General Conference Votes to Exclude Weapons Manufacturers from Its Investment Portfolio

After receiving requests from the Norwegian Union, the Trans-European and Inter-European Divisions, and the Adventist Peace Fellowship, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has voted to exclude weapons manufacturers from its investment portfolio going forward.

On February 23, 2018, the Norwegian Union sent a letter to the General Conference via the Trans-European Division asking that the GC stop investing in weapons manufacturers, stating that such investments are inconsistent with the values and teachings of the Adventist Church and Jesus Christ.

The GC has long-excluded six general industry groups that are inconsistent with Adventist values including tobacco, alcohol, gambling, pornography, meats, and caffeinated beverages.

The Trans-European and Inter-European Divisions produced a statement on March 2, supporting the Norwegian Union’s request to add weapons manufacturers to the current exclusions.

According to the TED/EUD statement, Tim Aka, GC associate treasurer and investment manager, noted that the church was already in the process of reevaluating its investments with the aim to exclude companies including “arms manufacturers, environmental polluters and even companies that exploit their workers or have poor governance.”

The TED/EUD statement asked the GC to remove any investments in the area of aerospace and defense industries and move them to “areas more in keeping with the ethos of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

The statement concluded by reminding the GC of its own official statement from 2002 titled a Call for Peace which states, “Churches should not only be known for spiritual contributions—though these are foundational—but also for their support of quality of life, and in this connection peacemaking is essential. We need to repent from expressions or deeds of violence that Christians and churches, throughout history and even more recently, have either been involved in as actors, have tolerated, or have tried to justify. We appeal to Christians and people of good will all around the world to take an active role in making and sustaining peace, thus being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”

On March 30, the Adventist Peace Fellowship published an open letter on its website to Elder Ted Wilson stating in part:

We are writing to express support for the Norwegian Union Conference’s request for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to discontinue investing in companies engaged in weapons manufacturing. We support the call for (a) increased transparency regarding current investments, (b) stronger ethical guidelines for General Conference investments, and (c) the divestment from the weapons industry.

The GC’s response, which was voted on March 20, and released on April 6, states that in reviewing its investing practices, it has been decided “that in keeping with our longstanding position on non-combatantcy [sic], we direct the GC Investment Management Committee to screen all present and potential investments in order to exclude companies whose revenues are derived primarily or substantially from the manufacture and sale of weapons, combat vehicles, munitions or other warfare systems. In addition, we direct the GC Investment Management Committee to avoid investments in any companies which are engaged in the manufacture of cluster munitions, land mines or nuclear weapons and to exclude such regardless of the proportion of company revenues or sales that these products represent.”

The statement concluded with a quote from Tim Aka:

“As a spiritual organization, we hold ourselves accountable to ensure that our financial strategies and investments align with our established values and commitments. This process is ongoing and continues to be of vital importance for the Investment Office…. In the spirit of [the Call for Peace] Statement and as an ongoing process the General Conference has attempted to mitigate against such incongruous investments yet uphold their fiduciary responsibilities.”

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

Photo by Kony Xyzx on Unsplash.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8678
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Somewhat related what would have the Adventist church done with respect to the buildup and manufacture of weapons brought on by Hitler’s Germany and Japan’s actions that brought us world war II. Are weapons always evil, is aerospace evil? Should our police and military give up their weapons as they seem to be out of step with “the call to peace”?

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“Peacemaking” is the unmistakable mission of true disciples, as the Beatitudes make clear. In a complicated world, just how to embody this mission will engender ongoing debate. Adventists should at least recognize that the idea of a “final [verbal] warning” to the world is completely inadequate as a conception of church mission.

I myself am pleased with this development. Imagine Jesus, or Paul, or Francis of Assisi, or Martin Luther King, or Ellen White, voting to invest in bullets and bump stocks. (Again, I know the issues are complex.)

