Bishops approve resolutions on ethical investing

By Mike Patterson
Posted Jul 12, 2018

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The House of Bishops on July 12 approved a resolution to develop and implement a “shareholder engagement plan” to guide dioceses, churches and individual Episcopalians investing in gun manufacturers and retailers to change company policies through shareholder advocacy.

Resolution B007 also commends to the church the Mosbacher-Bennett Principles for Investors in the Gun Industry developed by Do Not Stand Idly By. The bishops approved the resolution, entitled Ethical Investing in Gun Manufacturers, without debate on its consent agenda.

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

Under the resolution, the 79th General Convention would direct the Executive Council Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility (CCSR) to “develop and implement a shareholder engagement plan” for dioceses, church organizations and individual Episcopalians investing in publicly traded stock of gun manufacturers and retailers. The plan would provide guidance for how to effect change in these companies through shareholder advocacy to reduce lethal and criminal uses of their products.

The Episcopal Church has long been an advocate for socially responsible investing in gun manufacturers. For example, the church’s Executive Council in late January authorized its Committee on Corporate and Social Responsibility to join an attempt to convince Dick’s Sporting Goods to abide by the Sandy Hook Principles developed to stem the tide of gun violence. A little more than a month later, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based retailer announced Feb. 28 that it would stop selling assault weapons at its 35 Field & Stream stores.

The company had removed them from all Dick’s stores after the Sandy Hook massacre. The company also said it would no longer sell firearms to anyone younger than 21, and it would no longer sell high-capacity magazines. And, Dick’s said, it has never and will never sell bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

The shareholder activism of the Episcopal Church and other religious institutional investors was not the sole cause of Dick’s decision, but those involved say it had some influence on a company that was considering a change.

In a second resolution related to ethical investing, the House of Bishops also approved Resolution D068 that asks the CCSR to consult with related groups engaged with human rights and the care of creation to develop and propose criteria to the Executive Council to use in assessing investments in companies found inconsistent with the church’s faith and mission or questionable under the church’s ethical teachings.

CCSR is also directed to evaluate the effectiveness of divestment through the creation of a No Buy List from these companies and procedures for the church to follow in making a decision to engage companies or to establish a No Buy list.

– Mike Patterson is a San Antonio-based freelance writer and correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. He is a member of ENS General Convention reporting team and can be reached at rmp231@gmail.com.


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