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C of E launches anti-racism questionnaire

13 November 2020

Church groups are invited to identify ‘clear and specific’ actions to tackle racism

The Anti-Racism Taskforce, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

The Anti-Racism Taskforce, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York

THE Church of England’s Anti-Racism Taskforce has invited church groups to identify “clear and specific” actions that can be taken to tackle racism.

In a letter published on Wednesday, the co-chairs of the taskforce, the Revd Sonia Barron and the Revd Arun Arora, said: “We write to you to seek your input into the work of the Anti-Racism Taskforce . . . to directly address the sin of racism in our Church and wider society.

“We are seeking to identify actions which are clear and specific, with identifiable outcomes and clear lines of timetabled accountability. These could be at a national, diocesan, or parish level.”

In a short questionnaire, people have been asked to comment on five priority areas where the Church of England’s progress on tackling racism has been slow. These are participation, education, training and mentoring, young people, and governance and structure. Those wishing to contribute will need to fill in the relevant form by 26 November.

The taskforce was launched last month to suggest ways in which the Church of England could promote greater racial equality in its work and structures (News, 14 October). The work of the taskforce will inform the actions of the Archbishops’ Racism Action Commission, which will begin in the spring of next year.

In addition, a collection of materials to help religious-education teachers to address the “difficult and sensitive” issue of racism and prejudice in the classroom has been produced by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) and REtoday.

The package, Anti-Racist RE for Key Stages 2 and 3, was published this month on the NATRE website. The project was initiated by the Free Churches Group and Methodist Schools, funded by the Westhill Endowment, and developed with 25 project partners, including Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) teachers, pupils, and academics.

Units of work include: “What can be done to reduce racism? Can religion help?”, and “Racism: what can be done to reduce its harmful impact? What can religions do to play their part in a more just society?”

Teachers can also make use of reviews of films and books, including Malcolm X, Gandhi, The Life of Pi, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and are provided with a glossary of concepts that might need to be addressed with pupils, including “community cohesion”, “cultural hegemony”, and “decolonised curriculums”.

The editor of REtoday, Lat Blaylock, who developed and managed the project, said: “Pupils are very conscious of the multitude of current issues surrounding race, from the Black Lives Matter movement to the concept of Cancel Culture. They often have their own distinct views on these issues and may even have encountered racism first-hand.

“It is the role of teachers to help guide young people through this moral maze and make sense of many of the concepts and terms they come across every day.”

The resources were released in time for Interfaith Week, which began on Remembrance Sunday, and since 2009 has sought to increase awareness and understanding, and to strengthen relations, between different faith and non-faith communities.

The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote on Twitter on Tuesday: “Whether it’s running food banks, tackling social isolation or helping end modern slavery, faith groups contribute so much to society. This Interfaith Week, we celebrate this work — and our commitment to working together for a respectful, just and compassionate society.”



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