What’s driving corporate America’s foray into politics?

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: liberal activism in corporate America.

There’s room for Christians to come down on either side of the debate with regard to Georgia’s voting law. But whether we’re talking about an election law or something else like sanctity of life or religious liberty, or even bathrooms, it does seem that in recent years, major corporations have regularly sided with liberal activists.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Five years ago, the NBA announced it was moving its All-Star game out of North Carolina over the so-called bathroom bill that LGBT activists opposed.

But just a few years later, the NBA apologized to the Chinese communist government after that tweet from Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of pro-democracy demonstrators.

REICHARD: And the political left now holds increasing influence in all kinds of boardrooms across the country.

Here how to help explain why corporate America is drifting left is Jerry Bowyer. He is the chief economist at Vident Financial and author of The Maker vs. the Takers: What Jesus Really Said About Economics and Social Justice. Jerry, good morning!

BOWYER: Good morning to you, Mary.

REICHARD: Well, we just reported on Major League Baseball, relocating the all star game, I’m guessing that did not surprise you. What was your reaction to that move?

BOWYER: My reaction was once again to talk to my tribe, which is Evangelical Christians of conservative political bent and say, how long is it going to take us to wake up to the idea that we need to be involved and engaged and acting as salt in light, as opposed to essentially, completely abandoning any responsibility to be a witness to the boardroom, in the proxy process at annual meetings?
When do we start playing catch up, because we have basically been completely out of the game. And they showed up, they were very well organized. They are a minority of shareholders a minority view in American politics. They buy one share and use it to show up at an annual meeting. Whereas conservatives and Christians are probably the major shareholders than the United States.
And we don’t say anything. Now, Major League Baseball isn’t a publicly traded company, but these other examples are largely publicly traded companies—I would say that corporate America is probably the largest unreached people group that evangelicals have failed to send missionaries to. And I think it’s time that we reverse that.

REICHARD: Can you talk to how organized the campaign by the left is to influence corporations? How organized are they?

BOWYER: They’re extremely well organized. I have a friend who’s a conservative activist who goes to some of these annual meetings. He’s like one person, he says, Jerry, when I’m in the room with 200 people, there’s 199 left wing activists, and then there’s me. It’s weird, it’s um, they are super well organized.

They’ve been working on these relationships with corporate managers for some time. They tend to come in through diversity type functions in the company, human reason, human relations and diversity. People are coming out of universities and studying human relations or diversity, and they go and become diversity officers. And they essentially have a pre-stamped ideology, which is diversity, skin deep, but no further. So ethnic diversity, which by the way, is a wonderful thing, the kingdom of God is ethnically diverse, but diversity of thought, no interest, no awareness that that’s even an issue. So I talked to one of the largest proxy services in the country. Proxy services, the group—most people and even most funds don’t actually vote in these corporate elections. We can, but it’s generally outsourced to a company that’s called a proxy service. So I talked to the proxy service. And, you know, they routinely come down on the left side of issues automatically. So I asked them, well, haven’t any conservatives talked to you about this?’And they said, no. They weren’t even aware of the issues that were of concern to us. They weren’t aware that we existed. So I think that’s why corporations have been going left.

REICHARD: So interesting. So I hear you say Christians need to get more involved. And as far as leftward corporate drift goes, you know, we see that some Christians think the right thing to do is just divest. You know, move away from companies that do things that upset them. Other Christians see opportunity here. Where do you think you fall along that spectrum?

BOWYER: I’d say I’m pretty well on the opportunity side of things. And I think that that’s one of the things that kept Christians out of the game, which is, I think, something based on not an actual biblical conception of holiness.

There’s something about to some degree, the evangelical consciousness that his retreat and separation as a first instinct, so you see a bank, and maybe it would be a good bank to invest in, but they give money to Planned Parenthood. And our first impulse is to scream the sin out. Whereas I think following the example of Jesus, the first impulse should be to move closer in, not to disengage, but to engage. When Jesus is confronting the rich young ruler, who is involved with corrupt practices, I argue, in my book, who walks away? The rich young ruler walks away. Jesus doesn’t walk away. And at some point, we became the walkaway people. And I think we actually have a moral obligation within the limits of conscience to speak truth to the boardroom. Whether they listen or not, that’s in God’s hands. But like God said to Ezekiel, if you warn them, and they disobey the sins on them. But if you don’t warn them, and they disobey, then the guilt is on you.

So I think Christians need to speak clearly, into the corporate context, we own the shares, we can attend annual meetings. This year, the annual meetings are all online. So it’s extremely easy to attend the annual meeting, we can vote on members of the Board of Directors, directors, we can vote on proxies, and we can actually go to the website of the companies we own. And then you know, type in investor relations, and there’ll be a little portal, that’s just for people who own the shares. And you can write and say, Netflix, we don’t think you should be promoting movies that sexualize little girls.

Or we can write to some large bank or we can write to an energy company or whatever and say, we don’t think you should sign on as co, as supporters of the Equality Act just automatically and ignore the fact that it’s destructive to religious liberty and would violate the conscience of physicians who do not want to participate in, say, transgender operations or abortions.

It’s really easy to do. They do it a lot. They’ll take one share and dominate a meeting. We’ll  be the majority of shares and not know that we’re there. So I guess I’m right about that enough. So now it’s time for action. So I would say that there is a theological worldview distortion early on, which is, this world’s not my home, I’m just a passing through and my job is just to remain as socially distant from sin as I can. As opposed to I think the Jesus model is more like no, we take, we take the ring into the heart of Mordor. We take we take the message, wherever it’s not being heard, and do it boldly. And then let God providentially work out what happens.

And I know that barrier. By the way, I don’t mean to put something I don’t have any financial interest in this or anything, but I had some input into a new website, StopCorporateTyranny.org. That makes it really easy. So if you’re interested in talking to tech companies about canceled culture, you can go on there. And I’ll take you all of about 15 seconds to say, here’s who I am. And he and I agree that you need to stop canceling conservatives and you push a button and it’s going to send the email from you to the CEO to the Board of Directors automatically. So I—people aren’t used to this. A lot of it’s a comfort barrier. And so we’re trying to make the barrier to becoming involved in the corporate governance process easier as well.

REICHARD: Jerry Bowyer is chief economist at Vident Financial.  Jerry, a pleasure. Thanks so much.

BOWYER: My pleasure as well.


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