We affirm that the Church of Jesus Christ is the original supranational community. Whilst Christians are to be respectful of national governments and international organisations, the Church is above and beyond such entities.
However, this reality has not been used or acknowledged by many Christians. This failure can be illustrated by the failure of the Church to prevent the persecution of its children, and the co-opting of ‘Christianity’ by nationalist and populist politicians.
Therefore we should create Christian ‘Charter Cities’, that protect persecuted Christians, and demonstrate that Christianity is beyond the scope of temporary worldly institutions such as sovereign states.
In 2009 Professor Paul Romer of NYU (now Chief Economist at the World Bank) proposed an interesting idea. He outlined the concept of ‘Charter Cities’, semi-autonomous city-scale reform zones. A central goal was to provide for the World’s growing number of migrants, those seeking freedoms and better fortunes. It was an idea inspired by his observations that changes in rules and norms could lead to development.
The idea was well received, but ultimately proved to have an issue that consistently prevented it from proceeding. A key part of the idea was that such zones would receive independent oversight, perhaps from developed nations. But the problem here was that this smacked of neo-colonialism; developing nations shied away from handing back power to old imperial masters.
Despite this, the idea did get traction, notably in Honduras, Central America. Yet even there the concept of external oversight became the issue; they created a committee of individuals for oversight, but then the nature of that committee became the problem.
So the idea has stalled at the issue of commonality of oversight. The commonality of a foreign government was unacceptable, and a commonality of political thought was too contentious.
This is why we propose a simple change to Professor Romer’s idea: that it should run with an oversight committee whose commonality is Christianity.
Christians should do this for the following reasons:
-Many people would benefit from better economic opportunities.
-Such people need those opportunities closer to home, for the sake of their families.
-The Church should create sanctuaries for persecuted Christians, without depending on Sovereign states and other institutions.
-It would demonstrate that Christianity has capacity to do major things on it’s own, and need not be linked to nationalism.
Many developing nations in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America would be much more receptive to Christian oversight, rather than national, or politically ideological.
When we discovered this idea we were thrilled with it, even in secular form. Various experiences, e.g. being soldier in Iraq, had led to me question how Christians should view sovereign states. And in my wife’s native Brazil we saw how poor institutions stifle development.
So, we threw ourselves into supporting this. Eventually this led us to actually move to Honduras, because that was where Charter Cities were most likely to happen.
We’re now back in Europe, but still hope to see Charter Cities, now with the added impetuous of a God-centred basis. Monique Brown is studying international relations, and I’m building a better understanding of technology and society.
But primarily we have created an NGO, Santuario Cristiano, here in Spain. We are proposing the support of Christian refugees here, but in time we want to see the vision the Lord has put in our hearts; Christian Charter Cities.
While this goal may seem impossibly ambitious, in fact much of the groundwork has been done, and the experience in Honduras highlights many of the issues such a project will face. And nothing is too difficult for the Lord.