Presbyterian Mutual, Stafford Carson and Mental Reservation

Pete has a blog on the PMS saga below which updates the current situation following the Treasury Select Committee Report. Included within the criticisms was that of the Presbyterian Church itself. The moderator Rev Dr Stafford Carson was on Good Morning Ulster and accepted that the initial position of the PCI claiming that the PMS was nothing to do with it was wrong. However, when pressed over the possibility of the PCI providing money to the PMS savers he said the PCI had no such funds. When it was pointed out that the Presbyterian Church has very considerable assets, Dr. Carson claimed that that was in the form of churches and church halls and as such there was no property which the church could sell off to help the PMS savers.

To digress for a moment the Catholic church seem to have a concept called Mental Reservation which allowed priests and the like to tell lies and yet somehow not fall foul of the ninth commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”Whilst not an ecumenist Dr. Carson seems to have adopted a remarkably similar stance on this issue. The Presbyterian church owns Church House in the middle of Belfast which includes the Spires shopping mall.

In addition they own at least some (maybe all) of the following valuable properties:

Union Theological College in the university area of Belfast

The Bush Cafe: a terraced house on Elmwood Avenue in the university area of Belfast

Derryvolgie Halls on Derryvoglie Avenue between the Lisburn and Malone Roads in Belfast

Guysmere Youth Centre in Castlerock

Even now the PCI could sell (or even just mortgage) some of these assets to help the PMS savers. Clearly that would involve some pain and might even impede some of the worthwhile things the church can do. However, it would also demonstrate that the church understands its responsibilities to the PMS savers and is doing more than crying to the government whilst doing nothing practical itself. To quote James 2:14-20:

“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

Or even more damningly Our Lord’s words in Mark 12: 38-40:

“And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.”

Update:
I posted a similar (though shorter) set of comments on Dr. Carson’s blog earlier today: they have subsequently been removed and I have received an email from Dr. Carson; he has been invited to join us here on slugger.

Update to update:
To be fair my comments have been restored.

  • joeCanuck

    Of course the Presbyterian Church owes them, something. They allowed their name to be used to convince the misguided that their money would be totally safe.
    To say they are poor stinks; same sophistry that the Catholic (Roman one, if you prefer) Church tried when faced with the claims for compensation for the misdeeds of their clergy. Then, (miraculously?) they did find the money.

  • Coll Ciotach

    Now Turgon – you do realise that James is not worth a candle?

  • David Crookes

    Many thanks for your courageous posting, Turgon. Either you have assets which you can sell, or you haven’t. If you have, but you say you haven’t, you need to go and read Acts 5. 1-11, quick.

    Has the PCI itself received any money from the PMS at any time?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon, get off your high horse, oh course Dr Cartson knows the church owns Church house and Union College, do you honestly think he was going to list every single property the church owns on the radio? you probably have listed most of its assets held centrally, although even in these cases there may actually be held by trusts and therefore cant be used for main funds. Over the years all of these properties were subject to proposals to sell them off, and in each case it was realised that thier function was needed and retaining the property was the best use of the assets value.
    So far as I am aware the PCI does not own land or property purely for invesment purposes, unlike many other churchs and charities, and has a strong policy of instructing congregations to sell of any such surplus property, (to the extent my congrgation was told to sell off one field we owned adjacent to the manse) without putting words in his mouth I took the moderator as saying the only property the church held was necessary for the day to day running of its ministry, and gave the examples of churchs and halls, he wasnt about to go throught the full list.
    For you to post online here and directly call him a liar I find unchristian and has I am sorry to say greatly lowered my opinion of you.

  • Drumlins Rock

    just to add, Derryvolgie Halls “is funded by the Presbyterian War Memorial Fund” therfore I persume is a seperate trust, as for the Bush Cafe, good chance its only leased, that leaves Church House and Union College, both of which are more of a burden than an asset, but are vital parts of the architectural and historical heritage or the country.

