Co nte nts
Magazine of the Student Ghristian Movement
lssue 138 . Summer 2011
3 Pacifist, not Powerless
4 The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin
lnterviewed by Jay Clark.
Movement Feature: The Politics lssue
6 Christian Anarchism: Self-identifying at the fringe
By Soo Tian Lee.
8 Youth vs Climate Ghange
Lizzie Gawen believes that young people have something to say.
Does society provide access and suppor.t for all? Nicola Sleap
doesn't think so.
13 Student Protest
Debbie White doesn't believe students are apathetic about political
14 Tax Avoidance
The moral injustice of tax avoidance in the UK and globally
and why this is something Christians should be concerned
about. Frank Kantor.
18 What is the Church?
Sam Gibson reflects on Church, the Eucharist and Society.
21 What does the arms trade have in common with
Universities and a Church of England Priest?
Abi Haque explains.
24 Sexuality is a Political lssue
We Fought the Law . Symon Hill.
26 Ten Propositions on Political Theology
Propositions . Kim Fabricius.
28 Goming Down the Mountain
Paul Parker offers advice for festival-goers
29 | am making all things new
A liturgy of readings and reflections on power and transformation
by Rosie Venner.
2 . Movement . Spring 2011
Pacifist, not powerless
Some thoughts from the lona Community's Students' Week. Thomas Worrall
There are two topics to avoid at the dinner table: religion
and politics. Nothing divides people more than finding out
that someone else is not on your team. "What, you're not
a Christian?" "I can't believe you would vote for Labour."
Combining the two in this issue of Movement, it may be
time to expect arguments.
You can't have failed to notice the recent protests regarding
university fees. Hundreds of people are scared and upset at
the NHS reforms. The interaction of anti-discrimination
laws with religious beliefs as regards fostering a child, or
staying in a bed-and-breakfast, have been prompting people
to take sides. This stuff makes people angry.
I recently stayed with the Iona Community for Students'
Week. Iona is a Scottish island, and the place where Christianity
was re-introduced to Britain in Mediaeval times, after
it had died out after the Romans left. In the Abbey there,
the Iona Communify welcome guests to stay with them and
experience community living. The Iona Community (not
all of whom live on the island) are commited to working
towards justice and peace. During Students' Week, there
were sessions led by Alison Phipps on the theme of conflict
transformation. I'd like to share with you some of the ideas
I took away from these sessions. Many apologies to Alison
for things I have misremembered: I was too busy thinking
on the deep issues to take notes!
Conflict transformation is different from conflict resolution.
The latter seeks to solve the problem that is under
dispute, and often involves looking for compromise on the
issue, leaving each side still focussing on whether they are
the winner or the loser. Conflict transformation involves
looking more at the holistic situation that led to the issue,
and prompts those who are taking sides to consider where
the other side are coming from. Even in the worst conflict
imaginable, each side will have reasons for doing what they
are doing: finding out the other side's reasons can help start
the transformation process.
At this point you may be thinking that this is yet another
one sided Good Christian's Guide To Being a Wuss*. How
often as a Christian, if that's what you define as, have you
been told that the correct thing to do when wronged is simply
forgive the perpetrator? I have struggled with being told
such things in the past. It just isn't possible to permanently
squash feelings of anger and injustice without doing serious
damage to yourself. Forgiveness takes time, and can't be
rushed through on an imposed schedule, yet that is exactly
what is often proclaimed from the pulpit. The subtext tends
to be if you can't forgive when told to, you are not as good
a Christian as those who can. Equally, forgiveness doesn't
mean forgetting, or worse still letting yourself be put back
in the same situation. The verse most often used to justify
this is Matthew 5:39: "But I tell you, do not resist an evil
person. Ifanyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them
the other cheek also."
Dr. Walter Wink proposed an interesting interpretation for
this verse. Instead of the frequent interpretation that states
that Christians are called to be doormats, this was in fact a
call to make your opponent look ridiculous. In Jewish society
at the time, the left hand was used for unclean tasks and
thus you couldn't hit someone with it. Thus, to hit someone
on the right cheek would necessitate a back-handed slap.
This was a gesture used to shame a subordinate and assert
power over them. What Jesus was advocating was offering
them the other cheek for another go, but there was no easy
way to perform a back-handed slap on the left cheek. Thus,
Jesus was encouraging someone in that situation to assert
their dignity without challenging their social status (which
would be a much bigger task). Similar explanations can be
made for other verses in that passage.
What I took away from Alison's sessions is that the Christian
way does not simply mean submission. Christians
often fight for causes they believe in, often against all but
impossible odds. If someone campaigning for nuclear disarmament
is arrested by the police, Jesus is calling them
not to resist arrest, but he is not calling them to be made to
look like a fool or a victim. In a one-sided battle like those
fought by protesters, the poor odds may contribute towards
fatigue and disillusionment, but it's lack of dignity that can
strike the final blow.
There are plenty ofjust causes to fight for. It is my interpretation
of the Christian faith that all of us are called to work
towards a better world, and for some that calling involves
protesting and fighting. The main thing to remember is that
our opponents also believe that their cause is justified; but
that does not give them the right to force us to submit.
Summer 2011 . Movement . 3
Interuiew wit/J t/te Reu.
The Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, interviewed
by Jay Clark in her office in the House of
Commons. Rose Hudson-Wilkin is Chaplain
to the Speaker of the House of Commons
and parish priest to two parishes in the most
deprived area of Hackney, East London.
begin, can you give a little background - have
Voo felt called to ordained ministry and
how did you experience that call?
I got called to ministry at a very early age, I was probably
about fourteen when I got an overwhelming sense that this
is what I'm meant to be doing. Growing up in my church in
Montego Bay, Jamaica, I had the experience of ministering
at a very early age, not just sitting in the pews, but actually
being involved. I took great pride in all of that: reading lessons
and intercessions and leading the singing of choruses.
We would have a Sunday where we would lead the worship,
while the adults were there and that was very af6rming.
How did the responsibility that you were given then
affect how you treat young people in your churches
I am very consciously aware that young people need to experience
something that is real. I remember we used to go to
Sunday school before morning prayer - and we used to find
morning prayer rather boring - we had to say all the canticles
and the Te Deum, which we called the tedious because it
was so long. And yet now that I can say my faith is alive and
really personal, the words are just so beautiful and I want
to say them, I long to say them - with such enthusiasm and
a real sense of excitement at what I'm saying. So, now I am
able to lead worship in that way, and am excited about what
I'm saying and doing. I think if you're passionate about the
ministry, about serving God and his word then other people
will catch it - it's contagious.
You are Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
and have two parishes in Hackney, these are
very different jobs but what do you find to connect
It is quite a contrast, but what brings them together at the
end of the day is people. People are people, although the issues
and themes running through may be slightly different,
at the end of the day you're working with people and that's
what's special and unique about my work in both places; I
get a lot out of working with my parishioners, listening to
their stories and encouraging them.
Debates in the House of Commons can have quite an
aggressive, heated atmosphere to them. Do you see
another side to life and work there?
I think I do. I think in the robust atmosphere of the chambers
people sometimes forget themselves, in the way they
behave and relate to one another. But you know, I see them
in different contexts - and I can only hope that in time the
prayers will impact on them in such a way that they don't
behave so badly with one another. They don't do that all the
time, it's interesting that it's usually in the Prime Minister's
question time that they behave so badly; in other debates
they're much more measured. I went to a school and I was
telling the children what I did, and this little boy said'Miss,
is that the place where they shout at each other?' and I
thought 'from the mouths of babes'. Yes, I do see a different
side to them. I see them when they're deeply concerned
about issues that don't necessarily impact on them person-
4 . Movement . Summer 2011
ally, but that they really feel passionate about. Some of hasn'tgotanythingattachedtoitbutisjustoverwhelmingthem
do feel really passionately about certain issues. ly his love for us and his desire that we should have and live
what do you feel should be the church,s involvement :*u:1t
in potitics? what should it be epeaking about and tal(-
ing action on?
life'.That's what inspires me about the christian
faith' I don't have to jump through hoops' God loved me
even when I was being rebellious and didn't want to know or
didn't understand. So that's pretty special for me, and that's
I think the Church has a unique role, and the Church of Eng- what I find attractive about the Christian faith.
land, being an established church, has an even more unique
role in the public space. I think we should be there, ir, ,p".""
like these [the House of commons]. I think *. ,ho.,ld bu
what frustrates me is not so much about the christian faith
as about organised religion and the debates that the church
gets itself involved in internally' The internal squabbles
about whether or not we should have gay people' straight
Just because we are an established church, ,"" do.rt .r".d
people' black people' pink people' whether we should have
to agree with everything politicians do or say. We need to
disabled people' all that sort of stuff I think is a
take our cue from God and from the scriptures and I don't :"T"1'
mean just blindly opening the Bible, reading it and saying
"we must do this", in the twenty-first century. But I believe
loadof nonsense' frankly' And a distraction from us living
out the gospel'
there are certain eternal truths _ Do you have any worde of
that srill stand us in good stead I Want yOUng peOple tO -irao- for the current gen-
;:*:"#H:H:Hil recognise the power in erationorstudents?
