Churches urged to 'take sides' against austerity

By staff writers
June 22, 2015

Churches have been urged to do more to resist the UK government's cuts agenda following major anti-austerity demonstrations in London and Glasgow this weekend.

The call came as the group Christianity Uncut announced it was relaunching under a new name: Christians for Economic Justice (CEJ).

The group said that “Tory policies are not compatible with Jesus' example of siding with the poor”. They urged church leader to “take sides” against austerity, supporting protests, strikes and nonviolent civil disobedience to resist policies that they say punish the poor for the sins of the rich.

“Economic justice is at the centre of the biblical narrative,” said CEJ spokesperson Chris Wood this morning (22 June) as the group's new name was announced.

He acknowledged that Christianity Uncut had been relatively inactive over the last year, due largely to members' involvement in other campaigns. The relaunch is expected to signal a return to the group's activism.

CEJ were this morning keen to emphasise that they applaud church leaders who criticise welfare cuts, but they them to go further and challenge the economic system itself. The group's new name reflects a desire not only to campaign against austerity but to resist capitalism.

“The prophets and Jesus spoke of Jubilee - the cancellation of debts – and the need to oppose usury,” said Wood. “These values are incompatible with a capitalist economy in which wealth is hoarded by global elites. Austerity policies, wherever they appear around the world, serve to make things even worse by transferring more wealth from the poor to the rich.”

Christianity Uncut was most active in 2011-13, when the group organised a circle of prayer at the eviction of Occupy London Stock Exchange and joined protests against disability cuts, corporate tax avoidance and high military spending. Several of the group's members were arrested at the London arms fair in 2013 and put on trial.

CEJ say their supporters come from a broad range of Christian backgrounds, including clergy from Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches, among others.

The group say they are still happy to work alongside other Christian organisations, as well as people of other religions and of none.

“This is not about being party-political, or pretending that we have all the answers,” said Chris Wood. “It's about seeking to follow Jesus' example of resisting injustice. As we do this, we participate in the Kingdom of God, where all are treasured for their inherent human worth, loved by God, rather than for the fleeting value of money and possessions.”

*To read more about Christians for Economic Justice, please see http://www.christianityuncut.wordpress.com.

[Ekk/1]

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