A PRE-ELECTION REPORT from the Churches on prosperity and the fostering of
social justice was launched on Monday.
It says that "the thinking of all the mainstream denominations on the
socio-economic issues of the day has converged around one key proposition: that
under the right conditions, economic growth can serve God's purposes."
Among the principles and proposals set out by the report are:
o It is the responsibility of those engaged in politics to reconcile
the outcomes of the market economy to the demands of the common good.
o A threat to the productive functioning of a market economy comes from the
attempt to squeeze too much out for socially desirable ends.
o Top pay should not appear to reward failure. It is right for the
Government to review company law to see to what extent shareholders could gain
greater control over boardroom pay.
o The minimum wage can be used as a way of ensuring that all forms of work
available are worth while.
o The minimum wage is a right that can be met jointly by an employer and by
o A culture of long-term excessive working hours is contrary to a Christian
ethic of work.
o The anti-poverty strategy of encouraging paid work has built-in limits to
o Rates of interest, especially to the poor, ought to be subject to a
o Retired people should not have to submit to means tests.
o The development of international institutions to regulate international
markets has lagged behind.
o The regulation of global capital flows needs urgent investigation.
o It is unethical to pretend that there is no problem of global warming.
Prosperity with a Purpose; Christians and the Ethics of Affluence,
commissioned in 2001, is published by Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
(CTBI). Its final drafter, the Roman Catholic journalist Clifford Longley,
described it as "a Christian contribution to political debate that no political
party can afford to ignore".
Mr Longley said that it addressed the theological issue that, if people were
made in the image of God, then how could they live in a just, fair and decent
society, part of a just, fair and decent world? It celebrated wealth creation
with the caveat that "nobody must be left behind," and that growing prosperity
must be shared.
"It is not acceptable to Christians in Britain if their prosperity depends
on the poverty of people in countries abroad. Social justice has to be global,
or it is a sham."
The Bishop of Southwark, Dr Tom Butler, said that, in his own diocese, "the
wealth of the City was beginning to spill across the river," but the arrival of
prosperity had mixed effects in the local economy.
On BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day on Tuesday, Dr Butler said
that by 2010 it was estimated that the top tenth of the population would be ten
times richer than the bottom tenth. This was the sort of inequality that the
report was trying to address.