Religious Leaders Slam Bankers

George Washington's picture

Clipboard02 Religious Leaders Slam BankersAnthony Freda/Daniel Zollinger

Church of England: Bankers Should Repent

We’ve extensively documented that Jesus, his apostles, and ancient Jewish leaders would all be furious with modern bankers.

We’ve also noted that the first Christians and Jews insisted on debt forgiveness as one of their core tenants. Indeed, the founders of all of the great religions taught that forgiveness of debt is the core of spirituality.

Usury was condemned by virtually all of the world’s religions.

And Dante’s Inferno is populated largely with usurers, misers and other “financial sinners”.

It’s not just the ancients …

The Church of England recently submitted comments to the British parliamentary commission investigating the Libor rate-fixing scandal and other recent banking misdeeds, saying that bankers should repent:

The question is not whether systems have been adequate to identify and deal with the bad apples but whether the whole orchard needs replanting.




The [real] question is how banking can restore its internal professional standards in ways which communicate trust both within the industry and with stakeholders throughout the community. [The Church is correct.]




Economic growth is a good thing but only to the extent that it is sustainable, realistic and achieved morally.




Restoring trust frequently requires symbolic, as well as merely effective, change to take place.




One insight from the Christian tradition of penitence and forgiveness is that it is often not enough to put matters back to where they were before things went wrong; some demonstration of a change of heart by means of restitution and a visibly robust refusal to let the same failings occur again, is necessary before a bad situation can be made good. Exactly what kind of action by the banks, or by the government, would be necessary to restore trust in this way would probably emerge if the debate about banking ethics were to take place openly in the public realm.




To achieve this is not just a matter of technical “fixes” but may require public, corporate, contrition for past failings, demonstrably robust structures to ensure that old mistakes are not repeated, and possibly some symbolic steps to assure the public that the corporate culture has changed.

The Wall Street Journal notes:

We spoke this week with the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Brown, director of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, from his office in Church House, a stone’s throw from Westminster Abbey in London.


[Brown told the journal:]  It wasn’t that long ago that bankers believed that their job was to help people manage their money. They went into banking to serve what we call the Common Good, and they believed that their activity should be judged on how it serves the good of the people.


The notion of the Common Good is a very strong strand in Christian thinking. The Common Good is why you have capitalism. Adam

Smith recognized that society must be undergirded by strong moral views.




The Theory of Moral Sentiments makes Smith’s view very clear: that capitalism won’t achieve its ends without the things a moral sense can offer, and that if you discount your brother’s plight you’ve forgotten what capitalism is about. The structures of business and the mechanisms of capitalism need to recognize that, in the end, people need to be human to one another. To paraphrase Archbishop William Temple, self-interest prompts what justice demands.




George Bernard Shaw said, “All professions are conspiracies against the laity,” but in banking that has come to an extreme.



There’s a very great temptation just to say, “Things went wrong, we’ve put them back to where they were before, now you can forget that it went wrong, OK?” But it’s like shoplifting: Even if you put what you took back onto the shelf, you still did something wrong. Just restoring the status quo ante doesn’t give people the sense that trust has been restored. You can’t just put it back on the shelf; you have to admit that the way things were done was wrong.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury agrees:

The moral corruption of the banks is poisoning society ….


The banking sector is an important part of the network of institutions which build a civil society.


Thus evidence of corruption in our banks, and the resulting collapse of public trust in them, affects our very democracy.




The real crisis we are facing is not a financial but a moral one. And it is a direct result of the something-for-nothing culture which is poisoning our society.


The question we must all seek to address, then, is how we can restore public confidence in these tarnished institutions. Where the banks are concerned, the answer lies partly in simple finance — for they must do their part to help restore Britain to economic stability, having plunged us into such peril in the crash of 2008.


But the reparations that must be made go beyond balance sheets.

