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Transforming the Jericho Road

In this guest post, Bryn Lauder of the JustMoney Movement explores the connections between poverty and tax justice.

Last month, I had the privilege of visiting a food bank and clothes bar in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Many of us have felt that sense of pride and joy at seeing the local church actively and compassionately serving local communities, meeting the most marginalised with open doors and open hands.

But following the sense of pride in seeing the church be the hands and feet of Jesus, questions naturally arise:

  • Why, in the sixth largest economy in the world, do so many people need to depend on these services?
  • What is driving poverty, inequality and injustice in our society and how do we tackle it at the root?

Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr delivered his sermon ‘A Time to Break Silence’. In it he challenges us:

‘On the one hand we are called to play The Good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that people will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard or superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars, needs restructuring.’

But, how do we transform the whole Jericho Road?

At the JustMoney Movement we believe it’s vital that the church has the big conversations about justice, asking ourselves how we can campaign and act for a world free from poverty, where our systems and structures treat all people equally and with dignity.

We have a vision of a new Jericho Road, where all may walk freely, with dignity. Our vision is of a world where money is used to shape a fairer, greener future for everyone.

That is why on 9 June, we are inviting churches across the UK to mark Tax Justice Sunday. Tax isn’t an easy topic and it’s not one we often hear about in church! Yet taxes are part of everyday life: they are a tool of government, a mechanism for distributing wealth, and a means of raising revenue towards a strong welfare state and well-functioning public services.

If as a church we want to move past charity and towards justice, surely we should be thinking and talking more about tax.

Tax could be a tool for addressing these issues, but as it stands the system often does the opposite. Taxes fall most heavily on those with lower incomes, so that the very wealthiest in society do not pay their fair share. At the JustMoney Movement, we see tax not as a burden, but a blessing: a way that we can show love for our neighbours and care for creation. That’s why we run the Church Action for Tax Justice campaign, calling for fairer taxes to get us closer to the kind of just, compassionate society we see in the biblical Jubilee and in Jesus’ kingdom values.

We understand that tax can be a difficult topic, but we also know that to truly be a justice-seeking church, we need to step out of our comfort zone.

What next?

  • Download our Tax Justice Sunday resource which includes a Bible study, reflections, prayers and actions here.
  • We believe taxes are a blessing, not a burden, and we are working hard to shift this narrative. Let us know what you’re thankful your taxes pay for here.
  • Join us on 11 June for our Fair Tax Week MoneyTalks event with former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Find out more here.

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