  • Turgon

    Drumlins Rock,
    I agree that the church might need a headquarters and a theological college.

    However, does it need both in prime sites (hence worth a fortune) in the middle of Belfast? If the church sold these it could help the PMS savers and buy itself more suitable (albeit less grandiose) accomodation. Tell me is it vital to the PCI’s work that it owns such expensive buildings? Can the church not be administered and the students taught in anything other than such grand buildings? Does the need to own expensive buildings outweigh the biblical imperative to help those whom the PCI has helped improverish?

    As to the archietectural and historical heritage, the buildings are listed and to be honest creating Spires (a very unmarket shopping mall: Jesus’s view of selling things in the temple comes to mind) guttted the internal archiecture of the building.

    You have also ignored Guysmere which must be worth a bit, or is owning a holiday complex utterly vital to the work of the PCI? More vital than helping those whom they helped make penniless?

    As to accusing Dr. Carson of not telling the truth: well if he had told the truth then I would not have been able to say otherwise. One can (as indeed you are doing) make excuses for his gross economy with the truth: however, that is rather like mental reservation; and not what I understood ministers were meant to do: “Thou shalt not bear false witness” and the like.

  • Rory Carr

    Surely there must be something in Holy Scripture that is scathing of those who would quote Holy Scripture for their own political or narrow sectarian ends. Do you think you might be able to dig up an apposite passage, Turgon?

    You are pretty way off the beam on your misunderstanding that the Catholic Church “have a concept called Mental Reservation which allowed priests and the like to tell lies and yet somehow not fall foul of the ninth commandment…”. The term is more often applied in cases where a mental reservation was made by a party in uttering a statement to invalidate that statment for that very reason. In other words – if the lie was in the heart of the one who uttered a statement then the utterance itself can be held to be a lie. Thus marriage vows taken with a mental reservation, for example when one party felt unduly pressurised in taking them can be later declared invalid as any undertaking given under duress might be. A wise, sane, just and indeed holy interpretation one might consider if one were not so fired up with counter-religious zeal.

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    What irritates me is that investors up to £20,000: were classed as presumably Ordinary Shareholders and they are at the end of any distribution. What about the congregations with funds above £20k standing to one side and helping out their more unimportant and less well off investors. Furthermore were they told of this Shareholder condition and its diadvantages and issued with share certificates; also what enhanced benefits and voting powers did they receive above the £20k plus depositors. Also did they have access to their funds or did they have to sell their shares to liquidate their holdings.
    Dr Carson appeared to be in a different world to me and his excuses were worthy of a five year old.He made a shifty politician look amateur, grant you he is also a salesman hiding behind a collar and going fifteen foot up in the air to tell us that the streets of heaven are paved with gold no doubt.Well the depositors want some gold now.They should cash up and divi up.

  • ding dong

    Turgon, with all due respect to the savers and the investors in the PMS.

    They freely entered an arrangement with the PMS, they made money when the going was good, and when some of them realised they were exposed they and they alone caused a run on the PMS funds.

    While the institution is connected by virtue of the fact all its members are presbyterians and the church encouraged savers to mutually – and i stress mutually save and invest for their mutual benefit – the church per se has no obligation to give its assets to the PMS.

    I as a presbyterian do not give to the church to bail out a bank – nor by the way did I pay my taxes for that purpose either. But the money i give is for the running of the church – in all its aspects.

    Should a fund be set up to help PMS savers I’ll subscribe but it would be wrong to use the assets of the church to bail out the failings of a bank – albeit a bank run by presbyterians for presbyterians.

    Such a move/solution would be fraudulent – taking money for one purpose and using it for another.

  • Turgon

    ding dong,
    You are of course correct up to a point. But (and it is a big but) it was very heavily sold that these savings were extremely low risk: hence, they attracted the savings of many small time savers. The PCI very heavily promoted the PMS and then when it all went wrong, washed their hands of it in an utterly immoral fashion.

