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Organisations religieuses et lutte contre le racisme

  • April 2021

Last month, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities published a report (Sewell Report), which concluded that Britain does not have institutional racism. The Report has significantly underplayed the damaging impacts of cultural and institutional manifestations of racism and sparked strong criticisms and debates. Its key findings and recommendations were seen as disturbing by some of the leading academics and charities including the Runnymede Trust, with some of the submitted evidence and scholarly works being misrepresented in the Report.

Black Lives Matter movement has shone a spotlight on Britain’s participation in the slave trade, its colonial heritage and its ongoing debates and failures to combat racial discrimination. Recent events, including the toppling of Colston Statue, have forced the Church of England to reassess its engagement with slave trade, with individual churches beginning to review their monuments, including Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s Cathedral. The Abbey and the Chapter of Bristol Cathedral have also announced changes to their heritage policies.

In September 2020, the archbishops of Canterbury and York set up the Anti-Racism Taskforce with the aim of recommending changes to ensure greater racial equality in the Church of England. The Taskforce reviewed recommendations made in previous reports by the Committee for Minority Ethnic Anglican Concerns relating to racial justice which had been presented previously to the General Synod of the Church of England. It put forward proposals to implement changes in the Church of England’s structures, systems and processes that were needed to tackle institutional racism.

On the 22 April, the national Stephen Lawrence Day, it published its report From Lament to Action proposing a series of recommendations to change culture in the life of the Church of England, such as the inclusion of minority ethnic representation in church governing bodies and a clear timetable given to the Church of England to stop racism. The report highlighted the lack of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in senior leadership in the Church and recommended new approaches to shortlisting and interviewing, including the general Synod co-opting 10 minority ethnic candidates (five clergy and five laity) for its next five-year term. For more information, please read the News Release, 22 April 2021. Full report is available here.

In a similar process of self-evaluation, the Board of Deputies of British Jews established the Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community, chaired by Stephen Bush. The Commission listened to various accounts from witnesses from different backgrounds, traditions and political views and published a report with over 100 recommendations on how to tackle racism. With black members of Jewish community coming forward with accounts of marginalisation and discrimination, the Commission called for Jewish bodies to have accessible, transparent, fair and robust processes for dealing with complaints relating to racism. Commission Chair Stephen Bush said that he hoped his ‘report will enhance communal life for Black Jews, Jews of Colour and Sephardi, Mizrahi and Yemenite Jews.’

Synagogues and Jewish venues are being urged to avoid racial profiling in security searches, for example by searching the bags of all visitors and not only Black members of Jewish community. Jewish schools should ensure that their secular curriculum engages with Black history, enslavement and the legacy of colonialism. Some of the other recommendations included visibility of Black Jews and Jews of colour in the Jewish media, the need for an inclusive attitude among rabbis, teachers, and religious leaders. Full report is available here.

D 17 mai 2021    AKatya Braginskaia

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