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Investor group charges Wal-Mart with promotion of pornography

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The nation’s leading mutual fund group rooted in moral values is charging Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., with “anti-family promotion of pornography” because of the company’s refusal either to remove copies of Cosmopolitan magazine from public display in high traffic areas in its stores or cover the magazine in store racks.

Arthur Ally, president of The Timothy Plan, has described Cosmopolitan magazine as one of the “most blatantly aggressive soft core pornographic magazines in America” and petitioned the president of Wal-Mart to either change the company’s professed reputation as a family oriented store or make the magazines less visible.

Ally initially wrote to H. Lee Scott, president of Wal-Mart, on March 22 with a plea to change the company’s marketing practices regarding sexually suggestive magazines.

“I would like to issue this challenge to you: Go into any one of your stores, publicly introduce yourself as the president of Wal-Mart, get on the speaker system and read aloud to your store’s customers all the words on the cover of any issue of Cosmopolitan,” Ally wrote. “Then let me know how it goes so I can decide whether or not we have to add your company to our screen list” as unsuitable for investment.

After several letters of correspondence with Wal-Mart executives, The Timothy Plan, with $135 million in assets, deemed the responses unsatisfactory and has divested 9,200 shares of Wal-Mart stock held in the company’s large mid-cap growth fund. Wal-Mart also has been added to the list of companies screened out of The Timothy Fund investments because of involvement in pornography.

The Timothy Fund additionally has invited a national network of 4,000 Christian financial planners and more than 10,000 Timothy Plan shareholders to boycott Wal-Mart.

Out of a total of more than 8,000 publicly traded stocks, The Timothy Plan has placed approximately 450 on its prohibitive list.

In his first letter to Scott, Ally said that he and his wife were shocked when they saw the display of Cosmopolitan magazine while standing in the checkout line of their local Wal-Mart store.

“We simply could not believe our eyes. Up to that point, we were pleased to invest in Wal-Mart stock and offer it to our clients because of your company’s reputation of being a family-friendly organization,” he wrote.

Ally made clear that he is not trying to prevent Wal-Mart from selling the magazines, but he is calling for them to be placed out of sight of children and people who do not want to see such material.

Wal-Mart’s president did not respond to any of Ally’s letters, but finally Don S. Harris, Wal-Mart’s executive vice president of general merchandise, wrote, “Although we appreciate your position on the matter it’s our intention to continue merchandising magazines in the same manner that we currently do.”

Ally reacted by concluding that “there is a definite dichotomy in what Wal-Mart is doing in this situation and what they say they are.”

In an article in CNSNews.com, a Wal-Mart spokesman, Tom Williams, said the company is “open to various options. But we’re always going to strive to serve our customers.”

Williams acknowledged, “There might be some people who are not accepting of that decision… . There will always be some disagreements and we understand that and respect that.”

The Timothy Plan, launched officially in 1994 with a single mutual fund, now has eight funds and offers total, broad-based asset-allocation investing. Today, it is the largest pro-life, pro-family, biblically based mutual fund group, employing a specific moral screening criteria designed to avoid investing shareholders’ money in any company that has a pattern of contributing to the moral degradation of society, according to its Aug. 15 news release.

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  • Erin Curry