Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Church of England's "less than morally perfect" portfolio

If you rail against the usurious evils of Wonga, you really oughtn't to be surprised if you're called a hypocrite for enriching your own £6bn investment portfolio from its exorbitant payday loans. The Archbishop of Canterbury urged swift divestment: he wanted to "compete" Wonga out of existence. But the Church Commissioners have decided otherwise, principally because they stand to lose somewhere between £3m-9m if they ditch their Wonga shares.

The Church explains its new policy in this press release:
Ethical Investment Advisory Group - ethical investment restrictions tightened

The Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) has tightened its recommendations regarding investment restrictions. From this month none of the EIAG’s investment exclusions have a revenue threshold higher than 10%, a reduction on the previous 25% threshold.

The EIAG also announced that during 2013 it instructed votes for the Church Commissioners and Church of England Pensions Board on over 30,000 resolutions at approximately 3,000 company general meetings. Reflecting wider concern over executive remuneration packages, the EIAG withheld support in over 70% of cases.

In wider corporate engagement, church investors recorded important successes in the areas of both alcohol and pornography. After engagement with the EIAG, all three major UK-listed supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons – published alcohol policies newly acknowledging the potential for alcohol to cause harm. In the area of pornography, church investor engagement with a major telecommunications company led to the company ceasing to promote pornographic material on its handsets in the UK.

The threshold reduction follows a review requested by the Archbishop of Canterbury in light of the “Wonga controversy.” As a consequence of the review process revenue thresholds used to exclude companies on account of their involvement in tobacco, gambling, high interest rate lending and human embryonic cloning have been capped at 10% from the previous threshold of 25%.

The annual review makes it clear that these new restrictions would not have prevented the exposure to Wonga which was in a pooled fund and which could not have been screened in the same way as direct holdings are.

Edward Mason, EIAG Secretary, said: “Exposure to restricted investments, like Wonga, can occur in pooled funds and the EIAG accepts this.” Commenting on the EIAG’s intention to propose a new pooled funds policy to the national investing bodies, he said: “The policy will specify controls on the use of pooled funds but will not bar their use.”

The EIAG will publish the new policy on pooled funds later once the investing bodies have agreed it. The annual review explains that pooled funds are often the only way to access certain asset classes and investment strategies – including venture capital which, along with increasing financial returns for investors, also serves society.

Writing in the report’s foreword, EIAG Chair James Featherby explains that the Commissioners’ indirect investment in Wonga highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio.

“In our view Christian ethical investment is, instead, about fulfilling responsibilities to beneficiaries and trying to make a positive difference in society. The Church’s national investing bodies seek to do the latter through engagement with companies, partnerships with other investors, and participation in public policy initiatives. In this way they aspire to be part of the Church’s witness to the world.”
And so the negative publicity, bad press and 'outcries' will continue, as they rightly should.

Mammon is morally tainted. As the Chairman of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group says, "It is no more realistic to desire that they invest only in morally perfect companies than it is to desire that any of us should relate only to morally perfect individuals."

And so: "When engaging with companies the investing bodies seek positive momentum not perfection. We usually only recommend divestment where we see no genuine desire for change."

But if it is now the Church of England's policy to invest in blatantly unethical and immoral corporations in order to nudge them toward righteousness and salvation, why not enrich your less-than-morally-perfect portfolio from the proceeds of (say) pornography, prostitution, landmines, tobacco, or firms that exploit under-age workers in the developing world? Why divest oneself of shares in Israeli companies if by continuing the engagement you may bring to an end the appalling suffering of Palestinians and eradicate Israeli 'apartheid'?

Is socially-conscious investing a credible way of mitigating sin?

In 1758, the Quakers withdrew their investments from the extremely lucrative slave trade. They did not deem it consistent with the teachings of Christ to invest in evil in order to nudge it toward righteousness.


Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

I heard Welby on R4 Today give a very good reply to John Humphrys about this, pointing out how impossible it was to be 100% clean. He used the example of owning shares in hotels that had porno films. Whennon business trips I have no choice but to stay in such hotels.

I also have to pay taxes to fund abortion, Stonewall propaganda and unjust wars. And as to what my BBC licence fee funds.....

Easy to criticise but a mite unfair.

28 June 2014 at 09:32  
Blogger English Pensioner said...

It also depends on how the money is held and for what purpose.
The trustees of a pension fund, for example, are duty bound to act in the best interests of the members, and this would normally mean trying to maximise growth & income. As a trustee of my pension fund explained to a member who wanted to disinvest from armaments, any trustee who did so could potentially be personally sued if the fund lost out because the decision would not have been made on a financial basis.

28 June 2014 at 10:20  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Young teenage idealists in the first flush of enthusiasm often criticise their parents because their investments or life styles are not perfect. But later on they learn that whilst one should strive to be as moral and ethical as one can be, imperfection is an intrinsic part of the human condition. Which is not in any way to support apathy, far from it. Christianity has recognised that we are all, inevitably flawed, hence Jesus' rescue mission to humanity. In all areas of life on this earth utopias are not achievable, and investments are included in this list of the imperfect.

In my professional life I had to make imperfect decisions, but one strove towards the best attainable. Like many others I have the benefit of two pensions, which are not under my control, plus an investment portfolio I manage myself. Now in this I strive to avoid supporting or befitting from clearly wicked or undesirable investments, but sometimes getting all the details of exactly what is happening, and where in our globalised world is exceedingly difficulty, so one may become unknowingly party to things we would rather avoid. Hence my preference for national investments regulated by Common Law and our higher standards of UK accountancy procedures and disclosures.

