Jim Armitage: Reverend red faces but CofE can fight sin from withinComments Off on Jim Armitage: Reverend red faces but CofE can fight sin from within
They profess to know God, but deny him by their works.
It’s tough not to fall foul of the Bible’s rules on hypocrisy when you’re running the Church of England’s money.
You’re charged with making benchmark-beating investments in a vicious, capitalist world, while also keeping in line with the latest views of the boss in Canterbury. That’s no easy feat given Archbishop Welby’s enjoyable penchant for kicking political wasps’ nests.
Get it wrong and it’s red faces all round.
Having nobly dropped Vedanta and News Corp after their mining and hacking scandals, the Church’s money men got badly caught out when Welby went for Wonga; it quickly emerged the Church was heavily invested in one of the payday lender’s biggest shareholders.
This week, they’re on the hop again with Amazon. Welby slams the biggest retailer of the Bible for being a tax dodging “leech” and it emerges a day later that the Church has been enjoying the spoils as a hefty shareholder.
Yet, despite the laughable lack of coordination between the church’s departments of God and Mammon, selling its stake in Amazon now would achieve nothing. The Church is right to swallow the short-term embarrassment and campaign from within to effect change in Jeff Bezos’s tax policies.
Working with other investors, the Church improved Exxon Mobil’s sustainability policies, and was a loud voice bringing Glencore to heel on conditions in its African mines.
A two-pronged attack, pushing for change internally as a shareholder and externally from Welby’s pulpit, could persuade Amazon to cast off its sins. Engagement, not detachment, may be for the greater good.