Chuck

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Jesus never addressed nations or national issues. His message was for each person individually. It would be nice to put away all weapons and go ahead in trust, but personally I don’t have that much trust. If someone threatens my children with a weapon I call the police, who hopefully show up with a weapon; or defend them any way available.

If we watch the innocent being threatened and mistreated, I believe we have a personal responsibility to do whatever it takes to defend them . It’s another matter when it comes to defending ourselves. That is a personal matter between us and God. We can’t allow evil to mistreat the innocent in order to save even our souls. To allow others to suffer or die in order to save ourselves is narcissistic. In a case like that, we’re not showing love toward the offender, but concern for ourselves.

It’s interesting to note that Peter had been carrying a sword as he walked with Jesus, and was prepared to come to Jesus’ aid when the soldiers arrived. Of course, Jesus admonished him when he did use it, but apparently He didn’t forbid him earlier (whatever that means). As a Christian I can offer my own life, but I have no right to make that choice for someone else when there is something I can do to save them. That goes for armies of nations as well. If a nation is threatened by evil it’s my responsibility to do all I can to defend the defenceless.

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The statement in the title is not correct. GC never said that they will exclude weapons from the investment portfolio. Read carefully part of their joint statement:
"…exclude companies whose revenues are derived primarily or substantially from the manufacture and sale of weapons…"
This leaves a door open.

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Well I can’t imagine Jesus saying to buy bullets as no such thing existed but he did say to buy a sword!
Luke 22:35Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you out without purse or bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. 36“Now, however, He told them, “the one with a purse should take it, and likewise a bag; and the one without a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment.”…

But the questions were not just rhetorical. In the US and UK the war was financed to a large degree by people buying war bonds. So if there is a principle behind this call to avoid weapons manufacture what would it be. Were those we call the greatest generation really immoral folks by buying war bonds and financing weapons or working in those factories? The churches actions will not likely do much other than to make it harder to find people that will manage their investments. the more restrictions the more the investment managers will charge.

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Does this dictum include the trade of shorting such stocks?

The GC did the right thing.
Thanks to the Norwegian leadership for bringing this up.

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After the Sandy Hook school shooting, our local conference finance committee recommended to the executive committee a similar action for local conference investments. At the time, we were told the NAD was “looking into this,” and several of us believed it was time to take the lead. After much discussion, the executive committee voted down the recommendation. (Sandy Hook was in our conference). In light of our history of nonviolence and peace, I have been surprised how the Adventist fear psyche has been played by the NRA and evangelical Christianity. Appreciate the TED taking the lead.

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“Set your phaser on stun, Mr Spock” said Captain Kirk. Weapons of less destruction make for better defense in the long run…

it’s amazing that even the norwegian union seems to be responding to the momentum created by the parkland kids…aside from what’s been developing in the florida state legislature, it will be very interesting to see what, if anything, congress does after the midterms, especially if the house or senate or both flip…but whatever does, or doesn’t happen, its good when our GC can be on the right side of history…

by the time the church is done, they will be burying their money in the ground (which is, after all, polluted) or in US treasuries (oops, can’t do that, the US wages war!). The only time a company profits from an investment in it’s stock or bonds, is when a person (human or corporation) invests in a new issue. after that, they are only receiving income from the sales of what ever product or service is produced by the organization. With the trend today for horizonal rather than vertical integration, it is very difficult to find ‘pure’ companies to invest in. Having said all this, would i invest in RJR Nabisco or Anhauser-Bush? probably not…

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For any of you who thinks Jesus can be fitted into your conventional point of view regarding the “sword,” the classic contemporary work–which any intellectually curious and honest conversation must refute–is John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus.

Or read Walter Wink, or James Wm. McClendon, or the poet novelist Wendell Berry.

Here nothing, by the way, is more misleading than Enlightenment-sounding individualism. That just ain’t the Bible. Do not the Hebrew Prophets–and Jesus styled his ministry after them–even exist?