When encouraging a younger manager to make the best if imperfect decision possible, I always found the phrase, "don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good" to be useful. The exceedingly idealistic person, seeking to do only that which is perfect, is often frozen into doing nothing, including that which although imperfect is still worthwhile. Therefore they may fail to do that which would be very good.

So let us be cautious before criticising those whose actions are merely at the human level of goodness, as only God can achieve for us, perfection. The kingdom is heaven is awaited and in the meanwhile we have our duty to do our inadequate, all too human best here and now down in the messiness of this life on earth. That's what I think, as an "ideal seeking pragmatist", to use a clumsy phrase. That's essentially what practical Christianity is about, is it not ?

28 June 2014 at 11:05  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

There are certain things you do not compromise on and seek a 'middle way'.

The Quakers were right - and so too is HG:

It is not "consistent with the teachings of Christ to invest in evil in order to nudge it toward righteousness." As difficult as it may be to track and trace pension funds, this statement suggests and defends ongoing investment in exploitation of the poor.

Having said the above, Jack is not directing his criticism at the Church of England alone. He trusts the Vatican Bank will also examine its investment strategies and portfolios and ensure they are centred on the teachings of Christ.

As AB Oscar A. Romero wrote before being shot down celebrating Mass:

“When we struggle for human rights, for freedom, for dignity, when we feel that it is a ministry of the church to concern itself for those who are hungry, for those who have no schools, for those who are deprived, we are not departing from God’s promise. He comes to free us from sin, and the church knows that sin’s consequences are all such injustices and abuses. The church knows it is saving the world when it undertakes to speak also of such things.

28 June 2014 at 11:47  
Blogger AnonymousInBelfast said...

Why should the Church of England divest itself of a profitable investment that enables it to do [the Lord's], sorry, Society's work?

Because Scripture condemns usury? Don't be so quaint. We know the authority of Scripture is negotiable whenever it conflicts with modern sensibilities.

This is merely the Church of England being a modern organisation - taking stock of its financial responsibilities in the changing and dynamic marketplace of the world. The Commissioners are only hedging their position against competing Wonga out of existence - surely a good piece of corporate stewardship practised by all major financial bodies?

28 June 2014 at 13:15  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

I looked at their investment policy and could find little to disagree with.

Sadly reducing arms investment to nil which I would like would be extremely difficult, and they seem mostly responsible on most things, which is about as good as it gets in this chequered world.

I am unsure on their anthropocentric global climate change alarmist position though, which I suspect would be very poor indeed, the C of E having largely in a wide eyed, gullible, under-researched and distinctly unshrewd way swallowed the scam like a child mistaking Venos for a favourite drink.

Hence an institution which should find itself on the side of common humanity gets inveigled in by the dodgiest of multimillionaires, media totalitarian information Emperors and carbon credit fraudsters to lecture and disapprove of innocents using the car for their family to visit grannies in hospital or for their kids to play football, and so on... Or it can so bully and harass the innocent that they visit grandparents less often, in which case the government can tell them off for that as well, as they did today.

High time the Church actually researched how many scientists disagree with the IPCC, realised that the doom-laden prophesies have NOT come anywhere close to coming true, that polar icecaps melting in one place may be replaced by a build up of ice elsewhere (cough, cough, not photographed), and that few people get an overall picture, and that psychopaths who want to charge people for "using" carbon are just precisely that: greedy unscrupulous humanity-hating psychopaths who Jesus would have run out of the Temple, and who the Church, if it were following in his footsteps, would be confronting, not slavishly following and kow-towing towards.

28 June 2014 at 13:24  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

I say, what in blazes name is going on !!!

"...pornography, prostitution, landmines, tobacco..."

It's absolutely bloody outrageous that tobacco is up there. If you don't like tobacco, then bloody well don't use the stuff. Personally, one drinks wine only occasionally and then only socially, but you won't find this man describing it as the devils own piss.

Have a care, Cranmer, old chap, and don't underestimate your influence. Tobacco appreciators are becoming social lepers as it without your condemnation thrown in too !

28 June 2014 at 13:27  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Inspector, good day, Sir. You back in the South yet or still with us up in the more civilised North?

28 June 2014 at 13:34  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Ah, It's you Jack. Still up north. Seem to be happier up here...

28 June 2014 at 13:42  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Belfast, why not indeed!

HG communicants don't seem too perturbed. Presumably some donate money that finds its way into the pockets of those who exploit human weakness for gain and cause suffering. After all, Wonga is better than the 'loan shark' and a bit of pornography better than sex with trafficked girls. Its all about the 'lesser of two evils' and we don't want the Church appearing too fundamental as well as losing dosh, do we?

Good, sound, laissez-faire capitalism. Remember the Parable of the Talents? It could be stretched to fit here; well, couldn't it?

Unless .....

“The church must suffer for speaking the truth, for pointing out sin, for uprooting sin. No one wants to have a sore spot touched, and therefore a society with so many sores twitches when someone has the courage to touch it and say: “You have to treat that. You have to get rid of that. Believe in Christ. Be converted.”
(AB Oscar A. Romero)

28 June 2014 at 13:51  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Inspector, yes, its cleaner, less crowded and the pace is slower.

