Inequality, Corruption and the Church: Challenges and Opportunities in the Global Church

by Martin Allaby, editor

—Reviewed by Eva I. Shaw-Taylor, deputy director, The Institute for Diasporan and African Culture, New York; executive director, Global Institute for Women and Youth.

Regnum Studies in Global Community, Regnum Books International, 6HR, UK, 2013, 228 pages, $82.23.

Reviewed by Eva I. Shaw-Taylor, deputy director, The Institute for Diasporan and African Culture, New York; executive director, Global Institute for Women and Youth.

Many institutions and international bodies such as the World Bank, IMF, and USAID have extensively researched and written about corruption. Many of these books and articles have been about Third World/developing countries, and most if not all have been from the economic point of view. One will be hard pressed to find any books about corruption written from the point of view of the Church as Martin Allaby has done.  

Inequality, Corruption and the Church is written from a very unique point of view by using country case studies and actual discussions with people within the Church. Many Christians become upset or get offended when the word corruption is used in the same sentence as the church; so how Allaby brings this issue to the fore is very important. He looks at two critical questions: (1) Why is economic inequality greatest in Christian, and especially Protestant developing countries, and (2) Can the Church reduce those economic inequalities?

In the first part of the book, Allaby relies heavily on economic discussions and research efforts readily sourced from the World Bank. He brings new insights on a number of issues, including defining economic inequality and the Church and explaining their co-existence as influencers. Allaby zeroes in on countries which he knew and had lived in.

The second part of the book deals with country case studies, in particular the Philippines, Kenya, Zambia, and Peru. These studies are very compelling because they show marked differences from country to country—whether the nation in question is more Catholic than Protestant or moving towards Protestantism versus Catholicism. In fact, they are not all the same nor do they fit into a particular mold. The reader realizes that one cannot make generalized assumptions about the Church and corruption based on whether the country has more Catholics than Protestants.  

In developing countries where Christianity is growing faster than in the Western world, it is important to examine why corruption exists, especially when the Christ they follow warned against overemphasis on material things. The basis for corruption is greed and one would hope that Christians would follow the footsteps of Christ and not be tempted by the things of the flesh. Corruption exists in the Church and the Church has a responsibility to clean house first, and then extend that cleaning to its communities. Inequality, Corruption and the Church by Martin Allaby examines this issue and is a must read.

Check these titles:
Quiroz, Alfonso W. 2008. Corrupt Circles: A History of Unbound Graft in Peru. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Wrong, Michela. 2010. It’s Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistle-Blower. New York: Harper Perennial.

EMQ, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 250-251. Copyright  © 2014 Billy Graham Center.  All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced or copied in any form without written permission from EMQ editors.

 


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