Taking an active stand in Civics is important to not be a lukewarm Christian in today’s world. There are many ways to live this out – engaging in national, state, and local elections, participating in city council and school board meetings and sometimes protesting – but how should a Christian engage with increasingly political corporations who often donate, make public statements of support, decorate their brand logos, and mandate employee training in ways that are often at odds with Christian values?
There are effectively two paths a Christian can take: Shelter yourself from the sinful nature of the world or boldly remain in the world and fight to expose the wrongs – because anything that becomes visible is light.
We believe Jesus was evident in how a Christian should approach this decision: Engage. One example is Luke 5:25-32:
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
In practice, many Christians have adopted a two-pronged approach – engaging through the political process on one hand but boycotting and refusing to invest in “woke” corporations on the other hand. We believe that engagement is the right answer for Christians in both cases and have made it our mission to teach non-lukewarm Christians how to engage and invest with corporations in a manner that best produces the fertile soil needed for Christianity to flourish.
There are three ways to engage with corporations – as a customer, an employee, and as an owner of the company. All are important, but the most effective and only way to mandate change is as an owner. Ownership is determined through the stock market, and you are likely an owner of most public corporations!
How so? Your retirement account is likely invested in ETFs and/or mutual funds that purchase stock ownership in America’s public corporations – giving an investor like yourself diversified exposure to the stock market at a low fee. Through ETFs and mutual funds, the “Big 3” – Blackrock, State Street, and Vanguard have become the largest shareholder in the majority of America’s public corporations, which gets to the core problem of increasingly political corporate America.
When you or an investment professional on your behalf, purchases ETFs or mutual funds, the right to vote the shares of the actual stocks transfers to the asset manager – most commonly Blackrock, State Street, or Vanguard. They get to choose the board of directors and set the overall direction for the company to follow. While they’re technically bound to use this power in a way that benefits you as their client, they increasingly have fallen short of that standard, in what we view as the largest fiduciary breach of modern times.
All three asset managers vote and engage with corporations in similar manners – pushing corporations to take stands on social issues in a way that is rarely compatible with Christianity. How? Through an investing concept called Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), which each of the Big 3 asset managers utilizes as a key part of their investment process. Through ESG, the so-called Big 3 asset managers helped change the purpose of a corporation through the Business Roundtable in 2019 from one that ethically maximizes profit for shareholders to one that incorporates progressive political ideals. All three also joined the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board – SASB (recently renamed to the IFRS Sustainability Alliance) which the Wall Street Journal Editorial board persuasively called out for being a “stalking horse for progressive politics.”
The result – corporations supporting progressive agendas like Black Lives Matter, standing against parental rights in Florida, against voter reform in Georgia, mandatory Critical Race Theory (CRT) training, having discriminatory policies against Israel, paying for employee travel expenses for abortions, and more...with your money.
In May of this year we moved to Columbus, Ohio to join the founding team of a start-up asset manager - Strive - with Woke, Inc author, Vivek Ramaswamy. Strive is directly fixing this large fiduciary problem by allowing people to place their investments with us, where we will transparently take an activist approach to every board in corporate America - mandating every corporation to focus exclusively on providing excellent products and services over any social or political agenda.
When political decisions are forced upon America through corporations, democracy is frayed. As a Christian, it’s been painfully obvious as we’ve watched our corporations become America’s 4th branch of government. What could not be accomplished through democracy, has been forced upon Americans through corporations that often mandate behaviors and censor citizens in ways that are at odds with Christian values. It’s tempting to try to force the opposite – corporations that actively push Christian values. We believe that is also a non-optimal solution and that the most effective way forward is to take an activist approach to the boardroom of every corporation in America. At Strive, we will be demanding a depoliticized corporate America - leaving political issues to be decided through our democratic process where every citizen has one vote. Not only will this help improve the retirement security for everyday citizens, but it will unify Americans and create a fertile environment for Christianity to flourish.