- Investments 22%
- Trading and fees 14%
- Grants 9%
- Fund-raising 4%
- Land sales 3%
In 2009 the Financial Times reported that the Church's two biggest reported share holdings were in oil companies Royal Dutch Shell and BP. It also held shares in BG Group, BHP Bilton, Anglo-American, Exxon-Mobile, Rio Tinto, Chevron, Petrobas and Eni.
Although Church officials have strongly criticised short-selling and debt trading it has invested its own funds in ways that facilitate such practices. In 2008 the Financial Times reported that the church had invested £13m in Man Group, the biggest hedge fund manager. The previous year it also sold a £135m mortgage portfolio, despite condemnation by church archbishop Rowan Williams of those who trade debts for profit.
In 2012 the Financial Times reported that the state church had benefited from diversification into hedge funds, private equity and Scottish and American forests. The investment in forests was giving the Anglicans an annual return of as much as 18%. The report said it had recently doubled its investment in hedge funnds
This same year it started lending non-British and American stock through global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase.
Asset allocation 2007
- Equities 62%
- Alternative securities 1%
- Bonds and cash 5%
- Urban property 16%
- Rural let land 6%
- Strategic land 3%
- Global indirect property holdings 7%
The church's pension board has invested in an Auriel Capital hedge fund intended to profit from currency trading, including the short selling of currencies. The Financial Times characterised this as "a practice that could be described as shorting entire countries".
Church Commissioner Andreas Wittam-Smith was reported to have responded to criticism of these practices that the church's ethical advisory group had approved the lending of stock that could be used for short-selling. Andrew Brown, secretary to the church commissioners said that the church invested in Man Group shares, not its products. He claimed that the church's stocks had not been used in short-selling against “financially vulnerable institutions in the US and UK”. The church also says that none of the managers it uses sell short. The policy of the church pension board is not to lend out stock.
Archbishop Williams has supported a ban on short-selling. Another archbishop, John Sentamu, described traders who benefit from falling prices as “bank robbers and asset strippers”.
In 2009 the Anglicans joined a number of charitable foundations in making representations to the House of Lords select committee on the European Union. According to the Financial Times their letter expressed "serious concerns" about EU plans to regulate hedge funds. It said that "maximising the returns on our investment portfolios is an essential part of delivering our foundations’ missions."
Cash Before Christian Principle
The state church likes to make its money in small as well as big ways, and it shows few moral scruples about how it does it. One unfortunate couple found this out when the Anglicans decided to use a feudal law to extract £230,00 from them to repair one of its churches.
Gail and Andrew Wallbank also lost £250,000 in legal expenses as the Anglicans fought for the money all the way to the supreme court.
Gail Wallbank inherited Glebe Farm in the 1980s. In 1990 the Parochial Church Council wrote to them demanding that they pay for the repair of a part of the local church building known as a chancel.
The Church could make this demand because a medieval law that required local people to contribute to the upkeep of the church. The Wallbanks’ farm included 7 acres of land that still had that requirement attached to it. It has been estimated that there are 3.5m more acres that are covered by similar requirements that the state church could enforce to boost its finances
The couple believed that if they paid the Church of England it would come back year after year for more. So instead of playing the part of serfs, as the feudal Church demanded, they fought all the way in the courts.
After 18 years of litigation the feudal Church beat the Wallbanks in another feudal institution, the House of Lords. Until 2009 the supreme court was a part of that legislative chamber.
The “ Law Lords” overruled an Appeal Court decision that the Church had breached the Wallbanks’ human rights with its unreasonable demands for money. Because Parochial Church Councils, although part of a state church, are not considered to be public bodies they are exempt from human rights guarantees said the highest court of appeal.
When they lost the Wallbanks had to sell their home to meet pay the Church and their legal fees
Gail Wallbank told the Daily Express that what the Anglicans had done was “completely against Christian principles”.
No Profit, No Church
In 2010 the state church that likes to lecture citizens on their moral failings and the evils of capitalism walked away from a £40m property investment in New York City when the plan to profit from gentrification fell apart.
The Church of England put £40m into a $5.4bn highly debt-leveraged deal to buy the Stuyvesant Town Peter Copper Village apartments on Manhattan's East River. The purchase was led by Tishman Speyer, a property company, and the BlackRock asset management group. The plan was to increase rents to levels unaffordable by the long-term tenants in order to take the apartment upmarket and profitable.
The Church's plan came unstuck when the New York supreme court ruled that rent increases on 3,000 “rent-stabilisied” apartments were illegal. Tenants are to get back $200m excess rents that were increased by as much as 30 per cent. They had complained that their electricity supply became unreliable, communal washing machines did not work properly and their rubbish was not picked up.
The bursting of the property bubble made things worse for the speculators. The market price of the complex has fallen to $1.8bn. When they found that the expected profits were not to be had the investors, including the Church of England, handed back the keys to their bankers and walked away, leaving the tenants to fend for themselves.
Crimes Against the Church
The privileges granted to the Church by law go beyond the financial.
In July 2008 the common law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were abolished. But from 1838 they gave privileged protection to the "tenets and beliefs of the Church of England" only. Even in 2008 the state church was divided on the legislation that ended this privilege. According to the National Secular Society some bishop-legislators said “that the abolition was unnecessary and undesirable and others (said) that it was inevitable and that the Church should therefore concede”.
The Church continues to benefit from the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860. This makes it an offence in England for a person to be riotous, violent or guilty of indecent behaviour (includes interrupting, shouting and creating a disturbance) in any church, cathedral or chapel of the Church of England.
The head of state is required to be a member of that church and not marry a Catholic. The head of state is indeed the titular head of the Church of England.
She or he has the right, which is exercised through the Prime Minister, to appoint the head of the Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other senior officers of the church. When a new Archbishop is required a Crown Appointments Commission sends two names to the Prime Minister at the end of a secretive process. The Prime Minister then forwards one to the queen for appointment as chief bishop, or refers both back to the Commission. In 2002 a High Court judge was chosen to head the commission in its search for a new archbishop.
The Church Commissioners: Church & State United
Thirty-three Church Commissioners manage the property and stock market assets of the Church of England. Six of these commissioners who have ex officio membership hold state office. They include the prime minister and the sport & culture minister. All the commissioners are accountable to Parliament, to which they make an annual report, as well as to the General Synod of the Church of England.
The 26 most senior bishops of the Church of England have by right a seat and a vote in the national legislature, as 'Lords Spiritual' representing 'the episcopate' in the House of Lords. This affront to democracy was ended briefly in the revolutionary upheavals of the seventeenth century. But the bishops returned and for another 350 years have stood in the way of properly democratic government. Until recently, however, Anglican clergy were barred by law from sitting in the democratically elected House of Commons.