Jack lives near the Lake District -just over the border in Dumfries and Galloway - and knows the peace and tranquillity it brings. He also recommends a day on the Settle-Carlisle Line. Wonderful day out.


28 June 2014 at 13:55  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Lucy Mullen @ 13.24

I feel that the hierarchy of the C of E all too often live gullibly, in a BBC and Guardian led parallel universe, that carefully selects only those narrow aspects of reality that suits its current political tendencies.
I am distinctly sceptical of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, whilst considering that humanity may indeed be having some effect on the global scale. The hockey stick graph and all the rest of the spurious evidence cited is unconvincing in my opinion.
However I am all for using up all natural resources sparingly and efficiently, but without exporting our manufacturing jobs, causing the poor to die of the cold or family budgets stretched to breaking points.
Reducing energy and transport costs is directly correlated to economic growth, and it is that process which couples responsible capitalism to technology that continues to have the capacity to lift the world's population out of poverty, ignorance and suffering.

28 June 2014 at 14:01  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Happy Jack
Do you by any chance live in the bit of D&G that used to be Kirkcudbrightshire? It’s the ancestral home of the Presbyterian side of the Uncle Brian family. A small place called Castle Douglas and an even smaller place called Kelton. But I don’t have any relatives still living there, certainly none I’ve ever met face to face.

28 June 2014 at 14:48  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I think when the Church invests money it should do so with proper thought.

How can the vicar stand there and lecture us about good clean living, improving moral standards and tell us about Jesus when all the while the Church is raking in large profits from sinful and exploitative activities. I can't listen to them anymore. Why do we need the Church if they are just like everyone else?
I can read the Bible on my own or with a group of like minded friends.

There are plenty of things to invest in that are good and would make a reasonable return for a decent pension but I fear the Church has been struck by the easy money greed bug. By investing in high growth funds that invest in those things that are harmful to humans they are encouraging them to carry on rather than nudging them towards righteousness.

They can invest in new alternative energy projects not because of global warming but because we have developed technology to be able to produce energy from waves, waste and wind etc.. And what about investing in the new infrastructure funds, the airport in the Estuary 'Boris Island' that will make a good return for a long term investment if it ever gets the go-ahead.
I think the Church needs to change its advisers.

28 June 2014 at 14:51  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

I think the church is by and large doing a good job, but with the exception that many have naively bought the anthropocentric global warming myth entirely.

This is on the top of my mind because I came across this earlier:

which I found fascinating and right up to date in terms of the climate change debate.

And I hope the church is not too squeamish about oil, which is a natural God-given product. Whilst humans misuse all the gifts of God they are nevertheless gifts and can all be used to excellent effect. Our God is neither mean nor capricious nor stingy, a fact that seems to be often overlooked!! .

28 June 2014 at 15:56  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Uncle Brian @ 14.48

Castle Douglas.

Fear not ! This communicant has been there, about five years ago, staying at a very pleasant small hotel, on one of our less than totally sensible tours with groups of ancient motor cars. It was a pleasant though unremarkable sort of place I vaguely recall. So not a bad place to hail from, no not bad at all.

Are you running the betting in Brazil as to whether Scotland stays or takes the high road ?

28 June 2014 at 16:26  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Uncle Brian, ah, The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, who's flag is still proudly flown!

Jack knows Castle Douglas very well. A pleasant little township. He also knows Kelton - a tiny village with much history.

Jacks whereabouts are confidential. He will say his preferred settlement in the region is the artist's town and fishing village of Kirkcudbright. He has dreams of settling on the Isle of Saint Mary, on its outskirts. The views there are spectacular.

The history of Christianity in the region is as rich as the scenery with many old Cistercian Monasteries dotted about. Then Glenluce Abbey and Whithorn Priory, Candida Casa and the Cave of Ninian. (Not forgetting The Ruthwell Cross with lines similar to those on The Dream of the Rood.)

Just imagine, on clear day, one can stand in Scotland, see the Cumbrian hills; the Island Kingdom of Man, and the distant hills of Ulster.

David Hussell, do not underestimate the history, significance and beauty of Dumfries and Galloway. Plus, the West is the only constituency with a Conservative MP.

Now that England are out of the World Cup the anti-English sentiment the SNP were counting on will wane. Its at its height during these tournaments. Finger's crossed the Commonwealth Games don't have a 'Brave Heart' effect as calculated by Salmond. Wimbledon may play a part too. Such is the nature of universal suffrage and representative democracy!

28 June 2014 at 18:14  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ David H

I have sufficient Scottish blood to agree about using resources sparingly!! My concern is with those who would manipulate the evidence to enable the taxation of a universal element CO2 . I guess oxygen would have been too obvious!! Volcanoes and the ocean give out such vast quantities that human activity is a mere drop in the ocean. Did you know volcanoes are going off at the moment all round Indonesia? (Volcano watch website has the details; loads of activity worldwide.)Probably people don't mostly know as it has barely been in the news at all!!

I agree about using oil with some care. Photovoltaics would eventually be heavy on the silver, nuclear has safety issues and coal is dirty. Wind and wave are minimal in the UK. Fine if you have a major waterfall but we don't!! Magnetic generators could be a way foreward, and then there is Tesla stuff, but it seems that hooking up to the ionosphere is dangerous to the human brain as it operates on the same wavelength, thus potentially creating insanity!!

Of which the world already has enough!

28 June 2014 at 18:54  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Compare and contrast:

EIAG Chair James Featherby:
"When engaging with companies the investing bodies seek positive momentum not perfection."

