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Racism in the Church of England –   What’s the Answer? 

This weeks Christian Today Column – Racism in the Church of England – What’s the Answer?

The Church of England is racist. These are not my words; they are the words of Archbishop Justin Welby who last year told the Church of England’s General Synod, “I’m ashamed of our history and I’m ashamed of our failure. There is no doubt when we look at our own Church that we are still deeply institutionally racist.” But is he right? Does this apply to other churches too? And how should we deal with racism?

The Anti-Racism Taskforce of the C of E last week published an extraordinary report called “From Lament to Action”. However noble its intentions, there are a number of things about this report that make me uncomfortable. For one thing, it lumps all non-white people together, calling them UKME (United Kingdom Minority Ethnic). It also demands that they make up 30% of leadership positions in the Church and says that every diocese will have to appoint a ‘racial justice officer’ who must report to a ‘racial justice unit’.

The recommendations may be well-meaning in seeking to address the injustice of racism in the Church, but my trouble with them is that they are just critical race theory dressed in theological clothing. If I’m right, then I fear they will bring division rather than unity, and water down Christian doctrine, furthering the demise of the Church of England.

The release of the Church of England’s report into racism comes not long after the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, chaired by Tony Sewell. This report, which was not well-received by some, warned about accusing organisations of institutional racism without proper evidence – a point I agree with him on.

In an altogether different response to the Sewell report, the London College of Bishops condemned it for creating “confusion, anger and despair”. I would argue that, while unpopular, Sewell’s report was based on facts that, however difficult or uncomfortable, ought to be engaged with, while the bishops’ response was based on feelings and ideology.

The Sewell report was written by 11 Commissioners, 10 of whom are people of colour. They include Mercy Muroki, a talented social policy researcher and commentator, who told Andrew Neil in a Spectator interview that the statistical data suggests there are other factors than race in attainment differences.

I hate the judging of people by the colour of their skin. It is a sin and we should clearly say so. But I fear that judging by skin colour is precisely the method of the new critical race theory dogmas of the London bishops – every single one of whom is white. By their own dogmas, they have white privilege and belong to a racist church. Yet they so easily write off the views of Mercy and her colleagues. Why? Are they not setting themselves up as ‘white saviours’? Are they not being racist themselves – judging others by the colour of their skin?

Where this leads can be seen in the publication by SPCK of the book, A Rhythm of Prayer: A Collection of Meditations for Renewal, edited by Sarah Bessey. The ‘Prayer of a Weary Black Woman’ by Dr Chanequa Walker-Barnes includes the following statements:

“Dear God, Please help me to hate White people. Or at least to want to hate them. At least, I want to stop caring about them, individually and collectively. I want to stop caring about their misguided, racist souls, to stop believing that they can be better, that they can stop being racist.”

My prayer is that you would help me to hate the other White people – you know, the nice ones …The Fox News-loving, Trump-supporting voters who ‘don’t see colour’ but who make thinly veiled racist comments about ‘those people’. The people who are happy to have me over for dinner but alert the neighbourhood watch anytime an unrecognised person of colour passes their house.”

Lord, if you can’t make me hate them, at least spare me from their perennial gaslighting, whitemansplaining, and White woman tears.”

Dr Walker-Barnes has defended her prayer, as have Bessey and the other contributors to the book, but I remain unconvinced because whatever the motivation or context behind it, can you imagine what would have happened if it had said something like “Dear God, please help me to hate black people.” There would be immediate bans on Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, prosecutions and of course the London College of Bishops would be up in arms, repenting on behalf of all of us. What on earth is a supposedly Christian publisher doing publishing what I can only describe as hate? Why do Amazon, who say they ban hate speech books, continue to promote it? And why the silence of the bishops?

There may be historic issues of hatred both within and outside the Church that need to be addressed, but surely there is a better way than critical race theory? I believe there is and that it is also a more Christian way: I wish that those who profess to be Christian but who judge people by the colour of their skin would follow Christ, and not the cultural theories of the Zeitgeist (whether right or left).

The Bible’s teaching is not difficult. There is much that could be said, but let’s just take four passages teaching fundamental truths:

Genesis 1:26-27 teaches us that all human beings are made in the image of God. Skin colour has nothing to do with this fact. There is no such thing as ‘favoured races’ (as per Darwin).

Acts 17:26 tells us that from one man God made all the nations and that we are all God’s offspring.

In the Church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Barbarian or Scythian, for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11).

No racist would be happy in heaven because it is the place where there are those from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Revelation 7:9).