    Dr. Carson has now claimed that he sees that that was wrong but has also been extremely disingenuous in public about the church’s property portfolio.

    There is a serious moral issue here. The PCI has behaved in a disgraceful fashion (and Carson is merely continuing this). Expecting the government to bail out the savers is a bit rich when the PCI will do nothing apart from issue a few warm (and dishonest) words and lambaste everyone for not doing what they (the PCI) clearly will not do: help the savers.

    Sometimes churches should go the extra mile. It is pretty obvious what the church’s moral and Christian responsibility is.

    Tell me do you think the PCI doing nothing apart from blaming everyone else is a good example of a Christian witness?

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon your still calling him a liar, and I strongly dispute your accusations, I do not believe that he set out in anyway to deceive and the examples you have brough up are limited and exceptional, I know little about Guysmere, apart from using it on a few occasions with youth groups, there was rumours of it being sold at one stage but nothing seems to have happened, who knows maybe it might be in some trust fund too. As for Union, as it basically part of Queens therfore it makes sense to nearby, and with both it and church house, the historic listed nature of the buildings severely limit their market value.
    All these issues have been discussed in depth at the assembly in recent years, and a proposal to sell one or both was agreeded, but then rescinded the following year when more research was undertaken and the savings were felt to be doubtful.
    Yes both buildings have sentimental value to members, but as the initial vote displayed Presbyterians are willing to put proper stewartship first, when it is prudent to do so. As for Spires I did not know the building before hand, but whilst it has been compromised internally, it remains a fine building, and if sold to private hands much more harm would befall it.
    Once again I ask you to withdraw you accusation and show some respect to a fellow Christian.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon, I reading that you have personal grudge against the PCI, maybe you can fill us in on it.

  • Turgon

    Drumlins Rock,
    I am afraid that your eulogy for the beauty of Church House sits ill beside the fact that many elderly Presbyterians are in severe financial hardship because of the continual promotion of the PMS by the PCI (owners of Church House) and the subsequent Pontious Pilate like washing of hands when the whole (illegally managed as it turns out) thing fell apart.

    As to Stafford Carson: well he said that all the PCI owned were its churches and church halls.

    Remind me which of these is a church hall:

    Church House
    Union Theological College
    Derryvolgie Halls
    The Bush
    Guysmere

    So either Carson was telling an untruth or he does not know the church’s estate which is a bit odd for a moderator (as well as incompetent). I suspect he spends quite a bit of time in the building.

    If Carson would show enough respect to the PMS savers and indeed the general public as to not tell untruths (or alternatively be utterly incompetent, or completely disingenuous) on regional radio he might be worthy of a bit of respect. He might have less problems with the ninth commandment as well.

    As to a personal grudge not at all: I was a member until I moved to West Fermanagh where the nearest PCI is miles away in Enniskillen. If I move again I suspect I will return to being a Presbyterian. I have huge affection for the church and its members: hence, I do not like it when I feel that the church and its leaders are doing what I regard as clearly unscriptural and dishonest.

  • Drumlins Rock

    re-read posts 4, 5 and 11, save me typing it all again.

  • Turgon

    Drumlins Rock,
    No matter how many times I reread your comments, I am still not clear why you think the church needs to own such valuable property. I also cannot see why you think that ownership is more important than helping those in financial hardship: hardship which the PCI contributed to by the overhyping of the PMS, minimising its risks and seemingly turning a blind eye to (or merely incompetently missing) criminal behaviour.

    As to Stafford Carson: remind me which bit of his claim that the church only owns churches and church halls includes the aforementioned valuable properties? As I said he was either intentionally dishonest, utterly incompetent or completely disingenuous: which is it?

    Finally on your claim “Turgon, I reading that you have personal grudge against the PCI, maybe you can fill us in on it. “

    In view of my comments in post 13 do you fancy retracting that claim or alternatively try justifying it? Remember than in the PCI we do not give undue reverence to one person or prelate. Criticising Stafford Carson and the PCI’s utterly pathetic and in my view unscriptural response to the PMS scandal does not mean one has a grudge against the PCI; merely that one is not scared of criticising when one sees things one regards as wrong.

