Under Siege: The Church of England or Modern Day Pharisees? The Ongoing Battle to Appease the Moneychangers at the Expense of the Anticapitalist NeoProtestant Movement

Submitted by Terence Blackett

“If you want to make someone angry tell him a lie; if you want to make him furious, tell him the truth.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

In recent weeks, the standoff between antiglobalization, anticapitalist, neoprotestant protesters on the precincts of St. Paul’s Cathedral (Church of England’s proverbial Sistine Chapel) has thrown this [478] year old institution into a quagmire – a battleground of medieval contestation between the forces of unethical modern capitalism and the flagship battalion of revolutionary antiestablishment provocateurs whose sole intent is to deflocculate the incendiary forces of rampant greed and excess allowed to parasitically leech off the masses of the poor, the working classes and the diminishing middle-classes.

The Church of England as an antiquated institution is now under siege by counter-cyclical forces spurred on by the march of postmodern progress that has brought the “DEBATE” about the Anglican religion from the pews to the pavement; from padded seats to the streets and from the pontifical to the masses of the poor and dispossessed.

The Gospel of Matthew 21:12-13 says that “Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, ‘It is written’, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Strong words which still echo down through to our time – yet go unheeded by the blind Pharisees who run these decadent religious institutions.

Since October 15th the Church of England has had an opportunity to correct an injustice occurring in the broad light of day but has been reticent choosing rather to close the doors of St. Paul’s Cathedral to parishioners and tourists alike as they floundered around in PR myopia to figure out how to deal with what was to become a crisis on their doorsteps.

It is now undeniable that since the days of King Henry V111 who made a clean break from the tentacles of the Vatican that this is the first major crisis in almost 500 years. Many of us believe that this has occurred to show up the abhorrent, almost irrelevant nature of modern religious politics where the separation of Church and State is now so blurred that it is almost impossible to differentiate between the “HOUSE” Jesus came to institute and its equivalent, immersed like the temple of old in moneychanging and false worship.

For once in the church’s history, it had an opportunity to set the moral socioeconomic agenda based on all that is going on in British society but when presented with the choice to make a real difference – it proved to be a toothless tiger.

Joan Bakewell writing in the Telegraph stated that “The Cathedral’s initial response to the protesters, however, was sudden and alarming, and the chaos resulted in high-profile resignations – of Rev. Dr Giles Fraser, the canon chancellor, and, four days later, the Dean himself, the Rt. Rev. Graeme Knowles – amid mounting criticism of the cathedral’s handling of the protest camp, the Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, stepped in to take control. Mark Field, the Conservative MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, derided St Paul’s as “a national laughing stock”. This was headline stuff indeed.”

The church then consequently lost whatever moral authority it had as a result of falling at the last hurdle and by allowing circumstances to dictate its course of action – giving the protesters the golden opportunity to hang huge banners on the steps of St. Paul’s asking the question – “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?” And as Joan Bakewell said in her piece: “Tents make colourful newspaper pictures, and the rows made the front pages alongside, ironically enough, the global financial crisis and news that showed top directors’ pay had risen by 49% over the past year.”

Back in 2008, I wrote a piece of commentary entitled “Why Would Jesus Whip The Moneychangers Out Of The Temple? Is There A Lesson Here In Our Current Financial Mess? Little did I realize the prophetic connotations of such a discourse given that there is really nothing new under the sun and the more things seem to change – the more they stay the same. For just as Church & State creates a lethal cocktail – so is the service of GOD* and the service of MAMMON* at the same time.

