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Artillery Row

The Church of England is practicing a secular religion

Equality, diversity and inclusion can be prioritised over religious faith

In 1869, the New York Herald sent Henry Morton Stanley to find Christian missionary David Livingstone, who had been missing for more than six years. Following his perilous 700-mile journey across Tanzania in search of the intrepid doctor, Stanley wrote several books that helped shape the perception of Africa in the late 19th century as “darkest Africa”. 

It seems that we are about to send a new missionary into the wilderness. This time, they are being sent into the heart of whiteness. However, on this particular voyage of salvation, a trip up the M1 has taken the place of the steamboat ride up the Congo River. 

While catching up with emails over coffee the other day, I found a rather intriguing email in my inbox. It was from a friend in York. “Have you seen this?” 

It was an advertisement for a job posted by the Diocese of York. The Church of England appears to be suffering from a severe case of white guilt. Their job description calls for a “racial justice enabler.” The successful applicant will receive a salary of £32,000 (F.T.E) for this part-time position, in addition to numerous benefits like five weeks paid holiday and a generous, contribution-based pension plan. The deadline for applications is April 15th. So if you want free parking and eye-care vouchers, act now.

Unfortunately, I doubt I will apply. White people — and especially white men — seem unlikely to be successful. Naturally, this cannot be stated unequivocally in the application due to legal reasons. Hiring someone based only on their race, or positive discrimination, is illegal. An employer will frequently use a series of veiled allusions or ideological word salads to get around this. The job requirement, known as “person specification”, implies that an individual must possess a “passion for racial justice … borne out of lived experience.” According to the social justice lexicon, lived experience is something that is only relevant to members of ethnic minorities.

But putting the activist jargon aside, one thing is clear. You will be more aware of the problem that the enabler needs to solve — demographics — after reading the job description. “Whilst there are diverse communities in Middlesborough and in Hull, the Diocese of York is a predominantly white community with around 3 per cent of the population of 1.4 million who are Global Majority Heritage.” Put another way, 97 percent of North and East Yorkshire are white. And that must be changed. “We are working within what are traditionally conservative cultures, both in the church and wider society, which means that culture change to become more diverse is a complex and contested arena.”

If the recently hired enabler can’t magically transform Hull into Wakanda, how will they accomplish this? The Diocesan Synod’s 2022 policy document, the Racial Justice Charter, fortunately offers some assistance. It essentially conflates identity politics, a secular religion, with the teachings of Jesus. In order to “eradicate the sin of racism,” the charter demands a “radical revolution.” 

In addition to passages from Galatians, the text frequently mentions another saint: George Floyd. He has been made into a martyr in this context. “Whatever you do for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you do for me,” a woman writes, quoting Matthew, “If one man (George Floyd) cannot breathe, then we all cannot breathe.”

The charter outlines a number of targets that the enabler should pursue during the three-year posting in order to confront the “dominant culture of whiteness”. A dominant culture of whiteness? The Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the First Minister of Scotland and the First Minister of Wales are all from ethnic minorities. Yes, a place like the Diocese of York is majority white but the Diocese of Mombasa is majority black. Neither is wrong in this. 

You wonder when anyone will have the time to pray

By the middle of 2025, the enabler must “plan, curate and roll out an appropriate unconscious bias and diversity training programme.” The enabler is required to create a “resource” by 2027, which will allow parishes to participate in social justice. Additionally, he/she has to promote racial justice throughout the Diocese as a member of the “Racial Justice Advocates” group. “Becoming anti-racist, is woven into [the] Diocesan vision of Living Christ’s story,” the charter states. You wonder when anyone will have the time to pray.

Church attendance is of course declining. One in five worshippers has disappeared since 2019 alone. Is the Church of England spending more and more money on dubious forms of “anti-racism” under the delusion that it will attract young leftists to its services on Sundays? Or perhaps this quasi-theological endeavour is just a more winnable cause than encouraging religious belief and practice. Justin Welby cannot fill his churches but he can fill his heart with a sense of righteousness. 

This isn’t good enough — not for anyone. An obsessive interest in the sacred values of equality diversity and inclusion can distract believers from the divine, but it also threatens the social functions of the Church of England. The Church is one of the last major foundations of tradition left in the United Kingdom, along with the monarchy. The identitarian left has been tearing at the stitches holding us together for a number of years. To imitate its most fanatical tendencies is to encourage divisiveness rather than inclusion.

The Church of England should stop enabling these phenomena. Granted, to place the blame for its diminished status entirely on “woke Welby” would be naive. The problem predates the current Archbishop of Canterbury. A Telegraph analysis shows that church attendance has more than halved since 1987. However, the embrace of secular religion is exacerbating rather than ameliorating its decline.

Livingstone was rumoured to have converted just one African. How many people will follow this new secular religion? More importantly, I wonder how many people will leave the church?

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