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Public Faith and Finance: Faith responses to the financial crisis

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July 2016

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Abstract

This report looks at how faith organisations have been responding to the impact of the financial crisis and the politics of austerity. It is based on a scoping survey of the work of 90 faith organisations and 13 case studies of faith-based initiatives, conducted by a research team based in the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship at the University of Bristol. This study builds on a core area of the Centre’s work which focuses on the role of, particularly minority, religions in public life. The project is hosted by the Centre’s online forum on religion and policy, Public Spirit. It is funded by the Barrow Cadbury Trust as part of an ongoing interest in promoting economic justice.
The role and impact of faith organisations in providing welfare services, and particularly in the context of economic recession and welfare reform, are well recognised. It is important to acknowledge that faith organisations are not only plugging gaps in social or financial provision left by the market and state, but also bring critical perspectives to questions of socially just economic organisation. Across different religious traditions, faith organisations are also mobilising values, people and resources to develop and innovate alternative approaches to market-based finance and credit. This report focuses on the role of faith organisations in:
1) assisting those experiencing financial hardship;
2) engaging in activism on and campaigning for the reform of financial products and services;
3) advocating or providing alternatives to market-based finance.
We explore how faith organisations, particularly from minority religious groups, view the effects of the financial crisis and austerity on faith communities and neighbourhoods and the ways in which they are responding to these issues. We examine the ways in which they assist those experiencing financial hardship, the issues on which they campaign, and the alternatives to market based finance they are helping to develop or advocate. We look at how and with whom they collaborate, and the values, models and practices that underpin their work.

[Includes Jewish case studies]

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Bibliographic Information

O’Toole, Therese, Braginskaia, Ekaterina Public Faith and Finance: Faith responses to the financial crisis. University of Bristol. July 2016:  http://archive.jpr.org.uk/object-uk407