If ‘contested’ monuments, statues and memorials must fall, who shall stand?

May 12, 2021 by

by Archbishop Cranmer:

The guidance issued by the Church of England in respect of its ‘contested heritage’ (specifically monuments, statues and monuments relating to the slave trade and/or colonialism) is confusing (to put it politely). And that confusion, in the context of ‘Black Lives Matter’, is not only historical (in respect of warped biography) and practical (in respect of monument removal or ‘contextualisation’), but theological and soteriological. Certainly, churches and cathedrals are places dedicated to the worship of God; and certainly, for a range of reasons, members of communities may not always feel welcome in these buildings; and undoubtedly, one such reason could be the presence of objects commemorating people responsible for the oppression and marginalisation of others.

But another reason could be that people (laity and clergy) aren’t overly welcoming if you support Boris Johnson or voted for Brexit or don’t want to listen to yet another woke sermon on diversity and inclusion inspired by the pages of the Guardian. People make many excuses for not going to church, but ‘That statue offends me’ isn’t really one of them. And if it is, you need to turn your eyes to heaven, pray for a sense of priorities, and then look around you, because the congregation is crammed with people who offend others (and even oppress them) on a daily basis. Wouldn’t Jesus be rather more concerned with a church which marginalises living Conservatives than with one which has a monument to a dead slaver? Don’t the attitudes and words of living people have a greater impact on the Church’s missional, pastoral and liturgical activities than words inscribed on a slab of marble?

The Rev’d Marcus Walker made some very good points in yesterday’s Telegraph, ‘The Church of England’s slavery review takes an un-Christian starting point‘:

Read here

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