One of the key Christian concepts is the idea of repentance, and I firmly believe that this is not a matter merely of saying a begrudging ‘sorry’, or simply paying lip-service with no real change of heart. Repentance implies a complete turning around and making good.




As things stand, the banks have failed to demonstrate any sort of repentance.




It is hard not to conclude that institutionalised corruption is rife throughout today’s banking industry.




Criminal charges must be brought where there is serious malpractice and corruption. This would only be a start, but at least it would begin to restore the public’s faith in institutions which seem far more interested in profits than morals.

We couldn’t agree more.

And it’s not just naive clergymen saying this.  The fourth most powerful bishop in the Church of England – a former derivatives trader – is singing from the same hymn sheet.

Religious Leaders Worldwide Condemn Banking Practices

German Protestant and Catholic leaders slammed big banks for  their “culture of greed”, in which “money has become akin to God”, and said:

It’s devastating that this ethos [of remembering that bankers are custodians for other people's money] can simply disappear and that people can trade with things that don’t exist.

The Pope noted:

It would in fact be decidedly inadequate to limit oneself to pursuing only maximum profit.  It is necessary, rather, to always refer to the higher values of human living if one wants to help the true growth and full development of the community.

He also wrote:

It is possible for the financial accounts to be in order, and yet for the people — who make up the firm’s most valuable asset — to be humiliated and their dignity offended.




Besides being morally inadmissible, this will eventually have negative repercussions on the firm’s economic efficiency. In fact, the purpose of a business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavoring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society.


Profit is a regulator of the life of a business, but it is not the only one; other human and moral factors must also be considered which, in the long term, are at least equally important for the life of a business.

Rabbis have called for banks to help homeowners hold onto their homes:

The demonstration … served to remind participants at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual meeting that they have a moral responsibility to protect struggling homeowners caught off guard by the nation’s housing crisis.


Organizers invited bankers to dine with them underneath the awning Jews call a “sukkah” and hear heartfelt testimonies from those touched by the rapid decline in residential real estate.


The location of the demonstration also underscored activists’ concern that bankers and other businesses aren’t upholding the Jewish value of repairing the world.




Sukkot, which starts at sundown Wednesday, commemorates the period of time Israelites wandered in the desert toward the Promised Land after they were freed from slavery in Egypt.


Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann said the festival’s ancient meaning also applies to modern times. Families erect flimsy huts outside their homes to celebrate “all of that which makes our lives both livable and beautiful.” They also reflect on ways to make that a reality beyond the walls of their home and synagogue, she said.


Jews can’t ignore the circumstances that stand in the way of creating a better world for everyone, she said.


“Housing foreclosures are ripping apart one of the important pieces of fabric of family life and American life,” said Heydemann,

co-rabbi of Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living in Glencoe and Mishkan, an independent Jewish community in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.




Jane Ramsey, executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, said community organizers have witnessed families across the income spectrum affected by the economic crisis in a variety of ways.




“Sukkot is a very meaningful time to lift up the whole notion of shelter and, in this case, the unstable nature of housing today and the insecurity that families are feeling,” Ramsey said.

To this day, Islamic leaders prohibit the buying and selling of debt, and forbid usury.

Indeed, religious and spiritual traditions worldwide demand a reform to the banking system … so that it stops serving the handful of banking executives and starts to serve the community and the well-being of all people.


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EscapingProgress's picture

The banks and churches are competing for human souls, and the banks are winning. You had a nice run Jesus, but get out of Bernanke's way.

Benjamin Glutton's picture

“We are canceling the remaining amount you owe Chase!” says a letter that JPMorgan Chase sent recently to thousands of home loan borrowers. “You are approved for a full principal forgiveness of your Home Equity Account,” says another, from Bank of America.

Jackie Esposito, of Guilford, Conn., got a letter like that. But she wasn’t elated — because she doesn’t owe the money anymore. She and her husband filed for bankruptcy three years ago. The roughly $64,000 they owed Chase has been legally wiped out.

