Church of England is racist - bishop

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Church of England is institutionally racist, stuck in its ways, and its ethnic minority members are "alienated, lonely and excluded", its leaders will be told this week.

The Church of England is institutionally racist, stuck in its ways, and its ethnic minority members are "alienated, lonely and excluded", its leaders will be told this week.

The accusations are levelled in a hard-hitting report to be presented to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, and other senior clerics at the General Synod, a meeting of the Church's governing council.

The report was written by the prominent black Bishop of Stepney, the Right Rev Dr John Sentamu, and was commissioned last year by the Archbishop and General Synod as a response to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

Bishop Sentamu was a member of the Lawrence Inquiry into the death of the black teenager and, when the report was published, he told the Archbishop that the Church of England is still "socially glued together by a culture that is monochrome, i.e. white".

The new report is a source of major concern. It shows that only a small percentage of people from ethnic minority backgrounds attend the Church of England, describing it as "stuck in its ways" and likely to stereotype black people. In most of Britain's parish churches, only 1 per cent of those filling pews on Sundays are likely to be black or Asian, despite the large numbers of minority worshippers belonging to other, mainly evangelical, churches. Black people, the report says, are failing to get into its power structures and help to control decision-making.

In cosmopolitan Liverpool, 4 per cent of the congregation are from ethnic minority backgrounds, but only 1 per cent of clergy. "Few people are consciously racist," said the Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones, "but the fact that there is such a small number of people in the Church from ethnic groups shows that there are hidden barriers that definitely discriminate against them."

The Southwark diocese was singled out for criticism in a separate report launched by Sir Herman Ouseley, former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, who described the Church in the area as "institutionally racist".Since then, the Bishop of Southwark, the Right Rev Tom Butler, and members of his staff have attended race-awareness training.

Speaking before General Synod, its general secretary, Philip Mawer, said: "Undoubtedly the Church of England sinned in the 1950s when people came over from the Caribbean and were not welcomed in our churches. Many black people stick in the Church of England in spite of the judging and indifferent welcome."

Comments