Although America’s leading Protestant denominations have officially condemned their country’s involvement in the Viet Nam war, a number of them continue to benefit from the financial profit that the war produces for companies with defense contracts.
Boards and agencies of ten Protestant churches hold more than $200 million worth of securities in twenty-nine of the top sixty prime military contractors doing business with the Defense Department, according to a survey made public last month. These investments were described as earning more than $6 million for the churches during 1970.
The survey was conducted by the Corporate Information Center of the National Council of Churches. The center was set up last year with a view to applying financial pressures to secure social goals.
The study turned up the fact that even the NCC is guilty of “complicity” in the so-called military-industrial complex. The NCC was found to hold $332,000 worth of securities in five military contractor firms.
Frank White, center director, said the report was not intended to reveal hypocrisy or to suggest that the church groups divest themselves of the questionable stock holdings. “Generally,” he said, “the reason that investment ethics has not kept pace with policy is quite simple—no one has thought much about it.” White added that it was more a matter of being “unconscious” of the ethical problem than of holding an “unconscionable” attitude.
Last year, the center published a seventy-eight-page primer on economic involvement for people seeking to keep abreast of the “social profiles” of major American corporations. The latest publication, which focuses upon the arms issue, is the thirty-one-page “Church Investments. Technological Warfare, and the Military-Industrial ...1
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