To discriminate on the basis of skin colour is just sin, plain and simple. Yes, racism does exist – even in the Church – and it must be dealt with and repented of like every other sin. But it will not be dealt with by accepting critical race theory, ignoring the Bible, and engaging in a bout of self-flagellation and virtue signalling.

If Christians would just follow Christ as Lord, believe, and practise the Bible, then we wouldn’t get into the confused mess that the Church of England now seems to be mired in. If the bishops went back to the Bible and looked to Christ for deliverance from their racism, rather than accepting the dogmas of critical race theory, I’m sure that the Church would be ransomed, healed, restored and forgiven!

Quantum 109 – The Answer to Racism

Racism – Is Christianity the Cause or the Cure?

10 Christian Responses to Racism – Premier Christianity

17 comments

  1. Thank you David once again. What is the answer to all this confusion that’s happening around us? Where institutions at all levels feel they need to bow down to social pressure and aim to be accepted by the masses.
    Well, there can only be one answer as you rightly point out – be Christ like. If we stay close to Him in all aspects of who He was and is then a couple of things will happen; a) we will have an assurance that our eyes and motives are fixed on Him.
    b) we will understand and accept that the world will hate us.
    If they hate us for being like Jesus, well there’s nothing we can do about that, in fact, we will know that spiritually we are getting something right.
    Why must the church jump into and align itself with ‘socially in’ topics? Let’s be as fervent about abortion or gender confusion that’s ruining the lives of millions. Ah, but they are taboo subjects – we may empty our pews by upsetting the masses. I’ll finish with this – sometimes there has to be a going out before there’s a coming in.

    1. There is no reason not to work for more than one good end at a time. And the most effective way to reduce abortion is to enable families to support the children they already have. (The child tax credit “rape clause”, for instance, is as much State-enforced abortion as the more direct physical assaults of the Chinese.)

      That the CoE has been racist is beyond argument: from the days when it actually owned slaves and plantations among its assets, to the time in living memory when the Windrush generation, devout though they might be, were made anything but welcome in our Churches. Since it *is* the State Church, it couldn’t do anything else than reflect the people of this “Christian” country whose Church it is, and who consider they own it, even while refusing to go there or contribute anything to it. It’s increasingly at odds with “the masses” and their elected representatives whenever it tries.

      The temptation to overcompensate for a newly-acknowledged sin, to “make it go away”, to silence the accusers, is a universal human one. But conversely, the time when “softly, softly” might have worked has been allowed to pass, and it’s hard to argue that a more heroic cure is not, at least in the short term, worth the attempt, if only to show willing. I’m not convinced it will work, but the opportunity for anything less has been squandered for too long for such to be accepted as real change.

  2. The trouble seems to e that the church needs reviving from its spiritual deadness. Many secular social groups are more welcoming and there is little real love of God, or desire for real bible teaching, and when there is, it is constrained by worldly middle class lifestyles. There is a reason the C of E is called the tory party at prayer. Try preaching on Satan in the C of E

    1. You are somewhat out of date – the C of E is no longer the Tory party at prayer – it tends to be the Liberal/Green party at prayer just now – at least amongst the bishops.

      1. Ah ok I stand corrected. Presumably that explains why numbers are falling….

  3. That prayer sounds like a modern version of the Pharisee praying in the Temple:
    “God, I thank You that I am not like white people – racist, or even like that black person over there who voted for Trump! I hold all the correct views.” (Luke 18:11)

  4. This is an issue that was resolved at root 2000 years ago.

    – In the Church there is neither Jew nor Gentile, Barbarian or Scythian, for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28 and Colossians 3:11).

    Barriers in the hearts of men, are put up by men. Hatred and prejudice are manifest in many ways, and more often than not it’s root is based in self righteousness and establishing our identity outside of Christ. It’s the same root for manifesting partiality over wealth, (James) and hostility toward groups with different identities we determine the label (Jew/Samaritan), but the truth is Christ nailed the lot to the Cross. But will we identify with His determination?

    The above verse has a vital preposition, and it corresponds to where something is relation to a reference. I.e. Christ.
    That preposition is ‘in’.

    Christ offers one identity. The only one is where a man or woman is in relation to Him. Outside of Him, we will establish our own markers, race, class, gender, culture, likes, dislikes. In Him, the field is levelled.

    To remind the Church of this truth, Jesus left us a simple ordination. The participation of communion. It is there unity is established, as each man or woman, white, BAME, tall short, fat, thin, rich, poor, aligns the basis upon which their identity is evaluated. In Christ.

    Those who are in Christ, those who realise that their source for life is not the colour of their skin or the place they were naturally born, but their life IN Christ, are able to find unity there just as Paul outlined in his letters.

