Religious Leaders Slam Bankers

Clipboard02 What Would Jesus Do with Bankers? Anthony Freda/Daniel Zollinger

Church of England: Bankers Should Repent

We’ve extensively documented that Jesus, his apostles, and ancient Jewish leaders would all be furious with modern bankers.

We’ve also noted that the first Christians and Jews insisted on debt forgiveness as one of their core tenants. Indeed, the founders of all of the great religions taught that forgiveness of debt is the core of spirituality.

Usury was condemned by virtually all of the world’s religions.

And Dante’s Inferno is populated largely with usurers, misers and other “financial sinners”.

It’s not just the ancients …

The Church of England recently submitted comments to the British parliamentary commission investigating the Libor rate-fixing scandal and other recent banking misdeeds, saying that bankers should repent:

The question is not whether systems have been adequate to identify and deal with the bad apples but whether the whole orchard needs replanting.


The [real] question is how banking can restore its internal professional standards in ways which communicate trust both within the industry and with stakeholders throughout the community. [The Church is correct.]


Economic growth is a good thing but only to the extent that it is sustainable, realistic and achieved morally.


Restoring trust frequently requires symbolic, as well as merely effective, change to take place.


One insight from the Christian tradition of penitence and forgiveness is that it is often not enough to put matters back to where they were before things went wrong; some demonstration of a change of heart by means of restitution and a visibly robust refusal to let the same failings occur again, is necessary before a bad situation can be made good. Exactly what kind of action by the banks, or by the government, would be necessary to restore trust in this way would probably emerge if the debate about banking ethics were to take place openly in the public realm.


To achieve this is not just a matter of technical “fixes” but may require public, corporate, contrition for past failings, demonstrably robust structures to ensure that old mistakes are not repeated, and possibly some symbolic steps to assure the public that the corporate culture has changed.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

We spoke this week with the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Brown, director of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, from his office in Church House, a stone’s throw from Westminster Abbey in London.

[Brown told the journal:]  It wasn’t that long ago that bankers believed that their job was to help people manage their money. They went into banking to serve what we call the Common Good, and they believed that their activity should be judged on how it serves the good of the people.


The notion of the Common Good is a very strong strand in Christian thinking. The Common Good is why you have capitalism. Adam Smith recognized that society must be undergirded by strong moral views.


The Theory of Moral Sentiments makes Smith’s view very clear: that capitalism won’t achieve its ends without the things a moral sense can offer, and that if you discount your brother’s plight you’ve forgotten what capitalism is about. The structures of business and the mechanisms of capitalism need to recognize that, in the end, people need to be human to one another. To paraphrase Archbishop William Temple, self-interest prompts what justice demands.


George Bernard Shaw said, “All professions are conspiracies against the laity,” but in banking that has come to an extreme.


There’s a very great temptation just to say, “Things went wrong, we’ve put them back to where they were before, now you can forget that it went wrong, OK?” But it’s like shoplifting: Even if you put what you took back onto the shelf, you still did something wrong. Just restoring the status quo ante doesn’t give people the sense that trust has been restored. You can’t just put it back on the shelf; you have to admit that the way things were done was wrong.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury agrees:

The moral corruption of the banks is poisoning society ….

The banking sector is an important part of the network of institutions which build a civil society.

Thus evidence of corruption in our banks, and the resulting collapse of public trust in them, affects our very democracy.


The real crisis we are facing is not a financial but a moral one. And it is a direct result of the something-for-nothing culture which is poisoning our society.

The question we must all seek to address, then, is how we can restore public confidence in these tarnished institutions. Where the banks are concerned, the answer lies partly in simple finance — for they must do their part to help restore Britain to economic stability, having plunged us into such peril in the crash of 2008.

But the reparations that must be made go beyond balance sheets.

One of the key Christian concepts is the idea of repentance, and I firmly believe that this is not a matter merely of saying a begrudging ‘sorry’, or simply paying lip-service with no real change of heart. Repentance implies a complete turning around and making good.


As things stand, the banks have failed to demonstrate any sort of repentance.


It is hard not to conclude that institutionalised corruption is rife throughout today’s banking industry.


Criminal charges must be brought where there is serious malpractice and corruption. This would only be a start, but at least it would begin to restore the public’s faith in institutions which seem far more interested in profits than morals.

We couldn’t agree more.

And it’s not just naive clergymen saying this.  The fourth most powerful bishop in the Church of England – a former derivatives trader – is singing from the same hymn sheet.

Religious Leaders Worldwide Condemn Banking Practices

German Protestant and Catholic leaders slammed big banks for  their “culture of greed”, in which “money has become akin to God”, and said:

It’s devastating that this ethos [of remembering that bankers are custodians for other people’s money] can simply disappear and that people can trade with things that don’t exist.

The Pope noted:

It would in fact be decidedly inadequate to limit oneself to pursuing only maximum profit.  It is necessary, rather, to always refer to the higher values of human living if one wants to help the true growth and full development of the community.

He also wrote:

It is possible for the financial accounts to be in order, and yet for the people — who make up the firm’s most valuable asset — to be humiliated and their dignity offended.


Besides being morally inadmissible, this will eventually have negative repercussions on the firm’s economic efficiency. In fact, the purpose of a business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavoring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society.

Profit is a regulator of the life of a business, but it is not the only one; other human and moral factors must also be considered which, in the long term, are at least equally important for the life of a business.

Rabbis have called for banks to help homeowners hold onto their homes:

The demonstration … served to remind participants at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual meeting that they have a moral responsibility to protect struggling homeowners caught off guard by the nation’s housing crisis.

