Justin Welby blasts Church of England diocese over job ad for ‘deconstructing whiteness officer’


The Archbishop of Canterbury has challenged the Diocese of Birmingham over an advert for a “deconstructing whiteness officer”.

Defending its new positions – which aim to “address white fragility” – church officials say the roles help to “stand against the evil and pernicious sin of racism”.

But after seeing the ad, Rev Justin Welby said he rang the team to ask why they were recruiting for a role with the phrase “deconstructing whiteness” in the title.

He asked them: “What on earth does that mean?”

The Archbishop of Canterbury compared the language to that used in sitcom W1A – a programme which mocks the management jargon used in the BBC.

The Diocese of Birmingham has created the role of “Anti-Racism Practice Officer (Deconstructing Whiteness)” as part of an 11-person “racial justice” team.

When asked about the position Welby said: “Birmingham diocese did put that in an advert. When I saw it I rang up the person in charge of that area and said, ‘What on Earth does it mean? Why on Earth have you put it in?”

“I said, ‘Look, this sounds a bit like W1A, can we please do these things in English?” he told Times Radio.

He added: “What the person’s job is across six parishes… is to make sure that those from ethnic minority backgrounds who apply for jobs in the Church of England have a level playing field.

“I think ‘deconstructing whiteness’ is a technical term. It’s like saying we want someone to do an epistemological analysis of our annual reports. No one would know what we were talking about.”

Welby also explained that the church had “not accepted” calls to increase funding for an investment designed to atone slavery from £100million to £1billion.

The fund was “not about reparations”, he said, but about using “a tiny proportion of the [church’s] money” to invest in projects to address racial inequalities and to “help those areas and people by investment for the future”.

When about those who have branded him “Justin Welby, the woke Archbishop of Canterbury”, he jokingly hit back saying people tend to use the term “Woke Welby”.

He said: “The serious point there is that it’s just a bit of cheap rhetoric.

“We try and take the Bible seriously. And the Bible says in so many places [to] treat people equally. It doesn’t say favour one group or favour another or hate foreigners or anything like that.

“It says love God, love your neighbour, Jesus said those are the two great commands.”