    Please tell me that Milton’s famous criticism does not apply to your view of the position of ministers or moderators: New Presbyter is but old priest writ large.

  • pinni

    Turgon,
    You sound like someone (or maybe it’s someone close to you) who has lost money in the PMS debacle. Am I right?

  • Turgon

    pinni,
    To be honest no: neither I nor any of my relatives, nor any organisations of which I am a member have any money in the PMS. To me this is an issue about morality, Christian ethics and the church.

    I understand that the PCI may fear that if they (the PCI) help the savers then the government may not: whereas if they do nothing apart from make a fuss the government may help.

    However, I see this as a simple moral, ethical and even spiritual issue. I believe the PCI has an overwhelming need from a biblical perspective to help these people in a major financial fashion.

    Initially it admitted no culpability and even now Carson, although he accepts a bit of moral responsibility, quite clearly wants to ensure that the church contributes no (or absolutely minimal) money to helping. I find that morally unacceptable for a Christian church. Furthermore as I have detailed above I regard the moderator’s comments yesterday about the PCI’s properties extremely disingenuous to the extent that they are utterly dishonest.

  • To be fair, I don’t think that this is the time to sell disused churches and halls. It would be better to wait until the market picks up.

    The classic example is St Thomas’ (CoI) halls on the Lisburn Road, which were sold to developers at the right time, but preparatory work for demolition was stopped over two years ago. The chances of selling, for example, Ulsterville Presbyterian which closed last month at any reasonable price at this time are low, and would be viewed as a bad decision in terms of management of the church’s assets.

    Also, if the Administrator is granted an extension, they will have time to realise more PMS assets at the best price.

    I’m not even slightly convinced of the merits of selling the non-church buildings. To sell to rent back again is short-termism at its worst – in 20 years, they will have paid the purchaser the selling price of the buildings in rent, and will have no assets to show for it. The NICS was trying to do the same with assorted Government buildings in Workplace 2010.

    I’m pretty sure that PCI owns all the Belfast properties listed, including 12-14 Elmwood Avenue, which was bought in two goes to replace the inadequate chaplaincy accommodation in Union College.

    Also, if Guysmere were sold, the cost of hiring it ad hoc may be more than the difference between the cost of running the centre and its rental income.

  • Turgon

    AndyB,

    All true. My point, however, is that there is an overriding moral, ethical and yes spiritual requirement to provide for the PMS savers many of whom are elderly, poor and now in near poverty. They were (dishonestly) told that their savings were completely safe; they were encouraged to save by the Presbyterian Church which then washed their hands of them. They (the savers) need the money now and if providing for them means some pain for the PCI in the future then that is something which the PCI should be big enough and decent enough to bear.

    In addition without being over spiritual can I remind you of the injunction in Malachi 3:10:“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

    I think there is a direct parallel here. If the PCI were willing to follow what I regard as the clear biblical imperative to restore to these small savers what they have lost in large part due to the PCI’s actions (whatever they now say) then I do believe that the PCI will be blessed. I also believe in the corollary to that namely that the church will continue to atrophy and die whilst it remains a church (to quote John Wesley on Enniskillen as it happens) “Of tall steeples and proud peoples.”

  • Pain for the PCI in the future usually means more money being asked for from the local congregations to cover increased costs at Church House, which comes back on the same savers. Just saying 🙂

    What still gets me about the whole business is that the run was originally caused by a few very selfish savers and creditors who pulled their cash. If they had sat tight, the chances are that in an orderly rundown, everyone would have got their cash back in full, and those who needed their cash immediately due to hardship would get it – but what is done is done, and I don’t have a solution.

  • Turgon

    AndyB,
    All true I agree. However, whatever the cause the PCI are in part responsible and they are ducking the issue which is not a very Christian response.

