Huge income inequality is violence, says French Protestant leader

By staff writers
January 10, 2013

The president of the national council of the Reformed Church of France has described growing income inequality as a form of violence and has called for self-restraint among high earners in a time of austerity.

The appeal comes in an article appearing in the French newspaper La Croix, and in an English translation on the website of religion and society thinktank Ekklesia.

The Rev Laurent Schlumberger, who will be the first president of the United Protestant Church of France (EPUF) after its official founding in May 2013, appears sceptical about the will and capacity of governments and consumer-bound individuals to act decisively to lessen the growing gap between very high incomes and low salaries. But he believes it is right to encourage "very large shareholders, economic leaders of groups, the stars of sport and entertainment, top financiers" to "put a limit on the income you will accept."

To those who will think this naïve, the French Protestant leader declares: "It is you who will turn out to be naïve for thinking that everything can continue just as it is and that you bear no responsibility."

Schlumberger's attack on the corrosive impact of inequality is direct and powerful.

"At the end of 2012 poverty is spreading like a disease and at the same time the bosses of the top quoted companies are earning even more," he writes. "These developments have a deep-seated impact. This growing inequality engenders a triple violence: moral, social and human."

"In the 2008 crisis, economic and political leaders made solemn commitments to support increased regulation and more reasonable salaries. Since then the race for money has taken off even faster," says the Protestant church leader.

The Reformed Church of France (L’Église Réformée de France, ÉRF) is a Christian denomination with Calvinist roots. It is the original and largest Protestant denomination in France.

* Read 'In praise of income limits: a call for self-regulation', by Laurent Schlumberger (translated by Jane Stranz) in full here: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17767

* ÉRF/EPUF website (French): http://www.eglise-reformee.fr/

[Ekk/3]

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