Jesus Christ:
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

28 June 2014 at 19:03  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Your Grace,
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.
There is a Profit that we can't afford to take in this life. The Profit that we will receive in the after life will be so much more rewarding.

It a nonsense to say that the Church has a responsibility to their benefactors. The terms of the trust should make it clear that benefits will only be earned from investments that do not contradict with the teachings of Christ. There should be no double standards on this.

28 June 2014 at 19:04  
Blogger Youthpasta said...

It is very sad that someone in the church would say "It is no more realistic to desire...that any of us should relate only to morally perfect individuals."
Whilst we regularly are called to come together and admit that we are flawed beings saved by grace this does not mean that we do not strive to remove sin from our lives. As James points out, faith without action is a hollow shell.
So too with the Church of England in ALL things. If it is to declare that some things are not in keeping with God's will then they must try and behave according to God's will in as many ways as they are able to. That means that when they view something to be unethical then they should not invest, even if it means that there are negative financial repercussions as a result.
And, as has rightly been pointed out earlier, when the church is inconsistent in it's message then what it says in the pulpit cannot be taken seriously by those who might hear it.

28 June 2014 at 19:32  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Marie wrote

''I can read the Bible on my own or with a group of like minded friends.''

Sods like the essence of Reformed Protestantism! That's what I do now and only wish I had left the C of E earlier.

PS totally disinvesting in arms companies would be consistent with total pacifism (i.e. welcome ISIS with open arms, and indeed legs) but otherwise questionable.

Nobody has responded to my implied question about our compulsory investment in GB PLC which means we must pay taxes which fund wicked activities. Our Lord said to pay due taxes to the pagan ruler, who presumably used some of them to fund idolatrous temples and cruel armies.

What, then?

28 June 2014 at 20:28  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Sounds like.

can't delete.

28 June 2014 at 20:30  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Lucy Mullen @ 18.54

Well I know nothing about "magnetic generators" or even more exotic sounding "tesla stuff", but I do know bits about the other technologies plus heat pumps which I installed at our abode.

However I have held for a long while that one of the big areas of policy failure in the UK, for the last 40 years, has been the lack of any coherent, long term policy for cheap, reasonably clean energy. This is part of the larger failure of successive UK governments to plan for large scale public infrastructure.

We threw away a global lead in nuclear, closed down the coal industry for political purposes, and lag behind many continental european countries on exploiting the practical, "newish" technologies like air and ground source heat pumps. From my travels in Scandinavia I would say that we also seem to have come very late to the thorough insulation of our buildings.

In fact the government, because of the marked rarity of scientific and technologically trained people, has made a jumbo sized mess of the whole policy area of energy, placing us at a disadvantage in terms of global competition. Moreover they have fallen prey to all the scare stories from the doom and gloom deep green environmentalists, including the man made global warmists.

So now, with ever rising energy prices, the social and economic problems mount up with no end in sight of any improvement. We are just so badly governed.

28 June 2014 at 20:45  
Blogger bluedog said...

It's a small world HJ and Uncle Brian, the lowly hound's paternal family hails from the valley of the River Annan in D&G, and can still be found there. Indeed this communicant spent much of his childhood in D&G, including a remarkable week caravanning on a private site overlooking the sea near Wigtown. Arranged by my father and his younger brother, the objects of this sojourn remain unclear. My mother and my aunt decamped to the only decent hotel in Newtown Stewart and emerged looking decorative each day with the lunch. Nights were spent listening to Dad and Uncle A snorkelling through cans of Tennants Lager, the cans being ceremonially flattened on a rock each morning with a tool, final adjustment (sledge-hammer to you).

And so it went on.

28 June 2014 at 22:05  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

Happy Jack
David Hussell

I’m quite taken aback. I had no idea Castle Douglas was such a well-known place. Out of this group of communicants who enjoy His Grace’s hospitality here, that makes three of us who’ve been there, and two of us who have even been to Kelton, though in my case the visits were a very long time ago, when my dad still had elderly relatives living in Castle Douglas. The younger generation had all moved away, mostly to London.

No, David, I haven’t placed a bet on the outcome of the Scottish vote, though I’m making an effort to keep abreast of the twists and turns. I can’t see what the Scots might gain by breaking away from the UK, except for the momentary thrill of playing at being Mel Gibson in war paint. But that won’t take them far in the long run, will it?

Sorry to have taken so long to acknowledge your replies to my comment. I’ve been glued to the television all afternoon, for reasons I am sure you will understand.


28 June 2014 at 22:25  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ David Hussell

Interesting response. I agree we probably were overhasty in shutting down the nuclear reactors.

Tesla is fascinating. A total genius who had heaps of patents.

I have seen those heating systems for houses where they plunge water down to such a depth that the ground heats it and then it comes up and heats the house, but I imagine that is only possible with suitable soils- not the floodplains that too much housing has been built upon! I have also seen that you can run electricity between two metal poles of differing metals buried in the earth but think that can only be done when the earth is a bit damp!! Maybe good for greenhouses with a back up system.

As for bad government well the old prayer book has that prayer that we should be "indifferently governed"!! Seems like it has been answered to me! Maybe the Almighty forgot what the word used to mean.

@ Happy Jack
Well as well as your call to perfection, I recall Jesus saying people should use "unrighteous Mammon" in a similar way to "the dishonest steward". How do you account for that??!