    There is a solution and that will involve pain and expense but I think the biblical mandate for the PCI doing this is overwhelming.

    To fail to do so (as they are doing) and to be deceitful about the property portfolio of the church (as I believe Carson was) seems to me to be wrong. In addition I would suggest that if the PCI had faith and did the decent and Christ like thing God would bless them.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Turgon, was there not an attempt to set up a hardship fund of those most struggling? but it came up against so many hurdles, and too many believed the politician were about to sort things out soon.
    I believe you are still wrong in saying the moderator was deceitful, he was speaking in generalities, and I’m pretty sure 99% of the property of the PCI is Churches, Church Halls & Manses, if you want to be pedantic maybe he should have mentioned a few old graveyards which are no longer used and could be sold off!

  • Turgon

    Drumlins Rock,

    There was some talk of a hardship fund but it was a tiny pathetic gesture: what these people deserve is their money back; the PCI heavily promoted the PMS, falsely told them these were safe investments and when it all went wrong they ran away from them.

    As with some others you are technically correct and yet your defence of Dr. Carson merely highlights his deception. Indeed most of the church’s property is halls, churches and the like. However, yet again the valuable property is the likes of Church House, Union College, Derryvolgie Halls, Guysmere and the Bush.

    Dr. Carson was asked about assets in the context of things which could be sold to help the PMS savers: he claimed all the church owned were churches and halls. That was dishonest and I continue with the charge that it was at absolute best a form of Mental Reservation or whatever made up pseudo explanation for dishonesty Carson wants to pretend.

    Now maybe the general assembly only has control over Union and Church House. However, they are valuable.

    Yes selling them off would involve pain. Yes mortgaging them would cause pain.

    However, answer this Drumlins Rock: in what way would it be morally wrong for the church to sell (or mortgage) property to help the savers who lost so much? Can you explain to me how it would be unscriptural so do to?

    Then if we did that have you so little faith that you do not believe God would bless the PCI for such a clearly scriptural response to this disaster; one in part of their own making and one in which amongst their most devoted and vulnerable members have suffered?

    Incidentally do you want to retract your claim that I “have (a) personal grudge against the PCI.”

    Holding a different view from you and stating what I have done about Carson does not make me anti Pesbyterian. As I said before I am proud of my Presbyterianism and as such am ashamed of the behaviour of our church and its leaders over this. I am not trying to sound super holy but I think you can find multiple biblical precedents for calling on the church (or Israel) and its leaders to turn from an inappropriate course of action.

  • Turgon

    Drumlin’s Rock,
    After a bit of digging on the internet I have found the following by Liam Clark in the Times from the end of 2008. I wonder if Dr. Carson also forgot this property near Dublin and indeed what about the supposed £43 million in the general investment fund?

    “Church sources claim there is a general investment fund worth £43m and an estimated £20m in other reserves that could be brought into play. According to Arthur Boyd, the administrator, loans to church congregations and members amount to about £170m. Some of these borrowings by church bodies could be refinanced and repaid to help restore liquidity. The church has other assets — a site in Lucan, near Dublin, is valued at between £4m and £6m.”

  • ding dong

    Turgon, sorry for the delay in replying – reading your very angry and somewhat judgemental posts, I suggest at least on this issue you are not overly qualified to suggest what the “Chritian” response or moral obligation should be! Cast the first stone and all that.

    But I remain of the view – no matter how it was promoted the PMS was separate to the church, set up to mutually benefit its members. THe reason the Government has a reponsibility is because those who were charged with regulating the activities of the PMS singularly failed the same was as the financial regulator failed to see the issues with the major banks. But the church is not it may wish and should set up a fund for savers but this should be on a voluntary basis, the assets that I and others have contributed towards are not there to bale out the PMS members- as I said before and you have not addressed – to use assets which were aquired using money freely donated for the use of the church and its mission, would be fraudulent.