Chuck

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Jimmy Carter said, “Can we be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war?” A profound difference exists between peacekeeping forces (police) and warmaking impulses. The present U.S. Department of Defense was/is actually the U.S. Department of War, simply renamed. Unfortunately there exists no U.S. Department of Peace. Not enough money in peacemaking, you know. (See the documentary film Why We Fight.) Divesting is the responsible course of action.

I am proud of the 2002 official Adventist statement “Call to Peace,” which followed the bombings of 11 September 2001 and presaged the 2003 U.S. military invasion of Iraq–the worst U.S. foreign policy debacle of the past 45 years. In fact, for more than 10 years we have based our Union College Peace Week (coming April 16) on that brilliant Adventist statement.

In my opinion “Call to Peace” should be required reading every year for every Adventist schoolchild, beginning age 10, and featured in every Adventist periodical every April. “Call to Peace” and arms divestment represent historic Adventism at its best.

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I don’t own swords or any other kind of weapons, nor do I have a “conventional point of view” about swards, but simply a mother’s instinct to defend my children from evil. I can’t conceive of any “point of view” that would guide my actions if such action were called for. When it comes to nations and their armies, here again, we, as Christians, have no right to sacrifice other people’s lives for our ideology - our own, of course.

“The churches actions will not likely do much other than to make it harder to find people that will manage their investments.”

No, not difficult at all, Ron.

the more restrictions the more the investment managers will charge.

I am positive that the church can afford it… :grinning:

I read this article, and then went to sleep; and my sleep was sweet to me.

When God established Israel in the Promised Land, he did not create an army, but a priesthood. But He used Israel as an instrument of judgment against the vile inhabitants of the land. He said to them, “Spare not!” How could they have spared not, except they were a standing army, manufacturers of weapons and had weapons of mass destruction?

But when God established the Church, he did a remarkable thing. He said, “Peace to everyone!” And then He sent His disciples out two by two to preach the GOOD NEWS. The entire focus shifted from this material world to the real source of all our problems, the spiritual realm. “Heal,” He said, “encourage, teach, comfort, support, snatch humanity from the mouth of the roaring lion, reclaim what was lost.”


All this talk of women’s ordination. race-based conferences, GC investment portfolio, political divisions and so forth are distractions from investing in the world’s poor and the church’s children. Jesus advises us, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Mat. 6:19-20

But the women have abandoned the children to go rule over tall trees, complain about the cost of day care; and then marvel how evil the generation is becoming, crying, “But Your Honour, I never knew my son had bought a gun. He was always such a good boy when he was with his nanny.”

Prov. 31:1

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“All this talk of women’s ordination. race-based conferences, GC investment portfolio, political divisions and so forth are distractions from investing in the world’s poor and the church’s children.”

Not for some of us who are interested in applying the principles of the Bible to ALL and everything. Not everyone is that interested in doing so and are satisfied with less. Another view…from a WOMAN. :grinning:

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The Bible says that “Eve” gave the forbidden fruit to her husband who was with her. It’s a succinct and poignant statement of the love they had for each other. To her, it was a good thing; and she must have presented herself as evidence of its harmlessness. Adam had shared with her even to all that God had told him, so she wanted to share with him too.

It’s a pity really that men in their responsibilities with which they are endowed hardly bring their wives into their complete confidence. What has resulted is half the population feeling needless, helpless and worthless – and so a strong desire for militancy to right perceived wrong sets in.

And in this fight, ruthless selfishness prevails. You don’t see it now. You can’t; neither can I. I’m as blind as you are; but I know this for sure: there is no greater harm you can do to a child than to communicate non-verbally that career and money are more important than a bedtime story.

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“there is no greater harm you can do to a child than to communicate non-verbally that career and money is more important than a bedtime story.”

Absolutely…but it is still possible to communicate to a child that they are important and have both parents working. It may be more of a struggle to do so but it can be done and still raise a healthy and well-adjusted child. It is more a matter of the quality of the parenting and what is appropriately communicated to the child.

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