Blog

Image: Faith-based Investing

10/05/2019


This week in our blog, Dr Quintin Rayer, reflects on why people choose ethical fincance.


Introduction
 
A range of reasons leads investors to invest ethically.  Backgrounds can form a part, perhaps individuals want to “give something back” or are concerned about social or environmental issues.  For many, their moral framework is set by religious beliefs.
 
How faith-based investing differs from other motivations.
 
Faith-based ethical investing is motivated by moral tenets based on a body of religious thought that has been developed over many years, centuries or even millennia. Pope John Paul wrote that the “decision to invest in one place rather than another, in one productive sector rather than another, is always a moral and cultural choice”.
 
Comparing faith-based versus secular motivations, investors may decide to invest sustainably by different routes.  Secular scientific thought has concluded that sustainable investing is necessary to preserve global climate, protect ecosystems and the long-term viability of species, societies and livelihoods.  Based on the religious principle of humankind’s divinely-appointed role of stewardship for the earth, and of care for fellow-people; faith-based investors also conclude the necessity of sustainable investing.
 
Financially motivated investors may use sustainability to identify long-term risks that they believe financial markets have not adequately responded to. 
 
Consider fossil divestment:
 
• Faith-based investors may feel that carbon emissions generate unacceptable climate damage as part of their stewardship role.

• For secular investors, fossil divestment may help address unacceptable global warming.

• Financially motivated investors may feel that fossil firms’ valuations reflect fossil reserves that they will be unable to exploit, making them over-valued.
 
For different reasons, all these investors might feel they should avoid fossil companies.  They have different motivations but share a common community across both secular and faith-based backgrounds. 
 
Elements of agreement between faiths
 
Many faiths share similarities in their teaching.  Care for others, supporting the weak, and respect for the environment, for example.  Popes Jon Paul II and Benedict both spoke of the Christian requirement to “tend the garden” and protect the poorest. Caring for creation is one of the seven tenants of Catholic Social Teaching.  Many principles are encapsulated in the ‘golden rule’ of “do as you would be done by”. 
 
Religions often share prohibitions, such as bans on alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs.  The principle of “not harming your neighbour” identifies areas such as arms, and not selling alcohol or tobacco in business.
 
Several religions, either historically or currently have included bans on the practice of lending money for interest.  This is prohibited in Islamic finance and historically in medieval Christian tradition.
 
The development of the Faith in Finance movement
 
In 2017, the faith leaders’ Zug conference in Switzerland, sought to address challenges and opportunities presented by the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Delegates represented more than 30 different faiths, with trillions of dollars in assets, United Nations figures and leading impact investment funds.  The organisers believed it should enable faith groups to share information and resources to put their investments into initiatives to help create a better world for all.  Promoting a proactive policy ensuring that faith investments have a positive “faith-consistent” impact.  Aiming to make money work for good, while still generating the returns they need to fund activities. 
 
 
Dr Quintin Rayer
DPhil, FInstP, Chartered FCSI, SIPC, Chartered Wealth Manager
Head of Research and Ethical Investing at P1 Investment Management


Image: A Thanksgiving Service for Nuclear Deterrence??

03/05/2019

This week in our blog Brian Quail reflects on the service of thanksgiving for nuclear weapons at Westminster Abbey on 3rd May 2019.


On May 3rd at Westminster Abbey there will be a service commemorating 50 years of CASD – Continuous At-Sea Deterrence. The great and the good will thank God that for half a century in His loving kindness he has granted us the ability to slaughter millions of His children, our brothers and sisters, at a moment’s notice - that He has given us the power to enact instant global extinction; to undo his work of Genesis.

But whatever prayers are said in Westminster Abbey, a landmark statement made on Nov. 10, 2018 will hang over the service. In that statement, Pope Francis categorically condemned not only the use but also the very possession of nuclear weapons.

The Pope’s statement rejects the compromising distinction between mere possession and actual use, destroying the moral basis for the UK government’s nuclear policies, and those of the official opposition. Possession means to have these weapons ready for use, devastating all moral limits.

It is a blessed relief to hear that Pope Francis vindicates the position the peace movement has always taken. It is for this that we should be thanking God.

Pope Francis told participants in a high-profile Vatican conference on nuclear disarmament, including the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, NATO’s deputy secretary general, and eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates:

 “…humanity cannot fail to be genuinely concerned by the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices”.

He concluded: “If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.”