28 June 2014 at 22:29  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Using 'unrighteous mammon'. Is that like the Israelites 'Spoiling the Egyptians'. Using the heathen is one thing but if it is done in an unrighteous way, is that a double negative?

28 June 2014 at 22:38  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Shadrach
It is a notoriously difficult passage, but one that is spot on topic, so I thought I would stir in the question to see what gems of wisdom and insight people might have!

Jesus appears to be saying "Use money, which is a soiled, necessary and practical good, (with a degree of contempt) for good purposes and be as wise and shrewd and full of foresight with it as this dishonest steward, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, so that good might come of it in the only currency that really matters."

Now someone else might well put it much better than I have, and more accurately, and show where it sheds light on this ethical investment question, knowing the perceptive people who post here, and I hope so.

28 June 2014 at 23:04  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Lucy, Happy Jack believes Jesus was being somewhat ironic and sorrowful in pointing out that men devoted to wealth tend to act more wisely in the ways of the world than those devoted to God. Where did He commend the use of unrighteous mammon?

"And the lord (not the Lord, as in Christ) "commended the unjust steward, forasmuch as he had done wisely: for the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light." And the parable concludes: "You cannot serve God and mammon."

Remember Jesus also advised His disciples to "Be as wise as serpents and as pure as doves"?

28 June 2014 at 23:28  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Shadrach, we are of a similar mind, except Jack doesn't believe money and profit, in and of themselves, are soiled or evil. It's when they become ends in themselves rather than a means to promoting the common good that 'structural sin' arises.

This is why the ethical investment is a requirement for the Church that claims to represent and promote the Kingdom of God.

29 June 2014 at 00:10  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

bluedog, the 'Machars', as we locals refer to Wigtownshire, is a lovely spot. And Annandale and Eskdalemuir is a splendid area too. Jack has lived here for 25 happy years and raised his children here. There accents are a mixture of Scots and Essex!

Interestingly, having been born in Belfast, when my father left the Army, Jack's very first step on Great British soil was at Stranraer and my family spent the night in Port William - another stunning location.

It is a small world.

29 June 2014 at 00:17  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

doh .... their accents!

29 June 2014 at 00:18  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...


Sorry, bluedog, only just spotted your comment at 22:05. Yes, it really is a small world! Amazing. So that makes four of us ... for the time being.


29 June 2014 at 01:02  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Happy Jack

"Where did he commend the use of unrighteous mammon."

Luke 16 v.9

"I tell you, make for yourselves friends by unrighteous Mammon."

29 June 2014 at 08:57  
Blogger IanCad said...

A true church should not have investment problems. Other than keeping a little back to cover ministers' salaries, and something for maintenance, church funds should be used to spread the gospel.

As soon as the church loses that great mission it is no longer fit for purpose.

29 June 2014 at 09:18  
Blogger Len said...

I believe the Anglican Church (although not in a state of 'absolute perfection ')deals within the Law?.
(Reuters) - A former Vatican prelate on trial for an alleged plot to smuggle 20 million euros into Italy was further charged on Tuesday with laundering millions through the Vatican bank, police said.

Before Dodo falls off his perch I should add that Pope Francis is making an attempt to clean up the Vatican Bank how successful he will be is anyones guess?.

29 June 2014 at 10:33  
Blogger E.xtra S.ensory Blofeld + Tiddles said...

Len said

"Before Dodo falls off his perch I should add that Pope Francis is making an attempt to clean up the Vatican Bank how successful he will be is anyones guess?."

It cost a previous Pope, who believed God did not want the church stained with tainted mammon, his life...allegedly!!


29 June 2014 at 10:53  
Blogger John Thomas said...

Yes, I've heard it said that NO money is totally, 100% clean, even if the "dirt" is 3-removes up the line, but yes, there is a point beyond which one cannot go (mine's investing in one of the abortion companies - hence, Rambling Sid, ["I also have to pay taxes to fund abortion, Stonewall propaganda and unjust wars. And as to what my BBC licence fee funds....."] - you're really my kind of guy! Awful BBC ...!)

29 June 2014 at 11:51  
Blogger ianhutch said...

Interesting article on climate change scamming in The Telegraph:

29 June 2014 at 13:05  
Blogger Uncle Brian said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

29 June 2014 at 13:30  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Len and Blowers, yes, Happy Jack (still affectionately known to some as 'Dodo') is aware of corruption in the Vatican Bank. His very post here said:

"Jack is not directing his criticism at the Church of England alone. He trusts the Vatican Bank will also examine its investment strategies and portfolios and ensure they are centred on the teachings of Christ."

When Francis rebuked the Mafia recently and informed them they had excommunicated themselves, this was seen by some as signalling his intention to remove their influence from the church's financial affairs. In the early 1990's when John Paul II did likewise, a spate of bombings on Rome church's followed, with one on the Pope's very own chapel.

It is a wicked, wicked world. Tares and wheat; tares and wheat, my friends.

29 June 2014 at 15:30  
Blogger Shadrach said...


'that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.'

Your reference to Luke 16 seems to me an injunction to keep on good terms with the world lest we fail in our circumstances and are needful of the assistance.

I don't think that our Lord is suggesting that we should be part of their wicked ways.

Good point though.

