A black trainee priest has said he's “massively disappointed” after claiming the Church of England stopped his upcoming curacy in London.
Calvin Robinson, who said he doesn’t believe the UK is institutionally racist and doesn't support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, has now left the Church of England claiming it blocked him from the priesthood because of his opinions.
Over the past two years, Robinson was training to become a vicar at the University of Oxford.
After completing the training, he was due to start a curacy at a church in Holborn, London. He said after weeks of silence about the role he was told that it was no longer available for him.
“I heard back and the response was very late in the game… we're talking February, early March, that this isn't going to work. But it was always very vague, very political, very diplomatic.
“[They said] ‘because we think it might be too turbulent, or, you know, with your public persona, people might complain about what you say publicly and that kind of stuff’.”
Robinson said that he asked to see the complaints but was rejected. He then submitted a subject access request (SAR), which asks for all personal information the Church has on him.
He told Premier Christian News the results showed that there were Church leaders who were uncomfortable with this social and political views and thought it would be a distraction if he were to be ordained.
“I received all of the emails and text messages that been discussing me at any stage within the Church. It opened my eyes because it seems that there had been a sustained campaign against me by the Bishop of Edmonton to the Bishop of London and to the Archbishop of Canterbury, based mostly on political issues… that he disagreed with on my stance and things, nothing to do with faith or scripture or anything that's important. I was entirely unaware of that."
He said all but one of the complaints made against him were from clergy who “had different views on things like sexual ethics and the sanctity of marriage, and race”.
Robinson added: “So, it seems to me that there wasn't necessarily a big case to be made there. And it just is a massive disappointment.”
While Robinson agrees that his views are controversial, he doesn’t believe it should hold him back in priesthood.
“To have to be afraid of being controversial, I don't think it'd be appropriate,” he said. “You know, Christ was a controversialist. He was the first to rebuke people that were incorrect. We often forget that and assume he was just meek and mild, but I think that's an incorrect view of the gospel."
Robinson said he could technically apply for curacy at another diocese but it was too late as positions for the roles would have been already filled.
He made the decision to leave the Anglican Church for the personal hurt caused and due to his belief the Church is moving toward “apostasy”.
“The way the Church is going at the moment, very publicly denouncing any government policy that it disagrees with, from Brexit to the Rwanda policy, and standing up for secular liberal progressive movements, such as BLM, LGBTQ plus, trans, climate change… but not standing up for faith, issues of pro-life, or the sanctity of marriage, the family and all these things that we adhere to…
“It seems to me there's been a shift, and it's heading towards apostasy, and it's letting the side down.”
Robinson has joined a conservative movement within the Anglican Communion called GAFCON.
In a statement to Premier Christian News, the Diocese of London said: “In the Diocese of London, we have a limited number of curacies available that are considered on a case-by-case basis. We work with and support Ordinands throughout the discernment process to establish the right path for each person. In this instance, it is felt that there is no suitable option available that London can currently offer. We continue to be in conversation with Calvin, are willing to work with him to discern the right way forward, and we keep him in our prayers.”
It did not confirm information regarding church leaders in the SAR.