Monday, 13 December 2010

Faith, Finance and Freedom…..

We at The Voice here continue with our look at local faith based activities and the relationship with the finance industry etc.

On Sunday 5 December 2010 the Freedom Church organised a very successful and enjoyable event in Jersey’s Royal Square, within a marquee. We have tried to capture the atmosphere in our video.

We don’t know how many people attended throughout the six hours or so but there were always several hundred people of all ages present, so we guess that a couple of thousand might have dropped-in at some time. No doubt the organisers could tell us how many mince pies and hot-dogs were eaten to make a better calculation - but suffice to say that the event was very successful and popular.

Although the weather on Saturday was wet and miserable – we cannot ignore the simple fact that so many more people turned out for the Freedom event than the political, anti-GST meeting held then in the same Royal Square. We want to understand why a Christian based event can be so attractive whilst political concerns are not and we here continue with our questions about everyday faith in a political context.

Do Christians in Jersey turn into greedy capitalists on Monday morning when they arrive at the office or workplace or do they apply their Christian values and ethics all day, every day?

Is freedom-faith just for fun?

We speak here, in this two-part blog, with Pastors Andrew De Gruchy andTim Bond of the Freedom Church –

As always, we invite comments.

Submitted by Thomas Wellard.


Anonymous said...

Real men don't work in finance.

rico sorda said...

Slowly but Surly it's all starting to make sense.


TonyTheProf said...

Another fascinating post - I like the way in which the first part gives a good flavour of what they do before the interview.

I'd be very interested in seeing how the Jersey Jewish community look at faith and politics, especially given that leaders in the UK like Jonathan Sacks are very involved in looking at community issues.

Also Ed Le Quesne, who with Amos group and Oxfam, is involved on Christian social justice.

Please more - these are very good.

It was interesting on this interview how what might be called an individualist ethics rather than a social / political ethics is very much in evidence.

voiceforchildren said...

Thomas Wellard.

This (religion, politics and finance) is a fascinating, and potentially controversial subject and one that I am very new to, so my views and questions might be very well rehearsed or aired in the past, so if that is the case I apologise.

To start with I would like to concentrate on the second interview, that of “Tim Bond”, and hope that he could address my queries.

I would like to throw into the mix - not that it is my belief - but isn’t there an argument to be had, in the way Mr. Bond described Jesus that Jesus might have been a Socialist Political Dissident? Or an anti establishment figure who was growing in popularity, and hence power, so the powers that be had to remove him?

Secondly Mr. Bond says that he prays for our Politicians to have a successful “career”. Does Mr. Bond, or the freedom church, see becoming a Politician as a “career choice”?

TonyTheProf said...

The real question is how religious belief effects all aspects of life, and how much it is hived off into "private morality" or a "private sphere" that doesn't really engage in the public space.

A very good article can be seen at:

A couple of pertinent quotes:

"So few of the large evangelical churches with their strong traditions of "biblical teaching" have anything to say about issues of corporate responsibility and social justice. This is not through a lack of resources or energy but because of a theological and political viewpoint that fails to recognise structural advantage and corporate greed. It produces a kind of teaching that calls for a response in the hearts of businessmen and women while having hardly anything to say about their decisions in the boardroom, exposing the close alignment conservative theology has with social and political conservatism. One of the most telling illustrations of this imbalance is when evangelical churches and organisations are strongly anti-lottery and yet will hardly consider switching their banking investments to a more ethical provider. While the connection between sin and personal gambling is strongly demonstrated, the sin that is inherent in unjust financial systems goes unnoticed and is tacitly supported."

Evangelicals have a lot to offer this country but we have to decide what influence we want to have. Do we really want a Daily Mail theology focusing on personal morality and recycling fear? Do we want a religion that encourages swathes of middle England to sit comfortably knowing they are "saved" without it having one iota of impact on the cars they drive, the clothes they wear, the jobs they do and the politics they advocate? When we consider how wealthy and powerful we are as a nation, surely the prophets such as Amos have far more to say to us? As Tom Wright has said "it is not enough to say one's prayers in private, maintain high personal morality and then go out and rebuild the tower of Babel"

Anonymous said...

A brave effort to engage with the evangelical Protestants, however none of them really want to talk about politics, let alone finance, and indeed don't seem to have any active social role to reveal. Where is the old Christian charity of helping the poor, especially at Christmas, Mr Scrooge?

This could be the accordian club or occupation society - just a club for fans to gather and share the hobby.

If any of them read this here, then they really ought to consider, if their faith has any meaning in the real world, what it is they want to improve.

Seemingly its a-political, however as we know from the USA, the evangelicals are right wing. In fact if you want to find religous extremism then there is no need to look to the middle east and Muslims; intolerance and fundamentalism is evident everywhere in US protestant religion.

"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions."
Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

Anonymous said...

The relationships between religion and government are odd and complex.
There is certainly a very strong supposed Christian group in the Jersey States but it is difficult to determine any coherent faith based policy making among them.
It was, I seem to remember, Senator Cohen who recently rounded on Deputy T. Pitman for referring to the alleged Christian beliefs of another member and the inconsistent policies he adopted.
Of course, Senator Cohen is sensitive about faith issues presumably because he has experienced a lifetime of implied prejudice against Jewish people and the specific Holocaust legacy.
Yet, the States does set the religious agenda by starting each day with a prayer and the Dean has a seat etc. What is the purpose of this if it is not to stress that Christian ethics should prevail during the proceedings of government?

