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The Mountain House Statement

Repairing Our Stewardship of Creation: Abrahamic Social Thought and the Global Economic Crisis

Submitted by: Caux Round Table, The

Categories: Corporate Social Responsibility, Business Ethics

Posted: Oct 11, 2010 – 04:59 PM EST


ST. PAUL, Minn., Oct. 11 /CSRwire/ - The Caux Round Table today announces the release of The Mountain House Statement setting forth a common position among the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions of social thought on sound ethical values to be used in management of the global economy. The Mountain House Statement offers hope for the world. The Statement can be found at www.cauxroundtable.org.

This Mountain House Statement is significant because it derives from the Abrahamic traditions very practical lessons for the conduct of finance and business. The Statement provides express support from the common social teachings of these religions for the necessity of taking a CSR/Stakeholder approach to business decision-making. These lessons align religious conscience with appropriate risk-taking in private markets.

These lessons are:

    1) Acceptance of limitations - that whatsoever we seek to do must be approached with humility.

    2) Acting always as a fiduciary - we are, each one of us, stewards of creation, duty bound to be constructive and not selfishly exploitative.

    3) Since power and wealth divert us from responsible conduct, great power and great wealth dramatically increase the risks of business and financial failure from cupidity, negligence, and arrogance.

    4) Religious conscience offsets the risks attendant upon power and wealth so religious faith should be present in economic and financial undertakings to ensure their long-term success.

Exactly two years ago, the global economy was brought to crisis by a collapse of credit markets upon the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers investment banking house in New York City. Public funds and guarantees in the rough amount of 14 trillion US dollars contributed primarily by national governments were needed to prevent a global depression brought about by failures in private credit markets.

The depression was thus avoided, but the debt hangs on to restrain the resumption of economic growth in many economies. Reforms in laws and regulatory practices have been suggested, and some have been adopted, to prevent a recurrence of such a collapse of confidence in credit markets.

From the perspective of the Caux Round Table, however, reforms in laws and regulatory policies will not be enough. A principal cause of the crisis lay in poor judgment and lack of elementary prudence, such failings in turn driven by a prior collapse of sound personal values.

If morality and ethics played a role in causing the crisis, then morality and ethics need to play a role in preventing future credit crises.

But whose morality and whose ethics may be advocated to change behaviors in financial markets? We live in a world of many cultures and many religions.

This Mountain House Statement is therefore significant because, for the first time, it brings together the resources of the Abrahamic religions in one common and constructive approach at a time when conflict and divisiveness among and within these faiths are so sadly prevalent.

The Caux Round Table is convinced that common to many religions are certain core principles of humility and responsibility with respect to risk that can be surely relied upon to fashion personal codes of conduct in financial intermediation. The Mountain House Statement reflects this truth and is an important step towards finding future expressions of a common moral truth for the human family.

The Mountain House Statement was collaboratively written by distinguished scholars from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith traditions. They were convened at Mountain House, in Caux, Switzerland, by the Caux Round Table, His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, DC, Ronald Thiemann, Bussey Professor of Theology and former Dean at the Harvard Divinity School and Ibrahim Zein, Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Religion and Dean of the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization at the International Islamic University, Malaysia.

For questions and further information, please contact:

Stephen B. Young
Global Executive Director
Caux Round Table
6 West Fifth Street, 3rd Floor
St. Paul, Minnesota 55102
Phone: (651) 223-2852
Cell: (651) 336-4812
Email: steve@cauxroundtable.net

Rabbi Aaron D. Panken, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Rabbinic and Second Temple Literature
Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
1 West 4th Street
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 824-2219
Fax: (212) 674-5179
Email: apanken@huc.edu

Irfan Ahmad Khan, Ph.D
Association for Quranic Understanding
3244 West 167th Street
Markham, IL 60428
Phone: (708) 596-5412
Fax: (708) 724-5009
Email: irfanakhan7@yahoo.com

David W. Miller, Ph.D
Princeton Faith & Work Initiative
Associate Research Scholar and Lecturer
Princeton University
5 Ivy Lane
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: (609) 258-6956
Email: dwm@princeton.edu

For more information, please contact:

Jed Ipsen Associate Director - Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 531-8947

For more from this organization:

Caux Round Table, The


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