with their religious beliefs.”

Faith-based funds are not all alike. Companies that support abortion and gay causes, for example, are objectionable to evangelical Christians and Catholics. Muslims, who are forbidden by the Koran to earn interest, won’t invest in financial companies, or in companies with a lot of debt or in bonds. And they avoid companies that deal with pork. Sorry Oscar Mayer.
Fair enough. But what caught my eye was the dramatic differences between the Christian and the Islamic funds...
Unlike most other faith-based funds, The Ave Maria Fund Group, a Catholic values investment company, will invest in gambling, alcohol and arms and defense stocks. But abortion and gay rights are off limits. Ave Maria has five funds with $550 million in assets.

George Schwartz, president of Schwartz Investment Counsel, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., the investment advisor of the Ave Marie funds, said that gambling and alcohol are venial sins, not mortal sins. “Alcohol is used in the sacraments of the Mass," he stressed. "There is a Catholic doctrine for just wars and self-defense. Defense and tobacco are not anti-Catholic.”

The Roman Catholic Church does not endorse the fund group. But the fund group’s Catholic advisory board includes Cardinal Adam Joseph Maida of Detroit, Schwartz says. “We don’t try to be all things to all people. We are a fund for conservative Catholics. We don’t invest in abortion, pornography-related companies or companies that contribute to Planned Parenthood.”
That's an investment policy for you: War and booze good. Condom and titty-mag bad. I feel holier already.

Looking at the underlying investments in the funds is also instructive. An Evangelical Christian fund invests in ExxonMobil and Murphy Oil; an Islamic fund invests in Apple and Hewlett-Packard.

So Evangelical Christians profit when oil rises; Muslims gain when high tech prospers. Oil prices are now nearly quadruple what they were in Clinton's second term. Evangelicals win!

No wonder a oil-steeped Texan, bolstered by southern evangelicals, invaded Iraq — and why Iran is such a strong contender for invasion. It was simply to get the price up. Faith-based investing is just another minor but real tributary of the polluted river of Follow-the-Money.

Greatest Hits · Alternatives to First Command Financial Planning · First Command, last resort, Part 3 · Part 2 · Part 1 · Stealing $50K from a widow: Wells Real Estate · Leo Wells, REITs and divine wealth · Sex-crazed Red State teenagers · What I hate: a manifesto · Spawn of Darleen Druyun · All-American high school sex party · Why is Ken Lay smiling? · Poppy's Enron birthday party · The Saudi money laundry and the president's uncle · The sentence of Enron's John Forney · The holiness of Neil Bush's marriage · The Silence of Cheney: a poem · South Park Christians · Capitalist against Bush: Warren Buffett · Fastow childen vs. Enron children · Give your prescription money to your old boss · Neil Bush, hard-working matchmaker · Republicans against fetuses and pregnant women · Emboldened Ken Lay · Faith-based jails · Please die for me so I can skip your funeral · A brief illustrated history of the Republican Party · Nancy Victory · Soldiers become accountants · Beware the Merrill Lynch mob · Darleen Druyun's $5.7 billion surprise · First responder funding · Hoovering the country · First Command fifty percent load · Ken Lay and the Atkins diet · Halliburton WMD · Leave no CEO behind · August in Crawford · Elaine Pagels · Profitable slave labor at Halliburton · Tom Hanks + Mujahideen · Sharon & Neilsie Bush · One weekend a month, or eternity · Is the US pumping Iraqi oil to Kuwait? · Cheney's war · Seth Glickenhaus: Capitalist against Bush · Martha's blow job · Mark Belnick: Tyco Catholic nut · Cheney's deferred Halliburton compensation · Jeb sucks sugar cane · Poindexter & LifeLog · American Family Association panic · Riley Bechtel and the crony economy · The Book of Sharon (Bush) · The Art of Enron · Plunder convention · Waiting in Kuwait: Jay Garner · What's an Army private worth? · Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad · Sneaky bastards at Halliburton · Golf course and barbecue military strategy · Enron at large · Recent astroturf · Cracker Chic 2 · No business like war business · Big Brother · Martha Stewart vs. Thomas White · Roger Kimball, disappointed Republican poetry fan · Cheney, Lay, Afghanistan · Terry Lynn Barton, crimes of burning · Feasting at the Cheney trough · Who would Jesus indict? · Return of the Carlyle Group · Duct tape is for little people · GOP and bad medicine · Sears Tower vs Mt Rushmore · Scared Christians · Crooked playing field · John O'Neill: The man who knew · Back to the top

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