In 2004, GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, formerly known as the Annuity Board, invested over $60 million in corporations doing business in Sudan. Government-sponsored genocide in Sudan has displaced millions and killed hundreds of thousands, many of whom were Christians.
According to the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Dec. 31, 2004, AB Funds Trust Annual Report, GuideStone held $60,227,319 in shares of 11 foreign corporations with operations in Sudan. These corporations are included on a list of companies humanitarian and religious activists have targeted for divestment in order to stop the genocide. The investments are part of GuideStone’s International Equity Fund.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
The Janjaweed, the Sudanese government-supported armed Arab militia, continue the mass slaughter, mutilation, and rape of Sudanese people. DivestSudan.org contends that companies that do business in Sudan “provide critical economic, commercial, and financial support” for the regime.
Several states are considering legislation to remove their state pension investments from these companies, and several universities have already divested.
Each targeted company is foreign, since U.S. companies are forbidden to conduct business in Sudan. The divestment campaigns are modeled after the South African divestment over a decade ago that helped end apartheid.
At the 2001 SBC annual meeting, messengers approved a resolution condemning the genocide in Sudan. “It is the duty of all Christians to come to the aid of the persecuted church,” it argued.
The resolution urged “all Southern Baptist congregations to educate and alert their members to conditions in Sudan,” and the use of “every appropriate means to compel the government of Sudan to stop these vicious atrocities and ongoing violations of religious freedom.”
A 2000 resolution also condemned the violence, and a 1995 resolution listed Sudan among nations suppressing religious liberty.
In 1999 Richard Land, head of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and other SBC leaders joined over 200 religious leaders in signing a document asking then-President Bill Clinton to take action to stop the genocide in Sudan.
The document urged support for the divestment campaign against Talisman Energy, Inc. in Canada. This corporation is still targeted for divestment today and is one of the companies GuideStone owned shares of in 2004.
Land and other Southern Baptist leaders have also signed letters to President George W. Bush urging him to take action in Sudan.
According to GuideStone’s Web site: “Dedication to service and values is evident by our longstanding client relationships and Christian-based, socially screened mutual funds offered through AB Funds Trust.… Our products and services are designed to be competitive while adhering to Christian values.”
However, despite this policy and public statements by SBC leaders against the Sudanese genocide, GuideStone’s investments seem to aid those responsible.
For more information and to get involved, visit: http://www.sudanchurchmaterials.com, www.divestsudan.org, http://www.sudandivestment.com, http://darfurgenocide.org, http://www.savedarfur.org or http://www.worship4justice.org.
Companies with business in Sudan that GuideStone owned shares of at the end of 2004 include: BP PLC (United Kingdom), BNP Paribas (France), Siemens AG (Germany), Hyundai Mobis (South Korea), Hyundai Motor CO (South Korea), Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Limited (India), Royal Dutch Petroleum (Netherlands), Statoil ASA (Norway), Talisman Energy Inc (Canada), Total SA (France), and UBS AG (Switzerland).
Brian Kaylor is a communications specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.