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URC leader calls out the Church for ‘deafening silence’ on Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘racist’ column on Meghan Markle

by Tola Mbakwe
Meghan Markle 6 Dec.JPG thumb.JPG - Banner image
Photo by John Nacion/NurPhoto

The Moderator-Elect of the United Reformed Church (URC) General Assembly has accused the UK Church of staying silent over the column written by Jeremy Clarkson in The Sun about Meghan Markle.

The broadcaster’s article, which has been deemed racist and misogynistic by many, became the most complained about article on Tuesday, with more than 17,500 complaints received.

Rev Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, the first ethic minority to be elected to her role in the URC, wrote a letter on Thursday saying Church’s silence on the topic is “heart-breaking” and urged Christians to “raise their voices in protest” against “harmful behaviours and attitudes”.

In the letter entitled “Love at a cellular level”, playing on the words in Clarkson’s column which stated he hated the Duchess of Sussex on a “cellular level”, Dr Henry-Robinson said:

“…I hear the deafening silence from the Church to the recent article by a contributor of The Sun newspaper, an article of such racist and misogynistic violence against the Duchess of Sussex that has rendered me virtually speechless. The follow-up non-apology with its tone of ugly ribald laughter further compounded the environment of normalisation of the ongoing and ensuing violence being ramped up against her.

“Clearly, this is not journalism or freedom of speech. Nor is it an ‘opinion’ as many on social media have touted in defence of the writer. The article was green lighted for publication in a widely read national newspaper by a woman editor”.

In the column published on 16th December, the British TV presenter wrote of Meghan: "I hate her. Not like I hate (Scottish First Minister) Nicola Sturgeon or (serial killer) Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level."

"At night, I’m unable to sleep as I lie there, grinding my teeth and dreaming of the day when she is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while the crowds chant, 'Shame!' and throw lumps of excrement at her."

In a Netflix documentary series released this month, Meghan spoke about feeling suicidal because of how the press treated her.

Following much backlash, Clarkson tweeted on Monday: "Oh dear. I’ve rather put my foot in it. In a column I wrote about Meghan, I made a clumsy reference to a scene in Game of Thrones and this has gone down badly with a great many people."

"I’m horrified to have caused so much hurt and I shall be more careful in future.”

Dr Henry-Robinson who did not take Clarkson’s tweet as an apology and explained how such comments can be triggering for some. She urged the Church to call out such wrongs.

“My focus in this letter, however, is the Church’s silence in this public ongoing violence, and it is heart-breaking. I do not have to imagine how those words in that article pierced hearts with hurt and fear, particularly the hearts of global majority women — women who possess raced bodies.

“In times of this level of agony and despair, the Church is where people seek comfort and emotional sustenance. In this instance, not even a fundamental concern has been forthcoming, even while voices in the public have been raised in outrage.

"So, my question is, how can we as church leaders and mentors, minister to our congregations and communities — while a particular targeted malevolence which creates a wholly unsafe environment for a woman, her husband and children, is being meted out — and carry on in silence, seemingly unmindful of the harm that is being done within the community that can witness to this type of treatment”.

She added: “We have a duty to name the situation, and as people who are committed to serving God through Christ, we also have a duty to recognise an urgency to stand up and raise our voices in protest”.

Click here to read the full letter.

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