Annual Report on Faith-Friendly Companies

In front of the big Christmas buying season come the reports on the nation’s most Christian-friendly businesses. So we set out to find out exactly what makes these companies faith-friendly.

It’s no surprise that Chick-fil-A (#1) tops the faith-friendly list, closely followed by Hobby Lobby (#2). This faithful duo consistently make news. When an Austin, Texas, Chick-fil-A store recently closed for renovations, the store owner continued to pay staff for the entire 5-month closure and also gave them each a $1 per hour raise. Hobby Lobby had the courage to invest in a lawsuit against having to pay for their employees’ birth control under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. Last June, they won in a 5–4 decision.

Interstate Batteries (#3) is transparent about their faithfulness. Their chairman Norm Miller, a former alcoholic who by a single prayer in a time of agony overcame his addiction, writes about it on their website. They are a privately-held company.

Tyson Foods comes in #4 for their faith-friendly culture where “faith and spiritual commitments (in the workforce) are valued and respected”. They have over 115 chaplains to care for their team members and their families, no matter what their religious belief. Tyson Foods is a publicly traded company.

Cracker Barrel (#5) was widely crushed in the press and the courts for their stance against gay and lesbian employees for discriminatory practices against African American employees in the 90s. The company changed their policies and got involved in civic and minority communities. Today they support a range of charities and are outspoken about their commitments to faith-driven consumers. And if you’ve been living under a rock, they do sell Duck Dynasty paraphernalia.

Walmart (#6) was chosen for their respect for pro-life, pro-marriage views, but more so lately because of their refusal to publicly display sexually explicit or inappropriate magazine covers in their stores, an action that demonstrates a commitment to the faith community. However, Walmart’s online shopping experience is an open book for quite the opposite.

As always, if we can help you or a friend or colleague with your morally responsible investments, or if you have any questions about end of the year charitable giving, please give us a call.

“Lobbying” for Morally Responsible Investing

It’s been an embarrassing time for Hobby Lobby, the retail store chain that had most of us cheering when they took their case against the Obamacare mandate all the way to the Supreme Court. Regardless if Hobby Lobby wins in court what promises to be a landmark case exempting it from abiding by the HHS mandate, the company has other issues to address internally.

Hobby LobbyAfter a little digging into Hobby Lobby’s 401(k) plan, Mother Jones, a nonprofit news organization that specializes in investigative, political, and social justice reporting uncovered that the closely-held company’s 401(k) employee retirement plan held more than $73 million in mutual funds with investments in companies that produce emergency contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, and drugs commonly used in abortions. Hobby Lobby makes matching contributions to their company-sponsored 401(k).

Considering the investment the Green family has made fighting the mandate, the story is likely more unfortunate than hypocritical. It didn’t need to happen! And what’s worse, other pro-life companies and ordinary pro-life investors all have an easy choice – there are pro-life investment funds that screen out stocks of companies that may be engaged in Planned Parenthood, certain abortion drugs, or embryonic stem cell research. If this news about Hobby Lobby has made you uncomfortable about your retirement plan choices, you are not alone. Fortunately, we have a policy of preventing our investors from making morally objectionable investments.

The Stewardship Foundation is adamant about carefully selecting our investment portfolios. We guide our donors and partner nonprofit organizations to practice morally responsible investing that matches the foundation’s call to Christian conscience. And we do this with no sacrifice in investment returns. If you or your organization is unsure whether or not your portfolio matches your morals, we are happy to assist you make that determination.

The following is a summation of the companies behind the Hobby Lobby debacle:

“These companies include Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which makes Plan B and ParaGard, a copper IUD, and Actavis, which makes a generic version of Plan B and distributes Ella. Other stock holdings in the mutual funds selected by Hobby Lobby include Pfizer, the maker of Cytotec and Prostin E2, which are used to induce abortions; Bayer, which manufactures the hormonal IUDs Skyla and Mirena; AstraZeneca, which has an Indian subsidiary that manufactures Prostodin, Cerviprime, and Partocin, three drugs commonly used in abortions; and Forest Laboratories, which makes Cervidil, a drug used to induce abortions. Several funds in the Hobby Lobby retirement plan also invested in Aetna and Humana, two health insurance companies that cover surgical abortions, abortion drugs, and emergency contraception in many of the health care policies they sell.”

— Mother Jones Article ‘Hobby Lobby’s Hypocrisy: The Company’s Retirement Plan Invests in Contraception Manufacturers’, April 1, 2014

— Patrick Finneran