Clipboard02 What Would Jesus Do with Bankers? Anthony Freda/Daniel Zollinger


What Would Jesus – Or the Rabbis of Old – Do?

Preface:  If you are an atheist and believe that religion is crazy, please remember that some 85% of the American population identifies itself as Christian and millions more identify themselves as Jewish.  Very few Americans are atheists … and the majority don’t trust atheists.

The head of Goldman Sachs said he’s doing “God’s work” with his banking activities.

The head of Barclays also told his congregation that banking as practiced by his company was not antithetical to Christian principles.

Are they right? Is big banking as practiced by the giant banks in harmony with Christian principles?

Do Justice

Initially, the Bible does not counsel us to ignore the breaking of laws by the the powerful.

In fact, the Bible mentions justice over 200 times — more than just about any other topic. The Bible asks us to do justice and to stand up to ANYONE — including the rich or powerful — who do injustice or oppress the people.

Indeed, one of the first things God asks of us is to do justice:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)

While many churches and synagogues have become obsessed with other issues, many have arguably ignored this most important of God’s demands of us. As pointed out by a leading Christian ministry, which rescues underage girls trapped as sex slaves in third world countries:

In Scripture there is a constant call to seek justice. Jesus got upset at the Pharisees because they neglected the weightier matters of the law, which He defined as justice and the love of God . . . Isaiah 58 complains about the fact that while the people of God are praying and praying and praying, they are not doing anything about the injustice.

Should Christians just pray for justice and leave the rest to God?

That’s not what the Bible asks us to do. Instead, Hebrews 11:33 tells us that we are God’s hands for dispensing justice, and God uses us to “administer justice.”

We have to “walk our talk” and put our prayers into action.

God demands that we do everything in our power to act as “God’s hands” in bringing justice. And as Saint Augustine reminds us, “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.”


The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene. (Isaiah 59:15-16)

This is the only place in the Bible where the word “appalled” is used for the way God feels — in other words, the only thing which we know God is appalled by is if people are not doing justice.

There are hundreds of other references to justice in the Bible, including:

  • Blessed are they who maintain justice . . . . (Psalm 106:3)
  • This is what the LORD says: Maintain justice and do what is right . . . . (Isiah 56:1)
  • This is what the LORD says: Do what is just and right. (Jeremiah 22:3,13-17)
  • Follow justice and justice alone. (Deuteronomy 16:19, 20)
  • For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice . . . . (Job 11:5,7)
  • Learn to do right! Seek justice . . . . (Isaiah 1:17)

So if the powerful players in the giant banks broke the laws, they must be held to account.

Fraud and Manipulation of Money

The big banks have engaged in systemic, continuous ongoing criminal fraud.

Allowing the banks to commit crime with impunity is not what Jesus would do.  What would Jesus do?  Turn over the tables of the money-changers. (economists agree.)

Moreover, the giant banks manipulate currency through the use of schemes such as manipulating interest rates (gaming interest rates in different regions – Libor, Eurobor, etc. – can in turn drive their currencies up or down),  high frequency trading and artificially suppressing gold prices (which artificially inflates the value of fiat money) .

As Ron Paul notes, the Bible forbids altering the quality of money (which, at the time and place, was entirely in the form of coins):

Even the Bible is clear that altering the quality of money is an immoral act. We are instructed to follow the rules of “just weights and measures.” “You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin” (Leviticus 19:35-36). “Diverse weights are an abomination to the LORD, and a false balance is not good” (Proverbs 20:23). The general principle can be summed as “You shall not steal.”

Proverbs 11:1 also provides:

Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.

So to the extent that the giant banks have engaged in any dishonest acts or the manipulation of currencies, they are violating scripture.

Oppression of the Poor

Finally, the Bible condemns oppression of the poor for the benefit of the affluent:

He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he that gives to the rich, shall surely come to want. (Proverbs 22:16)

To the extent that the giant banks have oppressed the poor to increase their riches, they are violating scripture.

