Inspire CEO’s Statement On Racial Injustice

As an upper-middle class white male, I have no place speaking about racial injustice. The closest thing to racism I have experienced are Latino people making fun of me within earshot, not realizing that this blue-eyed white-boy is fluent in Spanish. Try as I might to empathize, there is no way I can fully understand the experience of my black fellow Americans.

But, although I have no place speaking about racial injustice, I can and must speak out against racial injustice. Racism in every form is an evil that must be opposed by Christians and all well-meaning people everywhere. Systematic racism is the overflow of a broken, sin-stained world full of broken, sin-stained people. Hatred is a real force in the world, and the people of God must rise up to overcome racism in the love of God, by the blood of Christ, in the power of the Spirit. As a people who worship a Savior who chose to put on brown skin, and lived and died as a colored middle-eastern man, we of all people should live by the truth that all men and women are created in the image of God, and that image is beautiful and demands dignity.

At Inspire Investing, we try to do our part in the fight against racism by advocating for biblical values with corporations around the globe, including the biblical value to “love your neighbor as yourself” no matter their color, and that all people are created in the image of God and deserve dignity and respect. We routinely engage with corporations on issues related to God-honoring diversity practices (which differ in important ways with the world’s practice of diversity) and encourage them to be a blessing to all their employees, customers, communities and the world at large. There is no room for racism in a well-run business.

Racial Justice Investment Screens

Our biblically responsible investing screens have always included diversity issues as an important metric. In our Inspire Impact Score methodology, we reward companies with best in class performance related to God-honoring diversity and penalize companies with below average performance related to diversity. Specifically, our Inspire Impact Score currently considers diversity in the following categories:

  1. Diversity and Opportunity Controversies: Company involved in published diversity and opportunity controversies, such as wage discrimination, promotion and harassment issues;
  2. Human Rights Controversies: Company has been linked to published controversies linked to human rights issues, including supply chain incidents involving contractors and suppliers;
  3. Labor Practices (Best In Class): Company exhibits above average Labor Practices performance relative to their industry peer group. This category considers compliance with fair labor standards for union and non-union employees, including employee retention, education, training, health, safety, compensation, benefits, diversity and mentoring programs;
  4. Social Impact (Best In Class): Company exhibits above average Social Impact performance relative to their industry peer group. This category considers a company’s overall impact on their communities, positive human rights behaviors, philanthropy and charity.

Standing For, Standing Against

We stand together with our black brothers and sisters who are (peacefully) raising their voice for an end to racism in our nation. We also stand together with the (honorable majority) members of law enforcement agencies who daily work to protect the lives and liberties of the black communities in our country.

We stand against those who are attempting to pollute the Black Lives Matter movement with violence and hatred of their own. And we stand against the (dis-honorable minority) members of law enforcement who abuse their power to inflict suffering on the black community.

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

May the Lord be merciful to our nation and grant us the grace of peace and brotherhood for all. May we as His people be ministers of reconciliation, ushering in the peace of Christ as the Day of His coming draws ever-nearer. Maranatha! Lord Jesus, come!

Amazon Logo

Amazon.com Board Recommends Vote Against Viewpoint Diversity

In its recently released Notice of 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders & Proxy Statement, the Board of Amazon.com recommended that shareholders vote against a shareholder resolution on viewpoint diversity. The Board’s opposition suggests that an intolerant bias is alive and well in the leadership ranks of one of the world’s largest and most influential corporations.

The text of the proposed resolution, officially titled “ITEM 12—Shareholder Proposal Requesting a Report On Viewpoint Discrimination” located on page 41 of the document, states the importance of preventing discrimination based on religious, social or political views. If implemented, it would provide transparency to shareholders on the “range of risks and costs associated with discrimination against different social, political and religious viewpoints”.

The resolution reads as follows:

“Whereas, Shareholders of Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”) invest in the company to receive maximum return on their ownership investment in Amazon, without the costs and risks associated with Amazon restricting specific social, political, or religious views.

Whereas, any decision by Amazon to either endorse or reject social, political, or religious views may alienate customers, harm the company’s reputation, and negatively impact business performance.

Whereas, the City of Seattle, the State of Washington, the United States, and several International Conventions prohibit discrimination against religious groups and beliefs, and the City of Seattle prohibits discrimination against political ideology.

