Wednesday 7 December 2011

Robin Hood seen in Birmingham's Banks

On a cold December afternoon a crowd of students and staff from the Queen's Foundation, Birmingham, went into the Bull Ring shopping centre, hoisted the Queen’s banner, and launched into song. 

The tune was that of ‘While Shepherds Watched their Flocks by Night’ but the words were ‘While Shoppers Shopped by Day and Night’. The old carol ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ was heard as ‘Slow Down Ye Frantic Shoppers’.

Queen's Foundation Students on Birmingham High Street
As the crowd swirled around us, stopping for a few moments to listen, ‘Jingle bells’ was transformed. It became

Profits here, profits there, 
profits everywhere
Christmas time is funny 
we smell money in the air.

People smiled, some joined in, others asked for copies of the song sheet. Lead by Robin Hood, waving their signs and placards, the party of about 25 processed to New Street where there is a line of banks.

We stopped outside Lloyds TSB, the horns blasted their call for attention, Robin produced a scroll and proclaimed

I, hereby dressed as Robin Hood,Do call upon the government of this landTo act for fairness, stability and the wellbeing of nation,To seize as tax one two-thousandth part of each Commercial Financial transaction – So small a part as barely to be noticed –And to use such funds for the good of those in need,  So help me God (who cares for the poor, the marginalised, and the oppressed),And I call upon your support.Are you with me?

Robin’s supporters then shouted in unison “We’re with you, Robin!” and were joined by quite a few bystanders, some of whom cheered.

Robin Hood with three then entered the bank itself, giving out chocolate coins wrapped in golden foil and leaflets describing the Robin Hood tax proposal. Smiling cashiers accepted these graciously and so did good humoured customers waiting in queues. 

At the next bank, things seemed a little bit cooler, perhaps news of Robin’s approach had spread? Now some of the cashiers seemed a little nervous and a bank manager was seen pointing at the door. 

Outside, the crowd seemed to grow with each proclamation of the scroll which was also greeted with the singing of the Robin Hood tax song

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, just a tiny taxBanks can share, show they care, let’s just face the factsA change in the law could help the world’s most poorRobin Hood, could do good, so we should.

At the last bank pulled out his key intending to lock the front door of the bank, making Robin Hood and his merry men prisoners. But while he fumbled to get the key into the lock, the little band in true Hollywood style deftly slipped through the doorway and made their getaway to the cry from outside ‘We’re with you Robin’. 

In the Queen’s Foundation, all students training for publicly recognised ministry, whether in the Church of England, the Methodist Church, the Church of God of Prophecy, the New Testament Church of God or the Wesleyan Holiness Church are required to become familiar with social justice or, as it is often called, prophetic witness. The demonstration drawing attention to the need for a Robin Hood tax was planned by trainee clergy and carried through by them.


Mark Earey, Director of The Centre for Ministerial Formation (Anglican)
John M Hull, Professor of Practical Theology
5th December 2011 Mark Earey, Director of The Centre for Ministerial Formation (Anglican)