Cleansing the Temple

In an interview with Total Politics, Archbishop Justin Welby stated that the Church of England is to try and compete pay day loan company Wonga ‘out of existence’ by establishing credit unions:

“A plan for the church to develop credit unions [non-profit lenders] has been floated, with Welby proud that the church is “putting our money where our mouth is” in developing an alternative to payday money-lenders. The plan, he says, is to create “credit unions that are both engaged in their communities and are much more professional – and people have got to know about them.””

Lets get this straight: the Church is about to become a money-lender. Granted these financial alms may have admirable roots (and the Church has always enjoyed dabbling in the temporal affairs of money in some form or another) but clearly there is some theological difficulty with the Church becoming a money-lender.

There are some theological grey areas out there, but this isn’t one of them. Jesus literally threw the money-lenders out the church:

“And 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.”—Matthew 21:12–13

Now some may claim that this is ‘right’ money lending as opposed to ‘Wong’ money lending. And I know the Church is sometimes delightfully Orwellian in its hypocrisy to make those distinctions, but this is a big one. Usury (borrowing for profit) has always been a big no-no. In fact it’s been pretty vilified over the years. So while it’s understandable that Welby is looking to tackle Wonga & Co, it still seems  strange quirk to allow lending agencies to use Church premises.
Guys, it’s cool – this is my whip of acceptance!

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