Organizers invited bankers to dine with them underneath the awning Jews call a “sukkah” and hear heartfelt testimonies from those touched by the rapid decline in residential real estate.

The location of the demonstration also underscored activists’ concern that bankers and other businesses aren’t upholding the Jewish value of repairing the world.


Sukkot, which starts at sundown Wednesday, commemorates the period of time Israelites wandered in the desert toward the Promised Land after they were freed from slavery in Egypt.

Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann said the festival’s ancient meaning also applies to modern times. Families erect flimsy huts outside their homes to celebrate “all of that which makes our lives both livable and beautiful.” They also reflect on ways to make that a reality beyond the walls of their home and synagogue, she said.

Jews can’t ignore the circumstances that stand in the way of creating a better world for everyone, she said.

“Housing foreclosures are ripping apart one of the important pieces of fabric of family life and American life,” said Heydemann, co-rabbi of Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in Glencoe and Mishkan, an independent Jewish community in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.


Jane Ramsey, executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, said community organizers have witnessed families across the income spectrum affected by the economic crisis in a variety of ways.


“Sukkot is a very meaningful time to lift up the whole notion of shelter and, in this case, the unstable nature of housing today and the insecurity that families are feeling,” Ramsey said.

To this day, Islamic leaders prohibit the buying and selling of debt, and forbid usury.

Indeed, religious and spiritual traditions worldwide demand a reform to the banking system … so that it stops serving the handful of banking executives and starts to serve the community and the well-being of all people.

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  • Blair T. Longley

    Yeah, all the world’s major religions were originally against usury. Christian opposition gradually fell apart. The social fact that Islam is much more determined to also be a total system, including the government of a country, and Islam continues to strongly oppose usury is one of the MAIN reasons why the banksters that control Western countries are working so hard, through every dishonest and violent means, to provoke a clash of cultures and to start a world war, to try to wipe power of Islam out!

    HOWEVER, all of that is just more runaway insanity, since NONE of the fragments or facets of Neolithic civilization are remotely close to sane anymore … All the churches, corporations, and countries in the world as simply different systems of organized lies, operating organized robberies, and the main feature that they all have in common is that they deny that!

  • david 2

    There is a need for a re formation of values for a just society, one where economics and politics are not based on lies. Paper money is dishonest and promotes dishonesty. The charge of usury on paper money is totally dishonest and extracts real wealth from the producer to be given to the non producer. Look at the interest on the national debt of $1.5 trillion taken in income taxes and paid over to the secret money magicians. Trace all fiat money back to its origin and you see in a closed exclusive banking system that the whole concept is a bogus lie to defraud the producer and enrich the entitled few with their exclusive power of paper debt issue.

    With regard to religion we also need a re formation, we need to look again at spiritual and moral values. The zionist worship the occult, the god of the occult is Lucifer, occult symbols are blatant on their issued dollar. Doing gods work is to them doing Lucifers work, as is their desire for a Jew World Order called One World Order. Christ a Jew in the temptation was offered the zionist dream of owning the all the worlds riches and power and he rejected to follow Lucifer.

    The father of the reformation when researching for re formation of the bible to discover its truths which had been obscured over time delved into the talmud for reference and was shocked by the claims to be Gods chosen, that gentiles were regarded as less than human and only for service to the jew, also at the disrespect shown to women. He wrote a book on these lies. A reformation is going back to basics and not getting lost in the red herrings that trap the majority in the superficial argumentative that delights and titivates.

    On the Jews and their Lies by DR MARTIN LUTHER date de publication: 7 décembre 2011
    In fact, they hold us Christians captive in our own country. They let us work in the sweat of our brow to earn money and property while they sit behind the stove, idle away the time, fart, and roast pears. They stuff themselves, guzzle, and live in luxury and ease from our hard-earned goods. With their accursed usury they hold us and our property captive. Martin Luther (1483 -1546) was a German priest, professor of theology and father of the Protestant Reformation. On the Jews and Their Lies was written in 1543. In the first ten sections, Luther compares Jews and Judaism to Christians and Christianity, and in the remainder of the book, advises that unless Jews give up Judaism and become Christians, they should be expelled from all Christian lands. He called for the burning of synagogues, the destruction of their religious writings, the execution of rabbis, for the abolition of usury and for Jews to be made to do manual labour.

  • Carleton

    Why was this important article PULLED from ZH? GW did they tell you why? You really touched a nerve that is for sure, keep up the good work!

  • Ed Lawrence

    is a vital column. I read it today carefully and reflectively. This blog in general is
    veritas and truth-to-power, and I regret not attending more to
    its tone and style over recent years. I believe that for
    me this is changing.


  • David 2

    There has been an effort over the past years to gradually voodoo the christian and definitely the muslim religions, Sunday as a family day, a day of reflection and rest has almost ceased, once it was sufficient for the father to work and for the mother to provide the home care for their children, family meals etc all healthy and necessary for family stability. Reading the comments on zero hedge was like reading the ravings of delusion, the world is less safe, morals are less secure, the erosion of values and respect for the divine has been taken over by some mumbo jumbo type communistic power of the individual and individual thought. These are examples of zionist influence which was tried in the Soviet Union and the jews Trotsky, Lenin, Marx, Stalin etc killed an estimated 60 million in their perverted desire to control the vast wealth and impose zionist rule via communism. In the end a handful of jew oligarchs have the commodity wealth of that great country.

    There is every indication that the United States is heading for a zionist progressive repeat of the bolshevik massacres, the number of executive orders, NDAA, FEMA camps, DHS private army plans are more than worrying to a student of history.

    A reformation rather than a revolution is much more civilized and yet the calls are for the latter which play into the hands of our fascist controllers.

  • Adam__Baum