Resolved: Shareholders request that Amazon issue a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, evaluating the range of risks and costs associated with discriminating against different social, political, and religious viewpoints.”[1]

Amazon.com has taken great pains to portray themselves as champions of diversity, and have made public statements about their supposed commitment to respecting diverse viewpoints. For example, their website proclaims that  “diversity and inclusion are good for business—and more fundamentally—simply right.”[2]

AMAZON.COM DIVERSITY ONLY SKIN DEEP

This begs the question, if Amazon.com is such a believer in diversity, why would their Board recommend that shareholders vote against a resolution that would provide “a full evaluation of viewpoint bias and associated risks to ensure that Amazon is making balanced decisions and that it is acting consistent with its commitment to diversity?”2

The simple answer is because Amazon’s Board lacks diversity to the point that they cannot even see that a problem exists. On the surface, Amazon’s Board of Directors seems rather diverse: Of the ten Directors, five are women and five are men; there are two people of color; and they each have varied backgrounds in business, academia, law and so forth. However, this appearance of diversity is superficial. A look under the surface into the ideological perspectives of Amazon’s Board reveals a monolithically homogenous worldview committed to advancing a progressive-liberal political and social agenda.

An examination of the personal political contributions of each individual Amazon.com board member tells a striking story. Of all the independent board members who made non-corporate political contributions in the Trump vs. Hillary 2016 election cycle, all of them donated to liberal, Democratic Party candidates, Political Action Committees (PACs) or other liberal political action groups, according to data from campaignmoney.com.[3]

Prominent recipients of donations given personally by Amazon’s Board members included Hillary For America, Hillary Victory Fund, Friends of Schumer, Victory Now PAC, ActBlue, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. No conservative groups. No Republican, Libertarian or Green Party candidates. Just one flavor of super-non-diversity.

AMAZON.COM VIEWPOINT CENSORSHIP

Plainly stated, the current Amazon.com “commitment to diversity” is only a commitment to embracing a progressive-liberal viewpoint about diversity. Conservative, mainstream perspectives are not welcome. Case in point, numerous well-regarded, socially conservative, faith-based non-profits have been officially removed from the “Amazon Smile” charity platform, preventing Amazon.com customers who want to donate to those charities through their Amazon Smile purchases from doing so.[4]

This charity censorship relies upon a list provided by an extremely partisan and discredited non-profit group operating under the misleading name “Southern Poverty Law Center”, or SPLC for short. The SPLC has been under intense fire in recent years as sexual abuse, racism and financial scandal has been exposed at the highest levels of the organization and reported in major media outlets across the nation.[5] Other organizations, such as Twitter,[6] the US Department of Defense, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,[7] have ended their relationship with the SPLC because of their glaring moral and ethical failures, but not Amazon.com.

SHAREHOLDERS’ RIGHT TO TRANSPARENT REPORTING

Shareholders are not asking Amazon.com to somehow become a stalwart defender of conservative values. All they are requesting is that Amazon.com provide a transparent reporting on its stated commitment to diversity, something that the Board of Directors should be quick to embrace as it is their fiduciary responsibility to ensure the company is living up to its promises.

But, ironically, Amazon’s board is fighting against this resolution for viewpoint diversity put forward by the very shareholders they are supposed to represent.

To be clear, I believe Amazon.com has every right to use their corporate influence to promote whatever agendas they see fit, including progressive liberalism. But don’t try to hide it. If Amazon’s leadership is committed to a progressive-liberal agenda, then shareholders have a right to know about it, as well as the potential risks that position could cause by alienating customers who hold a different view. This is basic corporate responsibility. Denying shareholders material information that can affect their investment is not just bad-form, it is unethical.

Amazon.com shareholders should be pounding the table for access to transparent reporting on Amazon’s performance regarding viewpoint diversity or lack thereof, and the risks associated with that performance. If you are an Amazon.com shareholder, you have the right to cast your vote on “ITEM 12—Shareholder Proposal Requesting a Report On Viewpoint Discrimination,” and I would encourage you to exercise your right, no matter which way you vote.

[1] Amazon.com Notice of 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders & Proxy Statement: https://s2.q4cdn.com/299287126/files/doc_financials/2020/ar/updated/2020-Proxy-Statement.pdf

[2] https://www.aboutamazon.com/our-company/our-positions

[3] https://www.campaignmoney.com/

[4] https://www.christianpost.com/news/amazon-removes-conservative-legal-group-charity-smile-program-splc-hate-group-label.html

[5] https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-reckoning-of-morris-dees-and-the-southern-poverty-law-center

[6] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/op-eds/twitter-dumps-southern-poverty-law-center-stops-making-hate-pay

[7] https://www.christianpost.com/news/amazon-removes-conservative-legal-group-charity-smile-program-splc-hate-group-label.html

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Important CARES Act Highlights Investors Should Know About

The CARES Act highlights contain provisions that will affect US businesses and the stock market in a big way, making it important for investors to pay attention and be educated about what is in the CARES Act and what it means for their family and their portfolio. To help shed some light on the CARES Act highlights that investors should know about, Inspire Investing has partnered with our tax advisors at Hayashi and Wayland to provide the following information about the CARES Act. (This information is provided for educational purposes only and should not be considered as tax or investment advice. Please consult your personal tax or investment advisor to discuss your individual situation.)