Due to their looting, inequality is now worse in American than in  Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, most Latin American banana republics  … and ancient Rome.

Postscript: Not all bankers are bad people. For example, many bankers at smaller banks and credit unions are good people who are trying to help their communities.

Category: Philosophy, Think Tank

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

11 Responses to “What Would Jesus Do with Bankers?”

  1. ReductiMat says:

    What was the point of the preface? Also, do you find no fault with the SciAm article regarding trust?

  2. [...] What would Jesus do with [...]

  3. crutcher says:

    Yeah, decidedly odd preface.

  4. drtomaso says:

    I second the questioning of the preface. I’m not sure what it has to do with the rest of the topic- its almost like the author needed to preempt any criticism from those nasty atheists with a lovely series of ad hominem attacks. Do you want to know why atheists aren’t trusted? Because organized religion (and in the west that means Christians) have a several century track record of falsely claiming that all morality comes from faith. Want to know why so few Americans self-identify as atheists? Because to do so often risks ostracization from friends, family, and the community; and sadly, sometimes and in some areas, carries the risk of physical violence.

    This atheist certainly understands that much of our ethics and laws have a basis in our shared christian legacy/tradition, and I get that its an ‘interesting’ exercise to see which of the edicts of Christianity have been violated here, but I’d prefer to not wait for God’s judgement on these institutions and their leaders. I’m much more interested in having a discussion of which of man’s laws, particularly federal and state securities laws, these people/institutions have broken, so that we might go about meeting out some earthly punishments, and perhaps prevent the next catastrophe from occurring by making examples of the current crop of perpetrators. That can be done without appeal to scripture.

    There is one thing unsaid here that does interest me, and the author should have taken this one step further: what can we say about political figures who simultaneously claim to be christian, and refuse to seek justice for the middle and lower classes that have been systematically defrauded by their financial institutions, and sidelined with a sputtering economy that is terribly inefficient at maintaining full employment but frustratingly efficient at channeling resources to the upper class?

  5. Moopheus says:

    ‘course, Jeebus drove the moneychangers and the others out of the temple not for being corrupt, but for engaging in commercial activity in the Temple.

    The quotes Ron Paul talks about aren’t about money, or at least not money specifically. Ephah and hin were measures of grain. It’s just the usual stuff, don’t cheat, steal, or have sex with slaves. I mean, seriously, you’re looking to Ron Paul for biblical interpretation?

  6. NoKidding says:

    Thanks Barry. I still assume you’re either either Jewish or neither. I’m Christian, and I appreciate it when others are not too Chickenshxt too even touch the topic for fear of naivity by association. Sometimes it’s odd to walk around this world believing a book about Noah’s ark, Samson’s magic hair, and Jesus banishing legions of demons into a heard of pigs. Then I remember how many of my peers believe in stock analysts, perpetual deficit spending and climate science and I feel better for a while.

    You didn’t need the preface.

  7. whskyjack says:

    Good sermon, now let’s find a church to preach it in. I think this helps demonstrates that there is not a left right on this issue. This is one where the right and left can and should be allies.


  8. wally says:

    The ideas of justice and morality existed long before the Christian and Jewish religions and long before the Bible and in many other religions and in the mind of atheists as well as religious persons. Religion simply tries to pre-emp those ideas to give itself a cloak of legitimacy… often persons promoting a ‘religion’ are doing so for personal gain of wealth, power or influence.

  9. whskyjack says:

    So wally, (and the rest of you ) you would push away a potential ally because he isn’t of your belief? Rather short sighted imo

  10. denim says:

    Oh wait, you are a what? Even if I don’t know what you are, He does.

    “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

    “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Jesus in Luke 6:46 and Mat 7:22 -23

  11. Jack says:

    Interesting that every quote used is from the Old Testament yet his point deals with New Testament Christianity. Why not use the beatitudes from Matthew where “justice” (aka “righteousness) is used twice?

    I find that many people will seek and praise the “Lord” but few use the Sermon on the Mount as their model for living.