Shareholders Can Be Effective

Paul  Weyrich
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Posted: Mar 27, 2006 10:19 AM

The Reverend Kenneth L. Hutcherson is an impressive fellow. He has a deep commanding voice. He is Pastor of the Antioch Bible Church, Kirkland, Washington, and also runs a ministry called "Mayday for Marriage." Like many pastors he is concerned with the way things are going in the country. He especially is bothered by corporate sponsorship of pornography and of homosexual lifestyles. Most people, he contends, are unaware of these corporate activities.

It is true that numerous corporate foundations support leftwing causes. There has been a systematic effort on the part of the far left to control foundations. For a long time the foundations have been donating to extreme environmental causes as well as leftwing ideological groups, which, among other views, oppose a strong national defense. Some of the foundations financed by large corporations have been funding Planned Parenthood and a host of other groups which support radical lifestyles. More recently, foundations on the left have been contributing to People for the American Way and other groups which oppose the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, marriage legislation and referenda in various States. Some of the corporations also have begun to advertise in homosexual publications.

Ford Motor Company activity regarding advertising in homosexual publications has so upset the Reverend Don Wildmon of the American Family Association that he has called for a nationwide boycott. Hutcherson admires what Wildmon may be able to do but points out that Wildmon has millions of names on his mailing list. Wildmon also controls perhaps two hundred radio stations, mainly in the South and Southwest. Moreover, he has been able to persuade some twenty organizations to join him in the effort.

Hutcherson is less known than Wildmon. He operates a small ministry. While he admires what Wildmon has been able to do, he realizes that it takes someone of like stature with a national organization to influence large corporations. Therefore, he has sought a different approach. For example, he does not like what Microsoft does with its money. Yet Hutcherson believes that a boycott of Microsoft would be impossible. Microsoft controls 85% + in any given market. He says to ask Christians as individuals and even as ministries to cease using Microsoft computers, software, screens, hardware and other products would be costly to the individuals and ministries while having almost no effect on Microsoft.

Likewise to ask folks not to use Hewlett Packard printers or fly on Boeing-built aircraft simply would not work. "That is why," said Hutcherson, "I have come up with the idea of an internal boycott of these corporations by using the old fashioned way of the stockholders and getting Christians to think about buying their stocks instead of not using their products."

Hutcherson believes that to be effective it would be necessary to circulate the word nationwide that if Christians want to make an impact upon these corporations they need to buy one two, three or even more shares of the offending corporations. "When these companies see what kind of paperwork and reporting they will have to do with these small shareholders, it will cost them much more than they could ever imagine,” Hutcherson contends.

The late Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media would buy a small number of shares in media companies and then attend the annual shareholders meeting. There usually is an opportunity for shareholders to ask questions. He would ask questions about media bias. In some cases he even got policies changed.

Hutcherson believes that Christians should concentrate on a couple of corporations at a time. He has in mind Microsoft and Boeing, no doubt because they dominate the upper West Coast.

Given the goals of discontinuance of corporate advertising in homosexual magazines and of corporate direct and indirect donations to groups which undermine the family, it probably would be easier to change those policies than it was for Irvine to compel media properties to give up their news bias.

These two corporations most recently have been funding the opposition to the various marriage amendments. Hutcherson said if we could get Christian organizations and millions of individuals to invest in Microsoft and Boeing, for example, could you imagine the impact this could have on an annual shareholders meeting?

Years ago, Senator Jesse Helms (R.NC) embarked upon an effort to buy CBS by asking conservatives to buy shares of CBS stock. I followed his lead and bought a number of shares. Ultimately the scheme didn't work but we all got a bit richer as we drove the price of the stock way up. I sold my shares at a healthy profit.

If three hundred fifty thousand Christians bought an average of three shares, could you imagine the impact if the Reverend Ken Hutcherson and his supporters showed up at the annual shareholders meeting armed with proxies from all of us? If he controlled almost a million shares, do you think Microsoft or Boeing would pay attention when he presented a resolution demanding that their support of homosexual causes be stopped? You bet they would.

If you think of it, asking Christian groups to buy perhaps 100 shares of Boeing and Microsoft, and individuals to purchase perhaps three or more shares, they would not lose anything. The stock is unlikely to go down. Most likely it will go up. But the point is that Christians would purchase power to do something about the outrages now occurring. It remains to be seen if Christians will come together and agree to work on this project. I know I will.

In any case, this approach has a far greater chance of succeeding than a boycott of popular products. Microsoft has a virtual monopoly in the market place. Guess how many airlines, domestic and foreign, use Boeing products?

In the months ahead the Reverend Kenneth L. Hutcherson will be preaching this gospel of economic empowerment. He is one of the most effective preachers I have heard. The question is: Who in our circles will be listening?