The $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security “CARES Act” represents the largest economic relief package in American history[1].  The CARES Act contains sweeping provisions that have powerful implications for American families and the US economy at large, both because of the gargantuan amount of money that will be flooding the US economy and also because of certain investment related directives that temporarily change the rules for retirement accounts, charitable giving and more.

The CARES Act was designed to offer assistance to individual taxpayers, business owners, and the entire economy to try to revive itself from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the business closures, layoffs and economic suffering that has followed.  This relief plan will offer assistance to tens of millions of American households affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

We have outlined the CARES Act highlights below: 

INDIVIDUAL PROVISIONS

One-time, non-taxable payments

These payments will be made to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is under $75,000 (single), $112,500 (head of household) and $150,000 (married). Single or head of household taxpayers will get $1,200.  Married taxpayers will get $2,400.  In addition, for each child 16 years old or younger, you will get an additional $500.  Above these income figures the payment decreases. Single taxpayers earning $99,000 or married taxpayers who have no children and earn $198,000 will not receive any payments.  A family with two children will no longer be eligible for payments if its income surpassed $218,000.  Payments received are not considered taxable income to the recipients.

You will not be able to get a payment if someone claims you as a dependent, even if you are an adult.  In any given family and in most instances, everyone must have a valid Social Security number in order to be eligible.  There is an exception for members of the military.

You can find your adjusted gross income on Line 8b of the 2019 1040 Federal tax return.  And if you already filed your 2019 taxes and provided direct deposit information for a refund, it will be deposited that way into your account.  If you have not filed your 2019 tax return, your 2018 return will be used for determination.  If you would prefer to have your 2019 tax return considered over your 2018 tax return we would recommend that you file 2019 as soon as possible.

If you are ineligible for the payment due to your income being in excess of the limits for 2019, you may benefit once you file your 2020 taxes because the payment is technically an advance on a tax credit that is available for 2020. 

It is not clear yet when and how physical checks will be mailed to those who will require that.  Information from different sources at this time say anytime from the end of April to the end of May.

Retirement Accounts

For the calendar year 2020, no one will be required to take a required minimum distribution from any retirement account. If you are under age 59 ½ and need to make a withdrawal due to the outbreak, the usual 10 percent penalty is waived for distributions up to $100,000 and you are able to spread the income taxes associated with this distribution over 3 years. You can also put the funds back into the account within 3 years even though the amount would exceed normal contribution limits.  These exceptions only apply to coronavirus related withdrawals.

Charitable Contributions

The bill makes a new deduction available for up to $300 of charitable deductions.  All taxpayers can derive benefits from making up to $300 of charitable deductions even if you don’t take an itemized deduction. In addition, there is no cap on the amount of charitable deductions you can take as an itemized deduction for 2020.  

Unemployment Compensation

The Federal Government will provide a temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) through July 31, 2020.  This compensation is $600 per week for any worker eligible for state or federal unemployment compensation benefits. The FPUC would be paid in addition to and at the same time as regular state or federal unemployment benefits. States have the option of providing the entire amount in one payment or sending the extra portion separately, but it must all be done on the same weekly basis.

Mortgages and Foreclosure Actions

Starting March 18, 2020, most mortgages are prohibited from foreclosure actions for 60 days for borrowers who request it and can demonstrate a COVID-19 related hardship.

Eviction Proceedings

Landlords are subject to a 120-day moratorium on filing eviction proceedings for the non-payment of rent.  Unpaid rent will continue to accrue, but landlords may not charge fees or assess fines.

BUSINESS PROVISIONS

Payroll Tax Deferral, Reduction, and Credits

Employers are eligible for a 50 percent refundable payroll tax credit on wages paid up to $10,000 during the crisis. It would be available to employers whose businesses were disrupted due to virus-related shutdowns and firms experiencing a decrease in gross receipts of 50 percent or more when compared to the same quarter last year. The credit is available for employees retained but not currently working due to the crisis for firms with more than 100 employees, and for all employee wages for firms with 100 or fewer employees.

Employer-side Social Security payroll tax payments may be delayed until January 1, 2021, with 50 percent owed on December 31, 2021, and the other half owed on December 31, 2022. 

Paycheck Protection Program

This program administered through the Small Business Administration is meant to help small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) impacted by the pandemic and economic downturn to make payroll and cover other expenses from February 15 to June 30. Notably, small businesses may take out loans up to $10 million—limited to a formula tied to payroll costs—and can cover employees making up to $100,000 per year. Loans may be forgiven if a company uses the loan for payroll, interest payments on mortgages, rent, and utilities and would be reduced proportionally by any reduction in employees retained compared to the prior year and a 25 percent or greater reduction in employee compensation.