we shourd be the Ezekiers, the theif handS :ffJ;:T:',il,:Ji,"*
Jeremiahs and the Isaiahs: we
should be the prophets today' and challenge people'
school we were tarking about
what we wanted to be, and what we wanted to do. I find it
I think the church's political commitment should be to com- interesting that here in this country we don't do that. Even
munity, not to personal issues. I think we should be speak- when people are doing GCSEs or A levels, they are still saying
to family concerns, and to the concerns of those who are ing "I don't know...". I think there's a level of maturity that
we are missing, and I don't know what has contributed to
How do you think Christians should demonstrate this
commitment? More churches are getting involved in
What I would like to see is for students to understand the
community action and campaigns noq particularly privileges that they have. It may not feel like that to them,
around the govetnmentts cuts.
but one day they are going to grow up, and engage with real
life' so to speak' And it will be a shock to the system' There is
Absolutely that's one of the ways that we can do that. we
a saying.that if you don't know where you're going then any
can see the impact that these things have on ordinary peoroad
will get you there' and that is very true'
pre, and sometimes when you are making lawr, yo,, "na "r"
sitting in what might appear to be an ivory tower you may Very often we see people who are just drifting, being blown
not realise the impact that they are having on real people, by the wind one way or another. I want young people to
up and down the country in their various constituencies. recognise the power in their hands, I want to see them go-
That's what many of the MPs are trying to bring into the ing out and marching, but I don't want to see them being
debate, the idea that these cuts can't be divorced from the stupid, covering up their faces and smashing windows: itt a
impact that they are going to have on people who will lose distraction. You're taking away from the good of saying "we
their jobs, or people who are ill and have worries about the are here, and this is why we're here"; it's counter-productive,
we have far too much going for us to be doing silly things
I think politics is about people, and the church should not
see it as a choice, or an either/or: they should be there. They We just need to think before we act. There is power in our
should be dealing with what is happening and challenging hands and we need to use it wisely using it destructively
what is happening.
takes away the good. I believe that young people do have
IAlhat inepirer you about being part of the church,
' and something ': ? ""u
what frustrates you?
I think what inspires me is the love of God, the love that
can be heard' than it will'
I think that if you say it in a way that
Jty Clarkis a
Quaker, a recent
graduate dnd a
witer who likes to
Summer 2011 . Movement . 5
Self-ldentifying at the Fringe
"How can a Christian be an anarchist? Don't you know that state
authorities have been placed by God on earth?"
"What kind of anarchist are you if you say you're a Christian? The
anarchist principle is clear: no gods, no masters!"
My name is Soo Tian and I am a Christian
Such is my confession, and I must admit that it
has proved to be a reai challenge to identify myself as being
both a Christian and, at the same time, an anarchist. Over
the few years that I have done so, I have found that such
an act is commonly seen as a syncretism of two radically
divergent traditions which is, at best, curious and, at worst,
There are complicated theological and political issues that
arise from the confluence of Christianity and anarchism and
it is beyond the scope of this brief article to discuss them in
any detail. I will, instead, try to convey why I believe this
unorthodox blend can help to address problems that arise
when one simply identifies as one or the other.
Christianity and the State
Christianity is a faith with a revolutionary core. Various
Christians throughout history have pointed out that there
are passages in the Bible such as Acts 4:32-35 which set out
values which may form the basis of socialism, anarchism's
cousin in leftist political thought. However, what is discussed
less are the passages which show a radical critique
of temporal power, which appears in our daily lives most
strongly in the form of the state, but also in all sorts of other
situations where hierarchies exist. When threatened with
the might of the Roman state, Peter and the other apostles
replied, "We must obey God rather than any human authority."
(Acts 5:29, NLT) And in Luke 22:25-26 Jesus said to his
disciples, "In this world the kings and great men lord it over
their people, yet they are called 'friends of the people.' But
among you it will be different." (NLT)
Nevertheless, today most Christians do not question the
authority of the state. When examples are cited, some may
admit that there are many in positions of power who are
corrupt, but hardly ever is the logic of hierarchy and leadership
challenged. When pushed with verses that assert the
lordship of Christ over the lordship of other humans, many
think it a solution to have God-fearing persons in such positions.
To (mis)use an old Marxist phrase, these Christians
believe that they can bring about change merely by 'seizing
the apparatus of the non-Christian state' (the original word
'bourgeois', in this case, replaced by 'non-Christian').
Christian anarchism is an attempt to bring the Christian
faith back to its radical roots. Against the defeatist acceptance
that hierarchies will always exist, we assert our position
with the phrase, "one God, one Master!" In my view,
although worshipping (and in many ways living) together
as a community of believers is crucial to the Christian way
of life, making Christ Lord of all also means that we do not
attempt to place ourselves in between others and God. The
'power structure' I believe in is a horizontal one in which the
only vertical element is that of individuals and collectives
with their Creator.
In short, the anarchist critique of hierarchical structures
allows Christians to reassert Biblical concepts of radical
equality in all areas of life.
Anarchism and Violence
Everyone knows the traditiond caricature of an anarchist,
which depicts a bearded man with a bomb in his hand. In
many ways the images and reality of anarchist theory and
practice have come a long way from the days where theories
of insurrection based on 'propaganda of the deed' were
dominant. Nevertheless, in contemporary anarchist prac-
6 . Movement . Summer 2011
tice there still remains a certain openness to use violence as
one of many tools used to achieve the goals one is fighting
for. The black bloc is perhaps the most famous current example
of confrontational tactics where resistance is carried
out by force.
It must be noted that Christian anarchism is not the only
tendency within the anarchist movement which rejects violence.
There are other currents ofanarcho-pacifism, whether
religious (such as Buddhist anarchism) or irreligious (such
as the anarchism of the punk rock band Crass). These have
equally great value, but I believe there is a contribution to
be made via the Christian outlook. As pointed out by Alexandre
Christoyannopoulos, when confronted with violence,
the pacifism of Christian anarchists takes the form of a
radical but non-violent reaction rather than a passive inaction.
The inspiration for such a response comes from Jesus'
famous injunction to turn the other cheek in his Sermon
on the Mount.
There are many interesting interpretations of how turning
the other cheek is a radical response, one example being in
Image by holotone.
the writings of Walter Wink. Nevertheless, it suffices for us
here to just reconsider, for a moment, what this puzzling action
means. It clearly is not a call to invite further abuse for
its own sake, as that would be pointless. The radical nature
of turning the other cheek lies in the fact that it disarms
the oppressor, opening the way for him or her to see the
evil inherent in his or her actions. In this way the cycle of
violence, and by extension the cycle of coercion which underpins
hierarchy, is broken.
In other words, what Christianity offers anarchism is a
radical critique of violence which not only goes beyond
passivity but enables one to see that 'resisting evil with evil'
only serves to reinforce rather than break out ofthe cycle of
Blessed are those at the fringe
Having discussed the issue of syncretism, I would like to
end this article with a reflection on how identifying as a
Christian anarchist today places oneself at the fringe in
debates on both religion and politics.
In contemporary British society, faith is often maligned in
various social circles. As a graduate student in law but who
works in the humanities, I often find myself being the only
theist around the table in the pub. And when another theist
is present, often he or she is a believer in another faith. It is
not easy to be a young Christian nowadays.
Equally, it is often difficult to openly speak about one's
anarchist political views. With the possible exception of
militant fascism, anarchism is certainly one of the schools
of political thought least kindly of in the mainstream of
Hence, to be a Christian anarchist is to experience a double
marginalisation in many situations. Nonetheless, I will continue
to walk this path, regardless of what the people I meet
say. After all, it was Jesus himself who said, "Woe unto you,
when all men shall speakwell of you! For so did their fathers
to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26)
a PhD student at
and aresident of
House in Harringay,
North London. In
also engages in
ftom leaming to
play the bass with
the help ofYouTube
videos to occupying
Summer 2011 . Movement . 7
Youth vs Climate Change
Lizzie Gawen believes that young people have something to say
Images provided by
eonle say that today's youth are apathetic and don't
care about global issues. I have found this not to
+ be the case. Many of us do feel disempowered and
uninspired when so many decisions are made by middleaged
men in suits behind closed doors. Yet, young people
are constantly challenging the status quo, demanding their
rights and a space at the table. It is vital that we speak up as
no one else will do it for us.
I have met lots of 'angry greens' (at times I have been one
myself) who so easily condemn ordinary people and their
lifestyles. Yelling at someone and telling them they're killing
the earth isn't really the best way to progress things.
