Artillery Row

Don’t sever the head

How the cultural shift and a departure from central purposes risks making the Church unrecognisable to the grassroots members who support it

Throughout British society, the family, the police, the state broadcaster, schools and the Church, are being swept along in the tide of an ultra-progressive movement. Our main national institutions, as a whole and pluralistically, once constituted a (certain type of) just society which was accepted and passed on from one generation to the next. This is no longer the case.

The decline in authority of some of our greatest institutions is leading to an increasing sentiment inside them that they need to be validated, justified or legitimated through questionable campaigns on social justice which, in our time, is only clearly being articulated by ultra-progressives.

There is an urgent need to restore leadership into our civic institutions that understands their central purpose

That is why, in our new report, we set out to investigate the scale of support for the ultra-progressive radical activist agenda which alleges “systemic racism” in English society, the understanding and use of “unconscious bias” training and the doctrine of a “climate emergency” within the Church of England.

We found that within the 42 dioceses of the Church, over 80 per cent have promoted racial justice activist claims or expressed concerns for institutional or systemic racism. And our report shows that local clergy in dozens of areas across the country have pronounced similar views on what “institutional racism”, “white supremacy” and the seemingly-continuous evil of racism means for Britain.

Even though the claim that unconscious bias training does anything to improve workplace equality has been called into question, we found that over a quarter of the 42 Dioceses appoint clergy who appear very supportive of a commitment to unconscious bias training within the Church. Furthermore, the Church’s embracing of climate activism and the alarmist notion of a “climate emergency” again signifies a drastic shift in values across the Church. It is a subject very rarely presented as an argument which requires a balanced understanding.

For example, over 70 per cent of all Dioceses appoint clergy who promote climate activist warnings or calls for recognition of the “climate emergency”. And over half of all declarations from the clergy promoting climate activist warnings or recognition of the “climate emergency” occurred within 12 months after the “Holy Week” support for the climate protests in April 2019.

The cultural shift towards ultra-progressivism and the departure from the Church’s central purpose risks making it unrecognisable to the grassroots members who support it. For many, it marks a separation of the head from the body — a phenomenon which is becoming alarmingly recognisable in so many of our national institutions. As Tom Harris writes in the foreword to our report, “British civic society is in danger of rotting from the head as the great institutions of our national life fall prey to institutional capture”. While we focus on the Church in our report, its meaning is more significant.

Whether it is Archbishops, Bishops, Chief Constables, Vice-Chancellors, or the leadership of our national arts, museums, heritage, cultural and broadcasting organisations there is a growing crisis in leadership in British civic life such that the head has been severed from the body that supports it. There is an urgent need to restore leadership into our civic institutions that understands their central purpose so as to regain the trust and support of the British public they serve.

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