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posted by CoolHand on Friday October 06 2017, @12:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the eco-pope dept.

More than 40 Catholic institutions are to announce the largest ever faith-based divestment from fossil fuels, on the anniversary of the death of St Francis of Assisi.

The sum involved has not been disclosed but the volume of divesting groups is four times higher than a previous church record, and adds to a global divestment movement, led by investors worth $5.5tn.

[...] Assisi's mayor, Stefania Proietti – a former climate mitigation professor – told the Guardian: "When we pay attention to the environment, we pay attention to poor people, who are the first victims of climate change.

"When we invest in fossil fuels, we stray very far from social justice. But when we disinvest and invest in renewable and energy efficiency instead, we can mitigate climate change, create a sustainable new economic deal and, most importantly, help the poor."

Are they putting their money where their mouth is, or making a smart economic bet?


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by stormreaver on Friday October 06 2017, @12:57PM (21 children)

    by stormreaver (5101) on Friday October 06 2017, @12:57PM (#577979)

    They're doing both, but with scaling factors:

    1) Economic prudence: 90%.
    2) Putting their money where their mouth is: 10%.

    We have to remember that Churches are, first and foremost, businesses in a never ending search for more political power. The notion of Faith is simply the oil that keep the revenue wheels greased.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by melikamp on Friday October 06 2017, @03:32PM (12 children)

    by melikamp (1886) on Friday October 06 2017, @03:32PM (#578065) Journal
    From what I understand (and please prove me wrong if you can, as I would welcome the news), RCC does not actually disclose how it invests its money, nor does it disclose how it spends the money. So they can't really substantiate these kinds of claims, they are pure PR, and most likely just lies. It is truly amazing that a multinational corporation such as RCC is able to claim a charitable organization status, pay no taxes, provide zero financial disclosure, and openly, brazenly discriminate against women both in employment and with respect to their human right to their bodies, all at the same time. But then may be it's not surprising at all, as it's been the MO of the god of Moses and Jacob, since the very beginning. He is basically a very rich, very manly man, with a taste for large buildings dedicated to him, filled with gold trinkets, and with a short temper and a marked hatred of all kinds of non-chosen people. Sorry if it sounds familiar, that would be just a coincidence :)
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:19PM (11 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:19PM (#578091)

      Haha no this is not a troll, the bible was heavily influenced by politics and money. For fuck's sake there is a King James Bible that people reference!! Oh right, the true and rightful King chosen by God himself *ahem*

      Sorry if you're just finding out that religions are just big cults with tons of ulterior motives, but don't let that sour your search for spiritual understanding. Plenty of cultures have spirituality not associated with a financial institution (church). No need to give 10% of your money to some guy, and if you do at least make sure they're transparent about everything. Have plate collections counted out and recorded, etc.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:31PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:31PM (#578098)

        You can have "Rightful King Chosen by God" or you can have "libertarian dystopia", choose wisely!

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Azuma Hazuki on Friday October 06 2017, @05:11PM

          by Azuma Hazuki (5086) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @05:11PM (#578132) Journal

          This is a joke, right...?

          --
          I am "that girl" your mother warned you about...
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @07:46PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @07:46PM (#578282)

          Well we're testing out the former and the world hasn't ended. I think I'd be up for trying "libertarian dystopia" because here in Cali I think it would evolve pretty quickly into a more standard socialism (workers own means of production) with voluntary participation in single payer healthcare and insurance programs. Let the die hard conservatives pay for theirs as individuals.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 07 2017, @08:14AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 07 2017, @08:14AM (#578512) Journal

            Let the die hard conservatives pay for theirs as individuals.

            As long as they don't have to pay for your system? Sounds like a great deal, particularly in a place like California.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by meustrus on Friday October 06 2017, @06:40PM (6 children)

        by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 06 2017, @06:40PM (#578218)

        I feel sorry for the people that modded this informative.

        The King James Bible is named after the king who sponsored its translation [wikipedia.org]. You will find idiot fundamentalists who believe it is the only true source, but people who know shit about their own religion know that the originals were written in several ancient languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.

