The Rt Rev’d Dr Graham Kings is Hon Assistant Bishop & World Mission Adviser in the Diocese of Southwark. He is a Senior Member of St Chad’s College, Durham, and founder of the Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide and the Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion project. As you can see, his Twitter account is dedicated to doing his bit as chief pastor, leader of mission, and being a focus of unity.
Bishop Graham thinks we should remain in the European Union, which is a perfectly reasonable political objective and a laudable design for mission. He believes that those who support Brexit are traitors to the EU. Or is it only those Brexiteers who are standing as candidates in the forthcoming Euro elections who are traitors? Or is it only Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan? Or is it only Brexit Party candidates and Brexit-supporting Conservative candidates? It isn’t really clear, for why would traitors to the EU be restricted to Brexiteers who seek election to the European Parliament when those candidates need the support of Brexiteer voters in order to get elected and work their sedition? Are not those who are involved in the aiding and abetting of treason also traitors? So the Hon Assistant Bishop & World Mission Adviser in the Diocese of Southwark believes c17.4 million Britons are traitors?
In what sense are those who seek to leave the EU “traitors to the EU”? Does Bishop Graham Kings think Mahatma Gandhi was a traitor to the British Empire, or was his campaign a righteous subversion? May not democratic aspiration simply be an expression of patriotism and virtuous loyalism? Does Bishop Graham think Nicola Sturgeon is a traitor to the UK, or that all those SNP members sitting in the UK Parliament who are “campaigning deliberately and openly to facilitate sabotage” of the United Kingdom are also traitors?
Or is it only Brexiteers?
Or is it only Nigel Farage and Daniel Hannan?
Or is it only Brexit Party supporters, Ukip and the Tories?
The problem when a bishop of the Church of England calls two English politicians ‘traitors’ is that the supporters of those two politicians might feel that the Church of England thinks the same of them; that their political beliefs are not merely misguided or simplistic, but evil. And that becomes a problem for mission, for why would Brexiteer souls seek salvation from a pastor who despises their patriotism and derides their sense of virtue? How can a church contend for truth and justice when it is choked by the weeds of socialism? How can a church preach salvation when it drowns in the ideals of Euro nationalism? Why do Church of England bishops set so many stumbling blocks for those who incline to the political right or seek a polity of national sovereignty and democratic accountability?
And why ‘traitors’?
Should we be rounded up without charge, stripped, shaved and made ready for execution in reprisal for our revolutionary beliefs? Will those who tweet support for the traitor Farage or buy a dishonourable book by the traitor Hannan also be arrested and tried for sedition? Or should we simply be deprived of our votes since we obviously don’t know how to use them for our own good and the greater good of the commonwealth? Will we be marched to Southwark Cathedral and made to appear in an auto-de-fé, as clergy once favoured for the irreligious and heretical who offended against God?
“Receive the sign of the cross, which you denied and lost through being deceived,” says Bishop Graham Kings.
Then we enter his Cathedral and creep toward the scaffold to meet our inquisitors.
“Is Farage here?”
The penitent raises his hand and says, “Yes.”
Is Hannan here?”
He does the same, and then the Bishop reads out all their heresies against God’s European Union, and their penance is publicly allotted. They are to go in procession for six Fridays, disciplining their bodies with scourges of hempcord, barebacked, unshod and bareheaded; and they must fast for those six Fridays. And they are also ordered that all the days of their lives remaining they are to hold no public office or stand for public office, and if they fall into the same error again or resort to any of the aforementioned crimes against Europe, they shall be condemned to the fire.
UPDATE 29 April 2019, 11.30am
Bishop Graham Kings got in touch to complain. The conversation went thus:
At this point the cat got his keyboard.
So, campaigning to stop Brexit seems to part of the Missio Dei of the Church of England; and ‘traitors’ are those who seek to ‘sabotage’ (undefined) the EU Parliament. It appears that politicians are doing God’s work if they are “campaigning deliberately and openly to facilitate sabotage” of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, but are ‘traitors’ if they are doing so in the Parliament of the European Union.
Or is it only Nigel Farage?
There seemed to be no point asking him what those bishops might be called who seek to ‘sabotage’ the doctrine and establishment of the Church of England (or, indeed, those bishops who seek to ‘sabotage’ the Lambeth Conference 2020 and the ‘parliament’ of the Worldwide Anglican Communion).