How can Christian organisations obtain the money they need whilst holding on to their principles? How vigilant should churches and other Christian organisations be about the provenance of money which they receive through donations, grants or from investments?
Professor Fred Robinson of Policy&Practice has been awarded a Leech Fellowship to look at these issues, focusing on the North East. He’ll be finding out how Christian organisations think about money, particularly money that comes from sources that appear to have values that conflict with a Christian ethos. Should they accept money from the Lottery, for example, given its association with gambling? Or from charitable trusts linked to particular business activities such as fossil fuels? Thinking of historic benefactions, what should Christian organisations say or do about money they have received in the past that was earned through the business of slavery?
The problem of ‘tainted money’ has recently been generating a good deal of controversy in relation to the sponsorship of arts, culture and sport. There are also some lively debates about university endowments and the legacies of slavery. Christian organisations will get increasingly drawn into these issues — and they should have something credible to say about the positions they adopt and the actions they take.
Fred will certainly be exploring some difficult and controversial issues. He’ll be asking what we mean by ‘tainted money’. Isn’t all money tainted? And he’ll be wondering whether good works cleanse money – or even help redeem the sinner who donates. Shouldn’t we be encouraging more philanthropy rather than discouraging it? Should Christian organisations refuse ‘tainted money’ — or even give it back?
Fred comments: ‘I am very much looking forward to thinking about all this and talking to people from the churches and other Christian organisations across the North East about these issues. I want this research to have a practical purpose – I think it can help clarify what the dilemmas are and how best to respond to them’.
Policy&Practice has been undertaking quantitative and qualitative research on the voluntary sector and this project builds on that work. This is a one year project, starting in January 2021. It is funded from the William Leech Research Fund, a charitable trust that supports research in the area of Christian social ethics and practical theology in North East England.
For further information, please contact Fred Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.