Other parts of the wide-sweeping funding bill include:

  • $150 billion for local governments for expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency
  • $8.8 billion in additional funding for Child Nutrition Programs in order to ensure children receive meals while school is not in session
  • $450 million in assistance for banks so they can continue to assist those Americans most in need
  • $30.75 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to coronavirus
  • $4.3 billion to support federal, state, and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including the purchase of personal protective equipment; laboratory testing to detect positive cases; contact tracing to identify additional cases, and infection control and mitigation at the local level to prevent the spread of the virus
  • $2 billion in direct allocation to state and local Community Development Block Grants that must be allocated within 30 days of enactment of the bill

Who Really Cares?

Because of its size and scope, the CARES Act will likely make an historic, indelible mark upon the US economy and the hundreds of millions of Americans who both power and rely upon that economy. As such, investors should be educated about the highlights of the CARES Act and how it will affect them.

Additionally, as faith-based investors we should remind ourselves that although $2.2 trillion dollars is a staggering amount of money, our hope and trust is not in government stimulus but in the one true God who is sovereign over governments, and who is infinitely more great, powerful and yes, even more caring than the CARES Act.

These are unprecedented times full of uncertainty and trials of many kinds. There are many real reasons to fear and one can hardly be faulted for feeling afraid amidst the swirl of global pandemic. But for anyone finding themselves under a cloud of anxiety, the Bible reminds us to “cast all your anxieties upon Him for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). And when you find yourself worrying about your earthly treasure, Jesus offers a peace that passes all understanding, and an “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:4-7).

Jesus cares for you. No matter what.

Trust in Him. No matter what.

[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/27/house-passes-2-trillion-coronavirus-stimulus-bill-sends-it-to-trump.html

Where Is God When Stock Markets Crash?

This past Monday, March 9th, 2020, the stock market had its biggest percentage-point drop since the Financial Crisis of 2008, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average falling 7.79% in just one day. In nominal terms, that is a loss of 2,014 points, the Dow’s biggest point drop ever. (Source: Wikipedia)

Furthermore, this historic one-day wipeout of stock market value came on the heels of losses greater than 10% over the previous two weeks, sending markets perilously close to official “bear market” territory, defined as a decline of 20% or more from a previous high.

This kind of market activity has many investors on edge, in a panic, as they recall painful experiences from previous market melt-downs in 2008, 2001 and 1987. And maybe 1933? Is anyone still out there?

But as Christian investors, what should our response be? As a people who have supposedly placed our faith and trust in God, we should be at rest knowing that God is good, He is in control, and we can trust Him- shouldn’t we? Yet we can be just as susceptible to panic and fear as the next investor on the street.

It is precisely at times like these that we need to remind ourselves, from the truth of Scripture, where God is when stock markets (and other things in life) come crashing down.

GOD IS OUR FORTRESS

When we find ourselves infected with fear and panic, Psalm 46 is a strong dose of good medicine,

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.  Selah
 (v. 1-3)

God indeed is our refuge and strength! He protects us, and He also strengthens us. In Him we need no other defense, and in Him the weak are made strong. Are you feeling exposed to danger? God is your refuge. Are you feeling helpless and weak? God is your strength.

REJOICE IN THE RIVER OF LIFE

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Selah
 (v. 4-7)

There is a river that makes glad the city of God, the River of Life which runs down from the throne of the Most High. Have you tasted of that River of Life through faith in Jesus Christ? If so, then rejoice and be glad! Your eternal soul is being kept by Him, and you have a portion in the “holy habitation of the Most High.” Nations rage and kingdoms will totter, but the Lord of hosts is with you. The God of Jacob is your fortress.

BEHOLD THE WORKS OF THE LORD

Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
‘Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!’
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Selah
 (v. 8-11)

Look upon the works of the Lord, and remind yourself of His might and power! He alone has the power over desolations and wars, weapons and warriors. Know that He is a sovereign God, and let that knowledge bring you peace. God will be exalted over all the earth! The Lord is with you, and He is your fortress!

Your investment account may lose value—maybe even a lot of value in times like these. But remember who He is who allows it to happen, who is in control of the ups and downs of the market and your portfolio. Do not put your trust in the provision, but put your trust in the Provider. God does not promise to take care of your investment portfolio, but He does promise to take care of you. And that is really all we need to know.

“When Christian Investors Speak Up”: Inspire CEO Robert Netzly’s Guest Appearance On Faith Driven Investor Podcast

I recently had the pleasure of talking shop on the Faith Driven Investor podcast where we discussed what happens when Christian investors speak up and the influence that we can have for the glory of God when we engage in winsome conversations with the companies we invest in.