When I wrote the above piece, I alluded to The Marketplace of the Family of Annas” giving contemporary religio-political relevance to the Roman Catholic Church and its vast wealth. The historian Josephus sheds some light on the actions of one member of this priestly family, Annas the younger, the man who had James (the writer of the book of James in the Bible and the brother of Jesus) stoned to death after being thrown from the pinnacle of the temple. Josephus states: “The high priest, Ananus, (after he had been relieved from his office) to some degree, was respected and feared by the citizens, but in a bad way; for he loved to hoard money. He became good friends with Albinus, and of the newly installed high priest. He did so by offering them bribes; he also had wicked servants, who associated with the vilest sort of characters, who went to the thrashing-floors, and took the tithes that belonged to the priests by force, and beat anyone who would not give these tithes to them. So the other high priests that followed him as well as his servants acted likewise, without anyone being able to stop them; so that some of the priests, those who were old and were being supported with those tithes, died for lack of food.”

As a matter of fact, Jewish history records that these high priests who walked the temple courts during the 1st century, were despised by the majority of the people for their brutality and hunger for money. So much so that there is a strong condemnation of these men in the Talmud.

Tosefta, Menachoth 13.21 states in a Rabbinic Lament over the brutality of the Sadducees – Abba Saul ben Betnith and Abba Jose ben Johanan of Jerusalem says: “Woe to the house of Boethus! Woe to me because of their rods!” (Simon, son of Boethus, was father in-law to Herod. He was a high priest during the reign of Herod the Great) – the one guilty of mass infanticide at the birth of JESUS* because of his psychopathic madness to destroy THE MESSIAH* at any cost.

So in a “Satanic twist of fate”, the rod that Jesus used in AD30 to whip the moneychangers from the temple was now instrumental in whipping the poor, the dispossessed and the innocent into submission by much of the said church and [2000] years down the road – the modern church, the state and the bankers are all in bed together in a sinister “gangbang” – a ménage a trois of vile proportions.

Research done by Jonathan Bartley and Simon Barrow in 2009, looked at The Church of England’s investments and the paper argued that “for Christian churches, economics need to be re-located in the subversive and alternative calling of a Gospel community in an unjust world.” These findings were so far-reaching; I cannot do it justice in this short piece.

However, it is reported: “In April 2011, the Church Commissioners announced that the Church of England’s assets had increased in 2010 from £4.8 billion to £5.3 billion…On the other hand, it also admitted that it had lost a sum almost as much – £1.3 billion – through its investments in shares and property (this due to the Market Crash of 2008 and the global economic decline)… But the Church still had £4.4 billion at the end of 2009, edging back to 4.8 billion the following year…The Church of England has a huge commitment to the chunk of its assets tied up in pensions and buildings…”

“The core of the problem is that the Established Church sees its investments primarily in terms of fundraising rather than in terms of core calling and purpose (including economic justice). The Church Commissioners, who are institutionally accountable to Crown, Parliament and ecclesiastical bureaucracy rather than to a Gospel community aligned with the world’s have-nots, have previously stated the aim of making a 5% profit over and above the rate of inflation for the institutional benefit of the Church of England…”

“The Church also has a combined current investment of over £60 million in TESCO* and UNILEVER*, [2] corporate giants who share last place in the ethical ranking of Britain’s top 100 companies. TESCO* in particular, has come in for criticism over the exploitation of textile workers in India and in the UK, for driving local businesses out of towns and villages and for using its muscle to secure planning permission despite the strong objections of residents…. Dr. Vincent Magombe, who is the director of the pressure group Africa Inform International, compared the actions of the retailer to “hungry sharks who are feeding on the carcass of a dead country”… £23 million is also invested in Nestle, which those involved in the Baby Milk Action campaign say is still breaking the World Health Organisation (WHO) code on marketing…”

Though assessed as having human rights violations, the Church’s investments in “mining companies such as BHP Biliton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American for their destruction of the environment – the Church has a combined shareholding of £62 million in these three companies alone…”

“The Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres, has signed a pledge to severely restrict his flying as part of the Church’s campaigning against climate change. He has encouraged others to do likewise. This is good. But the Church still achieves its goal of profit maximisation when everyone else burns fossil fuels, because its biggest share investments of all are in Royal Dutch Shell and BP (a total of £196 million)…”

