*** DEBUG END ***

Defining moment

14 September 2018

“I AM distressed that it should be necessary, but I think it is necessary,” the Archbishop of Canterbury said during a conversation with the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, recorded to mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.

He was talking about a formal adoption by the Church of England of the definition of anti-Semitism produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). On Tuesday, the College of Bishops, meeting in Oxford, acted swiftly to do just that. It is extraordinary that, more than 70 years after the freeing of Jews from Nazi concentration camps, a formal mechanism is needed to shame institutions into acknowledging the persistence of anti-Semitism. For when the actions of a relatively few individuals are repeatedly ignored, or even condoned, by those with the responsibility to call them to order, then the label of institutional anti-Semitism must be applied, as Chuka Umunna MP said of the Labour Party this week.

The most troubling aspect of this episode, which we hope will prove to be a short-lived aberration, is that it introduces an element of self-consciousness into relations between Jews and Christians which have become, in many instances, so natural as not to be noticed, let alone written about. This is not to say that Jewish or Christian identity needs to be hidden: it is fun to engage in events such as the Jews v. Christians cricket match last month, and instructive to judge the interfaith work of young people for the 21 for 21 awards (to be announced on 19 November). But everyday friendships are best when they have no labels attached.



THE study of the outcomes of a faith-school upbringing, conducted by the UCL Institute of Education and published this week, raises more questions than it answers. A key difficulty is that it measures attainment at secondary-school level. Since most church schools are primaries (the C of E has expanded significantly into secondary education only in the past 20 years), many of the students surveyed and categorised as comprehensive pupils will have been ex-pupils of a faith school. Nor is there any way of quantifying the faith element in individual schools, church or secular. Thus we are no nearer a judgement of the effect of a religious schooling on academic achievement — if such a calculation is fitting, which we are not sure it is.

The indications are, however, that the effects are small. The impressive element in the UCL is the care that the analysts took to discount other factors, from low birth-weight and birth order to parental occupation and faith. These prove to be hugely significant, in many cases accounting for between half and all of the advantage of different forms of schooling, including private schools and grammars. Whatever else has changed since the 1980s, when the data for this analysis was gathered, the importance of a child’s home background remains as vital to his or her future.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events


Church Times/RSCM:

Festival of Faith and Music

26 - 28 April 2024

See the full programme on the festival website. 

Early bird tickets available


Intercultural Church for a Multicultural World

28 May 2024

A Church Times/Church House Publishing webinar

Tickets are FREE


Church Times/Modern Church:

A Political Faith?

Monday 3 June 2024

This panel will explore where Christians have come to in terms of political power and ask, where should we go next?

Online tickets available


Church Times/Modern Church:

Participating in Democracy

Monday 10 June 2024

This panel will explore the power of voting, and power beyond voting.

Online tickets available


Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)