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Jesus and the G20: a policy of forgiving debt


By Steven Martin - Posted on 11 November 2010

This logic dates back to the Bible's Jubilee year regulations, which stipulated that individuals and families in ancient Israel should regularly be relieved of their debt burdens. This is something dear to the heart of Jesus himself as, when he was in Nazareth, he spoke of his entire ministry in the language of Jubilee (Luke 4:16-20)."

On October 1, 2010 Haiti was finally freed of its final $447 million in crippling debts to international institutions.

I thanked God for this small act of grace - responding to the prayers of millions of Haitians and supporters around the globe, as well as the evangelicals who joined me in sending a letter to President Obama in support of Haiti debt relief earlier this year.

It was a day of hope that spoke to the justice and truth of the Bible's "Jubilee" - a year where all debts are forgiven. It was a day that spoke to the power of the faith movement to successfully change public policy.

But I also grieved that it took a catastrophic earthquake that killed 250,000 Haitians - and a sustained international campaign for nearly ten years - to finally convince the debt collectors that it was time for a Jubilee for Haiti.

Haiti's relief from debt is truly something to celebrate. But should it take an earthquake and decades of advocacy to bring about relief for other countries subject to stifling, unjust debt? We must establish a fair system that is not dependent upon the whims of leaders, governments, and banks. Dozens of poor countries are on the brink of debt disaster, and catastrophes like the global economic crisis threaten to send them into the abyss.

For individuals facing unsustainable debt burdens, we know that a bankruptcy court can offer a fair chance to learn from the past and move forward. This logic dates back to the Bible's Jubilee year regulations, which stipulated that individuals and families in ancient Israel should regularly be relieved of their debt burdens. This is something dear to the heart of Jesus himself as, when he was in Nazareth, he spoke of his entire ministry in the language of Jubilee (Luke 4:16-20).

Read the rest of the article at the Washington Post On Faith blog.

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