There is one pressing question at the forefront of many Americans’ minds right now: How will the presidential election affect the economy?
If the election results in another term like the years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the impact will be severely negative. It would mean ongoing problems with declining incomes, increased poverty levels, lack of business and consumer confidence, over-reaching small business regulations, and slow corporate growth.
We’ve seen a great deal of market volatility for the past seven years — and this dramatic election year is not making things better. Markets don’t like uncertainly, and investors don’t like fear. There’s an additional layer of uncertainty and fear because of the unknown economic policies of the next president.
I interact with many conservative Christian Americans and hear their concerns at town hall events across the country. And I’ve seen a great deal of anxiety about the economy, and how Obama administration policies are negatively impacting their ability and desire to spend any discretionary income they may have. This is true especially in light of no wage growth, no end in sight to higher health costs, no confidence in the political structure, and no clear economic strategy moving forward.
When asked, I recommend having a strong, well-diversified, and long-term portfolio of individual stocks in different sectors (cash, technology, energy, industrials, materials, consumer, etc.) — but I also advise investing only in biblically responsible companies. For those with strong faith beliefs, the goal should be to invest in those firms that don’t contribute to the moral collapse of our culture through funding the abortion industry, furthering pornography, supporting homosexual marriage, or violating religious freedom.
The faithful find freedom in making wise financial decisions. They understand that they are investing in profitable companies without the guilt of supporting those that fund anti-Christian causes.
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Personally, I own and invest in biblically responsible stocks and mutual funds because I believe in and trust what’s going on behind closed doors at each of these companies. I believe God will continue to honor and bless these organizations for sticking to their principles. All public corporations should hold fast to their mission by not supporting controversial social causes that alienate investors.
I also don't recommend making any rash financial decisions in response to what's happening in the short term — and neither should Christian investors. They need to understand the companies they invest in, which ideally have a long history of returning value to their investors and operating in a biblically sound manner.
Why is it that we, as believers, pray about so many things, but not about our money or investments? We are stewards of the wealth God has entrusted to us. It's His money — and we should take our financial concerns and decisions to Him in prayer.
If you are a believer and want to honor the Lord with what He has given you, why would you choose to work with a financial adviser who doesn't care about biblically responsible investing? We might rationalize it to ourselves by saying, "It's not that bad," or "They're only giving a tiny portion to Planned Parenthood."
The truth is — and deep down, we all know this — it does not matter if an organization is contributing to the murder of one baby or 1,000 babies. It's irrelevant. If the Lord was investing our money for us, it wouldn't go to organizations that — directly or indirectly — further abortion, pornography, or any other ungodly endeavor. Yet we are willing to embrace an adviser who is willing to overlook something that God would never overlook.
The fact is that many businesses and churches put their money into companies that support causes that go against our faith. As Christians, we simply cannot invest our resources into things that tear down society and go against God's teachings.
Think about what would happen if every church and business pulled their investments out of the areas that were less than pleasing to God, and if every faith-minded person also withdrew their financial support from these companies. Corporations would be forced to rethink where their money is going and actually be accountable to investors. There is power in numbers when we all stand up for biblical stewardship and stand against those things that dishonor God.
I encourage Christians to strive to be biblically responsible with their investing, and to sell certain stocks based on the company's involvement in immoral or anti-biblical issues. Here are four guidelines for starting down the road to biblical stewardship:
1.) Remember that God owns everything, not just what we give to Him.
2.) Learn to be a good steward of God's blessings.
3.) Become comfortable and knowledgeable in your investment strategies and financial decisions.
4.) Give freely to His work.
If we maintain an attitude of worshiping God and give freely to Him, adhere to solid principles, are prudent about where we shop, and wise about where we spend our money, we will be blessed. God never promised prosperity — but He always promised to provide for our needs. Prosperity will come if we are prudent and wise in what we do with the resources He has given us.
Wisdom from our nation's leadership is equally as important at this critical time. This economy is much too fragile to withstand four more years of the status quo. As someone who has studied the economy for decades, I cannot imagine continuing with a White House that thinks "profit" is a dirty word, "prosperity" is politically incorrect, and "American excellence" is shameful. The negative impact on the economy would be devastating.
I understand that it will take years for new policies to begin to impact thereal economy. But just knowing that positive changes are coming will instill an enormous amount of confidence and stability in the economy. Simply having a consistent tax code that will be fair to American businesses, thus reducing the regulatory burden, will provide the incentive to start putting some of the trillions of dollars now on the sidelines back to work in the economy. We could very well see an immediate and positive impact.
Couple this stability with millions of Christians who invest biblically and adhere to godly principles — and there's no telling how much the economy could improve and grow.
Dan Celia is president and CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries, Inc., and host of the nationally syndicated radio talk program "Financial Issues," heard daily in more than 350 radio markets and in over 100 million homes on Christian television.