The Church of England: Enslaving God’s Children

Read Time:13 Minutes

We republish this article by Paul Cudenec, originally posted on Winter Oak, detailing the Church of England’s complicity in the predatory human capital market through its impact investments portfolio. In it he argues the CofE has morally compromised its purported values by getting into bed with present-day equivalents to trans-Atlantic slave traders; those in the neo-colonial impact investment business who regard today’s children across the world as mere fodder for their ‘sustainable’ prosperity.

Last month I spent some time back in England, where I spoke at the launch of the short documentary film ‘Spirit of the Downs’ in Sussex, which can be viewed here, and at an event organised by the Real Left in London, the audio recording of which can be found here.

I also visited family and friends around the country and found myself, for the first time, inside Bristol Cathedral.

The magnificent Gothic building was hosting an exhibition, entitled ‘All God’s Children‘, in which the Church of England was apologising for its links to the transatlantic slave trade in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

It seems that some 200 people buried or celebrated in the cathedral and its grounds had a close connection to the city’s slavery business, and information boards were strategically placed to draw attention to this.

Bristol’s role in the slave trade has been highly controversial in recent years – in 2020 a statue of slave trader Edward Colston, at the same time a “philanthropist” according to The Guardian, was toppled from its plinth and pushed into the docks by protesters.

I thought the exhibition was very worthwhile. It was shocking to be reminded that slaves in the West Indies were literally regarded as possessions, like cattle or furniture, with their children automatically “belonging” to the slave owners.

Those slave owners were given tens of thousands of pounds in compensation for their “loss” when slavery was abolished, while there was no compensation at all for those who had been enslaved!

The Church of England really bent over backwards to say sorry for its historical role in supporting and celebrating Bristol’s slave-trade economy, even apologising for the possibility that the wording of its apology might itself be considered offensive!

A few days later I was in Manchester and, again, couldn’t resist taking a peek inside the cathedral there.

Here I came across a small display celebrating the building’s history, which included a section describing “Vision 2030”, which is apparently “the strategic and business plan for the Cathedral”.

This aims for “medium and long-term sustainability as a result of departmental budgets, approved by the Chapter, that cover costs and generate income”.

I thought this sentence was interesting in itself, for its correct use of the term “sustainability” as a question of finance, rather than of the environment!

But the Vision 2030 statement continued: “We shall consistently explore means by which to challenge contemporary society and achieve greater equality, diversity and inclusion. We shall become digitally connected”.

It surprised me a little to read this kind of New Normal language, with the reference to 2030, in a religious building, until I remembered that the Church of England is an extension of the British state, which was used by the criminocracy to build their global empire of greed.

Having now done some research, I can report that the Church of England, so keen to apologise for its past involvement with exploitative slave-traders, is in fact in bed with their present-day equivalents in the neo-colonial impact investment business, who regard today’s children across the world as mere “human capital” to feed their sustainable prosperity.

If you don’t know what the impact industry is, take a quick look at this double-sided A4 leaflet on “wising up to the impact scam”.

Spearheaded by venture capitalist “Sir” Ronald Cohen, it basically means privatisation of the public sector pushed further than ever before, in which big businesses make money by “investing” in various sectors tied in to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and by turning these investments into commodities, that can be traded and speculated upon.

Children, with their whole lives ahead of them and ready to be plugged in and monitored for decades in the financiers’ digital smart-city panopticon, are the prime target of the impact vultures.

Apparently forgetting its concern for the welfare of “All God’s children”, the Church of England has jumped on board this lucrative impact-slavery bandwagon.

In 2021 it announced its first social impact investment, in collaboration with Resonance Ltd, “one of the UK’s leading social impact investment companies” which seeks “profit through purpose“, and Patron Capital, which describes itself as “one of the leading opportunistic real estate managers in Europe” and which Wikipedia calls “a European private equity real estate fund” representing around €4 billion of equity.

If you are wondering where real estate comes into the deal, the impact project concerned involves “providing housing for vulnerable women”.

Resonance’s chief investment officer, Simon Chisholm, declared: “The fund is now at £26m and the Church of England £1.6m is invested in the most recent round of investment, so that’s an important step forward for the fund at this point”.