You can listen to the entire podcast here. And please feel free to share it on your favorite social media channels and help spread the word about the biblically responsible investing movement!

Listen to the Faith Driven Investor podcast:

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Another LGBT Fund Fails While Biblically Responsible Investing Grows

This week marks the end of the InsightShares LGBT Employment Equality ETF [ticker: PRID], an investment fund that used the “Corporate Equality Index” score from LGBT activism goliath Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to target investments in companies dedicated to promoting LGBT issues. PRID is the second pro-LGBT investment fund to be shuttered this year, after the ALPS “Workplace Equality” ETF [ticker: EQLT] shutdown on April 26th.

Investors Say No To LGBT Activism

The old saying holds true: money talks. And in this case money is not just talking, it is shouting to us that investors really don’t care to support LGBT activism or invest in companies that take a proactive approach to advancing LGBT issues with their corporate influence.

Supposedly, the American public and particularly the American business and investing community is completely onboard the LGBT activism bandwagon. The media and LGBT lobbyists like Human Rights Campaign tells us so all the time, so it must be true, right? Or perhaps it is just more #fakenews.

To be fair, we must also consider whether PRID failed for reasons other than its stated pro-LGBT mission. But, an investigation into the details of PRID reveal that the performance was actually better than average, beating out SPY (the most popular US large cap S&P 500 ETF) by 1.86% from its first day of trading on January 11, 2018 through November 13, 2019 when PRID closed to new orders. And the 0.65% fund expenses for PRID, though higher than some ETFs, is also well beneath the cost associated with numerous other thematic ETFs that have been successful in raising capital.

Figure 1: PRID vs SPY performance [Source: morningstar.com]

And let’s not forget that PRID was supported and launched by a powerhouse lineup of industry players including UBS Securities, a US division of the $2 trillion Swiss financial megalith; Exchange Traded Concepts, the $2.65 billion firm serving as advisor to PRID; and $4.5 billion subadvisor Vident Investment Advisory, a subsidiary of Vident Financial.

With such enviable backing and quality net-of-fees performance it is somewhat shocking that PRID was only able to attract a paltry $2.7M in assets under management after nearly two years. The abject failure of PRID, and EQLT earlier this year, expose a serious flaw in the basic premise underpinning the efforts and message of the LGBT activism machine: The investing and consuming public are not willing to put their money into action to support LGBT activism.

Any company considering flying a rainbow flag in an effort to attract more customers should think carefully about their decision.

 

Biblically Responsible Investing Continues Growth

Meanwhile, the biblically responsible investing movement (BRI) continues to grow at an exponential rate as Bible-believing Christians have moved billions of dollars into investments that align with biblical values. The Wall Street Journal recently reported in an article titled When God Is Your Portfolio Manager that “biblically responsible investing is booming…as evangelicals and other Christians seek investment management and financial planning to match their interpretation of biblical principles.”

In the same article, John Siverling, executive director of the Christian Investment Forum “estimates that $260 billion is invested according to biblical principles. Of the approximately 90 BRI funds in the U.S., he says, nearly one-quarter were launched since 2015.”

And Rob West, president of Kingdom Advisors, the nation’s largest network of Christian financial professionals and sponsor of the Certified Kingdom Advisor (CKA) designation, reports that their membership has “more than doubled since 2014.”

My own firm, Inspire Investing, has grown from $250M in assets under management to $640M in assets just this year alone, with every dollar being managed from a biblically responsible investing standpoint as we are experiencing first-hand the massive shift underway towards biblically responsible investing.

Data from Pew Research, Economic Policy Institute and the US Census indicates that Christians control approximately two-thirds of the assets in U.S. retirement funds, an eye-popping $21 Trillion dollars. This stat suggests that the BRI movement is just starting to gather steam and that an industry-shaking movement of assets is currently underway.

Biblically Responsible Investing Screening Technology

These biblically responsible investors are using free technology like inspireinsight.com to screen their portfolios and getting rid of investments with exposure to issues like abortion, pornography and, yes, LGBT activism. Instead they are buying stock, mutual funds and ETFs that invest in companies that are aligned with biblical values.

Investors have previously been kept largely in the dark about the moral issues that companies they invest in are involved with. This problem is enhanced for investors in mutual funds and ETFs where there can literally be hundreds of individual stocks in each fund they own, and oftentimes it can be difficult for an individual investor to ascertain what companies their mutual fund owns at any given time, let alone whether or not those companies are involved in issues that violate biblical values.

But now thanks to technology like inspireinsight.com, investors can experience transparency in their portfolios like never before, and get it for free online any time of day or night with a few clicks of a mouse. Simply by entering a ticker symbol, such as VTSAX for the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund, investors concerned with pro-life issues can see that in that one fund alone there are 12 stocks involved with abortion drug manufacturing and embryonic stem cell research, 20 stocks that donate money to abortion related organizations like Planned Parenthood and 21 stocks that are involved in pushing pro-abortion legislation. (Source: inspireinsight.com as of 11/22/2019.)

