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Tuesday, 27 October 2009

The Christian ethics of investment

The Church of England have been found culpable again. For all their claims that Christianity is full of love and concern, they have some pretty dodgy investments, as we’ve seen here and here.

The think tank Ekklesia now – again – has pointed out that:

A company in which the Church of England has a £29m shareholding will face allegations of human rights abuses and widespread environmental destruction as campaigners publish an “alternative report” into its activities today.

The Church is seeking to profit from a portfolio of mining companies including BHP Billiton, which campaigners say are having a massive detrimental impact on poor communities around the world.

The company will present its own report on its activities at its London AGM this Thursday, 29 October. It will claim to work to the highest corporate responsibility and environmental standards in the industry.

But today, critics of the company will present an alternative report outlining the negative impacts of many of the company’s operations – in Australia, West Papua, PNG, the Philippines, South Africa, Canada, Colombia and Chile.

The report is the work of organisations from many countries working with directly impacted communities, including church groups.

The report catalogues abuses of human rights, particularly of affected communities, issues of worker health and safety, livelihood and food security, and environmental problems. It also raises issues around climate change and BHP Billiton’s commitment to increased extraction and promotion of both coal and uranium for power production.

Ekklesia’s story tells us that recent publicity over four other London-based mining companies – Vedanta, Rio Tinto, Monterrico and GCM Resources, some of which the Church of England also invests in – has “drawn attention to London’s key role in financing destructive mining activities around the world”.

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