What’s going on?

Cast your mind back to February. Five of the nation’s big banks, including Chase and Bank of America, agreed to pay $25 billion to settle state and federal claims over questionable mortgage practices and promised to work harder to help borrowers who were in trouble. To prod the banks, the government said it would give them credits against the amounts they agreed to pay.

So, to the ire of customers who couldn’t get banks to work with them before, banks are now forgiving debts that no longer exist.

Neil Crane is a lawyer in Hamden, Conn., who represented Ms. Esposito and her husband in their bankruptcy. He says four of his other clients have recently received letters from banks claiming to forgive discharged debt.

“I never thought in my wildest dreams that the banks would do this properly,” Mr. Crane said last week. “But I think it’s really wrong to be foreclosing on mortgages you don’t own and relinquishing debt you don’t own.”

It’s bad enough that these letters are inaccurate. But even worse are the tax problems that they may create for people like Ms. Esposito. In most cases, the Internal Revenue Service considers debt that is forgiven to be taxable income. One exception occurs in bankruptcy; when a debt is discharged, it is not taxable.

But the letters sent by Chase and Bank of America clearly warn that the forgiveness will be reported to the I.R.S. If so, these borrowers may have to prove that the banks erred in claiming to have forgiven the debts.

I ASKED spokesmen for Chase and Bank of America how they could forgive debts that no longer existed. Both gave the same unsatisfying answer. Very similar letters had been sent, both banks said, to two very different types of borrowers. One set of borrowers has outstanding debt that the banks are offering to forgive. The other set has had their debts discharged in bankruptcy, but the bank still holds a lien against their properties. Releasing the liens provides a benefit to borrowers when they go to sell their homes, and both banks said the letters were intended to notify borrowers whose liens were being released.

Why not take care to write letters specifically tailored to each borrower’s situation?

Dan Frahm, a Bank of America spokesman, said the bank would work on clarifying what was in the letters to borrowers. And, late Friday, the bank put a more extensive description of the forgiveness and lien release program on its Web site. Not a bad idea, since nowhere does Bank of America’s letter discuss releasing the lien. Mr. Frahm estimated that 12,000 Bank of America customers whose debts had been discharged had received these letters.

Tom Kelly, a Chase spokesman, conceded that the bank “may have caused some confusion for customers.” Its letter does note that the bank is releasing the lien on the property.

But even this is incorrect in Ms. Esposito’s case, Mr. Crane said. Her lien was actually eliminated back in 2009, during her bankruptcy proceeding.

All of this made me wonder: are the banks’ forgiveness letters a way to gain credits for debts these institutions are improperly claiming to have extinguished? The banks say no.

But Chase appears to be claiming to release a lien on Ms. Esposito’s property that it does not hold. And under the mortgage settlement, it could receive a credit.

So I asked Joseph A. Smith Jr., a former banking regulator in North Carolina who is monitoring the settlement, how he planned to vet the banks’ claims of relief provided and credit earned. For example, how will he ensure that institutions do not receive credit for releasing liens that have been eliminated?

“We will review compliance with this requirement as we will with all of the consumer relief requirements,” Mr. Smith said, “through review of the corporate records relating to such transactions.”

Good luck with that.


shovelhead's picture

Another stroke of bankster brilliance.

Selling (gaining tax credits for) something that doesn't exist.

The perfect business model. They'll never notice, but if they do, we'll just pay the 1 cent on a dollar gained fine...again.

The Govt.'s vig is another cost of doing business.

This is an example of the unintended consequences of Govt. inducing behavior with tax credits. If you throw money on the table you must expect that the unentitled will find a way to take it, leaving the balance to be paid by taxpayers.

Marking assets (liabilities in reality) to fantasy instead of market prices is the mother from which all other fraud flows.

You just can't become to big to fail without it.

LongSoupLine's picture

Boy, you must be bad when child molesters are calling you out as evil.

