Unfair trade

Christians of all stripes should be concerned about the proposed free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States (US).

In the book of Exodus we read of the Israelites’ suffering at the hands of Pharaoh, especially when Moses began agitating for their freedom. Pharaoh suddenly decreed that the Hebrew workforce had to produce the same amount of bricks as they had previously but without straw being provided. What had been a difficult task quickly became a torturous one.

The moral of the story – that the weak suffer when the powerful abuse their power – is one repeated throughout the biblical record. It is a trend that, sadly, continues to this day. And it is also a theme much apparent in the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the US, the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). There are two main reasons for this. Continue reading

Our God is a business God?

Biblical and biological inspiration for restoring a holistic understanding of business.

Stating that ‘Our God is a business God’ may seem a bit of a strange thing to say, especially on an environmental blog.  But bear with me and let’s see if it merits being stated.  I’ve attended three events in the past five weeks where organisations with a passion for mission helped us look at how business can be one major strategy or – in the case of one of these groups – the strategy, by which God’s love and truth, shown to us in Jesus, are made known.  In contrast, business hardly gets a look in on most preaching and teaching schedules in our churches.  And a theology of business is sadly lacking in Christian circles in the western ‘developed’ world.  More generally, a theology of work, which can include how businesses treat their employees, has been developing in recent decades but even this gets little air time in sermons.

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Our money and our mouth

Banking on values, not just value, matters for society and ecology.

What do the Archbishop of Canterbury and a fairly ruthless payday-loans company, Wonga, have in common?  Quite a lot actually, as it turns out.  For a start, they recently shared the media spotlight as Justin Welby announced, very commendably, that the Church of England would use its considerable resources to offer alternative forms of financial advice and support to people that did not involve fleecing them with scandalous rates of interest.  Archbishop Welby declared that he wanted to ‘compete [Wonga] out of existence’.  Almost immediately it transpired, however, that there were also less exalted links between Wonga, the Archbishop and the wider Church of England via its pension fund, albeit through a relatively minor and indirect investment.  The righteousness of Welby’s war on Wonga remained but the incident highlighted the challenges of matching values with investments, and the reputational risks of getting it wrong.

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