Yet, staying quiet about this issue is also a failing. Gandhi
once said'I do not wish to condemn them. I merely wish to
change their minds for they are as sinful as I'. I'11 admit I'm
a vegetarian with a weakness for disgusting fried chicken
from the take-away shop who doesn't always recycle everything
properly. Does that mean I now can't have a voice
on green issues? Of course not. The reason why they titled
that TV show lt's Not Easy Being Green is because it isn't
easy being green. Everyone struggles to be environmentally
friendly. There is no right way.
Despite this, young people have been at the cutting edge of
promoting positive progress on green issues. Around the
world'youth climate coalitions' have been springing up in
the UK, Canada, US, Kenya and Australia. On the UK side
of things young people have been engaging with the Department
for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and have
now successfully set up a DECC Youth Panel to ad'rise the
government on youth issues. Young people made climate
change a top issue for the General Election and have been
lobbying their schools, universities and places of work to
adopt environmentally friendly working practices. As part
of the UK Youth Climate Coalition's Adopt an MP' campaign
young people have adopted their local MPs and have
been tracking them and lobbying them on this issue.
At an international level young people have been fighting
to get a seat at the international negotiations. After years
of hard work young people were granted 'constituency status'
at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in
Copenhagen 2009, which means young people now have the
same right as NGOs, businesses and other stakeholders to a
seat at the table. This meant that youth organisations could
now get accredited for the conferences, have their own secretariat,
microphone to speak with on the floor and facilities
to use. As part of an international youth campaign 'How
old will you be in 2050?'young people have been getting
negotiators and government delegates to start their opening
statements with'in 2050 I will be _ old'to emphasise
that climate change is a young person's issue and one that
will greatly affect future generations.
8 o Movement . Summer 2011
,- .- ls-
] l i'
As young people from the UK we can stand in solidarity
with our brothers and sisters who are suffering in developing
countries. When I attended the United Nations Climate
Change Conference in Poznari in 2008, out of 500 young
people there, there was only one African. To radically address
this balance young people from richer countries who
have greater capacity to fundraise have been partnering
with young people in developing countries. For example,
our UK Youth Delegation helped finance 10 young people
from Kenya to the United Nations Climate Change Conference
in Copenhagen. It's not all about money though. Young
people across the world are networking, skill-sharing, capacity
building and creating opportunities for each other so
we can move forward together. I have been so blessed and
privileged to spend time with young people from Kenya,
India and the Maldives whose communities are directly affected
by the changes in the climate and are desperate to
attend these conferences to demand that action be taken.
It's easy to feel disconnected, but these are people's lives,
families, communities and homes.
Young people are often not listened to due to their perceived
lack of experience. Yet we have consistently shown that we
have something of value to say and can play a vital part in
creating positive change on a local, national and international
level. There are several advantages of having a youth
presence at these international negotiations. The first, we
can make the conference exciting and accessible. Often the
media find it difEcult to make international conferences
newsworthy, but by speaking out and creating visual media
stunts highlighting important issues we can get climate
change in print. The second advantage is that young people
can demand that justice is done. We don't have the political
or funding constraints that other organisations have so
we can get angry and emotional. We can speak out against
injustice in a way that no other group can. Thirdly, we can
mobilise young people back in the UK to lobby MPs and
build the political support for this issue.
Young people around the world are taking action on climate
change and our faith compels us to love our neighbour and
demand justice for the poor. I recently heard Joel Edwards
head of the Micah Challenge say that what we need is 'angry
hope'. Whilst the poorest and most vulnerable continue to
suffer I'm going to continue to be angry and cry out against
the injustices of climate change. Yet, we have so much to
hope for and I'm excited to see what my generation will do
Lizzie Gawen is an
activist and witer
who works for the
Summer 2011 . Movement . I
Does society provide access and support for all? Nicola Sleap doesn't think so.
Image from George
ritain today is a society in which disabled people
frequently marginalised. This marginalisation
gal occur through three different kinds of barrier:
systemic barriers in the way in which society is organised,
attitudinal barriers in terms of the portrayal of disabled
people as a distant other from non-disabled people, and
physical barriers which prevent disabled people from accessing
Societally-created barriers such as these are often far more
disabling for people with physical and mental impairments
than those impairments are themselves. Disability is therefore
rnost helpfully understood as the negative impact upon
someone with an impairment of a society which fails to
recognise and meet their access requirements. This is often
an empowering concept for disabled people' It also means
that disability becomes a socio-political rather than a medical
phenomenon. Disabled people therefore stand alongside
other politically oppressed groups.
As is visible in the gospels, Jesus sought to subvert the
political order, through creating the early church of those
in politically oppressed groups. His radical inclusivity was
extended to disabled people, alongside others considered at
the time to be social outcasts and'sinners'. Yet, whilst the
society in which he lived viewed disabled people as inferior
and sinful, Jesus clearly did not consider them as such'
Three of the gospels refer to an episode when Jesus holds up
children as an example of those who are the greatest in the
Kingdom of Heaven, and in Luke he contextualises this by
saying'For he who is least among you all - he is the greatest'
(Luke 9: 4B). In both of the other two gospels this leads into
an episode in which Jesus speaks of the causes of sin (Matthew
18: 8-9 and Mark 9: 43-46).
This episode clearly subverts the societal view that physical
impairment was a sinful or even negative attribute' For
Jesus says that 'It is better for you to enter life maimed or
crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown
into eternal fire'. Jesus therefore refutes the idea that impairment
in itself is a hindrance to leading a worthy life'
Having begun by speaking of children as one 'lesser' group
who are in fact'the greatest', Jesus goes on to overturn societal
judgement of another group, disabled people.
The current economic downturn has furthered our society's
marginalisation of disabled people. In a time of relative
austerity, stories in the press portraying disabled people as
benefit frauds or scroungers have exacerbated resentment
towards disabled people amongst the non-disabled majority.
Such attitudes, alongside the reality that many disabled
people do not have the capacity to make their voices heard,
have made disabled people a relatively easy target group to
lose out in the cuts.
Through various measures within the cuts, and through
some reforms, the government is increasing the number
of systemic barriers disabled people face. For example, an
extremely harsh new work capability assessment for those
seeking to claim Employment and Support Allowance (the
replacement of Incapacity Benefit) comes into effect from
Monday 28th March.
In this assessment, the capabilities of a mobility impaired
person can be assessed on what they can do with the assistance
of a wheelchair, even if they do not have one and
cannot afford one. In the case of mental hedth conditions,
should an applicant succeed in carrying out personal tasks
10 . Movement . Summer 2011
such as washing, dressing, and travelling to the assessment
centre alone, they are highly unlikely to qualify for the benefit.
The many disabled people who according to these and other
criteria will almost undoubtedly fail to qualify for ESA,
but who are also not capable of work, will be put onto Job
Seeker's Allowance. This means that disabled people may
find themselves required but unable to participate in the
new mandatory work related activity scheme.
Should they be unable to participate, a disabled person may
well consequently have their allowance withheld for three
or even six months. If they would like to legally challenge an
attempt to force them into work, recent cuts in legal aid will
not make that an easy path to follow.
These policies demonstrate some of the many ways in
which the changing organisation of society in Britain today
is further disabling people with both physical and mental
Other systemic barriers to disabled people, such as the
exclusion of disabled children from mainstream education,
also consolidate and perpetuate attitudinal barriers.
Impairments do cause many disabled children to have
different access requirements to non-disabled children
at school. However, when disabled children are invisible
through exclusion, those in mainstream schools gain no real
understanding of the different access requirements disabled
children might have.
This government and the cuts are not making integration
easier. Both because of the current economic climate and
the Conservatives' pledge to support'special schools', it
seems highly unlikely that the educational integration of
disabled children will be achieved in the near future.
The segregation of disabled children at school age is only
one of many ways in which disabled people are segregated
from non-disabled people. As someone who has started to
use a wheelchair relatively recently, I am increasingly aware
of the physical barriers in my local town that prevent many
from fully participating in society. Cafes, restaurants, shops
and pubs are frequently inaccessible to wheelchair users,
despite a duty to provide access under the Equality Act.
The prevention of wheelchair users from entering areas and
buildings means that they often have limited opportunities
to interact with non-disabled people. This in turn means
that their differences and differing access requirements
will often continue to be misconceived by the non-disabled
As long as disabled people are segregated from non-disabled
people in ways such as this, myths concerning the realities
of impairment and disability will perpetuate, thereby creating
attitudinal barriers which marginalise disabled people.
As Christians, we should heed Jesus'assertion that impairment
in itself is not necessarily negative, and stand against
the marginalisation of those with physical or mental impairments.
This means opposing regressive governmental measures
which further this marginalisation and re-envisioning
society as one where people with all kinds of impairments
can participate on an equal level to those without impairments.
