In this guest post, Symon Hill introduces a new initiative to connect faith with financial decisions.
Of course, the issues are not straightforward. The buy-up of the Co-operative Bank by hedge funds has triggered intense debate about whether ethically-minded people should stay with the Co-op, with sincere views on both sides. This debate is important.
It’s tempting to hide under a pillow when ethical finance comes up – banking, investing and even shopping are confusing enough, without involving theological debate. Ideally, our faith should make it easier, not harder, to make decisions, especially given the centrality of economics to Jesus’ teaching.
“I think of the Gospel as being primarily a message of financial justice”
James Clayton, a member of the Soul Space church in Bradford
“I struggle to reconcile modern capitalism with Jesus’ views about money, but the money we own is powerful and we can use it to do good or to do harm.”
Liz, an Anglican from Norfolk
James and Liz are two of the Christians quoted on Your Faith, Your Finance, a new website published jointly by the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) and Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW).
Since the crash, it’s been clear that those in charge of the world economy should not be trusted with it. It’s up to all of us to change things. Your Faith, Your Finance aims to demystify economic questions, offering guidance, links to other sites on specific issues and reflections on the theology of money.
The site does not tell you the ‘right’ answer. We’re not patronising you and we know you can reach your own decisions.
Your Faith, Your Finance gives space to varied views and voices, many of which do not agree with each other.
“It is important to me that if I am to make any money as a saver… my money is not indirectly financing companies who sell arms or who put profit ahead of the environmental future,”
Mark Davidson, member of an evangelical church in Edinburgh
Many Christians share Mark’s attitude, although others go so far as to reject making money from saving.
“I believe usury goes against the teachings of the Bible. So I have no credit cards or overdraft but I save throughout the year and use that to pay for bills.”
Symon Turner, a Methodist from Reading
What they share is a desire to witness to the Gospel in the way they use their money. Making an impact with our money is not an alternative to campaigning for structural change but must go alongside it, showing the world that there is a different way of doing things. One example is the Bright Now campaign that calls for churches to divest from fossil fuels. The Quakers this month became the first church in the UK to decide to do so.
Your Faith, Your Finance is not about guilt-tripping or about pretending we can change the world single-handedly. We are all part of a sinful economic system. But we can find ways, big or small, in which we and our churches can point to something better, living out our loyalty to a power that is subtler but stronger than the idols of markets and profit.
Symon Hill is author of The No-Nonsense Guide to Religion and Digital Revolutions: Activism in the internet age. He writes and campaigns on issues including religion, peace, sexuality and economic justice. He is an associate of the Ekklesia thinktank and a founding member of Christianity Uncut. He also runs training on campaigning skills and media engagement for activists.