ThisIsBob's picture

Forget repentance.  Jump you fuckers!

Savyindallas's picture

Won't happen. Just get them near the leadge and I'll push them.

Laddie's picture

Christians and Muslims both were forbidden to engage in usury, unfortunately that left one "Abrahamic" faith wide open to exploit the loophole.

Capitalism, like the $7 trillion bailout of the Banksters.

I could never understand how it was that so many thoughtful and intelligent people bought the CAPITALISM bill of goods, nobody has said it better:

Contrary to what so many good people -- out of sheer terror of 'Communism' -- think, Capitalism is not 'free enterprise,' an incentive for success, 'a chance for all.' Capitalism is trusts, speculation, parasitical usury. Capitalism is J. P. Morgan, Rothschild's bank, ripping apart the nations like maddened swine. Capitalism is the frying pan in which culture is rendered down to the grease of money. Following it, as the night to day, is the thrice hotter fire of 'Communism.'

shovelhead's picture

Utter nonsense.

This descriptor of capitalism identifies it's abuse and not it's use.

This is a perfect example of lazy thinking and polemics.

frenchie's picture

Not sure talmud says something like this...

markar's picture

Silly argument. We already know the bankers are doing God's work

Bastiat's picture

We don't need religious leaders belated opinions.  The rule of law would be a good start--and the rewards would come in this life:

nick howdy's picture

And now a message from your angry as fuck next door neighbor Ted Torbich....

Juan Wild's picture

The only people followed "religiously" today are pop icons such as Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber, sports stars, or Hollywood types. Even Angelina and Brad, though well-intentioned (I assume), have gone down that United Nations DEAD END.

Its always been about the evils of fractional reserve banking. Central banking, with Rothschild the King of Ponzi.
Everyone a debt slave. Everyone stressing over money, the root of all evil. Everyone loving money, everyone loving and worshipping Rothschild whether they know it or not. We don't look for love in the heart of a person, although we like to say so. In the end, the flock follows the richest people in popular culture. The flock has chosen their "religious leaders".

This has to get worse before there is any real change. The system must fall. It can't be fixed.

Interest is the invention of Satan ~ Thomas Edison

shovelhead's picture

Interest is simply the cost of impatience. A premium on time preference.

Nothing more.

Aegelis's picture

Correction to the visual: Jesus made a whip to drive out people who were turning the temple in a market, not for turning a market into a market.

Bluntly Put's picture

I think the term Jesus used was a "robbers den". But see, the organized religions of the world rely on political establisments for their cartel of power, just like the banks. These leaders talk of repentence and open confession of wrongdoing by the transgressors, but who could possibly enforce this action other than the governments involved?

Only by removing the backstop of government funding and regulatory abuse could these transgressions be brought to light and the transgressors reap rotten fruit from the seeds they have sown. The market could function in this way, if it was allowed to function. Same thing with faith, it could function as intended if allowed to function without centralized interference.

GMadScientist's picture

Those Churches should "render unto Caesar" or STFU about economic policy.

Stuck on Zero's picture

The Ferengis most vehemently disagree with these views.


Blazed's picture

All front end froth, and then after huffing and puffing we are going to get lectured by this other tool set, "forgive and forget" the banksters. Yeah sure, ok, makes sense. How about hang em high, biatches.

Peter Pan's picture

As the Abbot of St Silouan Monastery said:

"The system of consumption made man a prisoner of the logic of profit. The logic of profit transformed the earth's resources into financial calculations and financial calculations loosened the reins of the passions of the soul and body....then individual freedom and self-worship caused people's aspirations to become greater than the environment's capacity to pump vital capital into them and so heaven and earth could no longer match people's wild cravings."

mobius8curve's picture

It is not how poor you are but what you do with what the Lord has blessed you with when called upon to use it. It is the poor soul who tries to rat hole it for himself that is going to wake up on the other side of that threshold rejected.


