Christenen belijden schuld

Christenen dragen bij aan goddeloze en onhoudbare levensstijlen die geleid hebben tot de economische en ecologische crises. Deze hebben op dit moment een vernietigende impactop de armen en kwetsbaren op de aarde. Dat schrijven de kerken uit het Verenigd Koninkrijk in een publiek gemaakt statement voorafgaand aan de bijeenkomst van de G-20, de twintig belangrijkste industrielanden in april in Londen.

De kerken (verenigd in Churches Together) spreken de belijdenis uit, dat men tekort schiet in de roeping zout en licht te zijn in de samenleving door een voorbeeldige levensstijl van eenvoud en duurzaamheid. ‘We erkennen dat onze waarden vaak meer ontwikkeld zijn door een groot vertrouwen op de geseculariseerde media en de adverterende industrie dan op de morele waarden gebaseerd op de liefde van God, de naaste en de hele scheppingsorde.  

De kerken willen zich verder richten op morele waarden van solidariteit met de armen en kwetsbare mensen. ‘We begrijpen dat de roep om deze waarden na te streven de roep is tot discipelschap gebaseerd op heiligmakende en een haaks op de cultuur staande levensstijl. We zullen deze levensstijl voeden en ontwikkelen door een voortaand process van educatie en leren in onze kerken’. 

De kerken geven de G-20-landen enkele concrete suggesties in overweging. Zo vraagt men om een belasting op alle buitenlandse handelstransacties van 0,005 procent ten goede van ontwikkelingslanden. Men vraagt het Internationaal Monitair Fonds om steun voor de landen met de hoogste schulden. En de kerken willen een impuls vanuit de overhead voor een meer groene economie. Er moet een betere controle komen op zogenaamde belastingparadijzen. Financiële instituten moeten beter worden gecontroleerd.

Men vraagt de kerken tenslotte om voorbede voor de G20-top en voor de eigen overhead, die de G-20 zal leiden in april in Londen.

Hieronder volgt het document van Churches Together in Britain and Ireland:

Submission by UK Churches’ on a sustainable and equitable
reordering of global economic relationships

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

William Wordsworth

Do not love the world or the things
in the world….for all that is in the world –
the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes,
the pride in riches – comes not from the Father
but from the world.

St. John

1.     Churches in the UK have had the opportunity to reflect theologically and practically on some of the underlying causes and impacts of the global economic crisis at various conferences, seminars and synod debates over the past few months. These reflections have revealed disturbing trends related to our  complicity as Christians in lifestyles that are ungodly and unsustainable which have contributed to the economic and ecological crises currently having such a devastating impact on the poor and vulnerable of the earth.

2.     As a confessing community, we confess that by this complicity we have failed in our high calling as followers of Jesus Christ to be salt and light in our communities by modelling lifestyles of simplicity and sustainability in keeping with the joyful freedom of the children of God. We acknowledge that our values have often been shaped more by the powerful thrust of the secular media and the advertising industry than moral values based on love of God, neighbour and the entire created order.

3.     We therefore commit to realignment and nurturing of moral values based on solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, sustainability, mutuality, subsidiarity and equity aimed at achieving the common good. We understand that a call to live out these values is the call to costly discipleship based on sacrificial and counter-cultural lifestyles which we will seek to nurture and develop through an on-going process of education and learning in our churches.

4.     Flowing from these reflections, we believe that we also have a message of hope to share with other religious, civic, political and business leaders, and society at large, based on a reorienting of our social, economic and political relationships towards the common good. Whilst acknowledging that there are a number of obstacles to such an orientation, we believe that a commitment to the common good could transform the current narrative of blame and accusation to one of shared responsibility and commitment to building an equitable and sustainable global economy.

5.     Towards this end and based on the values outlined in Point 3 above, we would like to highlight the following issues for the leaders attending the G20 Summit in London to give their urgent consideration:

Ø      Currency Transaction Tax (CTT) – we support the call made by Stamp Out Poverty and other organisations for a levy to be implemented on all foreign exchange transactions at the rate of half a basis point or half of one hundredth of 1% (0.005%), to increase development finance. This rate is too small to alter decision making in the market and yet high enough to yield a substantial revenue stream.
Ø      Special Drawing Rights (SDR) by the IMF – we likewise support the proposal for the IMF to consider a separate emission of SDR’s geared explicitly towards reducing or cancelling the outstanding debts of the most highly indebted nations.
Ø      Global Warming and Climate Change – we support the call of the Put People First campaign for the governments of the twenty most affluent nations on earth to use this unique opportunity to shift their policies and investments towards building green economies based on principles of sustainability and long term economic viability.
Ø      Regulating Tax Havens – we note with concern the fact that an estimated $11.5 trillion in assets from around the world may be hidden in tax havens equating to billions of dollars in tax revenue. We therefore support the call for more accountable reporting and stricter regulation of tax haven jurisdictions to ensure that these tax revenues are made available to domicile countries as soon as possible.
Ø      Regulation of Financial Institutions – we share the concern of many that over the past 20 years, financial institutions usurped their role as servants of the wider economy and became increasingly unaccountable through the trading of complex financial instruments which were totally unsustainable. To regain the essential public trust that has now been lost, we support the proposals outlined by Hermes Equity Ownership Services related to the remuneration, culture and regulation of these institutions.

6.     We are aware that the expectations of the G20 Summit in London are totally unrealistic and that this will only be the start of a process of dialogue, negotiation and debate towards establishing a framework for a sustainable and equitable recovery from the global economic crisis. In the interim, the livelihoods of those on the margins of mainstream economic activity are rapidly deteriorating and we urge the G20 leaders to develop meaningful and urgent interim policies and programmes to mitigate this impact.

7.     Realising that all our efforts at ‘saving the world’ are futile unless inspired and sustained by God’s Spirit, we commit ourselves as churches in the UK to praying for the G20 Summit and for the UK Government as they host and facilitate this historic gathering of world leaders in London in April.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.

Psalm 127

17 March 2009
Frank Kantor

Frank Kantor is Secretary for Church and Society at the United Reformed Church.
(Bij het document zijn verschillende bijlagen gevoegd, waaronder een stuk van de Nederlandse hoogleraar prof. dr. Bob Goudzwaard).