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Social conservatives rally an investor army

They have long used boycotts to sway policy, but now social conservatives are aiming to put their savings where their beliefs are.

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Mike Stack, an ultrasound technician in Royal Oak, Mich., was volunteering at an antiabortion pregnancy crisis center about three years ago when he had a rude awakening.

While reading a special interest newsletter, he learned that the company handling his investments was a contributor to abortion provider Planned Parenthood. That got him wondering about his mutual funds: Did they own shares in companies with links to abortion practices?

"I thought, 'Jeez, I'm doing all this work to try to end abortion, and my money is supporting it,' " says Mr. Stack, a devout Roman Catholic. Within a few months, he was working with an antiabortion financial planner who helped him build an investment portfolio consistent with his beliefs.

Socially conservative activists believe the nation is full of people ready to have an awakening like Stack's. "Morally responsible" or "val­ues based" investing, they say, has been an underutilized tool in their quest to rid society of abortion, pornography, and domestic-partner benefits for homosexual couples. It's a tool whose time has come, they say.

Social conservatives will have an opportunity to hear a lot more about investing that reflects their values. That's in part because this summer, the American Family Association will embark on a first-time mission to encourage its 2.8 million online members to purge their portfolios of companies that support a "gay agenda" and other "antifamily" practices. [Editor's note: The original version misstated that Women of Faith had committed to promoting ethical investing at 28 inspiration events it has organized this year. The group has made no such commitment.]

Hitching conscience to capital

Anecdotes, too, suggest a conservative wave of hitching conscience to capital. For example, four years ago, only about 15 percent of John Vleko's financial planning practice in Southfield, Mich., was dedicated to antiabortion investments. Today, it's more than 60 percent. But he believes many investors still haven't made the connection.


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