From social media to stocks: How are religious conservatives punishing Big Tech?

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Part of getting the good religion story involves thinking ahead. Once the social media platform Parler got shut down, the question was where religious conservatives are going to go next.

Whether we’re talking evangelicals or Pentecostal/charismatics, Latter-day Saints or conservative Jews, these groups together number at least one-fifth of the American populace, so the question is an important one.

Oddly I’ve seen no stories about this.

The shutting down of Parler set off major alarms. I’ve been writing about Pentecostal prophets a lot in recent weeks and nearly everyone, when posting on places like Twitter or Facebook, darkly warn how this may be the last time you read them and to please get used to calling up their web sites instead. They don’t need to get warned twice.

Enter alternate social media platforms. Ever hear of Jesus.Social, ChristiansLikeMe.net, or SocialCross.org along with Minds, Gab, MeWe or Rumble? Or Xapit, the network sponsored by the prophetic web site ElijahList?

I’d like to see some stories on where religious folks are going. We know they are signing up by the millions on alternate sites.

Another angle is the depth of anger some feel toward the Big Tech folks that pushed Parler off the air. One reason Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is going to outlast the current controversies he’s involved in is that he’s concentrated on Big Tech and media censorship during his short career and those are issues a lot of people care about.

Fox Business News calls this the danger of “woke religion” taking over the internet.

200px-Parler_-_Logo_(2020).svg.png

A lot of outlets have jumped on the alternatives-to-Facebook angle.

Parler may be down for the count until it can come up with its own servers. While horribly inconvenient in the short run, it may be a blessing in disguise, forcing conservative outlets to build an internet empire on servers that can’t be touched by Big Tech. It may take awhile, but if internet censorship persists, the market is going to stay there.

Yet another angle is revenge: People who want to go after Big Tech for dumping Parler (and Donald Trump, for that matter) off their servers. I just got a press release the other day from the Timothy Plan, a Christian investment company, about divesting from “FAANG” stocks owned by the biggest five tech companies.

They are Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), and Alphabet (GOOG) (better known as Google).

The Timothy Plan has barred these companies from their mutual fund and ETF portfolios because of their contributions to Planned Parenthood and the fact that several of these companies allow porn on their servers. Which leads to an interesting question: Since these companies dumped Trump and Parler in lightning-quick speed, what has prevented them from dumping porn-related channels, now that we know this sort of scrubbing can be done overnight?

The Timothy Plan has other filters for troublesome funds: Tobacco, human rights (countries that suppress it or have horrific labor conditions); alcohol, gambling, lifestyle (any sort of sex outside of marriage), entertainment and of course abortion and porn.

The company offers an eVALUEator where you can plug in your own stocks or funds. I tried this on some of mine and found some pretty unhappy statistics for my Fidelity Blue Chip Growth, Vanguard Total Stock and a TRowe Price communications fund. Who knew? (Fortunately I have two Ave Maria mutual funds that aren’t compromised)..

I’d like to know if people are not only switching out of using these companies but whether they’re removing them from their portfolios as well. Are there stories here? Google “divest FAANG stocks” and you get nothing.

There’s been a few articles out there on “biblically responsible” investing. As this Investment News piece points out, there are other religion-based funds, including funds that accord with sharia law.

The Wall Street Journal had a “What Would Jesus Buy?” piece in 2019 on the topic.

Whether faith-based investing will pay off in this world or only in the next is another question. Excluding companies with any involvement in abortion eliminates most health-care stocks. Many technology companies run diversity programs that seek to advance gay employees, so they’re out. Such filters can cause a BRI portfolio to deviate from the stock market as a whole.

Consider the Inspire 100 ETF (ticker symbol: BIBL). According to FactSet, this fund has almost 42% of its assets in its top 20 holdings, compared with 32% at Vanguard’s 500 Index ETF.

The Inspire fund owns none of the FAANG stocks that have powered much of the long bull market: Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc., Netflix Inc. and Google parent Alphabet Inc. Compared with the S&P 500, the Inspire 100 fund bets bigger on fewer companies, holds less in technology and favors slightly pricier stocks.

As a result, its performance hasn’t been angelic: So far this year, Inspire 100 has gained 16%, while the S&P 500 is up 18.3%, counting dividends.

So here are two angles for a possible religious reaction-against-Big-Tech story: People searching and leaving for alternate media platforms and others switching their investments. Both are telltale signs that mark whether true believers are either angry enough to do something about the situation or just happy to linger on Twitter and invest in abortion-friendly health stocks.

I’m convinced these stories are out there. There is a resistance; 70 million-plus voters who went for Trump aren’t going to sit on their hands for the next four years and many of them have religious convictions. After the storming of the U.S. Capitol, there’s the “what next?” question in terms of covering what the Religious Right (a term that is so 1980s) may do.

I don’t have the answers. But they aren’t impossible to find.

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