        I also invite readers to discover the anthropological definition of "religion" [wikipedia.org], which is much broader than its typical usage. What's important is that when Americans talk about "religion", we are almost always speaking of "ecclesiastical" religions like Christianity that are based on large institutions. But this kind of religion is actually a development of simpler forms of what we would normally call "spirituality". And the less developed forms, lacking the large-scale organization of ecclesiastical religions, are functionally incapable of any kind of large-scale corruption.

        Even Christianity at times resembles the simpler "communal" type of religion. Many Protestant churches basically operate autonomously, only interacting with the rest of the denomination when they need help finding a new pastor or when there is a call for charitable donations for larger causes like disaster relief.

        Basically all Protestant churches actually operate in a manner you would seem to find acceptable. The "church" is the people, not the building and certainly not the pastor. People join a church by becoming a member (typically requiring a recognized baptism and a formal agreement with a statement of faith, sometimes requiring an ongoing financial commitment to keep the local organization running). Members are engaged in operating the church business, even directly handling the church's finances. Church budgets, with itemized income and expenses, are circulated among the entire membership.

        But if basically being a board member of the institution you are funding is too much for you, there are Christian churches with no expenses you can join too. They meet in homes and donated spaces, with volunteer leadership. It's harder to find these churches, since they don't have a dedicated space, but it's there if that's what you want. They also lack a number of community services and are much less capable of serving religiously-motivated causes, like helping the poor; the reason you pay a pastor is so that they can be available full-time as a combination of therapist, adviser, mediator, and administrator.

        Of course there are people that set up "churches" for their own financial gain, and you need to be wary. But this is only possible because the foundational organization of a "church" is based on the goodness of the people within it. Humanity has built some pretty impressive institutions by moving beyond that requirement. But given that a common goal of religion is always to promote "goodness" in its followers, building a religious organization on that foundation should be exactly as effective as the organization's effectiveness in getting people to behave altruistically.

        --
        If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative. Maybe the underused +1 Interesting?
        • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @07:53PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @07:53PM (#578286)

          Well that is a nice clarification, but the general point that parts of the bible are written / "updated" by old rich men is still true. The entire concept that a country's ruler was the messenger of god was pretty popular.

          Christianity seems to be coming out of the dark ages these days, but not before it spawned mormons and jehovas witnesses, two of the more disturbing and cult like examples. The super churches of the South are pretty abhorrent as well, and then there is the Catholic church which blows them all out of the water but is at least more progressive in accepting scientific facts.

          As I said, explore spirituality but be cautious about who you give your faith to. Any human you meet is not deserving of any spiritual devotion. Appreciation, warm feelings, sure. Devotion? Not so much. Devote yourself to the ideals, or if you really must then use Jesus / Confucius / whatever, but not a living person.

        • (Score: 2) by melikamp on Friday October 06 2017, @10:39PM (2 children)

          by melikamp (1886) on Friday October 06 2017, @10:39PM (#578373) Journal

          I think the GP is very informative, even though xe conflated religion with mainstream organized religion. You are right, of course, that religion, very broadly speaking, is not inherently responsible for corruption, even though most religions were designed from the ground up by corrupt priests for corrupt priests, and the same is true for most churches.

          Even Christianity at times resembles the simpler "communal" type of religion.

          "At times" indeed. Not much of that after year 200, not much at all.

          Basically all Protestant churches actually operate in a manner you would seem to find acceptable.

          I don't know what would lead you to says something like that. It is certainly true that some protestant churches circulate the books among the members: not just the board members, but all who donate, and these churches have a legitimate claim to being charitable organizations. But I would venture to guess that most protestant churches (in the sense of most lay-people attending), are corrupt in a standard way. The books are closed, and a portion of the income is transferred to the franchise mothership, where the secrecy gets really tight. I am talking about denominations such as Southern Baptist Convention, where individual churches don't really have to be a part of franchise or send it any money, but many choose to affiliate.

