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Church Commissioners excludes payday lenders from investment portfolio

The Church Commissioners has revised its investment policy to exclude payday lenders and pawnbrokers, and also plans to challenge its internet-provider investments which promote pornography.

Its new stance on high-interest-rate lending builds on its previous policy under which companies involved in weekly collected home credit were excluded from investment.

The new policy extends the investment exclusion to cover other forms of specialised high-interest-rate lending, in particular payday and pawnbroker loans.

Further, the Church Commissioners has reviewed its policy on investing in pornography, to ensure it maintains the toughest possible exclusion of companies involved in the production or distribution of pornography that its ethical investment research provider is able to implement.

Internet portals promoting porn 

The new policy document covering this is also more fully theologically articulated than the previous one.  The Revd Professor Richard Burridge, deputy chair of the Church Commissioners Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), said:

"Our policy is predicated upon the biblical witness against abusing God's gift of human sexuality for financial gain or exploitation.  Our role as Christian investors is to stand for a more positive attitude to sexual expression than can ever be attained through pornography.

"Pornography involves degradation of human beings made in the image of God and normalises views of human sexuality that contradict the Christian message. "

James Featherby, incoming chair of the EIAG, added: "It is completely inappropriate for the Church national investing bodies to invest their capital with companies whose business is the production or distribution of pornography.

"There is no other policy recommended by the EIAG that sets such a low threshold across the piece for unacceptable turnover from a business activity.

"However exclusion from investment of unacceptable companies is only part of this policy.  There are too many big businesses making conscious choices to make pornography a revenue stream, even though the level of revenues is below the threshold at which we can consistently screen our investments.

"Where we have concerns about companies in which the investing bodies are shareholders, we will challenge them in engagement.  We do not think it is acceptable, for example, that major mobile phone companies should promote pornography on their own internet portals, especially when mobile phones are provided to children at ever younger ages.

"On issues like this the EIAG will use shareholder influence to press hard for more ethical and responsible corporate behaviour."

This article was taken from www.civilsociety.co.ukhttp://www.civilsociety.co.uk/finance/news/content/11176/