Not a bog about clerical attire this week, maybe another time.
Like most people I have been shocked and saddened by the revelations of phone-hacking and criminal activity at Murdoch’s News Corp. I have always considered this organisation to be rather suspicious and a little sinister but with no real foundation for that view. I am also not naive enough to think that these shocking practices are limited to the Aussie’s media empire.
However what has disturbed me this week aside from the general feeling of disgust at each new revelation. Is the fact that the Church of England ever felt News Corp was an organisation that was worthy of investment. I should be used to the unethical investments made by the Church Commissioners over the years but I am still saddened when I read of investments like these.
Many of my fellow evangelicals would shun the thought of investment at all, stating that banking on the stock market is failing to trust God for our futures. I do not follow their line of thinking, although I don’t personally invest in the share market myself. I think that God has given us brains to know how to be good stewards of the resources he has given us and that wise investment, done for the right reasons are perfectly within his provision for us.
Sadly the idea of stewardship seems to have never formed part of the Church of England’s national investment strategy. News Corp is just another in a long line of unethical companies that the CofE or those charged with it’s stewardship[ have seen fit to get into bed with. Clearly the motivating factor in the Church’s investments has been financial return. even now, as the whole sordid story threatens to tumble Murdoch’s empire, at least in the UK, the general Synod is hearing those who should be our stewards defend the investment and try to put forward a case for waiting for the shares to increase before ridding ourselves of involvement in this dirty organisation.
We should not be surprised. The CofE’s illustrious history of investments includes Arms companies, confectioners with a known history of unethical practice, banks and many more that would make most ethical investors quiver.
These investments have often been defended by the Church as being a way of influencing a change of behaviour in each company. A nice thought but of course utter nonsense.
1) THEY ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN.
2) when you are receiving high-yielding dividends because unethical practice keeps profits high it is very hard to complain.
3) No one cares what the Church thinks any more.
Companies behave in unethical ways because it is good for business and profits. Share holders like these companies because it is good for their pockets.
The only way to form any sort of legitimate protest against companies who behave in this way is to have NO connection with them, to be above their behaviour, and to be able to with clear conscience call them from outside to change their business practice, to call the people of god into action and to raise the profile of the real human cost of the business these companies do. You cannot do that and still have investments in those companies.
I call on the CofE to wake up to it’s responsibility as a Christian Church and to start behaving like one when it comes to it’s investments.
For interest you can read the CofE’s ethical investment policy here