Click here for General Assembly coverage

Conferees Calls for Combat Against Greed

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia (ENI) Speakers at an international Christian-Muslim dialogue
conference organized by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) say religious groups need to do
more to combat greed in the global economy.

Though both Islam and Christianity acknowledge man as “custodian of God’s
creation” and greed as “betrayal of God’s trust,” there is “strong
resistance” in both religions to combating greed by challenging forces of
globalization, said Chandra Muzaffar, a Muslim economic scholar from the
University of Malaysia and director of International Movement for a Just

Muzaffar delivered the opening address at the Sept. 25-30 meeting,
called “Engaging Structural Greed,” organized by the LWF at Kota Kinablu,
the capital of the state of Sabah in Malaysia. Conference attendees include
Muslim delegates, church officials, economists and secular social activists.

“Today greed rules the world so much so that even money has degenerated into
a commodity to be traded, rather than being a medium for trade,” remarked
Muzaffar, referring to the latest international currency crisis.

Islamic nations have been not been able “to resist the forces of the
markets” despite Quranic injunctions against profiteering and interest, said
Muzaffar. “Religious leaders in the world are concerned more about
(religious) identities than issues of justice and equality.”

Ulrich Duchrow, a member of the Evangelical Church in Baden, Germany, told
the conference, “Many of the European churches are not ready to accept
the clear decisions of the ecumenical assemblies rejecting the capitalist
market system.”

“The market is an ambivalent animal that creates wealth by impoverishing
others. Instead of farmers borrowing seeds from others as in the past, now
they are forced to buy seeds, lose their lands, and are indebted in slavery
due to market driven prices for their produce,” said Duchrow, a professor of
theology at Heidelberg university.

While the banking system has become an instrument of “institutionalized
greed,” he regretted that “many of the churches are indirectly endorsing the
present neo-liberal market economy by pretending that it is still being
socially regulated.”

“Greed is all around us. It is global and personal. The common wealth is
disappearing into our wealth,” said Martin L Sinaga, study secretary for
theology and the church at the LWF, regarding the theme of the conference.

Sinaga said the interfaith dialogue was a follow-up to similar talks with
Buddhists in 2010 at Chiang Mai in Thailand “to raise the voice of the faith
communities” to the greed and injustice driven by the market economy.