          Once again, I really want to be proven wrong, so please, give me an example of the largest sect you know that has the books open to the public, which is the only way to prove, really, that they are a charity. Show me the largest christian organization that publishes itemized financial statements: how much it takes in every year, and how much it disburses, broken down by category, with charitable categories cleanly separated from the bureaucratic upkeep. Here's an example from an actual charity:

          https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Financial_reports#2017.E2.80.932018_fiscal_year [wikimediafoundation.org]

          For the most and the largest churches, opening the books is not even an option, as it would be too embarrassing. With Christian sects, the business is in making young girls pregnant, forcing and/or guilting them into giving birth, even if it means abject poverty, and then brainwashing their children into buying the fairy tale of a spiritual reward in exchange for a monthly check. This is a very solid business model that held up for 1800 years, and will probably endure a while longer. This is where the bulk of spending is happening: increasing the number of hereditary Christians by any means possible. For the largest sects this translates into feeding the priests, honing the church bureaucracy, and buying cheap PR stunts which pass for charity.

          Someone in this thread expressed a hope that Christianity is finally coming out of dark ages these days, but I am afraid it's just the opposite. Very similar processes are taking place right now within Christianity, as well as related religions: Islam and Judaism. Every day they are losing another way to oppress women, which is one of the cornerstones of their enduring success, and they don't have a plan for that. Every day they have to deal with the ever-increasing impact of the net, which quickly informs anyone and everyone about all the various crazy religions and their variations, providing young people with a perspective which makes it that much harder to convince them this is the one true way, worthy of being passed down to the next generation at any cost. Every day these churches are faced with a more and more secular society, where brainwashing children becomes more and more tricky. And if they don't actually brainwash a child, but merely introduce her to the church customs, then chances are very good she is not going to force the church on her own children, so it's all over in 2 generations. So I predict a very ugly future, where a small portion of Christians will secularize and amalgamate, and their faith will become a utilitarian feel-good charity-related exercise, without any need for miracles or myths to support the theology. But the large churches, I believe, will dig in, and try to keep the brainwashing conveyor going for as long as they can, which means they will try to keep their "flocks" separate from the rest of the secular society. This will maintain a very large and very dangerous sub-population of hopelessly deluded suckers -- an army in the service of theocratic priests. I mean, you can see this happening even now, what with the way evangelicals tend to vote, but it will get uglier still. As their numbers dwindle, they will become more and more desperate. One likely scenario which may yet come to pass here in USA: priests will tell parents to take children out of secular schools. Many of these parents won't be able to afford education, but they will save by having girls home-schooled by ignorant mothers, so that some boys can be educated by the church. So it's back to the dark ages for them, I am afraid.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @02:56AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @02:56AM (#578460)

            > This will maintain a very large and very dangerous sub-population of hopelessly deluded suckers -- an army in the service of theocratic priests.

            Is this one of the schools you describe? https://calbaptist.edu/about/ [calbaptist.edu]

          • (Score: 2) by meustrus on Monday October 09 2017, @05:14PM

            by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 09 2017, @05:14PM (#579316)

            With Christian sects, the business is in making young girls pregnant, forcing and/or guilting them into giving birth, even if it means abject poverty, and then brainwashing their children into buying the fairy tale of a spiritual reward in exchange for a monthly check. This is a very solid business model that held up for 1800 years, and will probably endure a while longer.

            You could make the argument that today, with many effective forms of birth control available, religious teachings are making the teenage pregnancy problem worse. But teenagers definitely don't need religion to get pregnant.

            The spectrum of Christian morality around sex is built upon the reality that without modern birth control, there is no consistent way to avoid pregnancy other than abstinence, and since newborns require a level of care that precludes primary caretakers from doing anything else, it really is best for everyone if the mother and the newborn are cared for by others who are less encumbered.

            Further, I think you're actually missing an opportunity for criticism here. For the bulk of Christian European history, the Church has been an institution that is as essential to the community as the King. Sometimes even more so, because the Church has been a more stable organization than many royal families. So when they demanded a tithe, it was not really in exchange for anything. It was a tax, and you paid it or the Church got the King to collect.