At this post office
in Poland, a bell is
provided for those
who cannot climb
the stairs. Image by
Nicola Sleap is
studying for a PhD
in Theology and is
a disability rights
Summer 2011 . Movement . 11
Debbie White doesn't believe students are apathetic about political issues
* often claimed in the media that young people are
I too apathetic about politics; we don't turn out to vote in
I t"rg" numbers, we don't engage with politicians or with
political parties, we are more concerned with our own lives
than with current affairs. However, over the last year, students
and young people in general have consistently proved
the media clich6s wrong. At protests against the coalition
government's cuts, students have been a highly visible and
Students have not only been protesting against issues in
university education; a major focus has been on the scrapping
of EMA, which will affect thousands of college students
who have been relying on this money to enable them
to continue their studies. Students have also been a vocal
presence on more general anti-cuts protests up and down
the country; the 'March for the Alternative' on the 26th
March, which has not yet happened at the time of writing,
is expected to involve students from all over the country
marching alongside workers, the unemployed, families,
politicians and many other groups affected or dissatisfied
by the coalition's plans.
Although students make up a large part of these marches,
much of the student involvement has naturally been directed
at the decision to raise fees at English universities
to a maximum of f,9000, up from the current cap of L3290.
On the 10th November 2010, students from universities
and colleges across the country went to London to take
part in a march to demonstrate against this fee rise. As was
widely covered in the national press, some of the protestors
involved in the march, although by no means the majority,
stormed the Conservative Party Headquarters at Millbank.
The result was that several students were injured or arrested,
and the papers were dominated with images of violence,
at odds with the peaceful manner in which the majority of
Student protest reaches far beyond London, however, and it
is not restricted to marches. A number of buildings at various
universities have been occupied by students. At Glasgow
University, the former Hetherington Research Club, a
building used as a social space by postgraduate and mature
students which was forced to close due to lack of funds, was
reopened by a group of students and has been occupied for
the past seven weeks, becoming the focus of the anti-cuts
movement at the university by hosting talks, debates and
events, and it has become a hub for many politically engaged
students and activists. Billy Bragg even paid the occupation
a visit after a gig in the city. Many other universities have
also had buildings occupied for a time, including UCL and
Cambridge. Protests against course closures at individual
universities have also been well attended, with lecturers
and students marching together in many cases to protest
against cuts to their departments.
Of course, despite the clich6s bandied around by the media
that students are apathetic about politics, there has been
student involvement in protests for much longer than just
this year, not only in the United Kingdom but also across
the globe. For example, students were present at many of
the Stop the War protests in 2003, and looking further
back, and further away, in the USA, students took an active
role in campaigning against the Vietnam war, particularly
against conscription into the army.
In many of the major movements of the twentieth century,
such as the Civil Rights movement in America, as well as
anti-war and anti-cuts groups, students are always a vocal
part of the proceedings, campaigning publicly for a change
in injustice or government policy. Perhaps this is due to the
idealism of the young, or a reaction against a media which
demonises young people as drunken louts. Whatever the
reason, it is clear that students have a massive potential
to achieve real difference by becoming involved in protests,
whether that is because of the numbers that can be
mobilised, or the passion of those involved in leading or
participating in the protests. Of course, students marching
in London, or other major cities in the UK, will not mean
that the coalition government reverses its decision to raise
the cap on fees, but the protests certainly have an effect in
other smaller, but necessary ways, such as getting the issues
noticed, occasionally influencing decisions at a more
local level, for example, in their individual universities,
departments and courses, and, perhaps most importantly,
in displaying the disaffection of a generation.
Cuts fuel the fire. By
Rob J Wells.
in her first year at
and Philosophy. She
enjoys listening to
classic fiIms and
Summer 2011 . Movement . 13
The moral injustice of tax avoidance in the UK and globally and why this is something
Christians should be concerned about
Research undertaken by the TUC has shown that tax avoidance might cost the UK
government up to 825 billion in lost revenue a year. In addition, reseArch by Christian
Aid estimates that tax dodging costs poor countries $160 billion a year (more
than double the international aid budget). In this article Frank Kantor, Secretary for
Church & Society of the United Reformed Church, examines the moral implications
of tax avoidance in the context of global economic austerity and why Christians are
uniquely positioned to campaign for tax justice.
1-;.lhis article assumes that paying the correct amount detail in this articie as it raises complex issues related to
of tr* is an equitable and morally expedient way the iegal and moral obligations of paying tax and the global,
I of raising revenue from eligible taxpayers for the national and local implications of tax avoidance in an era
financing of economic activity and distributing of public of economic austerity. However, before tackling this rather
goods and services by demo-
complex legal and philosophicratically
etected officiats in a lt is morally wrong caldebate,afewdefinitionsare
:;:':H#,*.",*,"i,T that Multi-National :;::li::*J"^-ga'[e'ihis
Gorporations are abre to Dennitions
to ensure that tax law is fair USe COmplgX accoUnting
Terms related to the tax gap
and justanddoesnotplacean r - -r - _-- can be complex and for the
"" ,:;; practices to understate ,";":; .i".,r '""
wirl be usn".'#:Til';j:::"i,:T
their profits to defraud :7,:".;::::":T*'l:::
il;,,T:::'l^Tl::fiff poor countries thev il:;n':J:i";;*: :;
on individual and corporate Opefate in. advocating for a general antitaxpayers
to ensure that they
avoidance principle''? These
comply not only with the letter of the law but also with the terms are defined as follows:
spirit of the law to ensure that loopholes in tax law are not
. A person who evades tax seeks to circumvent payment of
intentionally exploited for personal or corporate gain at the
expense of the State and its beneficiaries'
It is this final assumption which will be examined in more
1 We call to mind here the words of John the Baptist
to the tax-collectors who came to him to be baptised when
they asked him what they were to do to demonstrate true
repentance and he told them, 'Exact no more than the assessment'
(Luke 3:12). Also the story of Zacchaeus, another
tax collector who after his encounter with Jesus agreed to
immediately give half of his possessions to charity and to
repay four times over to any person whom he might have
defrauded. Jesus announced that based on these actions,
salvation had come to his house (Luke 19:1-10)'
a tax liability by means they know to be criminal;
. A person who avoids tax seeks to minimise a tax liability
using a process they know might be considered an abuse
of the law, albeit one which they reasonably expect will
not result in a criminal liability arising;
. A person who is tax compliant seeks to settle a tax liability
in the location where it can be best determined to be
due, at the time when it is likely that a legislature wished
it to be paid and only after claiming deductions and re-
2 For a General Anti-Avoidance Principle - see
14 . Movement ' Summer 2011
liefs that were clearly intended to be provided given the
economic substance of the transactions undertaken by
Based on the description of these terms, the difterence
between a person who evades or avoids tax and the person
who is tax compliant is based on the intention of the
taxpayer which is known to them. In considering a General
Anti-Avoidance Principle, intention is what most clearly
differentiates tax avoidance and tax compliance and advocates
of this campaign are calling for the addition of a consideration
of intent to that of the outcome of transactions
in the management of tax compliance by HM Revenue and
Customs in the UK. By shifting the focus from an 'antiavoidance
rule' to and'anti-avoidance principle' the TUC is
advocating for a shift from the letter of the law to the spirit
of the law which 'recognises the rights of the citizen and
the mutuality of obligation inherent in the relationship between
the citizen and the State, and between states.'3 This
highlights the moral irnperative for addressing both the UK
and global injustice of tax avoidance which the remainder of
this article will focus on.
Mord injustice of tax avoidance
It is our understanding of justice based on a moral subculture
of rights that provides the rationale for Christians
to energetically campaign for tax justice both in the UK and
overseas. In the context of the concurring global economic,
environmental, energy and food crises which are threatening
the livelihoods and human security of vulnerable people
in poor and wealthy countries alike, there is a moral imperative
to ensure that those who are least responsible for these
crises - the poor and vulnerable - are not the ones required
to pay the highest price.
It is morally wrong that Multi-National Corporations are
able to use complex accounting practices to understate
their profits to defraud poor countries they operate in of
multibillions of dollars when many of these countries face
3 Why do we need a General Anti-Avoidance Principle?
- see http://www.tuc.org.uVeconomy/tuc-18825-f0.
potential debt crises as a result of the global financial crisis.
