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CofE anti-racism taskforce snaps back at London diocese over Captain Tom Moore controversy

by Will Maule
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The Church of England's Anti-Racism taskforce has publicly criticised the Diocese of London for its reactive response to a curate who received a barrage of abuse after posting controversial remarks about the late Sir Captain Tom Moore. 

Jarel Robinson-Brown, a chaplain at King's College London, quickly apologised for suggesting that the clap held in commemoration the centenarian was akin to "a cult of white British nationalism". However, despite showing regret for his remarks, Robinson-Brown was forced to delete his Twitter account after being met with an outpouring of homophobic and racist abuse. The Diocese of London reacted to the situation by insisting that the chaplain's apology "does not undo the hurt he has caused" and announced a review would be opened into the situation, led by the Archdeacon of London. 

The anti-racism taskforce responded to the Diocese of London's statement, expressing "concern over its content and tone".

"The original response announced a review of Jarel’s actions," the taskforce said. "We would urge the Diocese to broaden that review to include its own initial statement."

The group also suggested that the diocese should "give serious consideration" to retracting its original statement entirely.

The taskforce said it was pleased with the more tempered statement released by the Bishop of London Sarah Mullally following the controversy, in which she committed to providing Robinson-Brown with pastoral care "in the face of the most appalling racist and homophobic abuse". 

“I am deeply concerned to hear reports within the Church that United Kingdom Minority Ethnic clergy and ordinands have been affected by recent events, and by the Diocese’s response," Mullally added. "I want to ensure that in London, and right across the Church of England, our clergy and those training for ministry feel safe." 

In its most recent public comments on the matter, the Diocese of London said it had "reassured the Taskforce that all aspects of this matter are currently being looked at as part of the review," noting that this "includes the original tweet and the reaction to it, as well as the Diocesan response, including the public statements made, and the pastoral support provided to Jarel".

"We fully recognise the strength of feeling that has been generated over the past week, across the general public and the Church, and the enormous hurt that has been caused," the diocese added. "The review will commit us all to learn for the future. Any form of abuse, whether it be online or offline, whether it be racist, homophobic or threatening, can never be tolerated.”

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