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02 April 2014

Exposing corruption

EXPOSED, a global call against corruption, is ramping up the campaign for signatures and support in the lead up to November's key G20 meeting in Brisbane. For the first time ever, a global faith community will make its voice heard at the highest level of government on the issue of corruption.

The petition appeals to ordinary citizens around the world to take action as well as holding leaders of the most powerful nations (G20) to account. It will be used to influence G20 leaders to agree on anti-corruption action when they meet in Brisbane, Australia later this year.

The EXPOSED campaign highlights the effect global corruption has on the poor and speaks out for justice and transparency in financial dealings across the world. It is led by an international coalition of Christian organisations and aims to reach 100 million people across the world, encouraging them to consider practical and positive ways to resist corruption in their communities, including their churches, and to promote increased integrity and ethics in business.

Since EXPOSED was launched across the world thousands of people have already become involved, some at personal risk to themselves. It asks decision makers from the G20 to take definite steps towards openness in financial transactions. This will help to stop bribery and tax evasion and ensure funds are freed for the poorest communities in the world.

Joel Edwards, director of Micah Challenge International said: "Governments are already considering anti-corruption measures and we can encourage them to ensure tighter systems are in place to plug the holes in financial flows, making it harder for corrupt practices to flourish. The more we join together in speaking out to governments, the greater the impact we have." 

Hosted by Micah Challenge International for EXPOSED, key thinkers on corruption and tax from Christian NGOs met together last month to discuss the issues the campaign raises. Discussions covered bribery culture, globalisation, hopes for the G20, transparency, information sharing, tax havens, political involvement, the Church and even Starbucks and Amazon.

Melissa Lawson, governance and corruption policy adviser at Tearfund, said: "Corruption is preventing us tackling poverty. If we want to reach goals we need to tackle the underlying issues and the devastating effects. Corruption undermines social trust and cohesion and affects the poorest most."

Joel Edwards added: "Campaigns such as anti-slavery were successful because of the combination of high expertise and policy asks as well as a vital groundswell and grassroots response from the people. That has to be the way it works. It must be both and Church leaders need to understand that unless they get in the game then we have policy but we cannot move things along as fast."

Participants asked questions of the panel including How can churches engage with political system? How do we challenge government? How can local people in Africa stand up to bribes? How can you educate consciences? How can we do business as mission?

Christine Allen, director of policy and public affairs at Christian Aid, said: "Getting financial situations into the light is one more signpost of the common good. We need an economics for the common good. As Christians we have economies for benefit of all.At the moment the poorest make disproportionate costs. Rich companies and organisations can find loopholes and the poor suffer. The poor do not hold the information to hold the governments and companies to account to pay their fair share. We don't just want a culture of compliance - what we can get out of it. We want a culture of conscience where we think about what our contribution is to the people around us."

"Promises are easy but have to be turned into reality. Tax is a moral issue. It is no longer an economic issue."

Ideas for the EXPOSED campaign soon to be announced include a #Shinealight selfie action for youth. The Bible Society has also responded to corruption issues with their 30 pieces of silver resource, which ties the resurrection story in with addressing corruption in our communities. 

Joel concludes: "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is interesting that secular nations have a lower corruption rate and religious ones are more corrupt. There is little accessible theology looking at these systemic issues. We need to highlight God's zero tolerance for corruption and look at how the Bible speaks to this. Is the Church modelling transparency, accountability and servant leadership?"

EXPOSED will give a letter, from 50 of the world's senior Church leaders, to G20 leaders. The letter is backed up by the petition. The World Evangelical Alliance is mobilising members around the world to add their individual names to the petition.  They hope to add 50,000 by May. Add yours now.