Money: Religious Mutual Funds Flourish

Socially responsible' investing grows popular.

God and Mammon are being welcomed on Wall Street as never before. As the U.S. stock market advances, the growth of mutual funds guided by Christian ethics is also on a historic up swing. For instance, the Noah Fund, which began three years ago, has seen its assets quadruple to $8.5 million from the start of 1999. The $28 million Timothy Plan, which in 1994 started as a fund that invests in smaller companies, launched three new funds in July.

While these funds vary in their investment strategies, their common goals are to achieve the best possible returns while avoiding companies deemed to be involved in unchristian practices. Most, if not all, of such funds avoid well-recognized "sin" stocks related to gambling, tobacco, and alcohol. Many also re fuse to invest in companies connected to the abortion industry. After that, the screening criteria vary from fund to fund.

For example, the Mennonite Mutual Aid's three Praxis Funds, which total $250 million, also shun weapons manufacturers and nuclear power companies.

"Scripture says a lot about responsibility, stewardship, and the money God has entrusted to us," says Arthur Ally, president of the Timothy Plan, based in Winter Park, Florida. "We've been brainwashed by the world" into thinking that a profitable return is all that matters. Ally says it is more important to ask, "Where is that money being invested?"

The Timothy Plan screens out about 400 firms from roughly 8,000 publicly traded U.S. companies, or about 5 percent of the field. Among enterprises the fund avoids is Walt Disney Company, which many evangelicals believe has promoted an anti family agenda through its movie subsidiaries and its policies toward homosexual partners of employees (CT, Oct. 6, 1997, p. 84). Ally also ...

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