“There are also additional questions to be asked over the financial instruments the Church uses. A few years ago, in order to protect its foreign investments, it set up a currency hedging programme to sell sterling (the British pound). Until recently, it had a substantial holding in the largest listed hedge-fund, Man Group. (This no longer appears on the Church’s annual report, but that may be because the shares are now only worth about 30% of what they were at their peak and so no longer show up as a substantial shareholding). The Church has also been criticised for having a stock lending programme through J. P. Morgan: a practice used for short-selling. The Church also trades in debts: the commissioners sold a £135 million mortgage portfolio in 2007…”

“Along with its investments in HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Lloyds TSB, this all makes the Church’s ongoing criticism of city ‘bank robbers’, greed, unregulated capitalism, debt and short-selling, ring rather hollow. It also sadly undermines any proposals the Church may come up with for substantial change in a system in which it is itself deeply immersed….”

So when Archbishop Rowan Williams said last week that “There is still a powerful sense around – fair or not – of a whole society paying for the errors and irresponsibility of bankers; of impatience with a return to ‘business as usual’ – represented by still-soaring bonuses and little visible change in banking practices,” – he is muttering deceptive lies, falsehoods and empty, hollow appeasements which bear no real substance in fact.

Let’s be clear – there are good people in all the churches of Christendom including pastors, ministers and leaders but the inherent problem is the structural asphyxiation caused by the love of money, riches and worldly honor that is the malignant cancer at the heart of the “twisted” message of Jesus Christ. It seems too easy to justify apathy and to pretend that the love of money does not blur the consciences of men but HE* who searches the heart knows differently.

In 1924, The American Bankers Association magazine clearly illustrated the true intent of these “dark capitalist forces” that are at work both in the hallowed halls of politics and within the “sanctuary” of religion: “Capital must be protected in every possible way. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When through the process of law, the common people lose their homes; they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of Government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers. These truths are well known among our principal men who are now engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance. It is thus by discreet action we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished.”

In conclusion, the research findings of Bartlett & Co. clearly earmarks the Pharisaism endemic within the Church of England and like the Catholic Church are nothing more than paganistic religious institutions bent on wealth creation. They believe that “What is needed now is a major audit, re-prioritisation and re-strategising of the Church of England’s finance, investment and economic contribution – both to self-sustainability, to local communities and to justice in the world. The work of the World Council of Churches, the ‘confessional’ process on economics among the Reformed family of churches, and the commitment of Anabaptists globally to redistribute wealth among their own communities and through programmes aimed at social transformation and peace witness – all these require more engagement by the churches in Britain; not least the large and established Church of England.”

What most fear is that there will never be any grounds legitimately or otherwise for institutions like the Church or any other monolith to really change its current course of actions as they already know what direction the world may be taking. Larry Bates, former professor of economics, and author of the bestselling book – “The New Economic Disorder” warns: “I can tell you right now that there is going to be a crash of unprecedented proportions. A crash like we have never seen before in this country. The greatest shock of this decade is that more people are about to lose more money than at any time before in history, but the second greatest shock will be the incredible amount of money a relatively small group of people will make at the same time. You see, in periods of economic upheaval in periods of economic crisis, wealth is not destroyed, it is merely transferred.”

Organized religion has sadly fallen prey to a false message while refusing to give heed to the “TRUE” message and the end result is ongoing confusion and a world that is quickly perishing because of a lack of any kind of real leadership.

0 thoughts on “Under Siege: The Church of England or Modern Day Pharisees? The Ongoing Battle to Appease the Moneychangers at the Expense of the Anticapitalist NeoProtestant Movement

  1. quite an interesting and informative article. i have long concluded that the anglican denomination of which i am a part like party political institutions has long lost its way. priesthood is no longer a vocation but a profession.just one question , mr blackett, the virtues and/or non-virtues of religion are expostulated by a number of faiths and denominations; why confine your remarks therefore to catholicism and anglicanisn particularly the church of england? am i nseeing a bias here? just asking.

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