Loving Our LGBT Neighbors, Not Their Lifestyle

Why is there such disparity between the ongoing success of the biblically responsible investing movement and the surprising failure of pro-LGBT investment funds?

I believe that the bottom line is that – contrary to popular media opinion – there are still lots of people in this world who believe in biblical values, love God and want to glorify Him in everything they do, including how they invest His money.

As Christians we are called to love our neighbors in the LGBT community, and we should seek to be a blessing to them as ministers of Christ’s love on earth, as I stated in my “Open Letter to the LGBT Community” during Pride Month earlier this year. And while I hope that most people want to support and love LGBT people, I believe that most people do not support or accept homosexuality as a moral or appropriate lifestyle choice and do not want to get involved in LGBT activism.

The success of biblically responsible investing and failure of pro-LGBT funds suggests this is the real picture.

What do you think?

Meet the Biggest Supporter of Planned Parenthood in the S&P 500

Intel Corporation [ticker: INTC] is the largest semiconductor chip manufacturer in the United States (second largest in the world behind #1 Samsung) and ranks number 46th in the 2018 Fortune 500 ranking of largest companies in the United States by revenue.

Intel also holds another dubious claim to fame: they make more large donations to Planned Parenthood than any other company in the S&P 500.

Intel’s Planned Parenthood Donations

According to data sourced by Inspire Insight, Intel has made 72 large donations of $1,000 or more to Planned Parenthood in recent years. These donations were made to regional Planned Parenthood affiliates all over the nation, as well as directly to the “parent” organization, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. And for the record, Intel also made one large donation to Population Connection, a population control advocacy group founded in 1968 as “Zero Population Growth“.

This begs the question. Why?

I reached out to Intel to find out exactly why they decided to financially support an organization that has been the subject of a congressional investigation for the illegal sale of aborted baby parts, been routinely in hot water for questionable medical and business practices, and whose massive abortion cartel business is a flaming touch-point of controversy across the nation and around the world.

Intel’s investor relations department response was…no comment.

Investor Responsibility

There is a growing movement of faith-based investors who are taking their ownership responsibility seriously when they consider whether it is ethically and morally responsible to invest in a company like Intel, who is using their corporate clout to support the abortion industry through donations to organizations like Planned Parenthood. This biblically responsible investing (BRI) movement has gone global and is growing at an exponential rate.

Investors are owners, and owners are responsible for the actions of their companies. Even if those owners are not actively involved in the day-to-day operations of their company, they are still responsible for what it does, how it makes money and how it spends that money. There is a direct ethical and moral connection between an owner and their company that cannot be ignored.

Biblically responsible investors have woken up to this truth and are taking advantage of modern investment toolsproducts and biblically responsible financial advisors that allow them to precision align their investments to support their values — like protecting the unborn — while working toward their financial goals at the same time.

Do You Own Intel Stock?

Some readers might feel relieved after reading this article to look at their investment account statement and see that Intel’s ticker symbol, INTC, is nowhere to be found. However, what these investors may not realize is that if they own any number of the most widely held mutual funds or ETFs in the country (such as those from Vanguard, American Funds and Fidelity), there is a good chance that they do, in fact, own shares of Intel and are partnering with their aggressive funding of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry.

Government regulations require mutual funds to disclose their holdings on a regular basis, and a quick review of the top ten funds that own Intel stock reveals the following list:

  1. Vanguard Total Stock Market Index ($5.9B owned)
  2. Vanguard 500 Index Fund ($4.2B owned)
  3. American Funds Washington Mutual Fund ($3.4B owned)
  4. SPDR S&P 500 ETF ($2.4B owned)
  5. American Funds Fundamental Investor Fund ($2.1B owned)
  6. Vanguard Institutional Index Fund ($2.02B owned)
  7. Invesco QQQ Trust ETF ($1.94B owned)
  8. American Funds American Balanced Fund ($1.78B owned)
  9. Fidelity 500 Index Fund ($1.69B owned)
  10. iShares Core S&P 500 ETF ($1.54B owned)

(Data as of 6/30/2019. Source: morningstar.com)

Invest Pro-Life

While it can be disheartening to realize that through your IRA, 401(k), mutual funds or other investments, you might actually be partnering with Intel and other large corporations as they enthusiastically support the abortion industry, the good news is that you do not have to be a cog in the wheel of the abortion cartel. You can change the way you invest.

Thanks to new technology that empowers investors with complete transparency in the moral and ethical issues present in their investments, and a growing number of financial professionals specialized in providing biblically responsible investing services, pro-life investors have many options when it comes to aligning their investments in support of the pro-life movement and the protection of pre-born children everywhere.

