The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has rightly condemned the institutional and historic racism within the Church of England, yet his words continue to ring hollow in light of his own recent record.
Speaking after a meeting of the General Synod, Welby said that he was “personally sorry and ashamed… of our failure”
“When we look at our own church, we are still deeply institutionally racist. Let’s be clear about that… We did not do justice in the past. We do not do justice now. And unless we are radical and decisive in this area in the future, we will still be having this conversation in 20 years’ time and still doing injustice.”Justin Welby
Despite Welby’s apparent recent awakening to the state of race relations in the UK, it was just months ago that he threw Jeremy Corbyn under a bus at the behest of the British Board of Deputies, Corbyn being one of Britain’s leading anti-racist campaigners of the last forty years.
It was mere hours after the discredited Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis Tweeted that Corbyn was allowing a “poison sanctioned from the top” to take root in the Labour Party that Welby decided to highlight the “deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews”. In backing the fake news of Mirvis, Welby backed the pro-Zionist position on Corbyn, giving comfort to pro-apartheid and pro-Israeli racists everywhere.
It is far from the first time that the Archbishop of Canterbury has opened himself to accusations of hypocrisy in recent months.
A mere two weeks after his support for Mirvis that was seen as an attack on Corbyn, Welby decided to point out that welfare reforms from the government would leave the poor at the risk of starvation. Perhaps he should have thought of the poor before his attack on Corbyn. Just a thought.
As is part of his remit, the Archbishop has long pontificated about the poor and austerity, warning last year about the potential effects of Brexit on the struggling.
“We cannot ignore the warnings that have been proffered about the possible profound impact that the next months may possibly have on the poorest of our society.”Justin Welby
Welby has also stated that the rich should be paying more taxes to help alleviate the national shame of poverty.
“We cannot continue with an economy that works so badly for so many. Chronically low pay means a hard day’s work no longer keeps people out of poverty: today, a majority of the poor are working families.”Justin Welby
Wise words, yet once again they ring hollow and seem more inclined toward keeping the Church of England relevant than an actual desire for change and poor relief.
The Church of England pays next to no tax on the near £1billion per year that it earns through donations, investments and reserves. They have a £5.5 billion investment portfolio and 16,000 churches across the country, plus 42 cathedrals. While their outgoing expenses exceed income, the levels that are spent on the upkeep of half-empty status symbol churches, excessive staff and clergy and both foreign missionaries and propaganda would certainly help relieve the poor.
In 2018, despite the numbers of those actually attending church dropping by 14 per cent over the last decade to a mere 750,000, the CofE announced that 100 new churches would be built at a cost of £27m in an effort “to revive the Christian faith in coastal areas, market towns and outer urban housing estates”.
Obviously spreading the faith is more important than feeding and housing the people in those coastal areas, market towns and outer urban housing estates.
Perhaps the Church might consider surrendering some of its other 105,000 acres of land or 1,800 residential properties, many on the exclusive Hyde Park estate in central London. Or indeed opening the doors of the Royal Lancaster hotel to the homeless, one property amongst £321 million worth of commercial assets. Or indeed, they might consider paying reparations to the victims of the Church’s historic crimes against Catholics and against those under the yoke of imperial colonialism in Africa and beyond. No? of course not.
Just over half of the Church’s assets are invested in the UK and foreign shares, private equity investment in non-stock market companies, and fixed-interest bonds. Two of the Church’s top two investments are in big oil with Royal Dutch Shell and BP. The Church has £404m invested indirectly in real estate across the globe. Such is the actual wealth of the church that their income is bigger than the turnover of McDonald’s in the UK and an astonishing three times larger than Starbucks.
It’s difficult to imagine Jesus holding a £5.5 billion portfolio, a hotel and extensive property on the Hyde Park estate when the country still has a problem with homelessness and poverty.
The Church of England appears for all intents and purposes to be less of a religious organisation and more of a capitalist endeavour under a veneer of Christianity. Like many CEOs faced with the realities of the new woke world, perhaps Welby has realised that racism and exploitation are no longer acceptable to the customer. Good marketing can erase any crime from memory, Hugo Boss still sell their suits after all. Despite the positive marketing, the actions of Welby in throwing Jeremy Corbyn to the wolves despite his anti-racist and anti-austerity credentials betray the fact that the Church, at their core, continues to have little interest in change or taking real and positive action beyond corporate grandstanding.
Main Image: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby at the Mobilising Faith Communities in Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict meeting in London, 9 February 2015. | Foreign and Commonwealth Office