The first vote I cast in a presidential election was for Ronald Reagan in 1980. Back then I was part of a group that would drop off voter's guides at churches to help educate Christians on the stances their local politicians took on issues like abortion.
I hope that we weren't just aiding in the decision on how to fill out the ballots but also giving Christians the tools to start discussions with their elected officials. At the time, I think Christians were doing a good job engaging in the American political system - Reagan won in a landslide.
Today, Christians still have a voice in political discourse. In corporate boardrooms, however, we're not even a whisper, and our role as shareholders may hold more power than our role as citizens. When a company you're invested in publicly supports stances and legislation that many of us find objectionable, where do you even start?
The National Center for Public Policy Research's Free Enterprise Project (FEP) has taken up the cause of not just educating shareholders on their rights, but actually engaging with companies on these issues. The FEP just released their 2021 Investor Value Voter Guide, a descendent of the voter guides I helped distribute in the 80s but with the goal of educating shareholders. Scott Shepard is a fellow at the National Center and deputy director of the FEP. Scott and I recently sat down and had a fascinating chat on Christian Post's Business in the Kingdom podcast, discussing the new guide and comparing notes on our experiences raising these issues at shareholder meetings.
"Cancel culture" is about silencing people who have ever questioned or challenged extreme left-wing politics. In the corporate world, we've silenced ourselves by not speaking (or even showing up) in the first place. To quote from the FEP's 2021 Investor Value Voter Guide:
"What happens at annual shareholder meetings is the equivalent of a red state turning blue because conservative investors couldn’t be bothered to show up and vote [...] Conservative and faith-based investors must engage with our guide. Check your portfolio against the recommendations we make here."
So what are our options? Do we try to cancel the cancellers? Our left-wing secular counterparts regularly engage in boycotting, public shaming, and shouting over their opponents to meet their goals. We don't need to imitate them. As Scott said during our chat, "I am legitimately in favor of having everybody tolerating everybody else. I am legitimately in favor of having no cancellation."
Every person is made in the image of God, and when I attend a shareholder meeting I believe I am obligated as a Christian to engage respectfully and honestly. Jesus said that where 2 or 3 gather in His name, there He will be with them, and that holds true at a shareholder meeting. On the topic of shareholder meetings, Scott said, "We're always the only people there on our side of things. If we had even 1 or 2 extra questioners [...] that would have a real multiplier effect."
If you're ready to join Scott and I, listen to the conversation we had. In part 1 we discuss why it's imperative for Christians to start showing up, and in part 2 we tell you exactly how to start (it's easier than voting). Here are just a few of the questions we go over in the podcast:
- If I own 1 share in a company, what are my rights?
- How did Jesus and Paul make their case to the institutions of their time?
- How do I attend a shareholder meeting?
- What did liberalism get right about Christian compassion?
- How do I ask a question or submit a shareholder proposal?
- Are companies violating their own bylaws or breaking SEC rules by ignoring shareholder questions?
Jerry Bowyer is financial economist, president of Bowyer Research, and author of “The Maker Versus the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Social Justice and Economics.”