Faith leaders call for radical economic change on debt
In response to the European debt crisis, thirty-seven Church of England bishops have signed a multifaith statement calling for debt audits in Europe, cancelling the unjust debts of the most indebted nations, more progressive taxation and control of the financial system to prevent large debts being created.
Other signatories include the President of the Muslim Association of Britain, the Chief Executive of the Movement for Reform Judaism, seven Roman Catholic bishops and the President of the Methodist Conference. The Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian faiths are also represented.
Over 300 clergy and faith leaders have signed the statement, which declares that the poorest people in the UK and around the world are paying the price for an unjust financial system.
It will be delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron after an event in Parliament on 5 February, run by the Jubilee Debt Campaign.
The call comes fifteen years after the launch of Jubilee 2000, when faith groups played a major role in a campaign that led to £80bn of debt cancellation for some of the world’s most impoverished countries. But many countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia are still burdened by debts, which have increased since the financial crisis began, while the problem has now appeared in Europe as well.
The letter declares:
“Over the last thirty years, there has been a series of debt crises culminating in the present one in Europe. A self-serving financial system has brought the global economy to its knees and we are now seeing the poorest people in our own society and around the world paying the price for this excess.”
The signatories make clear that their call is about justice, not charity. They point out that in its original, biblical meaning, a “jubilee” was a festival of economic justice, when debts were cancelled and slaves freed.
Their letter adds:
“We need far-reaching changes in the global economy to build a society based on justice, mutual support and community. We need economic and political as well as spiritual renewal in our society. We applaud the efforts of citizens across Europe and the world to engage in democratic audits of their national debts as a first step towards reclaiming public control of national finances.”
1. The Jubilee Debt Campaign is part of a global movement demanding freedom from the slavery of unjust debts and a new financial system that puts people first. It is the successor organisation of Jubilee 2000 in the UK. Please see http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk
2. The full text of the letter and the full list of signatories can be read at http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/Signatories3720to3720the3720Faith3720Leaders3720Letter+7709.twl.
3. The Church of England bishops to have signed the letter include thirteen diocesan bishops and twenty-four suffragen bishops. The diocesan bishops are Peter Price (Bath and Wells), Nick Baines (Bradford), Mike Hill (Bristol), Alastair Redfern (Derby), Michael Langrish (Exeter), Christopher Foster (Portsmouth), Nicholas Holtam (Salisbury), Steven Croft (Sheffield), Robert Paterson (Sodor and Man), Paul Butler (Southwell and Nottingham), Alan Smith (St Albans), Tim Thornton (Truro) and Stephen Platten (Wakefield).
4. Other Christian signatories include two Roman Catholic Archbishops (Bernard Longley of Birmingham and Peter Smith of Southwark), the President of the Methodist Conference (Mark Wakelin), the President-Elect of the Baptist Union of Great Britain (Ernie Whalley), the Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (Michael Jagessar), the Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain (Paul Parker), the Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches (Derek McAuley) and the former Director of the Evangelical Alliance (Joel Edwards).
5. Other signatories include the Chief Executive of the Movement for Reform Judaism (Ben Rich), the President of the Muslim Association of Britain (Omer El-Hamdoon), the Managing Director of the Hindu Council UK (Anil Bhanot), the Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (Bhai Sahib Ji) and the Chair of the UK Network of Engaged Buddhists (J. Edmond Smith).
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6. T he event in Parliament on 5 February 2012, which will be addressed by Rt Revd Peter Price (Bishop of Bath and Wells), Bhai Sahib Ji (Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha), The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, (President of the Methodist Conference), Rabbi Sybil Sheridan (Vice-Chair of Rabbinic Assembly, Movement for Reform Judaism), Lotifa Begum (Development Education Coordinator, Islamic Relief) and Nick Dearden (Director, Jubilee Debt Campaign). Please contact Symon Hill on 07920 037 719 for details.