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UK News

'The Church is very poor at calling out racism': theologian calls for more action

by Marcus Jones

Theologian Dr Robert Beckford has called on the Church to do much more to tackle the issue of racism in the UK.

In the wake of the Government's race report, Beckford, who is professor of black theology at The Queen's Foundation in Birmingham claims that for too long the Church has stayed silent.

He believes that a lack of education has led to church leaders being uncomfortable speaking out on the issue.

"If it's at the heart of the gospel, if you believe it, then you will learn it." He told Premier. "You will be willing to make mistakes in order to improve things. So there's no excuse.

"The real issue is there's a lack of moral courage amongst Christians to address racialised oppression. 

"They don't have the spiritual courage to do it. And as a consequence of that, you then have the theological illiteracy and the cultural illiteracy, which causes all the problems."

Beckford is calling on church denominations to do more to equip those training for ministry to better understand the issues.

"We're training priests to be racist, not to be anti-racist," he said. "We really need to invest in training, education, retooling ministry, so that it is anti-racist. 

"We have to learn to speak truth to power. The Church is very poor at calling out racism, fulfilling this prophetic mandate. 

"Wouldn't it be great if we heard the Archbishop of Canterbury came out strongly and consistently against racism? What if churches like Hillsong started preaching and teaching on racism? What if all these great evangelical preachers actually started teaching, preaching, writing books?"
 
Beckford was speaking to Premier ahead of taking part in a Churches Together in Britain and Ireland event looking into the report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which many claimed played down the issue of institutional racism in the UK.

The event 'A moment of dishonor' seeks to discuss the Christian response to the Sewell Report.

You can hear the full interview with Dr Robert Beckford here.

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