Artillery Row

The C of E is redefining sin

The authors of the C of E’s woke reports would do well to return to Scripture

The Church of England has released its second progressive report in as many months: “Contested Heritage” sets out to offer clergy and parish councils guidance on how to relocate or dispose of historical monuments, statues and memorials. 

In some regards, it’s quite a moderate document. It suggests that merely engaging in conversation around these controversial topics can sometimes be enough, and we may not have to strip away our cultural heritage. But the timing of the report is particularly odd since the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Task Force published their report only last month. “Lament to Action”, recommended the Church convene a commission to put forward recommendations on dealing with these questions. Contested Heritage should, undoubtedly, have been a recommendation of the commission, which is yet to be set up. Why, then, is the Church rushing forward with new procedures and guidance without due process, consultation and careful consideration?

Although it accepts that statues don’t necessarily need to be torn down, one very concerning element of Contested Heritage is the statement that the UK is systemically racist. Not the Church, the whole country. In Lament to Action the C of E deemed itself systemically racist. In Contested Heritage that accusation is expanded to include our entire society:
What’s also interesting on this point is that the document links to Lament to Action as evidence of this statement, and in turn, Lament to Action refers to Archbishop Justin Welby’s pronouncement at General Synod, accusing the Church of being institutionally racist. This circular referencing is highly problematic because the accusation increases in depth with each utterance, and no proof is ever provided.

A number of broad and questionable statements of this nature are repeated throughout the report, including: “The effects of enslavement continue to impact the lives of many UK ethnic minority communities.” How we know that the effects are continuing and impacting the lives of many ethnic minority people in the UK is not clear – again, no evidence is provided to back up this outlandish, unsupported statement.

The Church would have benefited from reading the most recently released report on this topic, Dr Sewell’s Race Report. In it, the CRED commission investigated many racial disparities in the UK and found no evidence of institutional racism; however, they found many societal issues and offered pragmatic solutions that would improve the life-chances of individuals of all ethnicities. For the Church to dismiss this independent report in its entirety and instead draw its own conclusions is unwise. But the Church went a step further by outright condemning the Race Report as if the Church was an expert in the matter. On what grounds does the Church base its accusation that the UK is systemically racist?

It is yet more evidence that Critical Race Theory takes precedence over theology in the Church of England

If there’s no evidence to suggest that either the Church of England or the United Kingdom is institutionally racist, one might want to ask the question, “Why is our heritage being contested?”

Contested Heritage and Lament to Action both stem from the identity politics school of thought, known as Critical Race Theory, operating on the self-flagellating assumption that everyone and everything is racist. Instead, we must look at history holistically and acknowledge the good along with the bad. Phrases such as “relating to those involved in … the administration of Britain’s colonies” in this report suggest that the Church is looking to remove monuments not only of former slave owners but of anyone remotely linked to the British Empire, a fool’s errand, for where would it end?

This “guidance” is tantamount to iconoclasm. It is yet more evidence that Critical Race Theory takes precedence over theology in the Church of England. Most people would agree that racism is indeed a sin, but whilst the Church subscribes to the ideology of CRT, one must consider that the redefinition of racism dictates that only white people can be racist due to the power dynamics at play in our society. This divisive rhetoric is clearly anti-Christian; there is no sin that only white people can commit and black people cannot. After all, “God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34-35).

The authors of Contested Heritage and Lament to Action would do well to return to Scripture. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28). In a misguided attempt to address a problem that doesn’t exist in the way they assume it does, the Church is causing division where it didn’t already exist. Of course racism is an issue in this country and in some churches, but that does not make the UK an institutionally racist country, nor does it make the Church systemically racist. What it does mean is that we’re all fallen, and we are all susceptible to sin. That is why we should stop peddling these “liberal progressive” ideologies and focus on spreading the Good News. Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.

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