Church Of England 'Still Institutionally Racist', Says Archbishop Of Canterbury

Justin Welby's remarks come as the church's national assembly backed a motion to apologise for racism encountered.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the Christmas Day service at Canterbury Cathedral.
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby during the Christmas Day service at Canterbury Cathedral.
PA Wire/PA Images

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that the Church of England is still “institutionally racist”.

Speaking at the General Synod, the church’s national assembly, Justin Welby said he was “ashamed” of its history of racism.

The clergyman’s remarks came as members unanimously backed a motion to apologise for racism encountered by “countless” Black, Asian and minority ethnic people since the Windrush migration in 1948.

Many sought to worship at the Church of England and were met with hostility.

“Personally, I am sorry and ashamed. I’m ashamed of our history and I’m ashamed of our failure. I’m ashamed of our lack of witness to Christ,” Welby said.

“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 - the few of us that remain, deservedly.

“We have damaged the Church, we have damaged the image of God and most of all, we have damaged those we victimised, unconsciously very often”.

Welby’s comments came in response to Synod member Reverend Andrew Moughtin-Mumby, from Southwark Diocese, highlighting the experiences of the family of his parishioner, Doreen Browne.

Her mother, father and sibling were barred in 1961 from entering St Peter’s Church in Walworth, south London, “due to the plain fact of the colour of their black skin”, he said.

“They eventually found a home in a nearby parish church - but we know that many cradle Anglicans from the Caribbean did not, and simply left the church of England: that is a scandal of our own,” he said.

“Doreen’s family suffered a horrible, humiliating racism which still affects Doreen’s relationship with the church even today.”

Moughtin-Mumby had introduced a motion for the Synod to “stamp out” racism with “great effort and urgency”, as well as apologising for past incidents. This move was unanimously backed.

In 2018, former home secretary Sajid Javid issued apologies to Windrush immigrants who wrongly faced deportation. The archbishop drew a comparison, stating that the church had been a “hostile environment” to those people.

During a podcast for The Voice newspaper published earlier this month, columnist and BBC radio broadcaster Dotun Adebayo and Lover’s Rock singer Carroll Thompson, discussed how the rise of Britain’s Black church came as a result of racism in the Church of England.


What's Hot