Letter: Church investments

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The Independent Online
INVESTING in the arms trade (report, 23 March) raises many ethical issues for churches.

Under international law it is recognised that there are legitimate uses for arms in terms of self-defence, as set out in Article 51 of the UN Charter. However, arms are not like other goods. They are designed to kill, injure and threaten. Church investment guidelines are often more scrupulous about investment in firms producing alcohol, tobacco, or even newspapers, than weapons.

Armed conflict is one of the main obstacles to development. As a development agency, Christian Aid would ask its supporting churches to look again at the consistency of preaching peace and investing in arms.

Many of our partners in situations of post-conflict reconstruction stress the Biblical message of turning "swords into ploughshares". In this context Christian Aid would welcome a rethinking of church investment policies. The guiding criterion must be that the life of the poor in areas of conflict must take priority over a high rate of return on investment in engineering and electronics firms, whether or not their business is wholly or mainly arms for export.

JENNY BORDEN

Acting Director

Christian Aid

London SE1

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