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The church of critical race theory

The Church of England is prostrating itself before a divisive racial identity politics.

Alka Sehgal Cuthbert

Topics Identity Politics UK

The Church of England has been captured by identitarian activists.

You can see this most clearly in the church’s determination to pay reparations for slavery. Last year, the General Synod – the church’s legislative body – announced that it would set aside £100million to investigate its historic links to slavery and provide reparations for the descendants of slaves. Yet apparently, this huge sum was not enough to appease the ever-growing identitarian faction within the church. This week, a report demanded that the offer be expanded to an eye-watering £1 billion.

Church leaders have agreed in principle to this new demand, though they will not release the money immediately from church coffers. Instead, they have agreed to raise the extra £900million from external sources, such as parish donations. Geetha Tharmaratnam, who is advising the church, has suggested that the shortfall could be made up by wealthy families who want to atone for their slave-trading ancestors.

Astonishingly, this £1 billion reparations plan isn’t the sum total of the church’s spending on racial initiatives. Just as the reparations debate has been brewing, the C of E’s Birmingham diocese has embarked on a hiring spree to fill all the posts in its West Midlands Racial Justice Initiative. Roles it is hiring for include an ‘anti-racism practice officer’, who will ‘deconstruct whiteness’, and a development worker, who would help to ‘eliminate racism within church youth groups’. All posts have a salary of £36,000.

Beneath the benign-sounding talk about fighting racism, the jargon about ‘deconstructing whiteness’ makes it clear what the purpose of these roles really is – namely, to force lay members and clergy alike to get on board with the Church of England’s wholesale adoption of critical race theory (CRT).

The church has been preaching CRT dogma for some time now. Eager to jump on the Black Lives Matter bandwagon, in 2020 the General Synod commissioned a task force to investigate how to increase racial diversity and promote ‘anti-racist’ activism within the church. The resulting report, published in 2021, was titled From Lament to Action. It suggested various measures, such as introducing racial quotas for hiring both clergy and lay roles. If non-white candidates cannot be found for certain jobs, then the church’s recruiters must provide ‘valid, publishable reasons’ as to why.

Since then, the church has been busy embedding critical race theory in virtually all of the bodies it runs. Its Diocesan Board of Education has produced CRT-infused teaching materials and guidance for schools. Complete with images of BLM-style raised fists, this guidance encourages schools to teach kids about ‘white privilege’, amplify ‘black voices’ and celebrate ‘black history’.

It gets worse. At the General Synod’s bi-annual conference last month, the church adopted a ‘racial justice’ motion. This passed with an overwhelming majority, with 364 members voting in favour and two abstaining. As a result, every parish in England has been told to create ‘race action plans’, which is code for yet more racial quotas and CRT training.

Speaking during the General Synod debate, the pro-BLM Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, said the church needs to ‘further embed racial justice’ and not shy away from being called ‘woke’. The Bishop of Dudley chimed in to boast that all his parish representatives were already forced to do unconscious-bias training.

It cannot be stressed enough that none of this has anything to do with addressing racism where it actually still exists in our society. Of course, there are plenty of well-intentioned Christians who support such measures because they feel passionate about addressing injustice. The talk of ‘anti-racism’ has led them to believe that this is a continuation of the Christian social-justice tradition – in the mould of the civil-rights activism of, say, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. But in Britain in 2024, racism is no longer a significant force in society. Arguably, it is those who preach about ‘white privilege’ and ‘deconstructing whiteness’ who are doing the most to keep racial divisions alive. CRT dogma encourages people to see race everywhere and to obsess over racial differences.

Perhaps the bishops believe that piggybacking off secular, identitarian movements like BLM will help make the church seem more relevant and get people back into pews. In truth, all it will do is drive congregations further away from the church – and, more importantly, further apart from each other. Ideas of racial difference should be absolutely anathema to any organisation in a modern democracy – let alone to an institution that supposedly believes in universal equality before God. The church’s identitarian turn should alarm us all.

Alka Sehgal Cuthbert is director of campaign group Don’t Divide Us.

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Topics Identity Politics UK

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