We’re relaunching today!
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21, NRSV)
All has been quiet from Christianity Uncut for some time now, so we wanted to reassure you that we haven’t gone away!
Our silence has partly been due to our activists directing their energies towards other campaigns. However, we also felt that the time had come to reassess our focus as a campaigning group and recognise that the political narrative of austerity, backed up by the right-wing press, needs to be challenged on a systematic level.
As a result of this reflection we are pleased to announce that Christianity Uncut has taken the bold step to become Christians for Economic Justice (CEJ). Social justice cannot be separated from questions of economic justice in a climate of austerity and global economic liberalism, which hands power to financial elites at the expense of working people. We believe that Christians should be at the forefront in these campaigns as our witness to the Kingdom of God; a Kingdom, as Jesus proclaimed when reading from Isaiah, which will “bring good news to the poor” and “set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Lk 4:18).
In leaving behind the name “Christianity Uncut”, we want to be clear that we haven’t rejected the values and principles that the group was founded upon. The Uncut movement has been an inspiring and creative response to the first wave of Con-Dem austerity, highlighting the hypocrisy of slashing the welfare budget whilst doing little to hold international corporations to account for their tax dodging. With the election of a Conservative majority in the 2015 General Election, after a campaign in which the Conservatives were presented as the party of economic recovery, now more than ever we need to challenge the ideological and intellectual foundations upon which the austerity project has been built.
We at Christians for Economic Justice believe that in this political climate, the question that has been lost is “what kind of society do we want to build?”. A society in which global financial elites appropriate wealth and resources or one in which our financial resources are shared and managed responsibly for the benefit of people and planet? Free Market economists would have us believe that the discipline of Economics is a precise science with principles that we should follow without thought or question. And yet economic systems are mechanisms by which human beings negotiate complex social interactions, which means that moral questions cannot be ignored when considering the principles of economic policy.
We believe that economic justice is at the centre of the Biblical narrative. The Prophets and Jesus allude to the principles of Jubilee – the cancellation of debts – and the imperative of resisting usury. The gospel doesn’t present a systematic economic programme for us to discern for our time and context, and yet Jesus’ teachings place ethics at the heart of thinking around economic relationships which we believe are incompatible with capitalism. In the King James Version of the Lord’s Prayer, we are implored to ask: “forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). This compassion and forgiveness of debts is completely lacking in modern capitalism, where personal debt is positively encouraged to keep money circulating in the economy, and if all debts were to be cancelled or paid off, the whole system would collapse. Jesus, though, counsels debtors to resist their extortive creditors nonviolently in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:40), and as followers of Jesus we are seeking to follow his example to resist economic and social injustice. As we do this we participate in the Kingdom of God, where all are treasured for their inherent human worth, loved by God, rather than the fleeting value of money and possessions (Matthew 6:19-21).
We’re not economists or policy-makers, and we don’t have all the answers to the economic issues that face us in this age of austerity but we do believe that the welfare cuts, which fall on the poor and the marginalised the hardest, need to be challenged. Most importantly, ethical considerations need to be at the forefront in shaping a new economic system which delivers justice and equality. We find in the teachings of Jesus and the prophets a creative and ethical challenge to capitalism as we explore new ways of organising our society for the good of all; We hope that you will join us in this journey.
And so we close with the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.