    Surely you don’t wish the church to do that!

  • Comrade Stalin

    I do not often agree with Turgon but I think his point is well made. To me it’s nothing to do with what is Christian or “moral”. The PCI encouraged people to save their money with the illegally-operating PMS. The PCI therefore has a responsibility and I don’t see why they shouldn’t use their property portfolio as collateral for a loan which could be used to repay the savers.

    ding dong, the government has a responsibility to savers in the banks through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. That doesn’t apply here because the PMS was operating illegally. Saying that the state has an equivalent responsibility is like saying it’s the state’s fault for failing to stop me if I rob a post office with a shotgun.

    I’m not well informed about how the PCI operates, but given that the congregation elects the people who are supposed to be in charge does that mean that you can wash your hands ? I’m not sure.

  • Turgon

    ding dong,
    Yes I am angry and that is not necessarily an unChristian response when one sees such immoral things as we have seen.

    I ask again what would be immoral or unChristian about using PCI money to help the PMS savers?

    The church’s mission is to be salt and light in the world; I fail to see how helping the savers would be contrary to this.

    You are of course correct about the PMS and PCI not being linked. However, explain the following:

    June 2008: the general assembly unanimously passed a motion encouraging “congregations and individuals to avail themselves of [the PMS’s] service”.

    In 1992 the church’s home board told the general assembly that the PMS was “widely recognised as an excellent and safe source of investment”.

    Until the administrator was called in, the Presbyterian church’s website explicitly endorsed the scheme. “The PMS was established in 1982 to encourage Presbyterians to save through their own church and manage such savings for their mutual benefit to enable shareholders to borrow at a competitive rate of interest.” The PMS offered a “categorical assurance” that it would not speculate with members’ money and promised easy withdrawals with 21 days’ notice.

    As to me saying that Stafford Carson has been misleading, yet again I point out that he stated that the PCI only owns churches and church halls. That ignores:
    Church House
    Union College
    Guysmere
    Derryvolgie Halls
    The Bush

    and now we discover property in Lucan near Dublin and possibly a general investment fund worth £43m.

    I understand your point that you did not specifically give money to help the savers but if the PCI gave money to the Haiti earthquake victims would you mind? The church has a mission to help.

    However, I do agree in that I think a special general assembly should be called and a democratic vote taken on helping the savers. Then we could establish what people wanted done with their money.

    Would you disagree with that?

  • ding dong

    Christian or unchristian anger must be always be viewed from the perspective of the beholder – self justification is always dangerous.

    As for encouragement and endorsement yes the church did do these things but they also endorse the likes of TearFund and Christian Aid. Should these organisation go bad does the church have a moral responsibility to repay money given? Endorsement does not mean compulsion, no one was forced to save/invest with the PMS. All investments can go up as well as down! What went wrong with the mutual was that some of the members grabbed their money and ran – hardly christian or mutual!

    As for Haiti the Moderator opened an appeal and hundreds of thousands has been given by individuals to this appeal – money given for this purpose. So should the church sell its assets or give money raised for other purposes to help Haiti – absolutely not.

    THe Churches mission may be humanitarian, it is certainly spiritual but I’m not convinced it is commercial – and that is where the church actually went wrong. At no stage should it have ever endorsed the PMS it was a separate commercial operation based on financial benefit from mutual investment and exposure. So selling assets to bale out savers/investors would be wrong – and in my book two wrongs don’t make a right.

    However, should the church seek to set up a hardship fund for all those who lost money in investment collapses and who are suffering hardship I would support it – as for taking a democratic vote, this is irrelevant and potentially divisive. Irrelevant because you can’t adequate ask those who gave their money to the church do they agree with a chnage of use and divisive because those voting aginst in good conscience – like I would – could/would be branded uncaring/unchristian and congregations would split.

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Stafford Carson should call a public meeting in the middle of Northern Ireland to discuss this situation. It is quite apparent that he and his accolytes control and can raise large sums of assets to repay all the shareholders and depositors all the money due to them.If they practice what the preach.

