Monday, August 29, 2005

Is the Church of England racist?

Jonathan Petre:

Dr John Sentamu

The Church of England is infected with institutional racism and is still a place of "pain" for many black Anglicans, according to its first black archbishop.

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop-designate of York, has used the foreword of a new book implicitly to criticise fellow Church leaders for failing to deal properly with discrimination in the organisation.

Though a long-term critic of the Church's "monochrome" white culture, his comments will now carry far more weight as he is soon to be enthroned as the second most senior cleric in the hierarchy.

They signal his intention to place racism at the heart of his agenda in office and will reopen soul-searching over one of the Church's most sensitive issues.

Another black bishop, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, complained of racism when an unnamed cleric dubbed him a "Paki papist" while the Church was selecting a successor to Dr George Carey at Canterbury in 2002.

The book to which Dr Sentamu has contributed, Rejection, Resistance and Resurrection, Speaking out on racism in the Church, is a hard-hitting account of the rejection felt by many black Anglicans.

Written by Mukti Barton, the adviser on black and Asian ministries to the Bishop of Birmingham, Dr Sentamu's present post, it describes racism as a "deadly poison" often unconsciously spread by white Christians.

It also claims that black people are significantly under represented in the clergy, even in the diocese of Birmingham.

Dr Sentamu, who is to launch the book in Birmingham cathedral next month, said in the foreword: "The stories in this book speak of the pain of what it is to undergo institutional racism.

"The cost is in terms of the lives of people who are hampered in their growth into the image of God created in them."

He referred to his role as a member of the Macpherson Inquiry into the death of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence, which branded the Metropolitan police as "institutionally racist."

Quoting the inquiry report, he said that institutional racism persisted in organisations because of their failure "openly and adequately to recognise and address its existence and causes by policy, example and leadership". The archbishop-elect, whose promotion was announced in June, said that institutional racism was found in all the Churches to some degree.

He added, however, that there were signs of encouragement for the future, and various anti-racism programmes had been effective.

The former Ugandan high court judge who fled the regime of Idi Amin to become Bishop of Birmingham has been an outspoken scourge of racism for decades.

In 2000, while Bishop of Stepney, he complained bitterly of being stopped and searched outside St Paul's cathedral by a police officer who did not spot his clerical collar under his scarf.

He first accused the Church of institutional racism the previous year, when he said in a General Synod on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report that the Church suffered from many of the same sins as the police.

The then Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr George and Dr David Hope respectively, subsequently attended a "racism-awareness course".

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Sentamu becomes Britain's first black archbishop

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African becomes first senior black Bishop

Stopped, searched and spat on

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At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the Church actually was racist,hewould never have got his job, the second most imprtant in the church, in the first place.

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is...

It doesn't matter.

Because just saying so is guaranteed to get you a lot of sympathetic attention, as here.

Clearly appointing this guy Archbishop was obviously not enough to prove it isn't, anway.

At 6:24 AM, Anonymous Jerald said...

In my view one and all must glance at this.
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