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General Conference Votes to Exclude Weapons Manufacturers from Its Investment Portfolio

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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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