Commenting on this injustice in a recent article published
in the EU Observer (in which she calls for the introduction
of a financial transaction tax in Europe), Elise Ford, head of
Oxfam's EU wrote:
'Faced with a potential debt crisis, two-thirds of those countries
where data on social spending is available have chosen to cut
spending on at least one of health, agriculture, education or
social safety nets. Already without the Europe-style welfare systems
that we rely on during difficult times, the world's poorest
people face cuts in life-saving medicines, Iosing the school place
for their child or cuts in their crops because they can no longer
This blow comes at a time when many poor countries are already
struggling to cope with food shortages and the devastating effects
of climate change. Our research suggests that by 2015 the
average number of people affected each year by climate-related
disasters could increase by over 50 per cent to 375 million. Last
summer's' flooding oflarge parts ofPakistan show the potential
for human suffering that lurks behind these stafistics.a
It is equally unjust for wealthy individuals and companies
in the UK to hive off billions of pounds of tax revenue to
tax havens and off-shore accounts by exploiting loopholes
in the tax laws when many thousands of ordinary people
have lost their jobs and huge cuts are being made to public
services and benefits in order to cut the deficit caused by
the financial crisis.s This highlights the moral and spiritual
dimension of the financial crisis which provides Christians
with a unique and distinctive perspective to campaign for
tax justice based on love-informed justice.
4 Research carried out for Oxfam by Development
Finance International found that the 56 poorest countries
face a $65bn hole in their finances because of the financial
crisis - see http://euobserver.corn/7 /30736
5 The IMF estimates that the impact of the economic
crisis triggered by the recent collapse of financial
institutions will increase the debts of the developed G20
economies by 40 per cent - those, such as Germany and the
UK which suffered a "systemic crisis" saw economic output
fallby 27To. That amounts to more than €980bn for Germany
and €600 for the UK (f,497 billion).
Image by D. J. Shaw.
Summer 2011 . Movement . 15
is Secretary for
Church & Society for
the United Reform
Distinctive Christian Perspective
As Christians we are summoned by God to do justice and to
love kindness in the enduring words of the prophet Micah'6
This justice is based on love of God and neighbour which
compels us to do the work of justice and love towards others
- particularly vulnerable others. This is what Johannes
van der Ven calls 'love-informed justice'which differs from
human justice as it is informed by God's unconditional love'7
Love-informed justice also forms the basis for a moral
sub-culture of rights which looks beyond legal claims to
the moral intent or spirit of the law' Such rights are natural
rights and are grounded in the inherent worth and dignity
of human beings as persons created in the image of God and
loved by God in the mode of attachment. Such love bestows
great worth on each and every human being and natural
rights inhere in the worth bestowed by that love. This includes
the right not to be treated in a manner that demeans
or degrades as this is to treat a person with under-respect
6 Micah 6:8
7 vander Ven, J., Formation of the Moral Self, Wm'
B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998' p. 219
i.e. in a way that infringes his or her inherent worth as a
human being. Hence our understanding of a right as: 'a Iegitimate
claim to the good of being treated in a certain way
by persons and by those social entities capable of rational
Applntg this understanding of justice and inherent rights
to the issue oftax avoidance enables us to address the moral
dimension of this practice as it is the vulnerable members of
our society who have the most to lose from the loss of revenue
in times of economic austerity. It could also be argued
that the practice of tax avoidance by wealthy individuals
and social entities infringes the rights of vulnerable people
to the good of being treated with the dignity and respect
due to them by virtue of being loved by God' Ultimately, it
is to wrong them by treating them in a manner that underrespects
them and to under-respect human beings is to
treat them as means and not as ends in themselves which
as Christians we reject.
8 Wolterstorff, N, Justice- fughts and Wrongs, Princeton
UniversitY Press, 2008, P. 386
Image by Dominic's Pics.
16 . Movement . Summer 2011
What is the Church?
Sam Gibson reflects on Church, the Eucharist and Society.
'Establishment'and the Church - An Initial euestion
t SCM's SttII SmaII Voice Conference in February
[l this year, Fr. Kenneth Leech addressed the issue
I Lf ,f," 'establishment' of the Church of England
in response to a question from the audience. Reflecting on
the dynamics of ecclesiology, one quickly realises that this
issue, the relationship between 'Church' and 'State' or 'society'
- which has long fallen out of fashion among young
Christians in recent years, owing to (perhaps) more immediate
concerns - is in fact central. Why?
For two primary reasons this is so. First, because as young
Christians we 6nd ourselves at the dawn of a rather new
spiritual horizon in Western Europe: recurrent twentiethcentury
themes of the total secularisation of society seem
widely discredited. We find ourselves as Christ-following
communities confronted not by the explicit, uniform transformation
of our culture to a particularly post or anti-Christian
state, but often by indifference, misunderstanding and
incomprehension of the church's self-satisfying theological
language. The Church now speaks, it seems, a fundamentally
different language to the consumerist societies in which it
lives, either self-consciously deconstructing its own historic
doctrinal conversations, or else reifying them, participating
in a vacuous debate with the so-called 'New Atheism'. As
the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner puts it, 'that God does
not really exist who operates and functions as an indirridual
existent alongside other existents [. . .] Both atheism and
naive theism iabour under the same false notion of God,
only the former denies it while the latter believes that it can
make sense of it.'1
Second, because having coming out of centuries of what
has been called'Christendom', the time in which Christian
'language'was at the heart of Western European culture, we
now find ourselves having to speak in ways that take into
account our new situation. Our new situation is that many
of the liberal and 'secularising' theologies of the twentieth
century, from Bultmann to Cupitt and Spong, take on too
enthusiastically reductionist understandings of human beings
and Christian belief, and have subsequently collapsed,
1 Karl Rahner S.J., Foundations of Christian Faith:
An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity, (London: DL!
or ceased to speak with the radicalism which they originally
promised. They correctly reject authoritarian and objectifying
understandings of God, but in doing so forget and
parody the immense and liberating riches of the Patristic
theological and spiritual tradition. What we are left with,
I propose, is a situation of unprecedented yearning, both
within and beyond the Church, for a rediscovery of the central
questions of the Christian tradition: what is a human
being? Why do people exist? Is the world meaningful? What
is 'Real'? Who is God? Who shall we worship? And out of
these, what on earth is the Church?
Views of the Church - Do they work?
Both of these: the collapse of 'Christendom', and the failure
of modern theologies to give coherent answers - answers
which involve the whole person - to these questions of
existence are the causes of numerical and institutional decline
in the Church. This gives rise to innumerable new and
distorting fundamentalism(s), which view the Church as either
the 'infallible'hierarchy of irresistible belief in certain
doctrinal formulas, or else as merely the outworking of the
spiritual function of society - self-constituting bodies with
no frame of reference. It is to both of these that I object, and
understanding these objections may shed light on our issue
of 'establishment' and the relationship between 'Church'
and 'State' or society. The former primarily asserts the role
of the church as teaching office, but distorts the ability of
the Church to seek and follow after truth by quashing the
exploratory sense of human knowledge, by which I mean
the way in which the Holy Spirit, as part of the activity of
the Triune God, draws human experiences into knowledge
of God and of human persons. This does not primarily occur
in the form of a judicial hierarchy, as we know, it happens
through relational activity, from the working out of faith in
God, who is love (1 John, 4:B) and who has called us friends
(John 15:15). The latter understanding is constantly in danger
of undermining the ability of the Church to seek truth
by naming it as a community without need for beliefs, or
even more dangerously by limiting the Church to its ethnic,
geographical, political or sociological associations.
Whereas in the last century, the issue for the Church of
England has been the tension between being a 'national'
community, identified primarily by its association with
18 . Movement . Summer 2011
our political functions, and Protestant understandings of
the integrity of Scripture and the congregation, this is no
Ionger the case. We no longer need to worry about the use
of the institutional Church as a tool for political domination
or expression in our own backyard on quite the same scale,
since we live in an increasingly global culture in which these
functions have shifted massively to industrial and postindustrial
States, banks and billionaires.
The Protestant, and later liberal-existentialist theological
protest against a State-oriented ecclesiology is grounded
in the primacy of the modern concept of the individual as
at liberty to freely form communities, which in turn is a
reaction against excessively hierarchical understandings of
Church - as expressed, for instance, in the declaration of
Papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council - which is now
only useful as part of a wider appreciation of the issues of
twenty-first century ecclesiology. That individualism has,
in part, caused our current predicament in which Western
philosophy and theology are mired in all kinds ofbizarre
dualisms, and which is breeding ground for excessively
atomistic or fundamentalist ideologies, from monetarism
to ecclesiolatry. CIearIy a contemporary reformulation
of modernist ecclesiology, as endorsed by SCM Summer
Gathering speaker 2010, Theo Hobson,2will not do justice
2 Theo Hobson, Against Establishment: An Angli-
to the Church, since it fails to take into account the dangers
individualism, and of our communal experience of God's
presence as found in the Gospel narrative.
What is the Church?
