Tax Avoidance & Gospel Evasion

This blogger is not Archbishop Welby’s greatest fan. I try to admire the country’s most prominent Christian, but time and time again he gullibly provides large targets at which his detractors may take aim. If the Press pilloried him for the gospel of grace, I’d leap to his defence. It never does. 

This time, he has addressed the Trades Union Congress, critiquing large corporations like Amazon for paying too little in tax and offering staff little employment protection on account of zero hours contracts. This didn’t take too much courage, seeing as these two gripes would have been shared by most of those hearing. Indeed, they gave him rapturous applause and a standing ovation. What His Grace did not speak against that day was his own denomination’s use of zero hours contracts. At least two cathedrals were advertising such positions at the time he spoke, including Gloucester, seeking a night porter.

Furthermore, the Guardian newspaper revealed that Amazon, the corporate bogeyman upon which Welby trained his sights, is in fact one the Church of England’s largest investments. He might publicly decry the company’s clever tax avoidance, but its resulting profits help to pay bigger dividends to his commissioners. 

Regarding Tax Avoidance, Dr Gareth Baines has calculated that the Church’s £8.3 billion investment portfolio yielded £400 million worth of income last year, yet the Church paid nothing in taxation. If the Archbishop is so passionate about contributing to the Exchequer, why doesn’t he voluntarily pay the £76 million from which the C of E’s charitable status exempts it?

I suspect that Archbishop Welby has neither the time nor inclination to receive advice from me. But for the record, here it is:

  1. Check your own house is in order before publicly criticising others’.
  2. For whom do you speak? You’ve not been mandated by the electorate. If it’s on God’s behalf, you might slip the gospel in a little more than you have done so far.
  3. It is good for Christians to speak out against society’s evils. Perhaps choose some unpopular ones like abortion instead just the ones for which you’ll be adored by the liberal left.
  4. You’ll probably be criticised whatever you say. Better to be attacked for the gospel than an economic or political issue. Tell them they’re sinners and need Christ; you’ll get some credit in heaven to counter balance the derision on earth.

Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times hits the nail on the head:

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