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Lutheran World Federation, Assembly Winnipeg, June 2003


IX. TRANSFORMING ECONOMIC GLOBALIZATION

(1) Economic globalization is reshaping our world. We have heard of the impact on our communities around the world, and have focused on key economic policies that abdicate all decisions to the market without considering the human, social, ecological, and spiritual consequences.

(2) Economic globalization has brought a profound sense of hopelessness to so many. Instead of the promised prosperity, many aspects of economic globalization continue to bring suffering, misery and death to millions. In spite of the increase in food production, the unequal distribution of wealth and goods leaves more than one billion people under the spell of endemic hunger. Many nations of the South find themselves under the unbearable burden of economic debt. The historical reasons for the debt are deeply connected to colonialism and the unfair development of the modern system of trade and finance. The harsh burden of globalization falls in greater measure upon women; they not only suffer its direct effects but also are called upon to care for others abandoned due to the consequences of globalization.

(3) Through our diverse experiences, we are facing the same negative consequences of neoliberal economic policies (i.e., the Washington Consensus) that are leading to increased hardship, suffering and injustice in our communities. As a communion, we must engage the false ideology of neoliberal economic globalization by confronting, converting and changing this reality and its effects. This false ideology is grounded on the assumption that the market, built on private property, unrestrained competition and the centrality of contracts, is the absolute law governing human life, society and the natural environment. This is idolatry and leads to the systematic exclusion of those who own no property, the destruction of cultural diversity, the dismantling of fragile democracies and the destruction of the earth.

(4) We find negative global effects of economic globalization within all parts of our communion, but particularly in the South and in Central Eastern Europe. Economic globalization has resulted in the following:

  • a growing gap between the very rich and the poor that particularly adversely affects women, youth and children
  • increased marginalization of Indigenous peoples, excluding them from their right to their land, self-governance, resources, Indigenous knowledge and their culture
  • the international debt has become an instrument of domination; the rates of interest charged amount to usury; many of the debts are illegitimate (including "odious debts"); the efforts undertaken by governments and international financial institutions so far have failed
  • the globalization of information that connects people in many parts of the world is denied to the majority who lack access to it
  • churches have shrinking resources as support decreases because more people are struggling to survive
  • unemployment and underemployment are reducing the ability of people to earn a living and are forcing many into dehumanizing activities (e.g., trafficking in women and children, prostitution, criminal activity)
  • while capital and goods are freely traded across borders, people left desperate by weakened local economies are often prevented from migrating
  • governments are becoming powerless and less willing to safeguard the well-being of their people.

(5) As a Lutheran communion we call for the development of an economy that serves life. We affirm the LWF document, "A Call to Participate in Transforming Economic Globalization," upon which we commit ourselves to work, based theologically on what it means to be a communion. We also emphasize, with Martin Luther, that economic practices that undermine the well-being of the neighbor (especially the most vulnerable) must be rejected and replaced with alternatives. Luther also reminds pastors that they are obliged to unmask hidden injustices of economic practices that exploit the vulnerable.

(6) We recognize that this vision of an economy that serves life will need to be pursued ecumenically. We join with the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and other church families in a continuing ecumenical process focused on how economic and ecological injustice challenges us as churches.

(7) Therefore, we commit ourselves and call on member churches to

  • participate in transforming economic globalization and to engage in partnerships with civil society, particularly in efforts that recognize the churches' prophetic role in promoting justice and human rights
  • help empower members by raising awareness of the issues of economic globalization and equipping them to take concrete actions
  • address issues of economic globalization that include trade, debt, militarization, corruption, corporate social responsibility, gender equality and migration
  • build and strengthen ecumenical partnerships, multifaith cooperation, and participate in civil society alliances (i.e., the World Social Forum)
  • create opportunities and arenas for dialogue, discussion and moral deliberation between various economic actors, policy makers, citizens, stakeholders and communities.

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