29 June 2014 at 15:39  
Blogger Shadrach said...


Your landmark restaurant in Soho seems to have been transformed into a supermarket! Ever an eye for profit to benefit the Vatican Bank.,+London/@51.513051,-0.131121,3a,48.9y,14.31h,85.46t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sl3eX77USAkUCTfcBYqxjhQ!2e0!4m2!3m1!1s0x487604d49f4b7f9b:0xe44e57cc537e5dd2

29 June 2014 at 15:44  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Your Grace,
Just back from 10 days away and glad to see the Gay Pride day not only had the distraction of Brazil Playing but they got a bit of a downpour.

It is about time there was a revival of the 'March for Jesus' marches from the end of the last century.

29 June 2014 at 16:16  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

The Church should invest in companies and infrastructure projects that creates real growth and prosperity for humans rather than the companies that strip humans (mainly the poorer ones) of their money, health and dignity.
The Church can set up its own company with those people who have a penchant for finance to research and study the markets and invest its funds instead of paying some outside company over the top management fees to invest in portfolios of unethical companies. They can make and manage their own funds.

Of course a lot of the markets are being manipulated and are part-taking in fraudulent activity. There is no free market much anymore.

29 June 2014 at 17:28  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Marie

But the church doesn't pay over the top management fees investing in portfolios of unethical companies. It already has a group of people who research and study the markets; they are called the church commissioners.

@ Iancad
"keeping a little back to pay ministers' salaries"

The situation in the C of E is actually that the parishes pay "parish share" which pays the Rector/Vicar/Curate's stipend. The central church investment funds pay the pensions of the retired clergy, the Bishops and archdeacons, and diocesan officers, and some but by no means all building maintenance.

I am unsure which parts of these latter expenses you would see as extraneous. Once I think that the investments paid out more, but the inheritance the Victorians left us, or rather which God provided us, has largely been squandered. Buildings sold off at below market prices, now status symbols for those who do next to nothing for the community. Is society better if footballers are housed in the Old Rectory, place memories and mellow feeling having added a bit to the value, but now no longer having a "prayed in" feeling but more of a "played in" feeling, now fenced off behind security gates, no longer holding the annual church fete, garden party, or whatever, and no longer accessible to the village. I doubt it and I think it reflects very poorly on the nation's values, which I strongly question.

Is there something special about having a church which struggles for resources and holds pathetic jumble sales which waste quantities of man and woman hours to raise puny sums of money to just keep going? I doubt it. As for leaving the pensions of old age pensioners to be paid out at the last moment it is neither feasible nor responsible nor legal, so living by faith must include thankfulness that God has provided within the legal frameworks necessary, I would think. Actually I would suggest that the C of E needs more investments, not fewer.


29 June 2014 at 18:07  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Shadrach, another person, who's name escapes Happy Jack for the moment, posted that picture a while back.

Now what was his name?

Jack has been advised any money that may have resulted from said sale was invested in a worthy and most ethical cause.

29 June 2014 at 18:32  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Lucy, Happy Jack says the full verse gives the correct meaning:

"I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

Surely, His words were addressed to possessors of various degrees of wealth. Jack's reading is: You will soon have to give up all your worldly goods; be prudent on this earth, make some real friends out of money and by means of that money entrusted to your care, do good to others who are in need. In many cases the getting of money is tainted in some form or other; and, when possessed, it so often hardens the heart. Jesus himself said that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Jack would not regard this as scriptural permission to His Church to invest in unethical businesses!

29 June 2014 at 18:45  
Blogger IanCad said...

Lucy Mullen,

A sad response, and, I confess, a true reflection on the Heathenism
to which this land is returning.

The church; once the anchor of both community and soul, is dying both spiritually and physically. Aged congregations, crumbling churches.

There are many good vicars out there but society has moved on. This land is truly wise in its own conceit. Frivolous, shallow, child-like. But such was the condition of Israel from time to time throughout the ages, and always they returned to God - after some mighty travails.

Maybe such will be our lot.

Sure, bills must be paid, but the Great Commission gives us our marching orders. All else is secondary.


29 June 2014 at 18:46  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Who was that person? It might have been the person whipped out of the temple by Cranmer for attacking his pro Cameron stance.

29 June 2014 at 19:22  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Shadrach, Happy Jack's memory isn't what it once was! It may have been Paul White - an Anglican chap from Burming'um who became romantically attached to a Jewish lassie and was considering converting to Judaism.

Btw, as Jack recalls, Shadrach is one of the three men recorded in the Book of Daniel saved by divine intervention from being burned alive in a fiery furnace.

29 June 2014 at 20:23  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


"Actually I would suggest that the C of E needs more investments, not fewer."

Investments aren't going to save it.

It is time it grew up and stopped living on dead men's money.

Dead men's money is the problem with the CofE.

Using it better will not be a solution.


29 June 2014 at 21:50  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


"It already has a group of people who research and study the markets; they are called the church commissioners"

This is bonkers and you probably know it.

A Church needs to invest in growth not Wonga.

(Don't give me we need to because of the pensions crap, there are alternative ways of funding pensions.) BTW

A Church is not be primarily about pensions! (Or Bishops and the other non jobs)

If you are short of money as a Church you should ask yourselves why this is......


29 June 2014 at 22:01  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Phil

You are using false distinctions when you talk about "using dead men's money". You may think you don't use dead men's anything but you profit from the labour of the dead who trod this earth before you every second of every day. We ride on the shoulders of giants. Thank God for the Victorians who built extra capacity into the sewers for a start. You have not had to build your house or your village from scratch, and you have profited from Edison, Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, Steve Jobs... the list is endless. So why the "I did it all myself attitude" ? Thank God for the builders, the stonemasons, and the philanthropists. What in your view is the proper use of dead men's money? None of it makes the slightest sense.

