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Archbishop of Canterbury slams diocese over job ad for 'deconstructing whiteness officer'

by Donna Birrell

The Church of England in Birmingham is under fire for placing a job advert for a “deconstructing whiteness officer”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has criticised the phrase, questioning what it means and said it sounds like language used in the comedy show W1A - a programme which mocks BBC management jargon.

The £36,000-a-year post was placed for an ”anti-racism” officer to “deconstruct whiteness” within the diocese’ racial justice unit.

However after seeing the job description, Most Rev Justin Welby phoned the diocese to ask what it actually meant.

He told Times Radio: "Birmingham diocese did put that in an advert. When I saw it I rang up the person in charge of that area and said, ‘What on Earth does it mean? Why on Earth have you put it in?"

He added: "'We have 15,000 parishes in the Church of England. What this person does is to make sure that those from ethnic minority backgrounds who apply for jobs in the Church of England, have a level playing field.

"I think ‘deconstructing whiteness’ is a technical term. It’s like saying we want someone to do an epistemological analysis of our annual reports. No one would know what we were talking about."

The Church of England in Birmingham is believed to have now withdrawn the advert.

Rev Dr Ian Paul who is a member of the Archbishops' Council has been speaking to Premier about the wording: 

"It's racist, anti racism. It's borrowed from cultural wars language in America...where they say that to be black means to be oppressed and to be white means to be privileged. It's imposing an ideological agenda on what is a practical and a theological problem. And the really sad thing about it is that in the Christian church, we've got an amazing resource to address questions of injustice and disparity and difference and that resource is scripture. Unfortunately, this whole agenda wants to reject scripture and wants to reject the biblical vision and instead bring in this polarising approach driven by ideology.

"I've come around to the view that actually doing things properly and following due process is what really matters. What's unfortunate is that those who've got this anti racism agenda, seem to want to do things in their own way without any accountability and transparency.

"So as members of the Archbishop's Council, my first question to William Nye the general secretary and to Justin was to say, 'Hang on a second, who decided this ad? Who put the wording in? What process was gone through? Where was their scrutiny? Where was their transparency?' And the answer is, none of those work boxes were ticked and so the advert was actually withdrawn, which I was very pleased about."

Premier has contacted the Church of England in Birmingham for comment.

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