The Archbishop and the Camel

Oh dear! The investment policy of the Church of England has embarrassed and irritated its most senior priest, the Archbishop of Canterbury. This Archbishop is not exactly a man of the people or a person who has lived a life of poverty. Eton, Trinity College and the oil industry isolates those who follow this career path from the trials and tribulations of ordinary folk. I do not say that a rich man cannot become a priest, but I am suspicious of the motives of rich privileged people who enter the church and climb to the top of that greasy pole because climbing every greasy pole involves an element of getting a good shove upwards from others.The Church of England has an ethical investment policy; its Ethical Investment Advisory Group tries to avoid putting the church’s money in companies which make more than 3% of their income from pornography, 10% from military products and services, or 25% from other industries such as gambling, alcohol and high interest rate lenders. Unfortunately the ethics are somewhat blurred; the Church invested in a fund that provided the initial capital for Wonga, one of the highest of high interest rate lenders. The fund has about £5.5 billion invested and the poor dears cannot easily find ethical investments or understand what ethical investments are.

The Archbishop finds it difficult to decide which investments are unethical, he says. Personally I do not find that decision difficult at all but I do not have £5.5 billion to invest. Perhaps it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for the Archbishop of Canterbury to decide which investments are ethical. It is certainly easier for that camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a wealthy person or institution to take a loss of income or capital on ethical grounds.

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