29 June 2014 at 22:13  
Blogger Shadrach said...

So Catholics do read the Old Testament. Well done.

That chap you mentioned may be white but the other guy had more Integrity.

29 June 2014 at 23:23  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

Good choice of moniker, Shadrach. One that instils confidence in God in this world of trial.

It's a common misconception that Catholics don't read the bible. We are encouraged to do so. However, we are cautioned not to rely on our own interpretations of the Word of God. Plus, the 3 year liturgical calendar of the Church covers a sizable chunk of the Old and New Testaments.

30 June 2014 at 00:06  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I think Phil means the Church should be generating its money by investing in companies that add value to the country, humanity and the earth rather than those companies that thrive off misery, war or the threat of war, the decline of humanity and death. It should be investing in a life economy not a death economy.

30 June 2014 at 00:11  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Capitalism is a Rigged system

The current system disproportionately benefits a few at the top -- at the expense of the middle and lower classes. The top one percent in this world is now worth $110 TRILLION. The bottom 50% -- 3.5 BILLION people -- has less than $1.7 trillion dollars and lives on less than $4 a day. The top 1% has 65 times what the bottom 50% has. The 100 wealthiest individuals in the world now control more wealth than half of the world population. Anyone who argues against my demand for wealth redistribution is either immoral / unethical / selfish / greedy and/or disconnected financially / emotionally / physically from reality and the poor/unfortunate in this world. I have heard ALL of the arguments against wealth redistribution and none of them make any sense. Mainly, the arguments are coming from the wealthy, and right-wing (conservatives) who are happy with everything as is and do not really give a damn about anyone or anything outside the bubble they live in.

Everyone is to share the blame for the condition this world is in with five billion people at, near or below the poverty line. That being said, I pin most of the blame on one group in particular and that is the wealthy conservatives. Their trickle down economic theories are bullsh*t. Nothing ever trickles down to the poor. Starbucks is now valued at more than $50 BILLION – the coffee-bean pickers in Central America have absolutely nothing – barely surviving on $4 a day while the billionaire and millionaire shareholders feast off the bean pickers’ blood, sweat and tears.

The American Way. We criticize communists, socialists, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba and others. We are no better than anyone else. Those who support the current system as is, should be ashamed. Do they not have a conscience or know right from wrong? Everyone else must boycott companies who trounce on their employees. In order to get to the top of the mountain, they stepped on many along the way and those at the top will not change until they realize that it is more costly not to change.

The construction of this website was completed in May 2014

There are profiles for 24 wonderful, highly regarded, honest and efficient charities (philanthropy). These organizations are doing God’s work and we must support them. THERE IS NO EXCUSE not to support these charities. There are also profiles for 24 philosophers (philosophy). You will find links to all profiles on the Profiles page and on the left and right columns of this Home page. All profiles run three to four pages in length.

From Ronnie Moas (current top stock picker in the US)

Ronnie Moas, Founder of Philanthropy and Philosophy
calling for wealth redistribution and fair wages to be paid
to employees before shareholders are paid

30 June 2014 at 00:59  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

"Woe unto you:

that are rich: for ye have received your consolation.

that are full now: for ye shall hunger.

that laugh now: for ye shall mourn and weep.

when all men shall speak well of you: for in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets."

30 June 2014 at 01:35  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Let's hope the Church doesn't end up inadvertently investing in the terrorist group ISIS.

“Since 2012 they have published annual reports outlining in numerical and geographical detail its operations – number of bombings, assassinations, checkpoints, suicide missions, cities taken over and even “apostates” converted to the ISIS cause.” from

“ISIS's aim appears to be to demonstrate its record to potential donors.” Which means that the glossy excerpted pages shown above are indeed nothing more than investment highlights!

30 June 2014 at 01:45  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

"Capitalism is a Rigged system."

It is - when wealth and power are misused to become ends in themselves and this becomes a source of injustice.

"“When the church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises.”

“This is why the church has great conflicts: It denounces sin.

It says to the rich:
Do not sin by misusing your money.

It says to the powerful:
Do not misuse your political influence.
Do not misuse your weaponry.
Do not misuse your power.

It says to torturers:
Do not torture. You are sinning.

You are doing wrong. You are establishing the reign of hell on earth.”

30 June 2014 at 02:10  
Blogger Ivan said...

Distribuitionism is the true capitalism. When the yeoman owns his tools and can protect his interests, he is not at the mercy of the slick financiers or government cronies. But its Catholic in origin, and thus the work of the devil.

30 June 2014 at 08:05  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Capitalism or communism, no system can deliver justice unless it is administered by men and eomen who determine to live and act justly.

I bit was possible to simply impose economic justice you'd have thought somebody would have done it by now.

30 June 2014 at 10:05  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

If it was possible.....

I am looking torward to the edit function. I can sprll really but this tiny smartphone window is tricksy.

30 June 2014 at 10:08  
Blogger John Thomas said...

Of course there are evil systems that do great harm to many people. The problem is that those systems are produced by ... people, flawed, imperfect people, sinners we used to say. Get rid of these bad systems ... and people will produce different systems, but they will also be, or drift towards, badness, and thence oppression ... until some new people (revolutionaries, perhaps they are called, get rid of the bad past, and create something new ... but then, after a while, their systems will, also, become ... Sure, we can't do nothing, but we mustn't expect things to become perfect just by getting rid of the old.

