With a heavy heart I must return once more to the subject of the Church of England. I recognise that is not a subject for everybody, and occasionally someone implies that it should not be a subject for me. But I am concerned about the fate of the national church because as the new religion heaves ever clearer into view, I realise that I prefer the old religion to the new one. I would rather attempts to influence the country’s morals were preached from a pulpit than through group stampede on Twitter.
And though we haven’t heard much from actual pulpits for more than a year, the church hierarchy has not slumbered. It has been busying itself with the question of anti-racism. Last year the church set up a ‘taskforce’ whose resulting report (‘From Lament to Action: Report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce’) is due before the Archbishops’ Council next week. Happily, a copy found its way into my hands first.
As the report notes, the C of E has covered this terrain before. During a discussion on racism in the General Synod in February last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury said: ‘I am sorry and ashamed. 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.’ An original and originally worded insight.
The Archbishops’ taskforce seeks to build on this position. As it notes, much happened in the months after the Archbishop’s admission of racism. In May last year George Floyd was killed by a policeman in Minnesota. The C of E report describes Floyd as ‘a 46-year-old practising Christian, who worked to mentor young people and oppose gun violence’, which is certainly a generous interpretation of Floyd’s varied career.