Methodists Drop Caterpillar Divestment in Favor of Dialogue

April 18, 2008 ( - One week before the meeting of its policy-setting General Conference, the United Methodist Church has turned aside a proposal for it to divest its pension investment in Caterpillar Inc.

A Reuters news report said the divestment was proposed because the heavy equipment maker sells bulldozers that Israel has used to demolish buildings in the occupied West Bank territories. The $17-billion church pension has about $5 million worth of Caterpillar stock.

The Methodist General Board of Church & Society said it had decided not to schedule the Caterpillar issue for a vote next week at its meeting in Fort Worth because church officials had already had a constructive dialogue with the company. The church and society board said: “Caterpillar has opened discussions with the board, issued a statement denouncing immoral use of its equipment, and has agreed to continued dialogue,” according to Reuters.

The group has several other proposals pending, including a broader one stating that the church has $141 million invested in several companies “that enable the occupation to continue” and that should be dumped.