            --
            If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative. Maybe the underused +1 Interesting?
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:42AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:42AM (#578469)

          Full of errors.

          One of my favorites is calling Jesus a carpenter.
          In the original Greek, he was described as a "tekton"[1] which translates as "hand worker" [google.com] AKA day laborer or handyman.

          [1] From the days when I watched TeeVee, surfing channels and hit on TV preacher Gene Scott.
          Quite a speaker.

          -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

          • (Score: 2) by meustrus on Monday October 09 2017, @05:04PM

            by meustrus (4961) <meustrusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 09 2017, @05:04PM (#579314)

            It's also filled with phrasing that was more correct at the time than it is now. The English language has changed, and some words actually mean something very different than they did when the King James translation was written. That's why there is more than one modernized version of the King James translation today. But even then, any translation is doomed to be colored by the interpretations of the translator. Study bibles try to mitigate this by annotating difficult translations with other potential translations.

            --
            If there isn't at least one reference or primary source, it's not +1 Informative. Maybe the underused +1 Interesting?
  • (Score: 2) by SomeGuy on Friday October 06 2017, @03:39PM (5 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Friday October 06 2017, @03:39PM (#578069)

    It took me a minute to figure out why this story was actually even news. But an organization that is so large and so powerful and influential that it has some affect on everyone's lives, even those that don't subscribe to their nonsense, that makes such large changes where it makes investments or otherwise changes its gaze can long term mean very unpleasant things. Something this large will assuredly have an impact on politics, business, and science.

    On the surface, it might seem like they are just going with what is trendy. Green=goooohd. But these are the kinds of people that likely believe that the batteries for their telsa or whatever just pop in to existence with no resources required to manufacture them and pop out of existence without expensive recycling costs or polluting landfills.

    So why are they really making this change? So they can print verses from their magic book of ball gargling on every solar cell? It is probably much deeper than that (in your children's butts).

    Oh, and Captain (hopefully) Obvious to the rescue: There no such thing as "God", sorry about that. :-/ These organizations should not even exist.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:50PM (#578119)

      Green = good indeed. It has been over used by marketing departments for decades now, but the underlying truth it the same.

      Nice strawman with the solar panel resource cost, "it takes burning oil to create solar panels, so lets just burn oil forever!" Make a solar powered solar panel factory, maybe a few, and bam you're burning less oil than before you switched to solar. We keep more non-renewable resources in reserve, and we impact the planetary climate to a much lesser degree. Win fucking win.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by fritsd on Friday October 06 2017, @05:01PM (1 child)

      by fritsd (4586) on Friday October 06 2017, @05:01PM (#578125) Journal

      The opposite of "sustainable" is "not sustainable".
      There's no other way to put this.

      The Roman Catholic Church is a very conservative institute, i.e. they'd like things to stay as they are.
      The expression "as they are" depends on the time stretch that you use to define it.
      The 100-150 years of the Age of Petroleum, is just a blip on the radar for them. That's not "as it is" but "as it is NOW".
      But Global Warming provides an existential threat to humankind and must be countered.
      If agriculture fails because it is sometimes a bit too warm a bit too long, then we're really fucked.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Saturday October 07 2017, @09:39AM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 07 2017, @09:39AM (#578519) Journal

        But Global Warming provides an existential threat to humankind and must be countered. If agriculture fails because it is sometimes a bit too warm a bit too long, then we're really fucked.

        Bullshit. There are several things to note here. No actual research has show an existential threat to humankind. Sure, if we continue to burn hydrocarbons for a few thousand years, we might reach a state like in some of the past mass extinctions, where large numbers of humans are difficult to support. But that still doesn't rule out smaller numbers of humans.

        Second, the world is not one single temperature. It's not magic to grow a crop a little further north, should that be necessary to keep it within a desirable temperature range. In this way, agricultural failures are averted even in cases of serious global warming.