It all starts with learning about what you own, then making a concerted decision to make a change — both in your portfolio and the world at large.

Will you join us?


 
 

 

Inspire CEO’s Letter To The LGBT Community

Dear Neighbors in the LGBT Community,

Since Inspire Investing’s high-profile and broadly sensationalized media exposure began in 2017, there has been much contention about our exclusion of LGBT activist companies from our biblically responsible investing portfolios. In the spirit of fostering civility and understanding amidst our disagreements, I wanted to write this letter to clearly communicate our heart and position on LGBT matters.

As Christians who follow Jesus and believe the Bible is the word of God, we love our neighbors in the LGBT community as Christ taught us to do, and we actively seek the good and flourishing of all people, whether they identify as LGBT or straight, are Muslim or Christian, black or white, friends or enemies, or whoever they may be. All people are created in the image of God, are loved by God and deserve to be treated with dignity, respect and love. The Bible teaches this and we strive daily to live this out, both in our personal lives and in our investment methodology.

God’s Design Brings Highest Joy

We also believe the Bible teaches that God’s design for marriage is between one man and one woman, faithful for life, and that this pattern of sexuality offers humanity the highest and best joy in this life. As such, our calling as Christians is to treat all people with dignity, respect and love, while upholding the moral law of God for His creation, and in our view the two are not in opposition.

One way this translates into our investment methodology is that we actively seek out companies who are excelling at providing all of their employees with safe, tolerant workplace environments, above average employee benefits and generally an inspiring employer/employee relationship. For instance, in relation to this particular issue, we encourage our portfolio companies to provide high quality, equal employee benefits for LGBT employees and all other employees.

Excluding LGBT Activism

We also have an exclusion criterion which avoids investment in companies which are taking active steps to advance the issue of gay marriage, using their corporate clout and investor dollars to advance a political and social issue that is unrelated to their core business. An example of this would be a corporation which gives corporate dollars to sponsor a gay pride parade or signs on to a legal document to put pressure on local, state or national government to push LGBT marriage policies.

We acknowledge that LGBT issues are a hotbed of contention in our society today, and we understand that not everybody believes as we do and that our investment methodology may not be a fit for all people. We respect investors who desire to invest in pro-active support of LGBT marriage, and we ask for the same respect for our investors who are investing according to their faith-based convictions to invest in support of what they understand as the Bible’s teaching and advocacy for one-man, one-woman marriage.

Sticks And Stones

We also acknowledge that some are quick to apply the label of bigot or other such terminology to anyone who believes that heterosexual marriage is God’s singular design for human sexuality. We believe that is an unfair categorization, just as it is equally unfair for those claiming the name of Christian to call names and use derogatory labels for our neighbors in the LGBT community.

We hope that despite deep-rooted disagreements over the rightness or wrongness of certain expressions of sexuality, that we can all treat one another with the dignity, respect and love that we each deserve as those created in the image of the living God.

May grace and peace be yours in abundance,

Robert Netzly
CEO, Inspire Investing


 

 

Biblically Responsible Investing Movement Exploding

The Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) movement is exploding — in a good way.

Demand from Christian investors desiring to align their portfolios to support biblical values is powering asset growth among fund companies and advisory firms focused on providing biblically responsible investment solutions.

Earlier this year, Ambassador Advisors, a $520 million advisory firm serving the Christian investor market, made headlines by converting all of their assets under management to align with biblically responsible investing best practices, recognizing that investors want alignment between their investments and their deeply held values and beliefs.

As Ambassador Advisors’ Chief Investment Officer, Christopher Coolidge, CFA®, puts it, “We believe you shouldn’t have to compromise performance to live your values. There’s more to making money than just making money. Biblically responsible investing allows Christians to apply their stewardship and the belief that all money is God’s money, not only for budgeting and giving purposes, but all the way through investing and legacy planning.”

My own firm, Inspire Investing, which is entirely dedicated to investing in the most inspiring, biblically aligned companies in the world, has increased assets under management from $250 million to over $400 million since the beginning of the year. We were also nominated as a finalist for “Best Thematic ETF of the Year” award in the annual ETF.com Awards.

God is at work in the hearts and portfolios of His people, and all glory goes to Him.

Timothy Plan ETFs Expand Biblically Responsible Investing Options

And recently that growth in demand has prompted yet another increase, this time in the supply side of the market with the launch of two new biblically responsible Timothy Plan ETFs. Timothy Plan is a long-standing leader in the BRI marketplace and offers a fully diversified suite of mutual funds all designed to support biblical values.