Since the Church, I think, is not constituted by either its
social, ethnic or political associations, or by its hierarchy,
or by the liberty of the individual, though it may have functions
of each, what then is it? The start of an answer can
be found, I suggest, in a Eucharistic ecclesiology, that is, an
understanding of the 'Church' as the eschatological community
formed by the work of God at the Eucharist. This I find
primarily in the work of John Zizioulas, who has written
powerfully on the subject, but also in the work of numerous
contemporary Catholic theologians on the theology of personhood,
especially Fergus Kerr O.P.3 Zizioulas writes, 'We
regard every assembly that performs the divine Eucharist
as the presence of the whole church, for the presence of the
whole Christ in the Eucharist takes precedence over all concan
Polemic (London: DLT, 2003); Theo Hobson, An illiberal
establishment' [Online] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief
/ 20L0 / f eb / 1 8/anglican-church-establishment
[Accesse d 72 Mar 2OII)
3 Fergus Kerr, O.P., "Work on Oneself" Wittgenstein's
Philosophical Psychology (Washington D.C.: Catholic
University of America Press, 2008)
Summer 2011 . Movement o 19
A false eucharist?
Image by Rebecca
What we are left
with is a situation of
for a rediscovery of the
central questions of the
Christian tradition: what
is a human being?
Peter 1:4). We are drawn into a new understanding of God
and humanity, as koinonia, communion by participation,
which directs and transforms our entire being. The disdain
of the prophets for false ritual (e.g. Amos 5) culminates,
(and is relativised) in the meal of Christ's passion at the
Last Supper and in his enduring presence in it wherever he
is remembered, since in Christ God enacts God's messianic
banquet with his own people. The Eucharist deconstructs all
false eucharist(s), the false worship of the idols of ritual,
money, sex and power and enacts the worship of 'the
Father in spirit and in truth' (John 4:23).
University, and a
member of its Anglican
siderations of geography'.a In the Eucharist, God the Father
calls human beings to the presence of the complete life of
his Son, transforming love in obedience, death, resurrection
and ascension, through the Holy Spirit. The people, through
the celebrant, call the Spirit of love down (epiclesis), offering
the life of Christ to the Father in the words he has
chosen and with the goodness of the creation in bread, wine
and human bodies and lives it is the work of God and
of people in synergy. Understanding the Eucharist as the
centre of the Church grounds her as true community, in 'the
indivisible presence of Christ that unites and recapitulates
all things's all the manifold stories, of our existence,
pain, joy and struggle, are being brought up into the divine
life and we are 'becoming partakers of the divine nature' (2
4 John D.Ziziod,as, Lectures in Christian Dogmatics
(Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2008), 141.
5 John Zizioulas, Lectures,141.
This is more subversive than every other protest against
the oppressive structures of the world, since it fulfils and
consummates them by the agency of God's own love, and
works the transforming effect of divine grace. When we
understand the Church as Eucharistic body, then we know
the reality which society points to (or away from) by its
anticipation or rejection of God, we are grounded in truth
and less likely to associate the Church with any particular
social, individual, political or hierarchical concern, since as
a consequence we must indentify our radical anticipation of
eschatological wholeness and compare it to our bleak situation
of broken relationships. Not only does this powerfully
repudiate all forms of ecclesiastical factionalism ('liberals'
vs. 'conservatives' etc.), it is the most powerful critique of
'establishment', by which I mean the excessive identification
of the Church as a function of the State or 'society', one
can find. If we understand the Church as brought into being
by the Triune God, we may re-awaken to an understanding
of theology as the prayerful search for truth, overcoming
the dichotomies of various fundamentalisms. We may also
find the way to ground political and social action, as well as
evangelism, which is the sharing of this Eucharistic love, in
God, who as the source and initiator of this relation of holy
love will bring it to its fulfillment.
20 . Movement o Summer 2011
What does the arms trade have
in common with Universities and
a Church of England Priest?
Abi Haque explains
The title of this piece could be a great set up for a joke
alas this is no laughing matter. For years students
have been campaigning against the increasing
links between the arms trade and education. Now there's a
new piece in this rather frightening puzzle an ordained
Church of England priest called Lord Stephen Green.
Lord Green (ordained in the 1980s) has recently accepted
the role as UK trade minister - a position which includes the
facilitation and promotion of British arms exports through
the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation
(UKTI:DSO), as well as representing the UK at all the
world's largest international arms fairs. There was considerable
embarrassment when he was appointed as rumours
surfaced that Green was reputed as not keen on weapons
companies - in fact in a previous role at HSBC he decided
the company would no longer provide financial services to
companies who manufactured arms such as land-mines,
cluster bombs and combat aircraft.
UK church leaders have made very clear statements on the
evils of the arms tradel and Green has a dislike for this type
of trade also. So how is it that an ordained Christian priest
is currently helping sell arms across the world? Whatever
the answer to this question - perhaps this represents an opportunity
to make real change. CAAT is calling on people to
share their views on why Lord Green's instincts were correct
and why he should use his new position to end government
support for the arms trade. You can email him at mpst.
Now how is this all linked to universities you may ask? For
years many universities have been pl"y,ng a significant
role in: conducting research and development for arms
companies, investing in said companies, and inviting them
onto campus to recruit the next generation of workers in
the arms trade. Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) Universities
Network has been actively campaigning on these
issues for many years and has had many considerable successes.
But now there is a new worry as senior figures from
1 The Guardian - Letters, 'Stop subsidising
the arms trade', October 6, 2006 http://www.
gu a r di a n. c o . rk / w o rl d / 2 O O 6 / o ct / O 6/ ar m s t ra d e.
Image by the
Ministry of Defence.
Summer 2011 . Movement . 21
Image of Lord
Stephen Green from
the World Economic
Images opposite by
four UK Universities were exposed as being part of what
was essentially a Middle East arms sales tour with David
Cameron in February.
Lord Darzi of Imperial College, Professor John Hughes
(Vice-Chancellor) of Bangor University, Professor Malcolm
Grant (President and Provost) of University College London
and Stuart Lang (Deputy Vice-Chancellor) of Cambridge
University were all on this trip -
which toured Kuwait,
Egypt, Qatar and Oman. They were accompanied by no less
than eight representatives from the world's biggest arms
companies including; BAE Systems, Atkins and QinetiQ.
Students and staff have been extremely critical of the relationship
between their universities and arms companies -
many were outraged at this new development. Additionally
disturbing links between universities and the dictatorial
Libyan regime lead by Gaddafi have surfaced. The vicechancellor
who now heads the umbrella group for British
universities met Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli as part of a
€,75m deal with Exeter University to educate "elite Libyan
officials"2 - and LSE's Director was forced to step down from
2 The Guardian - Education - University funding,
'Exeter vice-chancellor met Gaddafi over f,75m deal to educate
Libyan ofhcials', March 14, 201'1'http:/ /www.guardian.
co. uk/uk/201 1 / mar / 14 / gaddafi-regime-university-linkshis
role after revelations of a 82.2 million deal to train hundreds
of young Libyans to become the future ruling elite.3
Such was the concern when these deals became known that
an MP tabled a Commons motion calling for an inquiry "to
trace the huge amounts of money from Middle Eastern dictatorships
that have flowed into British universities"
Several universities are involved in occupations because of
the cuts and have included demands for their institution
to stop associating with the arms trade. A student from
UCL commented, 'Malcolm Grant's recent tour of the Middle
East with David Cameron and arms manufacturers,
amongst other business CEOs, was utterly inappropriate
for the provost and president of a university.'
It is clear there's still much work to do to cut the link between
education and the arms trade but we can take great
encouragement that students are campaigning passionately
and holding their universities to account.
http : / / www. caat. org.uVcampaigns/universities
3 The Guardian - Education, 'LSE head quits over
Gaddafi scandal', March 4, 2011' http://v'w'rw.guardian.
co. uk/educati on / 20LL / marl03,/1se-director-resigns-gaddafi-scandal?INTCMP=
22 . Movement . Summer 2011
-L * t..l
We Fought the Law . Symon Hill
t's often said that religion is a "private" matter, as if form
a lack of commitment but because they "can't afford"
the followers of a religion should ignore its ethics and it. Nothing illustrates the wastefulness of capitalism more
I values in all but the narrowest areas of their lives. This than the vastly profitable wedding industry.
is a recipe for hypocrisy'
Commerciar approaches to marriage have rong competed
In the same way, debates over sexuality often involve people with those based on love and equality. When Jesus critiwho
say that we should not judge what consenting adults cised divorce, he did so in a society in which only a man
do "in their own bedrooms". This comment is supposed to could initiate a divorce, often throwing his wife into povbe
supportive of gay, lesbian and bisexual people. In reality erty as a result. Paul insisted that "there is no longer male
it is anything but. Discussingprivacy and female because you are all one in
in bedrooms is of little ,.r.1"r,." ,o -. Thg SOft Of Christ Jesus" (Gatatians 3,28), But
",* ;." ff:"ilH:-,t:;:::l equalitv sousht :ff:';1f;::TJ:[:::"::
holdinghands by many LGBT
dominant social norms, such as the
submission of wives to husbands.
rhe realitv is that neither sex:"tT
":. g ro u ps a m o u nts
spirituality can be confined to private v ' Christians today are on the whole faillife.
