Getting Paid and Paying Attention

Basic Income, Theology, and Economics in a Time of Pandemic


  • Jane Barter The University of Winnipeg, First Mennonite Church
  • David Driedger First Mennonite Church, Winnipeg



economy, theology, Canadian Anglican and Lutheran bishops, basic income, COVID-19, neoliberalism


This essay explores some of the theological and economic presuppositions at work in the advocacy for Universal or Guaranteed Basic Income arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not to undermine the movement toward basic income, but to use this development – including the churches’ involvement therein – as a starting point to ask certain theological questions about the way in which this intervention has been configured in neoliberal capitalism. We argue that this intervention can serve as an individualized remedy to a growing, and ubiquitous, social and economic need as the gap between rich and poor expands. This is a logic and strategy that is commonplace in neoliberal capitalism as it denies public goods and government responsibility in favour of privatization and individual consumptive “freedom.” This essay examines the ways in which neoliberalism offers its own theological account of individual freedom, which is itself a secularized form of Christian anthropology.

Author Biographies

Jane Barter, The University of Winnipeg, First Mennonite Church

Jane Barter is Professor of Religion and Culture at The University of Winnipeg. She is also an Anglican priest in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.

David Driedger, First Mennonite Church, Winnipeg

David Driedger is an independent scholar and Associate Minister at First Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, MB


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How to Cite

Barter, J., & Driedger, D. (2021). Getting Paid and Paying Attention: Basic Income, Theology, and Economics in a Time of Pandemic. Religious Studies and Theology, 40(1), 106–121.




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