Displaying items by tag: racism
The co-chair of the new anti-racism taskforce, the Revd Sonia Barron, has said that the Church of England must not just ‘pay lip-service’ to issues of racism. On 13 October the Church announced the launch of a taskforce, which will propose actions that the Church should take to promote greater racial equality across the Church. The work of the group will include sifting through 160 recommendations that already exist, most of them made by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC) since 1985, and identifying any that have been ignored and could be implemented. Their recommendations will be presented to the Archbishops’ Racism Action Commission, which will be launched in spring 2021.
Dr Martin Luther King Jr said we must live together as brothers or perish together as fools. His niece Dr Alveda King said, ‘We're fighting over trying to reconcile separate races when we are only one race - the human race.’ Bishop Harry Jackson said, ‘We're seeing a readiness to respond to race across racial boundaries. But what's missing is in Galatians 3:26; we say there's neither Jew nor Greek, there's neither bond nor free. These distinctions can be solved by coming together in Christ.’ We can pray for Christians to lead the way with answers to the ills of society. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide us. The church must find answers and right any wrongs that exist and then boldly become part of the national discussion on race relations in America. Bishop Williams added, ‘When someone needs blood, they don’t ask if it was black blood, white blood or Jewish blood; they need blood.’
England contains many diverse, multicultural cities, and the current uprisings spectacularly play out in them. The movement’s heart is about injustices that go back decades - and centuries - with global foundations. Many parts of the UK have deep issues with racism that have long needed to be challenged, talked about, rectified and healed. On 15 June Boris Johnson announced plans to create a cross-government commission to examine racial inequality and the disparities experienced by minority ethnic groups in education, health and the criminal justice system. He said he could not ignore the strength of feeling shown by tens of thousands of people who had demonstrated in London and other cities across the UK. He said, ‘It is no use just saying that we have made huge progress in tackling racism. There is much more that we need to do; and we will.’
British port cities grew wealthy transporting slaves to the Americas. On 7 June Bristol protesters tore down a statue of a slave trader whose company branded its victims with the company’s initials on their chests. Unfortunately on a weekend that marked the anniversary of D-Day, Sir Winston Churchill’s statue was also defaced as agitators chanted, ‘Churchill is a racist’; and at the Cenotaph, a monument to those who died for free speech and democracy, a protester tried to set fire to the Union Flag. Pray that Black Lives Matter marches are not muddled with wilful criminal damage. The government has been accused of appalling treatment of British Caribbean citizens who came to rebuild Britain after World War II. Sadiq Khan and many others are calling for all statues and street names linked to slavery to be taken down. The first to fall was a statue of slaveholder Robert Milligan at Docklands.
In the light of George Floyd’s death, the Evangelical Alliance has joined thousands of voices around the world, to declare that the indescribable pain and dehumanisation of others because of their skin colour has to stop. ‘Let us stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ, as we cry out for justice, as we stand with those suffering oppression, as we weep with those grieving and in pain. We all have a responsibility to act against discrimination and systemic racism in our workplaces, churches, justice systems, and wider communities. We cannot view this as white vs black. This is a clarion call for us to come together and fight every form of racism in all its disgusting manifestations. As the Church we must unite across all ethnicities in saying, and showing, that all are created equal, all people bear God’s image.’
On 1 June Donald Trump declared himself the ‘law and order president’, vowing to use military might to remove people demonstrating against George Floyd’s murder and the persecution of black people. Tear gas, flash grenades, and rubber bullets were used against peaceful protesters. Then Trump visited a church and held up a Bible. The Bishop of Washington said the president ‘raised the most sacred text of the Judeo-Christian tradition outside a church in my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message opposing the teachings of Jesus’. Jesuit James Martin tweeted, ‘This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. God is not your plaything.’ Rabbi Moline said, ‘Seeing President Trump in front of a Church holding the Bible in response to calls for racial justice - right after using military force to clear peaceful protesters - is the most flagrant misuse of religion that I have ever seen.’
On 1 June 1921, in Tulsa, the US experienced the worst race riots in its history. A prosperous African-American community, dubbed ‘Black Wall Street’, was eradicated by rioting white people. Within hours luxury shops, homes, restaurants and food stores belonging to black families disappeared. An unknown number of people died - many when planes dropped bombs, others when mobs burnt down the remaining neighbourhood. Racism’s root of division that began with killing native Indians and using black slaves is still active 99 years later. Entire groups of people accuse and hate each other over everything from government policy to religion. God never intended this. His purpose is explained in Revelation 7:9: ‘After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.’
A white Minneapolis police officer pinned down George Floyd with his knee, while he yelled, ‘I cannot breathe’. Later he died, causing community outrage and the dismissal of four officers. Ben Crump, a prominent civil rights lawyer, has been retained by the victim’s family. A video of the incident shows Floyd crying out, ‘My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can't breathe,’ while moaning and trying to cough. Floyd was eventually motionless under the officer's knee. People watching can be heard begging police to move off him. Many are drawing comparisons with Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, who in 2014 died after being choked by police, sparking nationwide protests. African Americans are nearly six times more likely to be imprisoned or jailed than white Americans. These racial disparities have given rise to Black Lives Matter.
Anti-Israel protesters in London have been screaming death threats at Jews in Arabic, and anti-Semitic activity is said to be active in the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn is being challenged in his own Islington North constituency by Yosef David, an Orthodox Jew, standing for the Brexit Party. Yosef works for a large Jewish charity and acknowledges that toppling Corbyn would be a miracle, but he is ‘highlighting the impact of the Labour anti-Semitism epidemic on the community. On 26 November Ephraim Mirvis, Britain’s most senior Jewish leader, accused Corbyn of allowing anti-Semitism to take root in the party, while Justin Welby agreed that British Jews felt much insecurity and fear, and added regretfully that the Church of England has had its own history of antisemitism. On the same day, hundreds of Christians aligned to Operation Breakthrough, Worldwide Mission Fellowship, and Prayer Warriors International spent time in prayer and repentance, focussing on the UK’s attitude towards Israel.
Christian doctor David Mackereth, with over 26 years of experience, found that for upholding Biblical truth you can lose your job. A judge has ruled that his belief in Genesis 1:27 is ‘incompatible with human dignity’. The judge is saying that there is no protection in law for the Biblical belief that God made humans unchangeably male and female, putting Christian truth in the same category as racist and Neo-Nazi views. David held to what God says about men and women and his Christian views were not protected in a UK court of law. He lost his job for telling the truth, and now an Employment Tribunal has ruled against him. Christian Concern’s expert legal team has already started work to take this case to an appeal tribunal.