Living with integrity is hard tO little mQfg ingtochailengethecommercialisation
enough as it is, without undermining _ of sexuality and relationships. "Famourownvaluesbymakingartificialdi:
than thg fight tO ily values" activists campaign against
::ffii"""*:::,'""1::':i;JJj:""" be exploited on ;T,':;'::::H:L'Ji*"1*::
mines marriage' They have begun to
when campaigning for legal recog- an equal baSiS.
criticise the use of sexual imagery in
nition of same-sex marriage, I'm
dvertising' But rather than recognise
sometimes told that "there are more important things to
this as an aspect of commercialised sexuality' they instead
campaign for". And I can understand why -".ry pJopl"
encourage panic about young people's sexuality in itself'
feel that resistance to the government's vicious .rr,, ,nort4
take priority. But it's a false distinction. Issues of marriage The failure of the "family values" lobby to challenge comand
sexuality are closely linked to questions of power and mercialised sexuality gives them much in common with a
sizeable wing of the LGBT rights movement. Most LGBT
Marriage has gone through many forms in the milleni, ::""0
of its existence. It has often been a property contract, by
"frrst g.ay wedding magazine"' perpetuates the same conwhichthebrideispassedfromherfathertoherhusbandas
This abhorrent notion is no longer prevalent in most British
weddings, although it lives on in the shocking practice of the
bride being "given away". Despite this, commercial concerns
dominate marriage as much as ever. In the UK, the average
cost of a wedding is now around 827,000 - higher than the
average annual income. Many couples put off marriage not
are uncritical of capitalism' Tickled Pink' Britain's
sumerist values as its straight equivalents' The sort of
equality sought by many LGBT groups amounts to little
more than the right to be exploited on an equal basis.
In contrast, Jesus constantly challenged the values and
power relationships of his society. As Christians, we are not
called to perpetuate exploitative social norms in the name
of a dangerously narrow understanding of either family
values or LGBT rights. We need to be speaking about both
24 . Movement . Summer 2011
Daytime TV's first
lmage from All My
family and rights at a much deeper level.
As the theologian Stanley Hauerwas puts it, "Any sex ethic
is a politicd ethic". Upholding ethics in "personal" relationships
involves recognising the social and political relationships
that can both support and undermine them.
This is why economic issues are so important to questions of
sexuality. We cannot defeat the ConDem cuts by tinkering
at the edges while accepting the logic of capitalism and its
idolatry of the market. A society that rejects capitalism will
seek to build human relations based not on economic power
but on love, care and mutuality.
the Bible gives us a vision of "shalom". The word is often
translated as "peace", but really refers to something broader,
a situation of wholeness in which right relationships are
restored. This vision can spur us on to resist both capitalism
and the twisted, commercialised distortion of sexuality that
it brings in its wake.
and teacher of
Ekklesia. His new
&ook, The No-
to Religion, rs out
Summer 2011 ' Movement . 25
Ten Propositions on Political Theology
Propositions . Kim Fabricius
ne: The doctrine of the ascension is the basis of all
political theology - and why there can be no such
thing as apolitical theology. The church cannot be
a cultus privatus because Jesus of Nazareth, "crucified under
Pontius Pilate," reigns and his edict is public truth. Remove
Christ from the forum and it does not remain empty:
nature abhors a vacuum; idols love one and soon fill it.
his servant Moses, his spokesmen the prophets, and finally
his Son Jesus, their Big Brother, to take care of the bullies,
though he fights with his mouth not his fists. Not, of course,
that God loves the oppressor any less than he loves the oppressed;
indeed his rescue mission is to liberate them both,
the latter from their humiliation and suffering, and the
former from their pride and violence.
Two. God is politicd. Cut the political bits out of the Bible Six. Nor does any political theologian who is not a straw
- as Jim Wallis and some friends once did - and you're left man hold the Marxist delusion that utopia can be built.
with "a Bible full of holes." God is political - and God takes Karl Barth, responding to an ordinand who had heard him
sides. In the Old Testament, Yahweh's exodus and covenant lecture, wrote: "Many thanks for your kind letter. But ...
now you manage to put
thepoor"i*o',"*eu-** StratggiCally GhristianS
:::t;:,:ft;::*:: should work for a world ;:ffi':;T'J}:??i]il
- Luke in particular - doesn't that asymptOtiCally
Dear N.N., in so doing you
drop the ball: the Magnificat
and the Jubilee Maniresto appfOaChgs thg kingdOm
do not contradict merely
one'insight'but the whole
suggestthegameplan. _, A ^ )
message of the whole Bible.
If you persist in this idea I
rhree' In my view it is Ie-
gitimate to speak of an "epistemological privilege" of the
excluded and oppressed. Bonhoeffer, writing in prison, was
can only advise you to take up any other career than that
of pastor"' Th-e antidote to political pelagianism is a critical
avant la lettre of liberation theology: "we have for once
eschatology' Barth himself' of course' was no quietist' 'A
learnt to see the great events of world history from below, 1ile1t
commlnity"'he said' "merely observing the events of
its time, would not be a Christian community."
from the perspective of the outcast, the suspects, the maltreated,
the powerless, the oppressed, the reviled - in short, Seven. Still, calling governments to account and repentfrom
the perspective of those who suffer." Here is the "more ance, the critical component, and praying and working for a
rewarding principle for exploring the world in thought and community of shalom and an economy of grace, the positive
action than personal good fortune."
component, are essential elements of the political vocation
*:n".:n:*n' strategically Christians should work for a
quote the text' "You always have the poor with you" (Mark
Tacticallv christians should form ad hoc alliances with all
1'4:7)' as if poverty were an order of creation Gf' "the rich p"opl" of good will in pursuit of a more just society. Indeed,
man in his castle' / the poor man at his gate")' and there is
", go.,l,o]r", discovered, we may well find more saints
nothing we can - or should - do about it. But Jesus was not
than the pious' Jesus said' "whoever is
being cynical, or even realistic, about the irr"rrit"bilif or ar, "lo"t
not aqainst us is for us" (Mark 9:40). We should not fear
excluded underclass, rather he was reminding his disciples
dirty i".rds but bloody hands.
where they will be found if they are faithful - among the
poor and oppressed.
Eight. The flipside of an apolitical church is a sacralised
Five. The point is not that the poor and oppressed have a
state' This is "the Constantinian trap" (Lesslie Newbigin)'
And a sacralised state easily becomes a demonic state. The
monopoly on virtue' let alone that they are an elect group'
cross is draped with the flag, and discipleship is absorbed
rather it is simply that they are the ones who get screwed -
into citizenship. The German Christians are the paradigm
and God doesn't like people getting screwed' so God sends
nationalist idolaters; history repeats itself in the farce of
26 . Movement . Summer 2011
the Religious Right. "Never was anything in this world loved
too much," wrote Thomas Traherne, "but many things have
been loved in a false way, and all in too short a measure."
The true love of ecumenism trumps the sentimental love of
Nine. The church's political witness ends in the public
square, but it begins around a table. At worship the church
bows neither to Caesar, nor to Mammon or Mars, but to
the crucified and risen One. At worship the Spirit begins
to straighten our disordered desires, as we hear an alternative
narrative to manifest destiny, and learn an alternative
praxis to Realpolitik. Yet worship can be a bolthole rather
than a sign of reconciliation and resistance. "Where the
body is not properly discerned, Paul reminds the Corinthians,
consumption of the Eucharist can make you sick or kill
you (1 Cor. 11:30). this might explain the condition of some
of our churches" (William T. Cavanaugh).
Ten. The Apocalypse of John is "a visionary theological and
poetic representation of the spiritual environment within
which the church perennially finds itself living and struggling"
(Richard B. Hays). It is a samizdat text of protest to
the pretensions of power, a warning against complacency,
and a call to discernment in reading the signs of the times.
The powerful inevitably twist it into a self-serving mandate
for accumulation and aggression; only those who long for
justice and peace see that the hermeneutical key is the
slaughtered Lamb who gently roars. Here is the text for a
political theology that begins to re-imagine and re-shape
the world in anticipation of the parousia of Christ.
In Apocalypse Now: Reflections on Faith in a Time of Terror
(2005), Duncan Forrester proposes an interesting juxtaposition:
on the one hand, the statement of support for the
Kaiser published by a group of ninety-three leading German
intellectuals, including theologians, on the day the First
World War broke out; on the other hand, the public "Letter
from America: What We Are Fighting For" in support of
President Bush's "war on terror," signed by sixty prominent
American intellectuals, including theologians, five months
after 9/L1,. Both letters are so theologically thin, however,
that they amount to pom-pom propaganda for imperial
states. The first letter awoke Karl Barth from his Schleiermacherian
slumbers, the second letter aroused Stanley
Hauerwas and Paul Griffrths to a polemical response. But
by and large the people of Germany and the US sleepwalked
into slaughter. Moral: When political theology is faithful,
expect it to be critical and subversive; when it is unfaithful,
expect it to be ideological and fatal.
