Corporate Business and the Church (of England)

From The Guardian by Stephen Bates:

A Church of England report published on Monday warns that the morality of City bankers and traders has worsened since the Big Bang 25 years ago and many financial institutions’ gestures towards corporate social responsibility are little more than public relations and spin….

In his introduction to the report, the Rev Giles Fraser, who resigned as canon chancellor 10 days ago in opposition to the cathedral’s threat to evict the protesters, warns ethical standards have deteriorated now traders and bankers no longer deal with clients face to face and transactions are computer-based, so personal links and responsibilities are lost.

He accuses City firms of supporting photogenic “kids and orchestras” charities as ways of winning favourable publicity.

In a lecture on Sunday at BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival in Gateshead, to be broadcast the following night, Fraser said individualism in Britain has gone too far, causing people to lose all sense of belonging to the wider community.

The lecture, partly written before the St Paul’s crisis and not directly addressing it, says: “The paradox of freedom is that those who struggle for the unencumbered life, those who seek only to be free of any sort of constraint can readily end up living with an empty freedom that narrows one’s life to a succession of individual choices which actually feel anything but free.

“Our individualistic culture has gone too far … We need to recall where we have come from and not fall for the foolish false wisdom that we can simply reinvent ourselves through some superhuman act of choice. We need to value and nurture those communities that sustain us morally.

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  • David Naas

    Since when, er WHEN, exactly, did anyone in business pay any attention to religion in general, Christianity in particular, or the scolding of an ecclesiatic at all?

    Over the years of my life, I have been oft dismayed at the statements of “respectable churchgoers”, excusing some really evil practices with the excuse, “well, that’s just business.”, as though business ethics operated in some time-space warp where ordinary decency never followed.

    How is this any different?

  • paj

    When we witness as God’s image living under the cross, it can be costly even in business. Our stewardship is not just results based but behavior.

    The problem of course is a great opportunity for Christians to be light. Christians may just have to give up the “American Dream” or any number of other dreams [promotion, $, status] in the process as we exercise discipleship.

    Some UK Christians have written well on the issues for example Higginson.

    Supporting those who actively try to address the problems is someting Christians need to do. They may be small in number but yeast!

    Help and encourage us Holy Spirit as creation groans. Amen


  • David #1, I pray to God many folks won’t succumb to such cynicism. There are influential business people who attended church on Sundays. As far as those of us who worked in Wall St. who sought to follow Jesus, some did as I did and followed him away from our careers in investment banking. Others stayed. We desperately need servants of Christ to speak out against the unethical practices and legalized theft, there. If church men and women know the guts it takes to stand vs. the principalities and powers within finance, perhaps we’d be better equipped to support men & women who do work there and can be the salt and light sorely needed.

  • TriciaM

    Here’s one of my favourite examples of where God can lead a city financier:

    Check out the face2face link on the bottom right. It offers business start-up support including interest free loans to people on benefits.