A Church of England anti-racism taskforce has condemned abuse and threats towards Jarel Robinson-Brown over his Captain Tom tweet.
Robinson-Brown was bombarded with racist, homophobic abuse after tweeting that the national clap was emblematic of a “cult of white British nationalism”.
The Diocese of London reacted with a statement that condemned the abuse while describing Robinson-Brown’s tweet as “unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged”.
Critics accused the church of aiding the pile-on. The “undermining” response has reportedly led to a growing row within the church, with an anti-racism body established by the archbishops of Canterbury and York urging the diocese to remove the statement from its website.
“We believe that no tweet, whatever its contents and by whomever it is sent, should result in the subsequent level of abuse and threat that Jarel has received in both mainstream media and on social media,” the taskforce said.
“The level of abuse has been staggering, as has been the racist and homophobic nature of some of that abuse. The description of his treatment as a ‘social media lynching’ held deep resonance for many of us.”
The anti-racism taskforce also warned of reports that black and minority ethnic trainee clergy were withdrawing from the ordination process.
Jarel Robinson-Brown defended by hundreds of clergy and lay members.
Meanwhile, hundreds of clergy and lay members of the church rallied to Jarel Robinson-Brown’s defence in an open letter to the bishop of London, calling for a public condemnation of the abuse. The letter also raised concerns about freedom of speech.
A separate letter to the bishop of London from the Windrush Group expressed “utter dismay” at the church’s statement in response to the “race-baiting media assault”.
While the statement remains on the diocese website, church leaders sought to reassure the taskforce that it would be assessing its public response in an upcoming review.
“That includes the original tweet and the reaction to it, as well as the diocesan response, including the public statements made, and the pastoral support provided to Jarel,” they said.
“We fully recognise the strength of feeling that has been generated over the past week, across the general public and the church, and the enormous hurt that has been caused.
“The review will commit us all to learn for the future. Any form of abuse, whether it be online or offline, whether it be racist, homophobic or threatening, can never be tolerated.”