Of course, until recently, the twelve Parish Rectors all had a seat in the States - so it is an integral part of the traditional "Jersey Way" to mix faith and politics - so why should the two be separated on the floor during debates and why do Standing Orders seem to support this separation?

Only a few States Members actually opt-out of morning prayers or have sworn an affirmation when they make their oaths of office in the Royal Court. So presumably our States Assembly is composed almost entirely of people who claim to have a "religious faith." Several are noticeably active among their religious groups outside of the States.

Not too long ago, The Vice-Dean of Jersey aka The Reverend Peter Manton was an elected Senator - so it is possible to be a preacher and a politician although Peter Manton's sexual sinning did put an end to both callings.
Reg Jeune was another Senator who served as a lay-preacher too and Senator Ralph Vibert was active in the Moral Rearmament crusade for many years.

Whether past or present States mambers are supposed to leave their religious convictions outside when they enter the Chamber is a matter that surely needs to be resolved one way or anothe. The presence of the Dean, the prayers and so many other allusions to "God" in our governmental, administrative and judicial proceedings might be seen as grossly hypocritical if allowed to continue without a general public assent.

TonyTheProf said...

It was the Bailiff who forbade mention of Terry Le Sueur's Catholicism. But the kind of argument that starts - surely you, as a Christian, should act this way etc etc - is a bad one. The 17th / 18th century enlightenment saw a wedge driven between the private (belief) / public (action), with belief relegated away from politics and business to a private matter.

The end result of this, not only in the churches, but also in the "spiritual" sections of the bookshops, and those who buy them, are that belief (of whatever sort) becomes a kind of
gnosticism, escapism, a safe and narcissistic spirituality. Which is why it fits so well with a consumer society rather than being able to provide any kind of challenge or critique to the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Yes - it was the always impartial bailiff who started the ball rolling - but Senator Cohen joined in later to reinforce the crticism of Dep T.Pitman.

Strangely, at a Scrutiny public meeting recently Deputy Southern was heard disowning his Socialism in order that Dep Sousa and Con Mezbourian would remain as members of his Panel.
He then had to confirm that the Panel would examine scruting subjects from an impartial, non left wing perspective - otherwise he would probably have lost his Panel members.
Furthermore, it was the Scrutiny Officer - a civil servant - who initiated the discussion and he declared how he was satisfied with the outcome!

So, we are to have a States system where all beliefs - whether of a faith or political basis -shall be left in the Royal Square?

Where is such a perverse sanitizing of belief going to lead us! Shall we really be reduced to government by smooth talking Estate Agents... is that what we really want?

So what do you believe - or is it forbidden even to declare that anywhere in this strange little Island?

Anonymous said...

Deputy Tadier might still have a pending proposition to remove the Dean from the States.
Perhaps he would like to give the voting public an update on this - unless he considers it just a personal matter between God and himself.

Anonymous said...

Somebody on BBC radio Jersey suggested that half of the population would attend church over Christmas. That is about 40,000 or more.

That doesn't mean they are all Christians of course but how many Marxists and friends could your anonymous commentator induce to a meeting - free mince pies or otherwise. The usual telephone box full no doubt.

Its about time that the anarchists and tree huggers in this island woke up to the reality of the Jersey situation. Christians and others of faith all have a vote at election times - it would be a stupid politician who ignored that fact.

Anonymous said...

According to the Gibraltar Chronicle (linked on this blog) Bishop Bernard Devlin has just died there.
He was Irish born, 89 years old and installed as the Rock's Bishop by the Pope in 1985 and was described as "a man of the people."

In fact, he was the second Bishop to die in Gibraltar this year and one wonders how many Bishops a population of 25,000 actually needs?

Jersey does not even have one Bishop to call our own - although the current Dean spends money as though he was running a Cathedral - not a humble St. Helier Parish Church. Does Gibraltar have an Anglican Bishop besides the Catholic ones and why does Jersey not even have a Catholic one?

If there about 70 churches of all sorts in Jersey - who actually pays for them and the staff that run them? Is public money being used to support the religious beliefs of a minority? Is this fair to non believers?

Your series looking at faith and finance is interesting but there are many more aspects about the church and religion that need to be looked at.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Wellard writes...
We thought that Senator Cohen had agreed to record an interview for this although as a politician he is strictly outside the terms of reference.
But also as a politician, he has not got back in touch...

We have a few more interviews lined up but there is a limit to the amount of faith that can be consumed on this generally political site.

Unfortunately, those with faith seem reluctant to make comments. We have also offered to help set up a "faith" site for Jersey so that issues can be discussed among friends primarily - but that offer has not yet been taken up.

We have spoken with the Amos/Oxfam man, invited him to be interviewed and hope that he will agree.

TonyTheProf said...

What about Stephen Regal, the President of the Jewish Congregation in Jersey? He isn;t a politician, so might be more amenable than Freddie.