Mark 10:29-31

 Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands, for my sake, and for the gospel's sake, (30) but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. (31) But many that are

first shall be last; and the last first.

Try this it really works!



shovelhead's picture

A Hundredfold?

Sounds like excessive leverage to me. :)

Caveat Emptor.


falak pema's picture

lol, when the church decides its time to declare king dollar a heretic! 

Back to Pope vs kings! 

stiler's picture

River Road: got ya.

The Prosperity Gospel has deep roots and is based on a misinterpretation of the scriptures. It's not the case that the more spiritual one is, the wealthier one will be. More like, the poorer you will be. It's the way of the Cross.

Widowmaker's picture

Do corporations go to heaven now?   Incorporated salvation?!  Is fuckup Fed going to bail out pinstripe faggot salvations next??

Organized crime Inc says their fiat money has replaced God, and the Church needs to get over it. 

Incorporated racketeering dripping in lawless government collusion and taxpayer bonuses are all that matters.  Anything else is a hate crime.

Can the Fed and the bearded pervert control religion and print spiritual enlightenment, or trust?  Does he THINK he can?

The truth is "their" fraud-money is already dead -- all that awaits is the realization and mobilization.  The article's premise speaks directly of the latter, next is momentum.

lesterbegood's picture

A little research on reveals:

CHURCH OF ENGLAND - A private corporation

ANGLICAN CHURCH - a private corporation

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH - a private corporation

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - a private corporation

QUEEN ELIZABETH II - a private corporation

THE ALL-CAPS NAME ON YOUR drivers license, SSN, birth certificate - a private corporation

Mercury's picture

Usury was condemned by virtually all of the world’s religions.


...and how did that work out?

Sorry but the track record of the "world's religions" shows that they don't actually understand the time value of money. Remember, in the ancient religious sense, usury is making loans with any interest. In the modern sense usury refers to excessive interest.  The world’s great religious leaders (and GW?) must love ZIRP then. Money for nothing and your debt for that it?  Thanks anyway fellas.

 The business of lending money (in and of itself) is not synonymous corruption, cheating, cronyism or evil. At least the Jews were allowed to lend money to those outside their faith. Muslims and for a long time Christians were prohibited from lending with any interest at all...and the economies built around those strictures have reflected that.

Eventually the Medici family came along and figured out they could fool the Vatican by hiding interest within currency exchange rates connected to loans.  Today modern “Muslim banking” utilizes such things as (effective) zero-coupon bonds and well capitalized third parties to buy desired assets and resell them to end buyers at a mark-up and on the installment plan.  So, to reap the economic benefits that follow money lending, religious leaders are happy to call what meets the book definition of an apple…an orange.

Money has time value.  Get over it.

The market is plenty capable of punishing bad actors and setting the proper price for money.  We’re in the mess we’re in because the government and the non-banking bankers (among others) who control it are preventing those mechanisms from functioning.

shovelhead's picture

Well done, sir.

Semantics do not change the immutable fact of time value.

One may as well deny gravity as a force to which we are all subject.

stiler's picture

but the Calvinists have their own problems. Calvinism is very close to Islam in its belief in election. In hyper-Calvinism there's nothing you can do to change your election status, If you're not saved, too bad, you're going to hell no matter what. It's not up to a person to decide their destiny.

"Judgment must begin at the house of God" and it has. The church has been judged. It is utterly corrupt and apostate. The church of England castigating the bankers? What a joke! You've welcomed homosexuality into the church, so what's wrong with a little financial sleaze? These "churches" are in bed with the bankers. It's called the whore of Babylon riding on the beast drinking the wine (blood of believers) of the cup of abominations.

barroter's picture

Chances are, I'm not one of those predestined to go to Heaven.  If I'm going to Hell anyway, I might as well go on a killing spree taking out elected Calvinists. 


Boxed Merlot's picture

Chances are, I'm not one of those predestined to go to Heaven...