        Third, all the threats of global warming are significantly overrated and adaptation completely ignored. If life sucks where you are, say like because there's a meter of water in the living room, then you can always move, a very simple solution that gets ignored except when someone wants to overplay it (say to gin up the threat of the worst refugee crisis ever). Worst threats like habitat and arable land destruction, poverty, overpopulation, etc get massively downplayed and a number of the would-be mitigation fixes for global warming often make these bigger problems worse.

        Finally, this has all the hallmarks of a scam from the games played with the science to rushing the decision-making process. For example, there's repeated [nature.com] research [nature.com] backtracking [ipcc.ch] (fig 9.8) now on the most important parameter in climatology today, the sensitivity of global temperature to a doubling of CO2. The IPCC claimed it was likely to be 3 C per doubling, but the current warming is consistent with 2 C per doubling or lower (for example, from the first paper, I calculated this parameter as 1.75 C per doubling, using their claims for restrictions on CO2 emissions to keep long term CO2 emissions below 1.5 C total increase).

        That backtracking coincides with a sudden claim (which is reflected in the paper) that we need to keep warming below a rise of 1.5 C (above pre-industrial era). This aggressive limit means that we buy about 20 years (as stated in the paper). But if we went to the old 2 C limit, then we buy about 50 additional years over the predictions. It gets far worse, if we hold the limit at a much more slack limit, such as 4 C. Then it's something like two centuries of current rates of emissions that we can emit and still stay under the temperature cap. For reference, the current rise since pre-industrial Earth is about 0.9 C increase.

        Notice how that works. We don't have any evidence for serious problems from global warming in the near future, but the current narrative is that we need to act now to hold temperatures to a very aggressive cap a little above present. If that cap is raised even a little, we suddenly buy at least half a century before we need to act. In other words, there's no reason for this cap except to force us to act now.

        So sure, if you want to believe that the existence of humanity is threatened by a slightly rise in temperature accompanied by a fraction of a meter rise in sea levels and farmers possibly being forced to plant crops that are currently viable a couple hundred km further south, nobody's stopping you. But maybe you ought to think about the games being played here and shape your beliefs on a rational basis?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @08:51PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @08:51PM (#578328)

      Oh, and Captain (hopefully) Obvious to the rescue: There no such thing as "God", sorry about that. :-/ These organizations should not even exist.

      I'd rather believe in infinite parallel universes/realities with infinite possibilities. Except when one or more of those possibilities could have a God in it. Then it absolutely could not happen, therefore infinite realities cannot happen. Unfortunately without infinite realities, the odds of *this* reality (each and every atom arranged just as they are) occurring is dismally low.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @11:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @11:33PM (#578392)

        Given that this reality has happened, the odds of it happening are 100%.

  • (Score: 1) by trimtab on Saturday October 07 2017, @06:57PM (1 child)

    by trimtab (2194) on Saturday October 07 2017, @06:57PM (#578641)

    "Shared myths" are the way that humans are bound together into tribes larger than extended family units. Religion and paper money are both "shared myths." They exist and work because enough of the participants "believe" in them. These participants become the tribes that are then manipulable by their beliefs.

    Paper money only works as long as there are other believers who also believe in it's power as a fungible medium of exchange for real goods.

    "Shared myths" also create power structures over believers. And some humans will always work to acquire power within the confines of the myth. The most pragmatic leaders don't really believe the myths. They just use them to control others and to acquire power over the tribe. Such is the history of the human experience.

    I used "paper money" and "religion" as examples purposely. As neither really have anything to do with the physical world. But humans interact with the physical world and each other based on them.

    As far as we know, no other animal on the planet believes their own BS like we do.

    • (Score: 2) by stormreaver on Saturday October 07 2017, @11:55PM

      by stormreaver (5101) on Saturday October 07 2017, @11:55PM (#578695)

      Religion and paper money are both "shared myths."

      No, they aren't. Religion and paper money are close to diametric opposition. Religion asks you to believe in absurd notions that have no basis in fact. Paper money exists as a medium of exchange to the extent that people know that they can accept it now and pay with it later. The two have almost nothing in common. Bitcoin is close to a religion, though.