But now, in my opinion, on May 3rd at Westminster Abbey a pantomime will be performed in the name of Jesus, who said we should love our enemies, do good to those that hate us, and pray for those who persecute us. His revolutionary nonviolence will once again be buried in a shroud of platitudes and religiosity.

Despite our scientific advances, the truth is that our position is really primitive. We are right back where we started. “I call heaven and earth to witness this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Choose therefore life, that both you and your children may live” (Deut. 30 19).

But we have chosen death.

According to peace activist Bruce Kent, these words were spoken at the launch of Resolution, the first Polaris submarine:

“Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render no man evil for evil…love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Beat that! Reality has replaced satire, and the laughter has died.

Deterrence is – in the lovely Americanism of the US Pax Christi statement – “a sin situation”. We should be begging God’s forgiveness for this ongoing sin, not celebrating it in Westminster Abbey.

We can only thank God that we have survived long enough to repent of our nuclear idolatry.

see the full article here https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/04/02/thanking-god-for-nuclear-weapons/

 



Image: Easter in Managua - A crucified people is always resurrected

26/04/2019

This week, in our blog, a Scottish development worker returns to Nicaragua on the first anniversary of the self convened Civic Insurrection"
 


When I left Nicaragua in April last year, the killings had already started, but I had no idea the extent of the human suffering that the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship would inflict on its own people.   
 
In a year that Nicaraguans refer to as the “eternal April”, an estimated 500 peaceful, unarmed protesters, including 20 children and adolescents, have been murdered by police and paramilitary forces loyal to a government that ironically proclaims to foster “Socialism, Solidarity and Christianity”.  Thousands more have been injured, around 800 political prisoners are held in squalid jails and up to 60,000 Nicaraguans have fled, mostly to neighbouring Costa Rica.
 
 Human rights groups, women’s organisations and independent media outlets have been ransacked and stripped of their legal status. Several priests and bishops have been attacked, vilified and their lives threatened.  Bishop Silvio Baez of Managua, a fearless ally of the people’s right to protest and to demand freedom, justice and democracy, has been transferred to Rome by petition of the Pope, out of fear for his safety. 
 
One year later, I am back in Nicaragua for the first anniversary of the self-convened civic insurrection that poignantly coincides with Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday, in Masaya, the annual Procession of the Captives is led by children in chains dressed in blue uniforms – a harrowing allusion to the plight of the hundreds of political prisoners that continue to be held in degrading conditions, where they are subject to physical and psychological torture and sexual violence. 
 
On Good Friday, thousands of Catholics take part in the Way of the Cross Procession in Managua led by Cardenal Brenes, many carrying black crosses bearing the names of those massacred during the 2018 protests.   Others wave blue and white Nicaraguan and Vatican flags and pray for the immediate liberation of all political prisoners and an end to State violence.  As the procession ends, a group of mostly young people hold a spontaneous protest. Still inside the Cathedral grounds, police attack with tear gas and rubber bullets.  Arbitrary detentions and further police repression are deterred by the intervention of the Papal Nuncio and leaders of the Civic Alliance.
 
Nicaragua is under siege, kidnapped by a morally corrupt government that has lost all respect for the rule of law and human rights.  All recent citizens’ attempts to hold protests (outlawed since last year) are quashed by repressive policing.   During Holy Week, around 150 people were arrested; many were beaten before being released.  Their crimes? Waving the Nicaraguan flag, releasing blue and white balloons, singing the national anthem, demanding freedom for political prisoners and calling for free and fair elections as soon as possible.   
 
At the end of March, under intense internal and international pressure, the Nicaraguan Government signed agreements with the Civic Alliance to liberate all political prisoners, restore constitutional rights, including the right to public protest, freedom of expression and an end to the police repression.  Only 200 prisoners have been released under house arrest and the unrelenting repression continues and intensifies. The population feels duped, as frustration, anger and an insatiable thirst for justice grow. It feels like a pressure cooker…
 
Before leaving for Rome, Bishop Silvio Baez said, “A crucified people is always resurrected. The only thing I ask of you is not to let anyone take away your hope. Nicaragua must be resurrected, just as the one crucified on Calvary rose again. Live your faith in Christ intimately, deeply, with all the seriousness it demands, without ever letting yourself be drawn into violence, without letting sadness darken your heart, without bargaining with the liberty and dignity of human beings, without being ambitious or being an idolater of anything or anybody.”



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