In a since deleted tweet, Reverend Jarel Robinson-Brown wrote: “The cult of Captain Tom Moore is a cult of white British nationalism. I will offer prayers for the repose of his kind and generous soul, but will not be joining the ‘national clap’.”
The clergyman, who is preparing to serve as a priest in the Diocese of London, removed his post later the same day and offered an “unreserved apology for the insensitive timing and content” of his tweet, adding that he has now read and will sign the Church’s digital charter.
Rev Robinson-Brown’s tweet came after Boris Johnson urged people to take part in a "national clap" for Capt Moore, who died in hospital aged 100 on Tuesday after testing positive for Covid-19.
The reverend was not alone in criticising the idea of a "national clap" for the centenarian, with Dr Rachel Clarke, a palliative care doctor, tweeting that while Capt Moore was "inspirational... clapping doesn’t feel right to [her] amid the vastness of our death & grief. Nor will clapping protect others."
The prime minister's call for remembrance echoed the "Clap for Our Carers" movement, which faced criticism by those who argued the weekly round of doorstep applause was a hollow gesture. Campaigners and trade unions have suggested a pay rise for key workers would serve as a more fitting tribute.
The clap was relaunched during the third lockdown in January and was met with similar criticism from Labour, with party leader Keir Starmer tweeting: “Once again we took to our doorsteps to #ClapForOurCarers. But clapping isn’t enough. They need to be paid properly and given the respect they deserve."
Deputy Angela Rayner echoed the leader's sentiments, writing: “Claps = good, pay rise = better."
Capt Moore became a household name during the first lockdown, when he raised more than £30m for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.
The prime minister said the Second World War veteran dedicated his life to others, telling the House of Commons on Wednesday: "We all now have the opportunity to show our appreciation for him and all that he stood for and believed in."
Capt Moore was hospitalised on Sunday after being treated for pneumonia and testing positive for coronavirus last week. His family praised the care he had received from the NHS.
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