The Reckoning – Will the Church of England Survive?
Posted on ‘Via Media’ January 19, 2021 by Jayne Ozanne
by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of Via Media, Member of General Synod and Member of the Government’s LGBT Advisory Panel
They say “people in glass houses should never throw stones” – although it seems to me that the Church of England is an expert at it, and the house now has very little glass left!
I’m sure I wasn’t alone in finding myself choking on my proverbial cornflakes last Sunday when I read an exclusive interview in the Guardian with the Church Commissioners’ new Head of Responsible Investment, Bess Joffe, outlining how the Commissioners will be warning companies “that they must do more to protect biodiversity and increase the ethnic diversity of their senior teams or risk protest votes at upcoming shareholder meetings”.
Explaining why they were taking this action, Joffe told the Guardian: “You want to be in a world where boards of directors, management teams and pipelines of talent look like the communities in which they exist.”
She is of course absolutely right – it’s just rather embarrassing that the Church of England has such a poor record on doing just this themselves! We have woefully few senior church leaders from diverse ethnic backgrounds. In fact, we have a pretty poor record on most areas of inclusion – looking at the current House of Bishops, and even the make-up of General Synod, we still remain predominantly white, male and middle-class. We have woefully few members from any of the areas relating to the protected characteristics in the Equality Act – save of course religious belief. And then, of course there is the Equality Act itself and the preposterous fact that the established Church, which is in the privileged position of being able to make and shape British law, has been granted exemption to the one law of which it should
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