The Church of England has issued a Guidance Note on countering far right political parties, extremist groups and racist politics. The need for this advice stems from the rise of political parties in the UK which hold extreme or racist views. In countries of continental Europe the same phenomenon may be present to varying degrees. It is important for the faithful of our diocese, where ethnic diversity is cherished, to be alert to the activities of any such movements and never to waver from the theological truth that every person is created in the image of God.
The principles which undergird the Guidance Note are a useful reminder of the teaching of the Church regarding racism:
- Racism and religious hatred are theological issues. They must be taught to be sins and incompatible with Christian discipleship. Prayer, sermons and liturgy need to be unambiguous about the spiritual dangers of racism.
- The rejection of evil, such as racism, is a key element of the Liturgies of Baptism and Confirmation.
- We are all members of one human race under God. The concept of many races is an artificial construct which is not considered biblical (Acts 17:26).
- The Church cannot accommodate those who would discriminate on grounds of ethnicity. In the cross of Christ we find the reconciliation of the diverse human family with each other and with God. As the Body of Christ, the Church models living with differences as a sign of the possibility of a redeemed and reconciled humanity.
- In the congregation individuals should not be identified for personal criticism but racist behaviour and attitudes should be condemned. The Church’s mandate to offer the call to repentance must be taken seriously, as must the inclusion of those who respond to that call.
- There is a need for consistency and integrity when confronting racism. Racism is indivisible – we cannot attack it in one area collude with it in other areas of life.
21 March is the International Day Against Racism.