Explaining its involvement, The Church of England says: “In 2020, the Archbishops’ Council set up a Social Impact Investment Programme, funded by the Church Commissioners, to deploy social investment capital to advance the Church’s missional objectives.

“Through this programme, the Church of England is making £16 million available for a social impact portfolio, which will seek investments targeting deep positive impact.

“An Investment Committee has oversight of the social investment programme and the programme is managed by the Head of Social Impact Investment.

“The Programme’s first Impact Report was published in May 2023 outlining investments made by the Social Impact Programme in its first two years”.

There is plenty of useful information in the C of E’s first-ever impact report, hidden away among the usual do-gooding platitudes, and I would recommend readers to have a look for themselves.

For one thing, there is a helpful reminder that investment is not the same as giving and the end goal is profit, for the Church as for all the other players involved.

The report says: “Total capital committed to date is £5.7m and the investments offer a net return in the region of 3 – 7%”.

We also learn of the Church’s involvement in a Recovery Loan Fund managed by Social Investment Business, which turns out to be the trading name for the Social Investment Business Foundation.

This body insists, with predictable virtue-signalling, that its “impact” is to “provide finance and support to build a more equal society”.

It began life in 2002 as the Adventure Capital Fund, created by the UK Government to advance “social investment”.

More recently it was involved in setting up the Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund and its successor the Recovery Loan Fund, launched during the Covid-19 “crisis”.

The Church’s report explains that its Social Impact Investment Programme “aims to mobilise capital in a way that stimulates innovation and inclusion while bridging finance gaps”.

This “Impact First” approach involves support for “innovation and risk taking” and something called Catalytic Capital.

The report states: “The Church aims to play a catalytic role in drawing more capital into maximum impact solutions”.

It adds, at another point: “We will also seek to more clearly articulate our impact in working with mission-aligned investors and the catalytic role we can play in attracting further investment to impact solutions”.

So this is no casual, hands-off, involvement in the impact industry, but a key one, intended to boost the expansion of the profitable financial racket.

Needless to say, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the structural basis of impact capitalism, make an appearance in the report!

The Church says: “We monitor how our investments contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” and provides artwork to show exactly how they do so.

So who are the people tasked with “oversight”, with making sure that the Church of England’s impact investing project complies with its Christian ethics?

Chair of the Archbishops’ Council Investment Committee is Carl Hughes, a non-executive director of EnQuest Plc, the oil business notorious for its role in a 2021 corruption controversy, and for more than 20 years an audit partner at Andersen and Deloitte, a firm linked to the Enron scandal.

Next on the list of commmittee members is John Spencea career banker who has been head of business banking at Lloyds Bank and chief executive of LloydsTSB (Scotland) and has chaired the British Banking Retail and Small Business Committees.

He was a non-executive director of Capital for Enterprise Ltd, a UK public-private outfit handling the government’s partnerships with venture capital funds, which later became part of the British Business Bank.

Spence was also deputy chairman for many years of Business in the Community, the organisation set up by the current King Charles III and which enthusiastically advances all aspects of the Great Reset and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as I reported here.

In 2013 Spence was honoured by the British state for “services to business”, which says it all.

Another committee member is Mark Sheard, formerly of Stretch the Horizon direct marketing agency, who since 2020 has been CEO of World Vision UK, which offers “corporate philanthropy with a global social impact”.

World Vision works with the United Nations to “help children” and “transform children’s futures” and “to ensure the greatest possible impact on the lives of children”.

But while you wipe the tears of gratitude from your eyes, you might want to note that the invitation to form a Corporate Charity Partnership additionally promises “a lasting impact – on your business”.

Also on the committee is Steven Skakel, former managing director of NextiraOne UK Ltd, which he described in 2006 as “one of the foremost providers of IP communications solutions and managed services in Europe”.

It seems that the business boasted “a significant UK presence in local government and private sector organisations”.

Skakel talks in a 2011 video about the “impact” of a course he had just attended, run by Common Purpose, a so-called “charity” which has been described as “an elitest pro-EU political organisation helping to replace democracy in UK, and worldwide, with CP chosen ‘elite’ leaders” which “is funded by public money and big business, including international banks”.

The last two listed members of the committee, Danielle Walker Palmour and Alex Goodenough, particularly caught my eye.

