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FIRST-PERSON: Let’s use our $$ to challenge dark side of the culture war

WASHINGTON (BP)–Ask 10 evangelicals what the culture war is and you will probably get 10 different answers.

Attempts to destroy parental authority and control in raising children, to dilute our public education system into a godless training ground of social policies while stripping teachers of their authority, to tear down traditional standards in society in the name of fairness and tolerance, and to oversimplify all issues involving violent behavior to a predictable debate over gun control are among the culture war battlefields every day.

All these issues, however, leave out perhaps the most powerful and influential battlefield of the culture war. Corporate America as a community has more day-to-day influence on our culture than both Congress and the executive branch. From the products we purchase to the entertainment we see (with its own brand of morality) to the internal corporate policies that govern our working lives, companies and commerce are at the center.

Corporate leaders have a seemingly straightforward task in leading their respective businesses: to seek out a business plan that leads to success as measured in one dimension — profitability. Any product that generates higher revenues than costs is generally considered a success.

Unfortunately, this other consideration of value — concerning families, children and our culture as a whole — is not discussed in today’s corporate boardrooms even though the ultimate influence of corporations on our culture is arguably greater than that of public officials trying to change statutes to the liking of their constituencies.

A key flank of the battle has been virtually unchallenged – the flank represented by the dependence of economic prosperity to drive the dark side of the culture war. As long as there are millions of dollars to be earned by peddling cultural pollution and as long as the process is free of any tangible or intangible cost to the companies selling it, corporate America will continue to forge ahead down a tragic path for families.

It is time to live the life of Christ with our money and investments, for as is often the case, Christ has given us the tools we need to use and we must recognize that. Just as a politician’s vulnerability is evident at the voting booth, a corporate leader’s vulnerability rests in the stock market.

This is the corporate Goliath’s point of weakness today. It is time for Christians with investment responsibility to seek bold solutions by using the power of the assets they control to positively engage our culture. With the collective awesome power they have been blessed to hold, they have the potential to be roaring lambs on Wall Street and within our culture.

This values-based investing is not simply about protesting those investment portfolios that hold dirty companies. It is about a commitment to hold portfolios that not only represent sophisticated tools for high investment rate of return, but that also reaffirm the thousands of companies in America choosing to conduct their business in a culturally clean or neutral fashion. It is about is about investing in businesses you can believe in financially and morally.

Christians have experimented taking their worldview into the political arena with mixed success. We should each take our worldview into our professions, our relationships and into the influence of our financial assets. We must integrate a worldview that embraces the Lord’s teachings into our daily lives — and that includes the management of money.

We can make a difference. It begins with everyday financial decisions that take the values of our investments into consideration. Whether it is a simple investment in an individual retirement account or whether you are a professional investment manager who directs millions of dollars, your daily decisions will make a difference on Wall Street, our culture and our families.
Fehrenbacher is president and CEO of Crosswalk.com, a leading Christian Internet site, and founder of the Institute for American Values Investing. Excerpted from Fehrenbacher’s new book “Put Your Money Where Your Morals Are: A Guide to Values-Based Investing” published by Broadman & Holman Publishers of LifeWay Christian Resources. Copyright 2001.

    About the Author

  • Scott Fehrenbacher