Methodists Launch a Credit Card

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The daily e-mail from Ekklesia made me sit up and take notice this morning – the Methodist Church in the UK is launching a credit card

This seemed somewhat ironic considering the discussion I was having with a Christian friend yesterday about her feelings now that she didn’t work in the finance industry, as she had always felt uncomfortable with some of the things that went on. For example something I’ve fallen foul of, processing all the debits against an account before the credits, which of course generates an overdrawn charge if money in the account is tight, or the brewing concerns over mis-sold home loans – as she said, the industry seems to make most of it’s money from those who can least afford to pay. I can think of numerous other examples from my own experience, for example energy companies who charge those using key meters – generally those on low incomes – more than those on regular meters. Just reading the headline, the question of whether a Church should be getting involved in the finance industry is definitely foremost…

Of course, the Methodist Church isn’t getting into the finance business, as the card won’t allow you to spend any money at all. The launch is part of their Lent campaign, which is aiming to get people to consider before they spend, looking to address the soaring levels of consumer debt in the UK, and refocus participants in the campaign as to their priorities. The idea of the ‘credit card’ is that participants will keep it in their wallet, and be reminded whenever they reach for one of their real cards, and maybe think twice about whether they really need what they are about to buy. The concerns about consumer debt aren’t just restricted to the Methodist Church – the Church of England has recently added an entire new section to their website dealing with the same issue.

The Methodist Church are keen to point out that this isn’t about not spending anything:

“When we take time to think about the things we buy and why we buy them, it can help us to reconsider our priorities. I may well want to buy something, but does that mean that I need it?”

“However, Buy Less: Live More isn’t about depriving yourself of those things you want; it’s about looking at life in a new way, trying different things and taking a few risks. So as well as reducing your carbon footprint by getting off the consumer treadmill, you can live life in all its fullness.”

Alongside the card itself, participants can sign up to an e-mail list that will issue daily ‘Buy Less’ and ‘Live More’ challenges, along with a dedicated Facebook group to support the campaign.

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