    If the CofE is institutionally racist, it’s arguably not rooted in the institutions of Christ. Because IN Christ such divisions don’t exist.

  5. EXCELLENT! Thank you for this. ‘Answers in Genesis’ have some excellent presentations on this subject. We were at one of their Conferences a few years ago where they addressed this subject, Ken Ham & Vodie Baucham backing up your Biblical approach as WE ARE ALL ONE RACE, colour only being because of the different amount of Melanoma in our skin.
    May we all just follow Jesus & the Bible.

  6. I think there needs to be more written like your piece, David, posing an anti-racist christian alternative to the hopeless victim/abuser story of critical race theory. And overtly stating these two alternatives. Most don’t see the influence of the false claims of critical race theory that really do underpin current agonising. We lament because there is One listening to our cries. We are not judge and jury but plaintiffs. Thank God for Jesus.

  7. Are they not setting themselves up as ‘white saviours’? Exactly and it’s patronising to black people for white people to tell them they have been oppressed. At core it’s not an issue of race but political ideology.

    There is never one people group that has been absent of oppression of some form in it. Slavery has existed in from from in every culture throughout history and throughout the world. Yes The UK had it’s share of it. It also banned slave trade with a navy that policed the Atlantic preventing it. Also why would so many migrant black people want to come and live in the UK if it is as racist as some say it is. Isn’t that insulting to the intelligence of black migrants and refugees and therefore a form of racism in itself?

    This self – flagellation and expectation to do the same is a cancer. Does racism exist – yes. Should it be addressed, of course. As someone with a disability, that 10% of the population has, when is there going to be equal amount of attention to and action to address discrimination on that ground?

    Ahh right I hear you say, that me speaking out of my “privilege” and “toxic masculinity” with “inherent racism” because as a white male in his 50s there can’t be anything I have experienced that is anything like these poor people suffering form racist comments and actions, right?

    It’s far form Martin Luther Kings dream that someone be judged by the colour of their skin rather than the content of their character.

  8. While walking my dog two days ago, taking a few pictures on my phone as I often do, people, buildings, birds etc, I ‘snapped’ a chap on the opposite side of the road as he walked past . I wasn’t in his face or asking him to pose he was merely one image and part of my daily walk.
    He yelled across the street: ”Don’t you take photos of me you white piece of shit!”
    I ignored him, shrugged and carried on walking.
    The abuse continued for a bit longer and included further references to white skin, procreation, and a warning that he would break my F%&%$#g phone!

    I must be honest, I was more bemused than anything and certainly did not feel in any way hurt or emotionally troubled by being referred to as white or in fact a piece of ”white shit.”
    Perhaps I should have insisted he take the knee like footballers do?

    And of course, in the old days , white dog’s doings was considered quite valuable by tanners!

    All in all this verbal racial abuse was a first for me, and I have lived in South Africa for decades, but it left me wondering how some ‘black ‘ people see ‘whites’ and what they say / call white people when not having their photo taken?

  9. I am hesitant to make comment as I still find it difficult to come to terms with my friend’s reasonings some 40 or so years after he shared them with me.

    Having come to a saving knowledge of Christ , I oft heard echoing in my head the chorus ;

    Jesus loves the little children ,
    All the children of the world,
    Red and Yellow , Black or White
    all are precious in His sight .
    Jesus loves the little children of the world.

    At the age of 24 I was re-united ,and greatly blessed in fellowship at work with a dear man who shared much of the scriptures, to which we were blessed and on the whole agreed. He was not of my denomination , and while I was allowed to sing at the Open Air services of his group I was never encouraged to share testimony. While I was willing to enter any fellowship to share Christ he refused to come to mine. Still , I was glad to have him in fellowship as we worked along with each other.

    What divided us however , was his view point on the man , Cain . We all know the story of how he slew his brother. My colleague was adamant that Cain’s mark, ( which God put on him ) was that of colour. He made him a black man. I found his thinking repulsive all those years ago , as I still find it repulsive today. Perhaps this disgusting viewpoint still exists.