  • ding dong

    John, with all due respect – what sort of fantasy world do you inhabit?

    Most churches and churchmen find it difficult enough to keep their churches going and some don’t even manage that! So control and raise large sums of assets – get real.

    As for the still unanswered question – why should they? Yes they encouraged investment but they didn’t underwrite or guarantee, the church did not play a part in the collapse, though individual members did.

    The church wasn’t responsible for the regulation or failed regulation though DETI and Minister Foster appear to have been.

    So why should the church repay all shareholders?

    A bit of common sense would be appropriate rather than outlandish nonsense.

  • An Lorgain

    Is this the same Rev Stafford Carson who refused to allow Rev Christina Bradley in his pulpit for the annual united Christmas services because she is a woman?

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Ding Dong,
    There are clearly substantial assets; i.e.The £170 million owed by PIC congregations. They can renegotiate their loans and repay them to the Administrator in Bankruptcy who is appointed by the Court. Furthermore is there no sense of blame or culpability in the PCI Congregation. No doubt this operation has received Charitable Status in its tax planning arrangements. It was called The Prebyterian Mutual Society; well what about a show of mutualism from the top of this ultra wealthy church? It has obviously built up huge reserves; well the time has come to spend them and stop ducking this issue like The Roman Catholic Hierarchy over paedophilia.

  • John K Lund / Lllamedos / Suchard

    Ding Dong.
    The world I inhabit is secularist, and these people are all self pompous religious bigots, whose sheer hypocricy has been exposed. They could also borrow money of the OO to help sort out this particular Black Hole. If you are in this position you should stop digging and start sorting out the problems. One thing comes to mind that the investors should have been informed about being “Beware of the Greeks when they come bearing gifts”

  • ding dong

    Clearly John the world you inhabit is only inhabited by you – i.e. no real contact with the real world.

    Your confusion of the PMS with the PCI is tantamount to confusing the DUP with the Northern ireland Assembly yes one has constituent members of the other but they are not the same thing.

    As for your point, if it can be called that, of mutuality – the only mutuality that exists or should exist is the mutuality of the members of the PMS.

    Yes the PCI may seek to set up a hardship fund but this cannot be done on the basis of selling assets that were bought by the church – from funds given to the church for that specific purpose.

    And where do you get your evidence for the ultra wealthy church, huge reserves etc. I think since you admit to being a secularist – that your knowledge of PCI is scant so maybe your comments should likewise be scant. As was once said its better to keep your thoughts to yourself and be thought a fool than to share your thoughts and removal all doubt!

    Finally what has the OO got to do with the price of bread? Again only in your world would anyone connect the PMS, PCI and the OO – as I’ve made clear your world only seems to have one pompous inhabitant but that’s fairly obvious

  • Comrade Stalin

    As for encouragement and endorsement yes the church did do these things but they also endorse the likes of TearFund and Christian Aid. Should these organisation go bad does the church have a moral responsibility to repay money given?

    Were either of those charities presented as safe places for members of the congregation to deposit their money ?

    Endorsement does not mean compulsion, no one was forced to save/invest with the PMS.

    That is true moral evasion. You’re probably aware that people were prosecuted over miss-selling of mortgages and insurance policies in the past. Granted, those involved banks, but when the Presbyterian church effectively lends it’s good name to a financial institution and encourages people to save in it as a safe haven, it’s damn near the same thing.

    Your argument is that effectively that the congregation were too stupid and should have known better than to trust that the clerics on the pulpit knew what they were talking about. As an atheist I find that highly ironic. I’m the last person to try to say the truth of what Christianity is supposed to be about, but I’m sure I didn’t read about Jesus saying “I know we advised you to put your money there, but hey, life’s a bitch sometimes”.

  • I said before and you have not addressed – to use assets which were aquired using money freely donated for the use of the church and its mission, would be fraudulent.