IN THE last week or so two emails from Church of England HQ have hit my Mum’s inbox. Could this be a promise of more support for her work as vicar of eight village churches without even a curate? Could it be a response to her query about legal protection if she refuses to marry a trans person to a member of the same sex? Of course not. Like 95 per cent of the communications from bishops and central Church authorities the emails reflected the Church’s new priorities – Net Zero and ‘Racial Justice’. It would appear that preaching the gospel of salvation in Christ is passé.

The first email was about the General Synod’s recent endorsement of a plan for the Church to reach net zero by 2030. Earlier this month the Synod met for the first time since the start of the pandemic that saw the Church lock its doors, yet apparently climate change was their top priority. In the second email the devil is, perhaps literally, in the detail. There is superficially encouraging talk of money being ‘invested in local ministry as part of diocesan strategies’. However ‘diocesan strategies’ include allocating £190million ‘to help the Church of England transition to net zero’ and ‘£20million on work to promote Racial Justice.’ The net zero target is depressingly self explanatory. ‘Racial justice’ is a woke candy floss phrase, enticing but unsubstantial and unhealthy. It means white people atoning for their inherent racism and promoting people to jobs based on skin colour not ability.

The policy of racial quotas follows a C of E Anti-Racism Taskforce report called From Lament to Action published last year. That taskforce declares its mission as flowing ‘not from identity politics but from our identity in Christ’. However all its recommendations revolve around racial quotas for every level of church employment. At least one candidate on every shortlist for every job in the church is now ‘expected’ to be of UKME/GMH backgrounds. (These letters are Church wokespeak for UK Majority Ethnic and Global Majority Heritage, which is non-white to the rest of us). This would prove extremely difficult in certain parts of England, especially many rural communities. Failure to include an appropriately non-white candidate requires ‘valid and publishable reasons’. Furthermore the report advocates ‘new approaches to shortlisting and interviewing which place a duty on the employer to improve participation on an “action or explain” basis rather than relying on “bland encouragements” for under-represented groups to apply’. I have no idea what ‘bland encouragements’ are or indeed what less bland encouragements would be like. The rather Stalinist sounding ‘action or explain’ is likewise baffling and also sinister. The Church’s quest for ‘racial justice’ has created a paranoid, toxic atmosphere of seeing racism everywhere and seeing a person in terms in their skin colour. As my mother has always been ‘skin colour blind’ she first described my dark brown Peruvian Dad to her parents as ‘handsome but short’. Yet such is the Church’s enforced racial hyperawareness that she felt uneasy about the backlash she might face for turning down a priest of Nigerian heritage for a job, despite his clearly lacking the necessary experience. Priests now fear woke Big Brother questioning their every decision.

While the church’s focus and indeed finances are directed towards a woke agenda, many under-resourced parish priests and their congregations are struggling. It is especially small rural parishes that are being abandoned, often despite having historic churches that need constant maintenance and are regarded as the heart of the village. Twenty years ago our North Buckinghamshire Newport Deanery of 22 churches employed eight full-time priests and two full-time curates. Now there are five full-time priests, one half-time priest and one curate. When the Bishop of Oxford recently visited he was asked about concerns regarding dwindling clergy numbers. He assured us there were ‘no plans’ for further cuts. This slippery politician phraseology also totally misses the point. The problem is that smaller parishes are struggling to pay the ‘parish share’ which enables them to have a number of clergy. Failure to pay means fewer vicars and therefore less spiritual support for ordinary people.

Read it all in The Conservative Woman