Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Thou shalt not Wonga, sext or troll...the new Ten Commandments

Holy row: Justin Welby
Holy row: Justin Welby

It takes two to Wonga as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has discovered to his dismay. The Church of England CEO had announced ambitious and worthy plans to put payday loan companies out of business by upping the activity and profile of church-backed credit unions.

So far, so godly.

But then shock, horror (and it was mostly the Archbishop's) it was revealed that among indirect investors in Wonga was, well, wouldn't you just know it, the CoE itself.

To rub a Biblical pillar of salt in it, Wonga then decided to cash in on the whole furore by issuing a list of Ten Commitments.

Bad enough that their exorbitant interest rates were being promoted by that obnoxious TV trio of pensioners puppets, they were now setting themselves up as the Moses of the money-lending community.

Fair play to Justin, then.

For while he may have been poorly briefed on where his church has been depositing its 30 pieces of silver (the road to hell is also paved with indirect investments) you can't fault his opposition to the contemptible manner in which the likes of Wonga and other pay day loan firms leech off the vulnerable and needy.

Commendable, too, that a man of the cloth recognises that the challenges faced by his flock today include many that could not even have been envisaged back when those original Ten Commandments were being chipped into granite.

And herein perhaps lies the church's real problem. How to remain relevant in an age when the sins and temptations of the world are so myriad, modern and complex?

What may be required is a supplementary Ten Commandments to update the faithful on the potential for those specifically 21st century sinning opportunities ...

1: Thou shalt not Wonga. Thou shalt not boost their obscene profits by borrowing from payday loan firms. Nor by indirectly investing in them.

2: Thou shalt not sext nor commit online adultery with someone thou hast "met" on a social networking site.

3: Thou shalt not steal thy neighbour's identity nor hack into his bank account nor trick him into revealing his personal password.

4: Thou shalt not cast out biodegradable or otherwise recyclable raiment into thy regular bin. Neither shalt thou make free with single use carrier bags.

5: Thou shalt not burden the NHS by boosting obesity statistics with thy over-indulgence. Thou shalt not exceed 37in waist (31.5in if thou art a woman.) Thou shalt not smoke. Thou shalt enjoy thy wine responsibly.

6: Honour thy bail conditions that thy days may be long on remand as the Lord Chief Justice gave thee.

7: Remember the bus lane to keep it wholly for the single bus that will drive along it once every half an hour when thou art in a hurry.

8: Thou shalt not troll.

9: Thou shalt not tweet false innuendo. #thyinnocentface

And finally, 10 (which in an "indirect" way takes us back to the boosting of those payday loan firms' profits): Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's townhouse, nor thy neighbour's decking, nor his 52in 3D TV, nor his wife's Botox, nor his hot tub, nor his Merc, nor anything else that is thy neighbour's.

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