That's the whole point in "Calvinism", you can only guess by your "chances are" comment.  (By the way, "chance" has nothing to do with it.) 

There is no way of anyone knowing who is and isn't "elect".  It's lazy thinking to lump "Calvinism" as defining who is and isn't "elect".  The point is, no one will receive injustice from the hand of God. 

Some will recieve Justice, i.e. just sentence for disobedience, while others will recieve mercy.  "Calvinism" only states we don't know who will recieve mercy, but to be sure, God will not be unjust.

jm.02 frn

RiverRoad's picture


Am referring mainly to the world's bankers et al having run away with the protestant ethic.

Money 4 Nothing's picture

Donate all your ill gotten gains to the Church and you will be saved!

Boxed Merlot's picture

ill gotten gains...


Don’t bring a female prostitute’s fee or a male prostitute’s payment to the Lord your God’s temple to pay a solemn promise because both of these things are detestable to the Lord your God.  Deuteronomy 23:18


What's done on WS and DC stays on WS and DC.  Let's try to keep that separation of church and state thing intact, OK?

NewWorldOrange's picture

LMAO. The moneyed elites and bullshit artists of the world turning on each other now.

NuYawkFrankie's picture

C of E = Establishment Sychophants


At this late date, all we get are these sanctimonious bromide blatherings from an organisation two of whose main churches (St Pauls & Westminster Abbey) are within spitting distance of the Bank of England in the heart of Mammon???   Is this some sorta joke????

I'm sure the Chief Rabbi of Engalnd - Jonathan SACKS (yup, there's that word again - at least phonetically) - will be a lot more forceful in his condemnation /sarc


tip e. canoe's picture

don't forget Trinity Church at the foot of Wall Street

RiverRoad's picture

The "church" wasn't around when Jesus let 'em have it in the courtyard there.  That the Catholic church has had it's own problems with money is beside the poiint.  The religious teachings of both the Muslims and the Jews condemn usery, etc.  IMO we need to look to the Protestant Calvinists and/or Scottish Protestantism to find their emphasis on, and reverence for, the "Godliness" of creating and piling up wealth and where that protestant ethic has gotten us today.  The world has apparently run amuck with it.

mobius8curve's picture

What would Jesus say?

!)Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal:

2)love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you


3)sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.

the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil

Just repeating what I read

proLiberty's picture

Bankers are not the only people who should repent.  The Church of England has turned its back what God defines as sin and instead substitutied its own ideas based on "social justice".  In the process, it has become a god unto itself.  

q99x2's picture

Banksters can't repent. They've doomed us all. At least that is what they'd like you to think.

malikai's picture

I love that photo. I'd make it a Raptor Jesus if I had the time.

Wakanda's picture

The religious nuts (everyone who believes) will get no where with the banksters, but their voices are a welcome change to the day to day mendacity.

Taint Boil's picture



What Would Jesus Do? Beat the crap out of some Banksters....

mtwilson's picture

This is the height of hypocrisy. Religious institutions have often been the source, rather than the cure of corruption. To hear the Vatican most of all, chastise banker malfeasance is a phenomenal joke. Please! If these criminal religious institutions had been doing their professed job all along, this banker theft would have been exposed long ago.

Shizzmoney's picture

The institutions of religion have been the #1 source of war since the beginning of time.  Currency is close behind in second, and the two are usually linked.

However, it is finally time they get after bankers for one of the biggest sins of all: usury.  Corporations and their lust of money WILL kill us all.

Azannoth's picture

Exactly, like the last time the Church was in charge, they demanded 10% of all labor from all working people without paying any taxes them selves(which they still don't).

They owned the most furtile land and the best breeding livestock, while the serfs had the "option" of tending to all of  it.

They're simply jealous that bankers get all the loot now not them.

Optimusprime's picture

Do you possibly refer obliquely to the miserable fact that the Church has had its finances handled by the Rothschilds since 1823?