Even the Church of England has gone woke – but there is hope yet
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BY JAKE STARKE-WELCH
We might forgive one for sticking two fingers up at the Church of England at present. They’ve fallen so foul to the progressive dogma that it might reduce the average worshipper to rants reminiscent of Frank Kelly’s Father Jack. Their most recent appearance in the public realm came in the way of the Bishop of Dover, Rose Hudson-Wilkin, who asserted in an interview that the church is “too white”.
To be fair to Hudson-Wilkin, the interviewer Sophie Ridge could not have asked more of a loaded question if she had tried. During the interview on Sky News, Ridge asked, “the five most senior people in the church are all white, is that acceptable?”. To which the bishop dutifully replied, “it’s not acceptable” before diving into some equality of outcome trite, so quintessential of current elitist discourse. She is one among many of clergy that has joined the left as brothers in arms.
Take the Right Reverend Nick Baines, Bishop of Leeds, who on the event of the Cummings’ affair tweeted: “The question now is: do we accept being lied to, patronised and treated by a PM as mugs?”. Or the distinguished David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, who claimed the church would stop working with the government unless Boris “repented”. Numerous other Anglican leaders joined in. They left a good proportion of church-goers disillusioned, thinking; hang on, here, when did Bishops feel compelled to spout off the same lines as Labour? You need of only looked at the replies on Twitter.
The answer, of course, underlies the left’s successful infiltration of every possible institution they claim to be at odds with. Clergymen have thus abandoned religious doctrine, alienated the working class and now find themselves compelled by the left’s compulsion for radical change. Hudson-Wilkin showed this as she stood up at a Black Lives Matter protest last week and pronounced, “racism is a pandemic, and we’ve been dying in so many ways in Britain”. Anyone who dives into the numbers knows that to be an extreme exaggeration. To believe such a statement is a prerequisite to believing Britain is overtly racist.
Uttering virtuous rhetoric, however, is the more comfortable option, and the church has taken that path ever since to ensure survival. “We cannot anger the mob, they’ll destroy us” – one can almost hear the whispers reverberating off the stone walls. But the recent rupture of the Labour’s red wall shows there is a price to pay for such infirmity. Average weekly attendance to services across England has dropped from over 1 million to 870,000 in the last 10 years. That could fall to 800,000 by the end of 2020. They’re bleeding support.
And it’s quite understandable when one realises the church has appeased seculars at the expense of worshipers. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s admittance that gay marriage is the new reality in 2016 set their detachment from religious Brits in motion. As did their calls to rush vast numbers of immigrants, whether economic or not, into likes of Dover – they even had a public trade-off with Cameron over the issue. Not to mention, the sermons disparaging Sun readers and advocating IQ tests for those intending to vote in the referendum back in 2016.
Virtuosity captured the church’s mind, estranged them from reality, and dragged them into liberalism’s echo chamber. They abandoned those who reject gay marriage not based on bigotry but religious doctrine. Similarly, as they did to people concerned with immigration numbers, failing to acknowledge the 1 million families already stuck waiting for social housing as reported by Shelter in 2018. Their blatant scorn of Sun readers topped the snobbishness off.
It was quite refreshing then, when Catholic Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò earlier this month, the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, urged Trump to continue his battle against the “children of darkness”. As he so eloquently put it, “there are those who serve themselves, who do not hold any moral principles, who want to demolish the family and the nation, exploit workers to make themselves unduly wealthy, foment internal divisions and wars, and accumulate power and money”. The letter finished with the Archibishop offering his prayer for Trump’s mission and family.
Indeed, much of the current culture war traces back to the assault on the family unit and nationhood. The left tells us Britain is inherently evil. We were slave owners, immoral colonisers, our culture is impregnated with the symbols of white supremacy and the patriarchy. We are told single-motherhood is something to encourage, even celebrate. “Don’t you dare start telling kids they can’t change their sex before the age of 18”, or “don’t start telling me Britain isn’t as racist as I know it is, facist!” they say. On and on do the wheels of progressivism spin.
But there may be a deus ex machina for The Church of England yet. If Viganò is anything of a silent majority comparable to British clergy members, we can hope our own church will return to its roots; the nuclear family and nationhood. Current leaders must know their current project is doomed. Only so long can they appease an inherently antagonistic audience. And soon they will discover, if they wish to inspire and lead like they once did, they’ll have to open the gates to those like Viganò and reconnect with the working class who used to occupy most pews.
If Boris did it in December, the church can too. Continue as they are, and they’ll find themselves at odds with their very purpose, sustaining tradition.
Jake Starke-Welch is a writer for The Salisbury Review.