Christians and Muslims work together on pioneering ethical finance plans

A world leading interfaith initiative aimed at creating a practical ethical financial solution will move a step closer on Monday 24 October at a private round table to be held in the House of Lords in London.

Ethical Finance
Very Rev Dr Angus Morrison and Rev Sally Foster Fulton represented the Church of Scotland at a launch event for the initiative last March. Pictured from left: Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, Omar Shaikh, Very Rev Dr Angus Morrison, Shaikh Ruzwan.

The Church of Scotland and Islamic Finance Council UK are convening the unique gathering of faith leaders, parliamentarians, and finance practitioners to agree a shared values framework upon which a financial solution, open to all in society, will be developed.

The joint venture, the culmination of many years of dialogue, was launched earlier this year in response to the systemic failure and non-sustainability of the current financial model that has struggled to recover from the economic, operational and reputational damage caused by the global crisis in 2008/09.

By developing a pioneering new model of interfaith engagement the initiative aims to move from dialogue to action by creating a fairer, more socially responsible financial system.

According to the Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church & Society Council:

“Two of the most important tasks that we face as a society are developing a fairer and more sustainable economy – one which has a passion for equality at its heart – and building stronger relationships across faith communities. This initiative does both and it is hugely exciting to be a part of it.”

House of Lords to refine vision

The event is the second in a series of three workshops. The first, held in Edinburgh in May 2016, reviewed the theological and philosophical underpinnings of Christianity and Islam in order to identify commonalities.

Shared values identified during the discussions included: our role as stewards on a planet with limited natural resources, tackling excess and greed and encouraging moral responsibility.

At the House of Lords workshop on Monday the shared values framework will be reviewed and refined before participants explore the practical obstacles to realising a vision of ethical finance today.

Leading asset managers, banks and economists will share their insights on different type of economic model where ethical finance deepens the economy, encourages inclusion and creates positive social impact.

Omar Shaikh of the Islamic Finance Council UK commented: “We are delighted with the positive response received from parliamentarians and practitioners which reinforces the significance of this initiative.

Bringing the debate to the heart of London, a leading a global financial centre, sends a strong international message that faith communities can work together for the greater good of society.”

Church of England supports initiative

The initiative emerged from an Interfaith Ethical Finance Roundtable, attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in 2013 and the Church of England continues to take an active involvement.

Ed Mason, head of responsible investment at Church Commissioners for England said:

“The need for a fairer, more ethical banking system has never been more pressing.

"What emerged clearly in 2013 is that those from faith perspectives have an important contribution to make in creating a shared solution for the industry and the communities that they serve.

"I look forward to contributing to the development of a solution in the months and years ahead.”

It is expected that the shared values framework, the first of its kind globally, will be announced early next year, informing the development of a viable ethical finance business solution.