Ethical and unethical religious investing
It's little wonder that Christian mutual fund company Timothy Partners Ltd. and a few Orlando-area investors are upset with Crosswalk.com CEO Scott Fehrenbacher for allegedly undercutting their software that helps religious investors screen their investments. Religious investing is reportedly surging in popularity right now, and now's the time when such software could really come in handy. In the last six months, no fewer than a dozen religious indexes and mutual funds have been launched, reports the New York Post. Only five were introduced in the six months before that. The surge is apparently part of a larger trend in socially responsible investing, which reportedly accounts for $1 out of every $8 "under professional money management" in the U.S. But not all religious investing indices are alike: some Roman Catholics have been surprised to find that some Walt Disney Co. among the "top 30 holdings" in Carlisle Social Investment's Catholic U.S. Market Index while General Electric is excluded for environmental reasons. Not that it matters for most Catholics; the New York Post doesn't mention that Carlisle requires a $1 million minimum, limiting it to dioceses, religious orders, Catholic institutions, and a few very wealthy individuals. Regular mutual funds aren't expected from the company for about three years. Newsday, however, does dutifully report such limitations in its article of religious investing—both articles appeared on Sunday.

For the most part, Newsday notes, the U.S. religious funds and indices are very small. But in Australia, one faith-based group is a major player in the stock market. The Salvation Army has a total investment portfolio of $300 million (US$153 million) ...

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