The new Timothy Plan ETFs are welcome additions to the growing lineup of world-class biblically responsible investment options available to Christian investors. The BRI movement is spreading like wildfire around the globe, and we need more high-quality, innovative, BRI solutions introduced to effectively serve this vast market and truly transform the way every Christian invests around the world for the glory of God.

How Big Is The Christian Investment Marketplace?

The size of the Christian investment market in the United States is estimated at over $21 trillion, according to research we have conducted at Inspire Investing. This marketplace includes investors identified by researchers as “Evangelical”, “Catholic” and “Mainline Protestant”, and is based on data sourced from Pew Research, Economic Policy Institute and the US Census.

Notably, this number includes only retirement assets such as 401(k) and IRA accounts, indicating the actual figure could be much higher if non-retirement investment assets were included.

Using the same data set, the total US investor marketplace of retirement assets, including faith-based and non-faith-based investors, is approximately $31.4 trillion dollars in size. Data from the Investment Company Institute’s “2018 Investment Company Fact Book” pegs total US retirement assets at $28.2 trillion at the end of calendar year 2017, adding confidence that these numbers are reliably close.

Sleeping Giant Awakening

The Wall Street establishment has no idea about the size and magnitude of the Christian investor market. Most secular firms dismiss Christian investors as an obscure, irrelevant niche population. But the reality is that Christian investors control more than two-thirds of the retirement assets in the United States, and this sleeping giant is waking up to biblically responsible investing.

Can you imagine the impact we Christians can have if we all just invested our money (God’s money) in alignment with biblical values?

What if we all just stood up and said, “Hey, Wall Street! We’re not going to invest in companies that manufacture abortion drugs, sell pornography, exploit child-slave labor or conduct any other blatantly immoral business practice anymore! We actually believe in the values taught in the Bible and we care about the glory of God, and we want investments that enable us to glorify our God in everything we do!”

Could our voice actually get noticed?

Bringing Down The Wall

The Bible tells the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, and how the Lord commanded that after the Israelites had marched around the city seven times, “then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat…” (Joshua 6:5).

It’s time for all of God’s people to shout with a great shout and bring down Wall Street’s “wall” of greed, corruption and immorality and usher in a new culture of investing for the glory of God.

Will you join us?


 

Planned Parenthood Supporter PG&E Files Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy Burn

California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, January 29th. The filing comes as a result of $30 billion dollars in wildfire liability incurred by the company as their equipment ignited at least 17 of the 21 major wildfires that roared through California state in 2017 and 2018.

Last summer, I attended PG&E’s annual shareholder meeting to challenge the executive leadership regarding their philanthropic support of abortion giant, Planned Parenthood. I shot a video on location to recap PG&E’s response.

At the time, PG&E was under intense pressure due to the wildfires which were still burning. PG&E stock had plummeted and the company had eliminated dividend payments to shareholders (many of whom were present at the meeting and expressing their concern due to their reliance on the previously substantial dividend to cover their retirement living expenses).

Given the dire straights of the stock, the mounting liabilities from the fires and the fact that the company had stopped paying dividends to shareholders, my question to the executives was would they also stop donations to Planned Parenthood?

Their answer was, “no” they would continue to donate to Planned Parenthood (despite not being able to pay their investors).

Bad Business

I did my best to point out to the executives how ridiculous that was. Never mind the despicable nature of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business, just from a financial fiduciary standpoint of acting in the best interest of shareholders it makes no sense to pay Planned Parenthood instead of a dividend.

I wasn’t surprised by their answer, however. The staunch persistence of abortion activist executives to advance the abortion issue against all reason or business sense is astounding.

And now they are filing for bankruptcy.

Stark Example

PG&E should serve as a stark example to all investors. If a company is willing to donate shareholder dollars to activist causes like Planned Parenthood, can you really trust them to make ethical, moral or just plain reasonable business decisions? Do you really want to invest money into a company run by people who would rather give the last penny to Planned Parenthood instead of elderly retirees who depend on the dividend to buy groceries?

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
    and fools hate knowledge?
23 If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
24 Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
25 because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof,
26 I also will laugh at your calamity;
    I will mock when terror strikes you,
27 when terror strikes you like a storm
    and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
    when distress and anguish come upon you.” (Proverbs 1:22-27)

As unfortunate as it may be, and although I would never wish such a catastrophe on anyone, PG&E executives might just deserve what’s coming to them as their careers go up in flames. But the investors left holding the bag deserve better than what these executives gave them.

Don’t Date Calamity

So, what about the companies that you own? Are there any “PG&E’s” of a different flavor lurking about in your portfolio waiting to file financial bankruptcy because of their ethically bankrupt decision making? You can find out for free at www.inspireinsight.com if you are curious.

PG&E’s date with calamity is just one more example of why I believe it is best to invest in inspiring, biblically aligned companies with a track record of ethical behavior.

What do you think?