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Tory peer slams Church of England’s historic slavery fund

by Tola Mbakwe
Lord Sewell.jpg - Banner image
Official UK Parliament portrait

A Tory peer has criticised the Church of England's £1bn fund set up to invest in Black communities in order to address its “moral sin” of benefiting from transatlantic slavery.

In an interview with The Times, Lord Sewell of Sanderstead challenged the very nature of the fund, saying: “It’s a strangely materialistic way for a spiritual organisation to work, almost like bribery. The Church needs to rethink its purpose and stop using the race element as a mechanism to solve their own uncertainty in the world.”

The Church of England recently accepted a £1bn target to address historic financial links to the slave trade, as recommended by an oversight group, which said the initial £100m commitment was too low.

Rev Rosemarie Mallett, Bishop of Croydon and chair of the oversight group said implementing the report's recommendations would demonstrate commitment to the process of healing and justice.

"No amount of money can fully atone for or fully redress the centuries long impact of African chattel enslavement, the effects of which are still felt around the world," she added.

However, in The Times interview, Lord Sewell insisted the Church of England should shift focus elsewhere, like “bringing people back to a time when the church was packed”.

The Church’s oversight group was set up by the Church Commissioners after revelations that its predecessor, called Queen Anne's Bounty, invested significant amounts in the slave-trading South Sea Company in the 18th century.

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