Economic change is about justice, not charity, say faith leaders

MPs heard calls from faith leaders on Tuesday to pursue radical policies that will lead to justice for the poorest people in both the UK and the world.

Speaking at a parliamentary reception to mark 15 years of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, the religious leaders gave their backing to debt cancellation for the most indebted countries, a new financial system involving progressive taxation, and restrictions on harmful lending.

Speaking in the room that saw the launch of Jubilee 2000 fifteen years ago, the speakers included the Anglican Bishop of Bath and Wells, Peter Price and the Vice-Chair of the Rabbinic Assembly of Reform Judaism, Sybil Sheridan.

They were joined by the President of the Methodist Conference, Mark Wakelin, Bhai Sahib Ji, Chairman of the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha and Trisha Rogers of the British Humanist Association.

They are among more than 400 faith leaders who have signed a letter to the Prime Minister calling for a “Jubilee for Justice”. They include Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs as well as members of Christian denominations ranging from Roman Catholics and Coptic Orthodox to Quakers and Pentocostals.

The meeting was attended by over eighty people, including fifteen MPs from the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Scottish National parties.

Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference, told the meeting:

“It’s not just a Christian message. It’s certainly not just a Methodist message. It’s about changing the narrative… that blames the poor for poverty… We know in our hearts and in our marrow – because our creator put it there – that things shouldn’t be this way.”

Nick Dearden, Director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, told the meeting:

“It is not acceptable for the poorest in society to pay the price when a system that never benefited them in the first place goes wrong…. It’s not only about debt cancellation – important though that is – it’s about just and progressive taxation and an end to harmful lending.”

Sybil Sheridan reminded the meeting of the original, biblical meaning of “jubilee”: a regular event that involved “the cancellation of debt, the freeing of those enslaved to debt”. She insisted: “All God’s commandments are about justice.”

Sikh leader Bhai Sahib Ji said: “Loving and serving God means loving the whole creation”. He called for “just and fair national and global finance” and “fair standards for lending”.

Peter Price, Bishop of Bath and Wells, spoke of his own experience of seeing debt cancellation in Zambia. He added:

“This is a movement that’s about ordinary people… Remember, change comes from the grassroots. It never comes from the top down. It always comes from the bottom up.”

Photo slideshow from the reception


eu-flag-smallThis campaign has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. It is the sole responsibility of Jubilee Debt Campaign and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

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