Faith-based organisations have a long, complex and often antagonistic relationship to the financial sector. Many faiths – Islam especially – have their own distinctive tradition of financial practice, and a long history of supporting alternative financial systems. Recent years have seen prominent campaigns on issues such as the expansion of payday lenders and the living wage. Some – most notably the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2013 – have even suggested that churches and other religious institutions could play a role in the provision of financial products and support via credit unions and other forms of microfinance or debt counselling. But how effective can such activities be, given the level of resources in faith communities?
In February Public Spirit will host a series of articles on ‘public faith and finance’. Building on the debate held at Public Spirit’s launch event in October 2013, the series will cover topics such as Islamic finance, payday lenders and the recent Just Money campaign.