are we mutually funding genocide?

Displaced Children in Darfur

“We – even we here – hold the power and bear the responsibility.”
~ Abraham Lincoln

Every Christian who invests in the stock market using mutual funds has to take the good with the bad. In any given mutual fund there is a long list of companies, some of which support or fund causes that may be contrary to Christian principles.

It can be difficult to decide where to draw the line. I disagree with some of the practices of Wal-Mart, but I’m not going to get rid of a mutual fund I have just because .38% of the fund is in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. I’m certain that I could also disagree with practices in some of the other companies that my mutual funds invest in, but my grievances with them are in areas of debatable principles.

Genocide is not a debatable principle.

If you are not yet aware of the ongoing crisis in Darfur, take a look at SaveDarfur.org for some basic facts regarding the government-funded slaughter of at least 400,000 Sudanese persons. If you own any mutual funds, there is a chance that you have investments in one or companies that maintain a business relationship with the government of Sudan.

American companies cannot legally operate in Sudan, but they can invest in foreign companies that operate in Sudan, including those companies that make a significant contribution to funding the genocide taking place there. Consequently, many individual investors are unknowingly supporting the slaughter of thousands of Sudanese people.

I checked out the four mutual funds we have using a screening tool created by the Sudan Divestment Taskforce, and found that two of them had significant investments in Schlumberger Ltd, a company that is still known to operate in Sudan, partially funding the Sudanese government with their taxes and business growth. We are taking steps to divest, and then reinvest in funds that do not include these companies.

The situation in Darfur is no less a horror than the Jewish holocaust in World War II. The number of lives lost are fewer, but the targeted killings are just as brutal.

Money talks if a government hungry for it sees it going away. If the militia don’t have funds, they can’t continue their killing rampage. This is our opportunity to take action.

4 responses to “are we mutually funding genocide?

  1. I know when I look at the scope of modern-day horrors, I often say, “The problem is too big. I can’t do anything, at least not anything of significance.”

    But I have found that when I dare to ask, “What can I do?” I find that there are countless tangible and practical ways that I can give, that I can make differences, that I can fight evil. Worthy organizations (World Vision, CARE, Save Darfur, One.org to name a few) give ordinary people these opportunities and then, as we band together, the powerful waves created from each individual ripple begin to change the current.

    With each small act, even the act of awareness and understanding, we do make a difference.

  2. …thanks for being a voice in the wilderness. I am amazed at how little we as a people are truly informed about. We (I) need more of the truth and it’s time for us to shed, expose and uncover untruth in all it’s shame and hiddeness. Keep pressing on. There are some non-debatable issues you speak of.

    Good writing. I hear The Wall Street Journal is looking for a few good writers…. sounds as if you are all set where you are.

  3. Ther is a problem with your assumptions about the market though. After the IPO, your investment does not directly benefit the corporation, nor is it perceived as an endorsement of company policies – rather it is an endorsement that this company will make money, and that’s about it.

    In fact, an argument could be made for putting together a group of like-minded (Christian) investors to purchase a voting percentage of the stock and work to actively change the investment decisions of a company by voting for/against board members.

  4. Your idea is fine, but I wouldn’t be comfortable with that unless I had first divested from a company like Schlumberger. I am still very disturbed by the fact that I am making money off of a company that continues doing business with the Sudanese government. Fidelity and others should be dropping them like a hot brick.

    Regarding the market and how divestment effects a company, I haven’t made assumptions. Here’s a segment from the Sudan Investment Task Force web site:

    When an institution divests from these types of companies demand for offending companies’ stocks falls and share prices decline. Share price is further reduced by the presence of additional Sudan divestment campaigns, many of which are already in progress. To protect the value of shareholder investments, offending company executives would convey to the Sudanese government that perpetuation of genocide in Darfur is making the country an undesirable place to do business. As a result, either government behavior would change (in order to keep businesses in Sudan) or offending companies would leave Sudan, thereby withdrawing money that had been used to purchase military equipment for the genocide. Withdrawal of business investments from Sudan would simultaneously create an economic penalty for genocide and reduce Khartoum’s ability to fund the campaign.”

    Divestment is already having an impact. Swiss power company ABB recently suspended all non-humanitarian operations in the country–partially because of divestment. Siemens also is pulling out and specifically cited divestment pressure as a factor.

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