30 June 2014 at 10:14  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Marie

I agree by and large, but I think you will find some decent sorts amongst the 1%, as non liquid assets like companies and large farms that do a lot of good for people can get you into that.

If we take the parable of the talents seriously I think the important thing is that money should be working money, not hoarded assets. How that would work is don't hoard gold in the garage, but buying mining shares is fine. Don't buy bitcoins unless you plan to use them. That kind of thing.

When I was involved through power of attorney in deciding on shares my boundary lines were no armaments, tobacco, pornography embryo destruction or loan sharks. Now that undoubtedly missed some immoral doings, but it worked. No doubt it could have made a bit more had we been willing to invest in tobacco which rewarded people well in that period. You accept lower dividends for morality, and if you spread that too far across the board to include small percentages you then could find yourself in a position of grave reduction of income. For example many engineering firms are involved in small amounts of defense spending. If you don't wish to be invested in armaments does that go as far as helicopters or ships, or stop at landmines and implements which can kill of themselves? What about those who supply army equipment? Or security? None of these moral issues is easy.

Can you control what shares your company buys? Suppose you include uranium on your hit list? What about if your company which mines copper and silver say, then buys a percentage of a uranium mine? Does it depend upon the extent of the buy-in? Would it be better if it was shares in the mine?

And all the time you have to consider the immorality of failing to get the requisite income which would result in old age pensioners, some at significantly frail stages, facing a pension scheme which had crumbled.

Of course it would be better if there was no fraction of a percent invested in Wonga, but it is a fraction of a percent, and it is probably an error, or maybe something that happened after the shares were bought. Should there be a high profile debate and lots of discussion about whether they should sell or not the shares would go down on the rumours, and they would have to sell the stock which has invested in WOnga at depressed prices, which is not good for those they serve.

30 June 2014 at 10:30  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Marie

I would also suggest that the 0.001% own a far more worrying %, and amongst that lot you would find the real villains of the piece.

As for the 0.00001% youch!

30 June 2014 at 10:34  
Blogger Len said...

Money is' neutral' neither good nor bad but money (or rather the love of it) reveals what lies in the heart of those who use it.
Money is behind prostitution , drugs, alcohol, slavery,pornography in fact almost every crime you can think of.Money in this aspect reveals the inner nature of fallen man..
But fallen man can also do good with his/her money charitable
giving etc.
The problem , the predicament of fallen man is that these' two sides' are both aspects of the same fallen nature and cannot be separated cannot be made to do 'good' only.It is only by surrendering to the lord Jesus Christ and having a new nature and a new inner man by the transformation of the new Birth that one can be considered by God to be truly 'saved'.
The Church [like Caesars wife] needs to be above suspicion in her dealing because unless the Church is above suspicion it becomes part of the problem not part of the solution...

30 June 2014 at 10:45  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...

Lucy/ Marie

" What in your view is the proper use of dead men's money"

Whilst I agree with Marie to some extent.

I mean what I say. The CofE should live within its income today and not rely on dead men's money.

If it cannot then it is ultimately bankrupt.

If the Church has spare money, my vicar with a large and increasing congregation deserves a "stipend" rise. £50K would be reasonable. For the "vicar of Dibley" types then a notice to improve of be sacked would also be helpful

Spare money should be spent in the Church, not the buildings not on Bishops if we cannot afford them not and certainly not on wonga. If they are worried about pensions then raise the stipend by 10K and let the vicars make their own arrangements.


30 June 2014 at 13:02  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ phil

"not rely on dead men's money"

So would that be wrong for all institutions purporting to be moral or relevant?

Would it also apply to individuals?

How do you as an individual feel when you have driven your car through what used to be a toll point but is no longer because the initial costs have all been paid off by our dead ancestors - dead men and dead women.

I have to say it doesn't bother me in the slightest, except to feel some passing gratitude.

And I will be happy to pass on whatever I may have after death to my children and my church, and have every right to do so. If the church then uses whatever I give it will do so with not a scrap of dishonour, and with my full happiness and blessing. There is no reason to look down on the dead like that as if they automatically impart dishonour, dustiness and irrelevance in their gifts, which they gave willingly and purposefully as good stewards should.

30 June 2014 at 14:09  
Blogger Phil Roberts said...


The point is that our church cannot make its day to day expenses without dead mens money

Therefore for the most part it is not a living church and unless it changes it has no future

But we knew that already.....

That much of it is dead I mean


30 June 2014 at 15:55  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Phil

From my experience it is actually more women than men who give large amounts in their wills to the church. So maybe the generic term should be dead women's money!!

Now I am aware that the Church avidly goes after the youth sometimes at all costs, but old people are people who count in the eyes of God too, and if young and old people wish to leave money in their wills to the Church it is because as people who are alive they have considered that they love the Church and the Lord and wish it to continue to preach God's love to people.

Now they could have given their money to the church several weeks before they die. WOuld that make it living people's money and so a sign that the church was alive? You know it makes no sense!! There is no need to insult people for being dead, especially as we believe that they are still alive in the Lord and may be looking on with not a little bemusement. Physical death and spiritual death are not at all the same.

1 July 2014 at 09:30  
Blogger Len said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1 July 2014 at 12:34  
Blogger Tyler Graham said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2 July 2014 at 12:29  

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