The Archbishops’ Racial Justice Commission was announced last week. It is a 12-member board, chaired by former Labour MP Paul Boateng, now Lord Boateng, and its members include just one Conservative: the social entrepreneur Lord Wei. The other members are: Rev’d Sonia Barron, Prof. Mike Higton, Prof. Anthony Reddie, Prof. Duncan Morrow, Dame Melanie Dawes, Rev’d Canon Dr Philip Anderson, Rev’d Canon Dr Chigor Chike, Rt Rev’d Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Rev’d Canon Patricia Hillas, and Dr Nirmala Pillay.
You can survey their academic research interests, organisation memberships and public pronouncements on various matters of government policy, and deduce their left-liberal affiliations. Why is the political make-up of this group important? The background and mission objectives are summarised thus:
The Racial Justice Commission was appointed by the Archbishops in response to the Anti-racism Taskforce report, ‘From Lament to Action’, for a period of three years.
It follows a series of commitments by the Archbishops to take action to identify, respond to, and root out systemic racism in the Church of England.
The Commission is an independent body bringing together a range of experience and expertise within and beyond the church.
They will report to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York every six months over the next three years, with recommendations to help the Archbishops fulfil their commitments to identify, respond to, and root out systemic racism in the Church. As the Rev’d Marcus Walker reminded us six months ago, the left tends to resolve disparities and injustices with social engineering. He wrote:
I am not a fan of quotas in politics or society and am therefore not going to be a fan of quotas in the church. I commend this excellent article by Stephen Bush in the New Statesman from September:
In short, Labour have clumped all their ethnic minority MPs into 1 faction whereas the Tories have an intellectually diverse spread of minority MPs and a far greater number in high office substantially because they haven’t used quotas and haven’t presumed they all think the same.
When the Church of England establishes a Racial Justice Commission it must of course manifest racial diversity in order to reify its essential mission, which is undoubtedly one of justice. But when that Commission puts ethnic diversity over intellectual (political, philosophical and theological) diversity, its recommendations will emanate from the (overwhelming) majority conceptual framework of its members, which in this case will be through the lens of social equality achieved through direct intervention in pursuit of a particular apprehension of the common good. Lord Wei may be a lone voice in arguing for organic and incremental change, not least because the 11 other member may have already determined that there must be a progressive revolution, and so all future appointments must in some way favour minority ethnic candidates. It is the only solution.
When the Church determines that the best way to achieve its mission of justice is through a conception of equality based on a coercive model of statist eradication and socialist quota imposition rather than spiritual fraternity and the organic co-operative society, it will only increase wariness of the over-centralised ecclesial bureaucracy which is already intent on replacing the little parish platoons with a ‘Minster Community framework‘. And when the Church of England agitates for ethnic equality (and sex/gender/sexuality equality) instead of challenging society by deconstructing the arguments and infatuations, it is simply showing itself to share the same obsessions as the world.
The Church is a non-ethnic entity with non-ethnic foundation: if ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus‘, what need an archbishops’ commission to advocate (as they surely will) for the control of appointments and the imposition quotas, as though there must be centralised ownership of the means of missionary production, distribution and exchange?