Kim Fabricius is a
New Yorker, abaseball
fan and URC
chaplain at Swansea
the Planh is still
'Exodus', by Marc
Summer 2011 . Movemenl . 27
Coming Down the Mountain
Paul Parker offers advice for festival-goers.
PaulParker is a
2nd Year studying
for a Bachelor of
Divinity at Bangor
he is President of
the Methsoc. He is
trainingto be a Local
Preacher in the
enjoys climbing and
A s I pen this article, the more liturgical Christian reminiscent of the Tabernacle of the Hebrew Scriptures in
[\ traditions have just celebrated the Transfiguration, which God dwelt; perhaps this demonstrates that Peter mis-
L \,.rt as yo., read this, that is a dim and distant mem- understood the situation and wished to contain God, in the
ory. Exams and deadlines have taken priority. For some same way that in Sinai God was confined to the Tabernacle.
the summer is a beacon of hope,
But God is not restricted to a tent,
instillingsanityintothishigh-pres- lf We Seg a fgstiValtS
sured time. For those with more
He works throughout the world
- -^ r- -
and in every life; no longer do His
workaholic tendencies ,n"'r"-,,,", purpOsg aS Only .;;;;;"',l r,".r"t to a special
jots and tittles have been put on the
confined to our festivals. The deeply
exam script. Whichever camp we dUfatiOn Of the personal, the life-giving and refall
in, I think there are lessons to be -
rearnt rrom th" r,.*n*; ;; festiva I r it i s u n I i ke V l"#i"Tlr'g1i***,
n'::,H1;j,;"li*"1':,T"* to change our lives. fi"
'Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If
you wish, I will put up three shelters-one for you, one for
Moses and one for Elijah."'(NIV)
For many of us the highlight of the summer is the Christian
festivals which we attend. Be they Brightlights, Creation-
Fest, Soul Survivor, New Wine or Greenbelt, these times
away are the focal point of our breaks and the zenith of our
spiritud year. I fully support going to festivals and value
them for their inspiration and the way they can "recharge
our batteries", however I wish to draw two points of consideration
from the Transfiguration which are applicable to
Firstly, do not limit God in a shelter or in a festival. Peter
wants to contain the moment, his desire to build three shelters,
or tabernacles demonstrates two mis-understandings.
Firstly regarding the transient nature of the Transfiguration.
It was not meant to be sustained reality, but was in
fact a specific moment of change to be moved away from.
Peter does not need to pitch shelters because they will soon
go back down the mountain. The same is true of our festival
experiences. They last, at most, a week but so often
we can wish they lasted all summer, or even all year. We
dissolve ourselves into uniquely flavoured bubbles. But we
too have to "come down the mountain" back to our homes,
jobs, terms and deadlines, as well as friends, families, cake,
socials and parties. Festivals are short periods of transformation.
The shelters that Peter wanted to construct are
change our lives day-by-day.
we engage with there is longing to
The second point of consideration links Peter's misconceptions.
Because the Transfiguration experience was
transient and God can be met anywhere the disciples and
Jesus came down from the mountain. They went back to
the life they had been living before. But I am convinced it
would have changed them, their understanding of Jesus
and probably their interaction with the world. To me, festivals
should have a similar effect. We should go away from
them, having met and experienced God, our relationship
with Him improved, and eager to engage with God and His
world in a renewed and invigorated way, not pining for that
comfortable feeling the festival provides, or its abstraction
from reality, but harnessing the power of God we are aware
of for those few special days long after the warm feeling has
left, accepting it as it changes our lives and joining in it to
change the lives of those around us.
As I close on this challenge I offer the best I can do for practical
advice. If we see a festival's purpose as only existing for
the duration of the festival, it is unlikely to change our lives.
If we see the purpose of the festival as shaping the time
until the next one, then it is more likely to succeed. One
simple question should be of assistance: "what impact does
this have when term starts again?" Ifwe can find a relevance
and an impact for the term, in the festival, surely we will see
28 . Movement . Summer 2011
I am making all things new
A liturgy of readings and reflections on power and transformation by Rosie Venner.
This liturgy may be used to acknowledge and confess the power held by many of us; whether that is because we live in the West or global North, because we
are part of a majoriQ or because we enjoy freedom, peace and opportunities denied to others. It gives space to reflect on the unsettling challenges of the
gospels to our privilegedway of life, while remindingus of Jesus' caII to participate fully inthe workof the kingdom, and to be transformed.
Words in bold are to be said or sung by everyone. Leave plenty of space between the prayers, readings and meditations and don't be afraid of silence. The
Taize chants can be found at www.taize.fr.
Come all who are weary
of wealth, of poverty, of power, of struggle, of division
Come all who are heavy-laden
with too much, with too little, with anxiety, with fear, with anger
Come all who have hope
for liberation, for peace, for freedom, for the kingdom
Hear these words
"See, I am making all things new"
Taize chant: See I amhere, says the Lord, see I make allthings new
A reading from Luke 1: 46-55:
Voice 1: And, Mary said
Voice 2: 'My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Voice 1: Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
Voice 2: His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
Voice 1: He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
This liturgy resource
published in Mozaik
of WSCF Europe).
Summer 2011 . Movement . 29
Voice 2: He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.'
A revolutionary prayer
the rich are sent away empty
the poor are lifted up
this is her God
A God who looks with favour on the lowest
who brings down the high and mighty
who takes the rulers from their thrones
and prepares a feast for the hungry
this is her God
Aholy, powerful God
fragile within her womb
Forgive us Lord when we cling to privilege and the trappings of Empire
When we hoard our possessions and enjoy riches at the expense of others
When we take for granted our position in society and in the world
When we do not share power and decision making with others
Unsettle us from seats of power and the confines of h:xury
Challenge us with scripture and the stories of others
Liberate us from the grasp of consumerism and complacency
Transform us in the pattern ofyour kingdom
that breaks into this world, to resist, to restore, to rebalance, to renew.
All say: For yours is the kingdom, the power and the gloty, for ever and ever,
A reading from Luke 6: 20-21
Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
'Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
'Blessed are you who are hungry now,
for you will be filled.
'Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
Taize chant: Beati voi poveri (How blessed the poor in heart)
(Singers or musicians could carry on quietly with this chant while the meditation is read
over the top. If you do this you may want to continue with the chant several times after
the meditation as well, before enteringinto silence)
30 . Movement . Summer 2011
When you say blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God
do your eyes rest on me in the crowd and see how weighed down I am with
When you say blessed are you who are hungry, for you will be filled
do you place your hand in mine and know the feasts I have eaten?
When you say blessed are you who weep now for you will Iaugh
do you anoint my head with oil and sense that I have laughed long and hard?
Then bless me again Lord, take my riches, my fullness, my laughter
all that I have in excess
and let it rise up in the poor, the hungry and those who weep.
That together we may delight in good things
share bread and wine together
open our hearts in joy and sorrow
knowing that together we seek your kingdom
as one body.
Song: Come now O God of peace (O-so-so) I
All say: May grace and peace be ours in abundance, in the knowledge of God and
of Jesus our Lord.
May we be thankful for simple things, for friendship, for health, for daily bread,
for good news.
May we rise above the corruption of power and become participants in the divine
May we go from this place to pursue goodness, wisdom, holiness and love.
God the Creator, call us to the work of the kingdom
God the Redeemer, keep us from stumbling
God the Sustainer, transform and inspire us.
1 The words to 'Come now O God of peace' (and music) can be found in the liturgy for the Week of Christian Unity
Rosie Venner likes
singing, writing and
is also SCM's Links
Summer 2011 . Movement . 31
SCM Gelebration and AGM
l0 - 12 June 20ll
Trinity Centre, Lickey,
The not-to-be-missed event at the end of the
summer term. Come and join students from
around the country in the midst of the beautiful
Lickey Hills, with the chance to have your say
and get involved in the movement's work next
All SCM affiliated groups and chaplaincies are
strongly encouraged to send a voting representative
to the AGM on the Saturday, but
everyone is welcome to join us for the weekend
whether you are new to SCM or a current
With a focus on food and celebration, we'll be
cooking up a feast on the Saturday evening,
and sharing together in prayer, workshops and
walks as well as planning tor 2011-12.
For more info and to book your place please
contact the SCM office on 0121 2003355 or
firstname.lastname@example.org. See the SCM website
for fudher details: www.movement.org.uk
Do you have a vision for SGM?
You could stand for SCM's General Council at
the AGM and be part of an inspiring studentled
team! Please contact scm@movement.
org.uk for more information or take a look at
www. movement.org. uk/gc