A black conservative trainee vicar claims he was blocked from becoming a Church of England priest because of his “anti-woke views” and that he does not believe the UK is institutionally racist.
Calvin Robinson has accused the Church of obstructing his ordination plans as a result of his “anti-woke” views and criticism of “bleeding-heart liberal vicars”.
The political pundit is known for his right-wing views, which include opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement and suggesting women should not be ordained.
He had been training to become a priest at the University of Oxford for the past two years and was due to begin a curacy at a parish in Holborn, London, but was turned down for the role by the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Rev Jonathan Baker, in February.
According to Mr Robinson, it was never clear why he was denied the position other than that parishioners might complain about his media presence. He offered to reduce his media work but was told “the moment had passed”.
Mr Robinson said: “Being told there was no position for me in the Church was absolutely heartbreaking. It was soul-destroying.
“This is not just a job that I’ve applied for, it’s a vocation I feel called for by God.”
‘Libertarian anti-woke, anti-identity politics’
Mr Robinson submitted a subject access request (SAR) to the Church of England - asking the organisation for access to the personal information it held on him.
It was then that he discovered a series of internal emails between Church bosses raising concerns over his opinions on institutional racism in Britain.
In one email, the Rt Rev Rob Wickham, Bishop of Edmonton, voiced concerns to senior church leaders after Mr Robinson suggested Britain was not a racist country.
He wrote: “Calvin’s comments concern me about denying institutional racism in this country.”
In another email, the Bishop of Fulham writes: “I wanted a word about an ordinand, Calvin Robinson. You might be aware of him.
“He is very active on Twitter and has a huge following (100,000 followers!). His political agenda is I guess what you would call libertarian anti-woke, anti-identity politics, Covid-skeptical etc.
“His tweets get him into trouble sometimes and there have been complaints to the Bishop of London that he should not be ordained.”
Mr Robinson described the Church’s approach to his views as “very narrow-minded”.
He added: “It’s not even to do with an issue that’s scriptural, it’s just woke.”
Mr Robinson also claims the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Sarah Mullally, refused to take into consideration his lived experience as an ethnic minority when the pair were discussing institutional racism in the Church.
He alleges she told him: “As a white woman I can tell you that the Church is institutionally racist.”
Mr Robinson, a former teacher, added: “She was just ignorant. She accused me of being controversial so I said to her in a polite way that some of the things she says are controversial too - like the fact that she thinks the Church is institutionally racist. And then she turned around and said that.
“She was contradicting herself because in one instance she’s saying the Church is racist and needs to listen to the lived experiences of ethnic minorities, but then she was refusing to listen to my lived experience as a black man because it didn’t fit with her narrative.”
Mr Robinson announced on Friday, May 20, that he would be leaving the Church of England to join the breakaway conservative group Global Anglican Future Conference.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of London said: “In the Diocese of London, we have a limited number of curacies available that are considered on a case-by-case basis.
“We work with and support ordinands throughout the discernment process to establish the right path for each person.
“In this instance, it is felt that there is no suitable option available that London can currently offer.
“We continue to be in conversation with Calvin, are willing to work with him to discern the right way forward, and we keep him in our prayers.”