Christians are being encouraged to do no business with tax-dodging corporations such as Amazon and Starbucks for the duration of Lent, as a public witness against the sins of corporate tax avoidance.
As Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday (13 February), the Rev Chris Howson, a Church of England priest in Sunderland, will anoint his local branch of Starbucks with ashes, traditionally used as a call to repentance - turning around and heading in a new direction.
Christianity Uncut, a network of Christians opposed to the injustices of neoliberal capitalism, suggest that a crackdown on tax avoidance is a better way of reducing the national deficit than cutting public services and the welfare state.
They recognise that individual Christians will reach different conclusions about which companies to target and whether to continue with the boycott beyond Lent. But they suggested that lots of Christians acting on the issue in their personal spending could be both an important witness and a form of economic pressure.
The Rev Chris Howson commented: "Tax justice is a pressing issue. Amazon, with its aggressive tax avoidance policy, can easily out-compete British-based high street firms. For Lent, there will be no more cheap books for me from this tax dodger! As for Starbucks, not only has it avoided millions of pounds of corporation tax over the last few years, it has tried to publicly bribe the government, instead of simply paying its tax.”
Other ideas for the 'tax justice fast' include moving money from banks that have avoided tax, such as Barclay's, and committing to shopping locally.
Howson added: “Join me, and let's support those who pay their taxes so that our kids get a decent education, bins are collected, and people can be looked after by the NHS. Make up your own version of the Tax Justice Fast for Lent.”
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which this year falls today (13 February) and finishes on Holy Saturday (which this year falls on 30 March), the day before Easter. Lent is seen as a time of repentance (turning around and heading in a new direction) and self-examination ahead of Easter.
Christianity Uncut (http://www.christianityuncut.wordpress.com) is an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government’s cuts agenda and the injustices of neoliberal capitalism.
The groups says: "We are inspired by the example of Jesus, who took nonviolent direct action in the Jerusalem Temple, in solidarity with people who are poor, exploited and marginalised."