Putting your money where your values are is not a new strategy.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
In 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. deployed strategic use of business ethics to advance civil rights. In doing so, he followed some of what his namesake, Martin Luther, advocated centuries before. More on this below.
For Christians, it all starts with Jesus, who admonished:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”— Matthew 6:19-21
Today, Christians have clear choices when it comes to investing money. Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) is all about placing our worldly treasure – our money – in companies that do not engage in or support ungodly activities.
Putting “money where it advances our faith”
“Christians in America have been blessed beyond measure to be living in a self-governing, prosperous nation in which we’re free to worship according to our conscience and to practice our faith,” writes Timothy Plan founder Art Ally in his book “Invested with Purpose: The Birth of the Biblically Responsible Investment Movement.”
“It’s not unreasonable to allocate our resources, including our time and finances, in ways that bring glory to God and encourage Biblical values in our culture. Put simply, we need to put our money where it advances our faith. In God’s economy, we must consider not only investments that bring a healthy return but what our money is actually doing.”
In 1524, Christian reformer Martin Luther excoriated businessmen who left out ethics: “The merchants have a common rule….I shall sell my wares as dear as I can…But it means making room for greed and opening the door and window of hell…so long as I have my profit and satisfy my greed, of what concern is it to me if it injures my neighbor in ten ways at once? So you see how this motto goes so straight and shamelessly against not only Christian love but also natural law as well.”
In a sermon about the proper uses of money, John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of the Methodist movement, said this:
“I, We ought to gain all we can gain but this it is certain we ought not do; we ought not to gain money at the expense of life, nor at the expense of our health.”— John Wesley
Wesley urged his followers to avoid investing in alcohol, tobacco, weapons or gambling. Before the United States became an independent nation, English-born New Jersey tailor John Woolman (1729-1772) refused to buy any cotton or dye handled by slaves.
In 1759, Woolman persuaded the Quakers in Philadelphia to pass the first resolution in the colonies prohibiting participation in any aspect of the slave trade, presaging the Abolitionist Movement that led to the Civil War (1861-1865).
MLK: “We don’t need any bricks or bottles.”
Fast forward to the 20th century. On April 3, 1968, the day before he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, Martin Luther King spoke about the power of money as a force for good during a speech supporting striking sanitation employees whom he felt had been unfairly treated:
“We don’t have to curse and go around acting bad with our words. We don’t need any bricks and bottles, we don’t need any Molotov cocktails, we just need to go around to these stores, and to these massive industries in our country, and say, ‘God sent us by here, to say to you that you’re not treating his children right. And we’ve come by here to ask you to make the first item on your agenda fair treatment, where God’s children are concerned. Now, if you are not prepared to do that, we do have an agenda that we must follow. And our agenda calls for withdrawing economic support from you.”
After naming several major firms that sold consumer goods, he said, “We are choosing these companies because they haven’t been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike.”
Using our money wisely and morally
Likewise, Biblically Responsible Investing as pioneered by the Timothy Plan in 1994 means investing wisely and morally only in companies that pass several filters: life, stewardship, purity, longevity, family and sobriety. This means skipping firms that profit or promote abortion, pornography, anti-family entertainment, gambling, alcohol, tobacco and unfair labor practices.
“Nearly $24 trillion is invested in U.S.-registered mutual funds, and a large portion of that is held by Christians,” Ally said. “Timothy Plan now has approximately $2 billion in assets managed, with 12 mutual funds and six exchange-traded funds, all of which are filtered for Biblical fidelity.”
“Many activist movements represent a tiny fraction of the population. With less than 1% of our population effecting change within our nation, imagine the possible impact of Christians investing with purpose beyond monetary return,” he said.
“We could change the world.”
A writer for Timothy Partners, Ltd. He is a regular weekly columnist for The Washington Times and Townhall.com and is frequently published by AmericanThinker.com, DailyCaller.com, OneNewsNow.com, and others. He has authored the following books: “A Strong Constitution: What Would America Look Like If We Followed the Law” (D. James Kennedy Ministries, 2018), Invested with Purpose: The Birth of the Biblically-Responsible Investment Movement, and A Nation Worth Fighting For: 10 Steps to Restore Freedom.