Christian Council for Monetary Justice
Papers su
bmitted by Members

- September 2003

CCMJ aspires to renew the witness of Christians, in co-operation with adherents of other faiths, to social, economic and ecological justice, through radical reform of the world's money.

If these aspirations are to become reality, there has to be a practical understanding of the way in which the material world organises itself. At the centre of that organisation are beliefs, conceptions, misconceptions and practices concerning wealth and, in particular, money.

The particular insight of CCMJ is that certain misconceptions about money - the way in which it comes into being; the way it is controlled; and the purposes for which it is, and is not, used - are easily correctable. And not just easily correctable - if they are so corrected, CCMJ's aspirations can become reality.

The main misconception is about the way money comes into existence - people think that when they borrow money, the bank is lending its own money or the money of other depositors in the bank. But that is not so. The money which is lent is a new creation, created out of nothing by the pressing of computer buttons. The bank then requires that the lenhht money be repaid together with a recurring imposition called "interest". Today in the UK an amazing 95% or more of the new money supply is created in this way by the banking system (the remaining 5% of the money supply is coins and notes created by the government).

Even more amazingly, a government wishing to borrow millions of pounds to pay for its own capital expenditure - for hospitals, roads, bridges, sewers, schools etc. - has to borrow from the banking system and pay fantastic amounts of interest!! Indeed, such capital expenditure typically involves a payback of two, three, even four times the original sum.

Thus if £100m is borrowed, up to £400m has to repaid and that happens in circumstances where the administrative cost is tiny. Recognising the misconception and the easily correctable nature of present practice, CCMJ then proposes a step-by-step, incremental change which implements an increasing use of interest-free, instead of interest-bearing, money for certain specific purposes. Those purposes include social and economic justice but, just as importantly, allow for deep religious and moral objection to the practice of interest (in Islam, riba) and for appropriate amounts of cheap "green" capital investment.

Freedom, liberation, salvation: these are the buzz words of the modern world. They are also key words of scripture.

Peter Selby concluded his 1997 book Grace and Mortgage with these words "the work of redemption, of unmortgaging the future, is work of ultimate significance, of importance beyond measure..." Mortgage means death-grip. The UK churches have yet to put any meaningful effort into loosening this death-grip on the British people.

Archbishop William Temple in 1942 and Pope Puis XI in Quadragesimo Anno in 1931 had censured the dominance of the credit/money system, and its impoverishment of the people, but no "meaningful resources" followed that criticism of the death-grip of debt. Some brave prophetic voices spoke out in the 1930s, but there was no collective assault on "the powers that be".

American economic historian Prof. Michael Hudson over the last thirty years has shown how debt destroyed ancient empires. The unrestricted private acquisition of land, wealth and property leads to debt, slavery and social collapse. By exploring Babylonian records he has also shown that debt remission was practised from 2700 BC in order to maintain society's well-being. The usury ban and Jubilee laws of debt has shown cancellation are a later manifestation of the same idea, but given divine sanction in the OT. Not for long, though, as he says in his Lost Tradition of Debt Cancellation (p.15) "Only in the modern era have these (Biblical) stories been decoupled from the laws concerning debt, land tenure, and freedom from debt bondage that they were originally designed to wrap, and their social kernel thrown away."

By any standards this is dangerous neglect, as Peter Selby has shown, and there are now urgent prophetic voices warning of the danger, as shown by current financial indicators. Yet there are also many voices offering alternative ways to deal with public money/credit problems that prevent work being done.

First the problem of interest-bearing debt must be faced.
In this cause CCMJ promotes monetary justice and advances specific proposals.

CCMJ believes monetary justice has ancient and contemporary theological resonance. Monetary justice is an integral element of three fundamental ingredients of a just economy; namely,

- MONEY (our challenge is to show real wealth means universal well-being);
- LAND (seeking to show how and why lifestyles must become sustainable), and
- PARTICIPATIVE DEMOCRACY (making effective the need of all communities to have power and influence) .

IN RELATION TO MONEY CCMJ advocates that ............
a) Money for industry and commerce should be issued by an elected national, and possibly in some instances local, governmental agency only, in amount appropriate to facilitating the production and distribution of values for life that the goods and productive capacity which it represents.
b) The method of issue for such money should be interest-free
to the society it serves, but for genuine cost of administration, and repayable when the wealth creation is under way.
c) Private banks should be deposit institutions, and not banks of issue, limited to the loaning of moneys deposited with them, that is, the actual assets held by the banks [i.e. the present practise of banks' lending' at ten times their holdings should end.]
d) Existing money created by past bank issuance shall be converted to government issued money as per Irvine Fisherâs 100% reserve solution.
e) The computerised 'Global Money Markets' and Exchanges have an obligation to demonstrate that their activities are not damagingto the poorer nations that they appear to be exploiting on our behalf, or immediately cease such activities.


Archbishop William Temple said :
"In the case of money, we are dealing with something which is handled in our generation by methods that are extremely different from those in vogue a century or half century ago. When there was a multitude of private banks, the system by which credit was issued may have perhaps been appropriate, but with the amalgamation of the banks we have now reached a stage where something universally needed - namely money, or credit which does duty for money - has become in effect a monopoly·  The private issue of new credit should be regarded in the modern world in just the same way in which the private minting of money was regarded in earlier times. The banks should be limited in their lending power to the amount deposited by their clients, while the issue of newer credit should be the function of public authority.  This is not in any way to censure the banks or bankers. They have administered the system entrusted to them with singular uprightness and ability and public spirit. But the system has become anomalous, and, as so often happens when anomaly has persisted through a long period of time, the result is to make into the master what ought to be the servant."
William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, September 26, 1942   


In his Grace and Mortgage - The Language of Faith and the Debt of the World, Peter Selby said "My contention is that it is not an accident that we have lost touch with the roots of one of the most important metaphors that have been used about the person and work of Christ. For by seeing our debt to God and Christâs repayment of that debt as spiritual truth ( by which we easily mean, strangely for Christian believers, a truth that is not based in the material world ) we are allowed to leave the financial world to look after itself and go its own way. We have made it possible for ourselves to worship God ( religiously ) and Mammon (economically ) by simply allowing ourselves two separate kinds of language and not letting them interact in any way that would confront our dependence on the economy of credit".