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Managing Mammon: Challenging the ‘Ethical’

April 8, 2012

Thanks to Andy for these provocative thoughts on finance (and the state of the C of E!):

I have been ‘ethical banking’ for the last twenty five years with the co-operative bank – I also have an ethical mortgage. The definition of ethical banking is broad and eradicating majority world poverty does not seem to be top of the agenda so I am not overly impressed with the ‘ethical’ stance.

The problem is that there are just too many ‘ethical’ stances that people/pressure groups want to be top of the agenda and so trying to keep everybody happy in a limited market is very hard. I am also not any longer convinced that other banks can so easily be labelled ‘unethical’ when they follow the laws set down by governments duly elected by ourselves. Increasingly I think that left wing (normally well educated champagne socialist) christians like to scapegoat banks which after all only operate according to the laws set by governments that we elect.

I also find it hard to stomach CofE priests (like myself) banging on about such things when we still rely on Church Commissioner investments to keep the CofE going. When we use all the money from our investments and at least ten percent of income each year in eradicating majority world poverty, then we may have the right to speak on these issues. In order to help us to move towards this place, I have a few suggestions:
a) require individual churches to find the stipends for their ministers
b) where this may not be possible, allow churches to twin/be replanted by/link up to churches that can support them financially (i.e. re-instate patronage)
c) require central diocesan officers/offices and bishops to find their own money from willing churches or other sources to free up giving churches from large quotas so that they can give more money to the poor
d) encourage the admission that the CofE has an economically unhealthy dependency culture and encourage regular days of repentance concerning this until it disappears
e) instate healing prayer ministry (across the various types of hpm there are in various church traditions) to heal us from our stinginess – why do we only ask for emotional and physical healing? Seems a bit selfish to me … not least when the book of Acts has lots of people healed of their stinginess as a major work of the Holy Spirit
Finally, I think that God is saying the same as he has done for a few thousand years now: s/he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2012 1:00 am

    Thanks.
    I didn’t realise your parishes don’t pay the stipends! We had a great, gruff (semi) retired missionary speak on generosity last year. He pointed out well that paying your ministers is not generosity, it is paying for what you use. Updating features of your church building is not generosity, it is making your church more comfortable. Generosity is giving to the poor who need it.
    I still don’t understand how generosity to the poor lost it’s place in church budgets

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  1. The Unethical Church. Part I « MMM — Munson Mission Musings

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