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London diocese will look at its own actions in Jarel Robinson-Brown review

09 February 2021

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The Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown during a talk at the online conference “How to rage: Theology, activism and the Church” on 30 January

The Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown during a talk at the online conference “How to rage: Theology, activism and the Church” on 30 January

THE diocese of London has said that it will review its public response to the tweet by the Revd Jarel Robinson-Brown about Captain Sir Tom Moore.

The diocese responded on Tuesday to a critical statement issued earlier the same day by the Archbishops’ anti-racism taskforce. This urged that the review of the matter, currently being carried out by the Archdeacon of London, the Ven. Luke Miller, be broadened to include the diocese’s own initial statement, which had condemned the tweet as “unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged”.

The taskforce said that the diocese should “give serious consideration to removing the original statement from its website” while it awaited the outcome of the review. The statement remains on the diocese’s website, however.

Mr Robinson-Brown apologised last week after posting “The cult of Captain Tom is a cult of White British Nationalism” (News, 4 February). Many of Mr Robinson-Brown’s supporters have said that the diocese of London’s initial statement undermined his apology (News, 6 February).

The anti-racism taskforce said: “We believe that no tweet, whatever its contents and by whomever it is sent, should result in the subsequent level of abuse and threat that Jarel has received in both mainstream media and on social media. The level of abuse has been staggering, as has been the racist and homophobic nature of some of that abuse.

“The description of his treatment as a ‘social media lynching’ held deep resonance for many of us.”

The new response from the diocese of London said: “We have reassured the Taskforce that all aspects of this matter are currently being looked at as part of the review. That includes the original tweet and the reaction to it, as well as the diocesan response, including the public statements made, and the pastoral support provided to Jarel.

“We fully recognise the strength of feeling that has been generated over the past week, across the general public and the Church, and the enormous hurt that has been caused. The review will commit us all to learn for the future. Any form of abuse, whether it be online or offline, whether it be racist, homophobic or threatening, can never be tolerated.”

The taskforce welcomed a statement issued on Sunday by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, which condemned racist and homophobic attacks on Mr Robinson-Brown (News, 8 February).

“We also welcome the acknowledgement [by Bishop Mullally] that the initial response of the diocese has contributed to a fracturing of trust both towards and within the Church from United Kingdom Minority Ethnic (UKME) clergy and ordinands,” the taskforce’s statement continued. “We share Bishop Sarah’s concern over reports that UKME candidates have withdrawn from the ordination process and would urge both those who have done so and who are considering doing so to keep faith at this difficult and challenging time.”

The taskforce was launched in October, with a brief to propose actions that the Church should take to promote greater racial equality across the Church (News, 16 October 2020).

Read more on the story in this week’s leader comment and letters

A talk by Mr Robinson-Brown for the SCM Press/Church Times event “How to Rage” is featured in this week’s Church Times. A recording of the event can be purchased here, and Mr Robinson-Brown contribution is featured on this week’s Church Times podcast. His book, Black, Gay, British, Christian, Queer (SCM Press, £17.99) can be pre-ordered here.

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