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Faith and money

Some think religion and politics aren't a good mix. But meshing faith and money may produce some impressive returns.

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Faith-based mutual funds
Faith-based mutual funds
With the Pope visiting the U.S. this week and the role of faith taking center stage in the presidential election, religion has proven to be a topic on many Americans' minds lately.

You may be surprised to learn though that religion has a place on Wall Street as well. There are about 50 Catholic, Protestant, and Islamic-based mutual funds with assets totaling around $17 billion. The category has grown dramatically, from only $500 million in assets 10 years ago, according to David Kathman, a Morningstar analyst specializing in socially responsible investing.

The funds tend to weed out companies that members of the funds' faiths may find objectionable. These criteria vary but most faith-based funds screen out companies with large revenues from selling alcohol, tobacco, pornography and gambling.

Despite screening out some successful companies, many of the funds have done quite well compared to the S&P 500, which has an annualized average return of 10.5% to investors over the past five years.

And interestingly, almost every faith-based fund invests in Apple, proving that no matter what religion you practice, iPods are still really cool.
NEXT: Amana Income Fund
Last updated April 16 2008: 11:12 AM ET