Investing: What Would Jesus Buy?

Can an investor become more righteous, and richer, by avoiding unholy stocks?

So-called socially responsible investing funds, which buy only the sort of stocks that the Volvo-driving, soy-cappuccino-sipping liberal elite approves of, are everywhere these days. According to Lipper, the mutual-fund-tracking service, 199 SRI funds today manage $21.6 billion, up from 88 funds with $12.9 billion in 1999. The very names of the stocks these funds own--Horizon Organic, Nature's Sunshine, Peoples Energy and Progressive Corp.--would give a Berkeley sociology professor the warm fuzzies.

Another kind of SRI fund, however, is in the news. Last week Wal-Mart said it will suspend sales of several men's magazines, including Maxim, FHM and Stuff (see Essay). Officially,...

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