Palmour is currently a director of Friends Provident Foundation, another “charity”, whose “portfolio” includes Snowball Impact Management – “a ground-breaking new 100% impact investment fund”.

Goodenough is Innovative Finance Lead at British International Investment, which boasts of being “the world’s first development finance institution, with 75 years’ experience as an impact investor in emerging economies”.

BII is eager to stress that it is keen on investing for the usual “sustainability” and “inclusivity”.

But the bottom line is that it is “investing for productivity… from accelerating digital transformation to building modern infrastructure, from strengthening financial services to supporting livelihoods”.

In a jointly-written article on the BII site, Goodenough enthuses over a recent Global Impact Investing Network forum in the Netherlands, attended by “over 1,000 impact investors from more than 60 countries”.

He reports that “impact investing continues to gather momentum” and that “the size of the impact investing market has reached $1.164 trillion”.

The BII’s history is an interesting one, illustrating the clear continuity between the British Empire/Commonwealth and the contemporary public-private global governance.

It was established in 1948 as the Colonial Development Corporation by the Overseas Resources Development Act of that year.

Read that again! “Colonial Development”. “Overseas Resources”. Anyone detect a whiff of profiteering imperialism in the air?

The BII/CDC’s triumphs include establishing a cement works in Zambia to supply the construction of the Kariba Dam in 1949, investing in the Kenyan tea industry in 1964, backing India’s tech industry in the late 1990s, establishing the Ghana Venture Capital Fund in 1992 and developing the mobile phone industry in Africa.

What Goodenough of BII has in common with Palmour of Friends Provident Foundation, apart from their membership of the Archbishops’ Council Investment Committee, is that they both previously worked for Ronald Cohen’s Big Society Capital, he as investment director and she as non-executive director.

For full details on Cohen and his activities, I will refer the reader to my 2021 article, ‘Ronald Cohen, impact capitalism and the Great Reset‘.

Suffice to say here that Cohen, “the father” of impact investment, is notorious in the UK for bankrolling the neoliberal New Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

These days he is involved with Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum, whose website describes him as “a preeminent international philanthropist, venture capitalist, private equity investor, and social innovator, who is driving forward the global impact revolution”.

Cohen is also a member of the United Nations Development Programme’s Global Steering Group for Impact InvestmentSDG Impact, which aims to “accelerate investment towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030”.  

And, finally, what do we know about the Head of Social Impact Investment, the individual who “manages” the programme?

Vanessa Morphet, the Church is pleased to tell us, came to them straight from the UK Goverment’s Inclusive Economy Unit, an entity set up in 2016 with what looks to be the sole aim of enabling the impact industry!

Its mission involves encouraging “private investment and support markets that deliver social impact as well as financial returns”, and “increasing social impact”.

Prior to that she worked for “venture philanthropy” organisation Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation, a “charity” that says it “transforms the lives of young people” and whose trustees include Rohan Haldea, also coincidentally one of the trustees of The Apax Foundation alongside the aforementioned Ronald Cohen.

Morphet’s earlier career in “the financial services sector” featured stints at Goldman Sachs and Wellington Managementboth very much part of the secretive and densely interlinked BlackRock-Vanguard-Rothschild financial complex.

Prior to that she worked for “venture philanthropy” organisation Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation, a “charity” that says it “transforms the lives of young people” and whose trustees include Rohan Haldea, also coincidentally one of the trustees of The Apax Foundation alongside the aforementioned Ronald Cohen.

Morphet’s earlier career in “the financial services sector” featured stints at Goldman Sachs and Wellington Managementboth very much part of the secretive and densely interlinked BlackRock-Vanguard-Rothschild financial complex.

Wikipedia devotes a whole page to “Goldman Sachs controversies”, noting: “In a widely publicized story in Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi characterized Goldman Sachs as a ‘great vampire squid’ sucking money instead of blood, allegedly engineering ‘every major market manipulation since the Great Depression’.”

This all may seem like strange company for the oh-so-ethical Church of England to be keeping.

But we should remember that this state institution is, after all, headed by the man who launched The Great Reset in 2020 and whose family has, for generations, acted as an important link between the British Empire and the private financial interests to which it is still entirely subservient.

[Audio version]

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