  10. WHAT COLOUR WAS ADAM?
    It is not Black or White!

    When God made the world everything was prefect, because God is prefect! (Gen 1 v 27)
    Adam’s D.N.A. was prefect, and because Eve was taken out of Adam so she had the same D.N.A. that was also prefect.
    So that is why their children was able to marry each other as there was no defected genes.
    So where does the differently of our looks and personality come from?
    * It come from these two people, Adam and Eve, it came from every other human being who has ever lived. Each person is made in the image of God—equal and precious in his sight. Since each person is a descendant of the same human couple, every person is not only made in God’s image but is part of one biological race, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place” (Acts 17:26).*

    In short it come because of the fall of mankind when sin enter the world. When our genes malfunction. Either mutating or stop functioning all together.
    So we have Haemophilia, Cystic fibrosis and Sickle cell anaemia that comes from the parents. This is not the fault of the parents.
    We also have Albinism which is a lack of the pigment melanin that gives colour to the skin. This is found in high numbers in the Ibo population in Nigeria.
    *We’re all one race, but (obviously) there’s biological and cultural diversity within humankind. One example of this diversity is the result of varying levels of a brown pigment in our skin called melanin. To put it simply, some people have a lot of melanin (dark shade), others have only a little (light shade), and others have a shade in-between (what we call middle brown). This diversity in skin shade has nothing to do with “race” (there’s only one race, a biblical truth confirmed by genetics), but is a result of the genetic diversity God built into the humankind. Those who take the result of such genetic diversity that results in different skin shades and use it as the basis to discriminate, harbour prejudice, or hate another image-bearer of God are sinning. 1 John 2:9 says that “whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”*
    * THOSE WHO TAKE THE RESULT OF SUCH GENETIC DIVERSITY THAT RESULTS IN DIFFERENT SKIN SHADES AND USE IT AS THE BASIS TO DISCRIMINATE, HARBOUR PREJUDICE, OR HATE ANOTHER IMAGE-BEARER OF GOD ARE SINNING*
    (THE PARTS WHICH ARE INBETWEEN * MARKING ARE FROM A PAPER BY KEN HAM.)
    So what can I find out from the Bible about Black and White? What does the Bible say about hating people of a different skin tone?
    With the help of my Cruden’s Complete Concordance what did I find?
    First under Black:
    Sky 1 Kings 18 v 45. Job 3 v 5. Jer 4 v 28. Rev 6 v 12. Isa 50 v 3. Heb 12 v 18
    Eyes Gen 49v 12,
    Hair Lev 13 v 31, 37. S of S 5 v 11. Mat 5 v 36
    Sun tan S of S 1 v 5, 6
    Sickness Job 30 v 30
    Depression Job 3 v 5
    Night Pro 7 v 9
    Grief Jer 8 v 21. 14 v 2
    Famine Lam 5 v 10. Lam 4 v 6
    Horses Zech 6 v 2, 6. Rev 6 v 5
    Eternity Jud 13
    Now under White.
    Strip bark And Wood Gen 30 v 37. Ezek 27 v 18. Joel 1 v 7
    Teeth Gen 49 v 12
    Seed colour Ex 16 v 31
    Skin disease Lev 13 v 3, 4, 20, 26. Num 12 v 10. 2 King 5 v 27,
    Asses and horses Jud 5 v 10. Zech 1 v 8. Rev 6 v 2. Rev 19 v 11
    Clothing 2 Chr 5 v 12. Esth 8 v 15. Ecc 9 v 8. Dan 7 v 9. Mat 17 v 2. Luk 9 v 29. Mat 28 v 3. Acts 1 v 10. Mark 16 v 5. Mark 9 v 3. Rev 4 v 5. Rev 7 v 9, 13. Rev 15 v 6. Rev 19 v 8, 14.
    Rev 3 v 18
    Egg white Job 6 v 6
    Snow Psa 8 v 14. Lam 4 v 7
    Sin forgiven Isa 1 v 18. Dan 12 v 10. Psa 51 v 7. Rev 7 v 14
    Hair Mat 5 v 36. Rev 1 v 14. Rev 3 v 4, 5
    Corn John 4 v 35
    Throne Rev 20 v 11
    Grave Mat 23 v 27
    Self-righteous Act 23 v 3
    Cloud Rev 14 v 14
    Stone Rev 2 v 17
    In the Song of Songs we have an odd verse. Chapter 5 v 10.
    The translation in the N.I.V. reads: – radiant and ruddy. Ruddy in the dictionary means red.
    The New Living reads: – dark and dazzling.
    And in the King James: – white and ruddy.
    So what is all this hatred that even Christian leader are putting on the media?
    We cannot said that one skin tone is better than others that are different. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is none that is righteous, no not one.
    God see the heart and He is also P.C. colour blind.
    There should be no wall of hostility between Christians.
    It happens in the world, it should never be seen in the church.

  11. I once heard rumours – no idea whether they were true or not – that the reason why there were not more BAME bishops in the Church of England was that the majority of BAME priests of sufficient stature were too conservative in their theology for the liberal establishment!

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