After a review, a committee of the Church of England has decided to retain their investments in the payday lending group Wonga, which amount to roughly 100,000 pounds.
Earlier this year, the new Archbishop of Canterbury caused a mess, by declaring that payday lenders were immoral, and the Church would put them all out of business. He was then hastily informed that the church, in fact, owned stock in several of them, the largest of which is Wonga.
Payday lenders are notorious for the extremely high rates of interest they charge: frequently anywhere from 1000-2500% (In my home state of Missouri, the current rate on a 14 day loan is 1950%).
James Featherstone was the chair of the review committee and said that the controversy:
“highlighted some misconceptions about ethical investment, and in particular that its objective is to achieve a morally perfect portfolio”.
But he continued: “It is no more realistic to desire that they invest only in morally perfect companies than it is to desire that any of us should relate only to morally perfect individuals. In any event, such an objective would rather miss the point of the Gospel. It is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick.”
Featherby said the EIAG would usually only recommend divestment where it saw “no genuine desire for change”.
Read more from the Guardian here.