THIS is the Church of England

Monday 18th June 2018
Report author and photographer: Anthony C Heaford

This report details my experiences at the hands of the Church of England when I challenged their and the government's narratives (they are exactly the same) of our Wars of aggression, colonial-esque foreign policies and culturally ingrained Islamaphobia.

Bowdon Church Parish


“Our Wars are Right and Just

These were the exact words used by a young ex-military Church of England Curate during a service of Remembrance at my local church, a service specifically tailored for eight to eleven-year-old children. 

A few days later I spoke with the Curate, challenging him by pointing out that this was a glorification of War rather than a respectful Remembrance of the dead. I explained that this judgement was based on my first-hand experience in Helmand on a mission I knew to be immoral and corrupt. He admitted this was true but justified his words by explaining that one of the children’s Father’s was ex-military and he wanted to instill a sense of pride in that particular child in front of his class mates. I know the child’s Father I think he was referring too - he is a former special forces soldier who left the services to start his own highly profitable private military contractor’s company - he is a mercenary, or to be more precise a businessman working in the very profitable mercenary services industry. I know a little about this man because he gave a talk at a church group about this career, asking the existential question:

 “Why do I keep seeing people getting killed and maimed around me but I never get hit?

The church curate’s military service was three years in the RAF’s officer training corp at university - a career he chose not to take up, opting instead to glorify War to children by corrupting Jesus’s teachings and example.

“Jesus endorsed the use of violence

This was said by the ex-military Vicar of the same church when I queried whether the church should be using Remembrance services to glorify War to primary school children. He cited Jesus’s example of overtruning the money changer’s tables in the Temple, saying this proved that it was okay to use violence and therefore the church’s glorification of War was okay too.

The Vicar, who is now the Archdeacon of St Helens and Warrington, was briefly a commissioned officer in the British army before resigning his commission early (buying his way out) because he struggled in a military environment. This fact is missing from his wikipedia entry which does mention his ten-years in the banking industry up till 2005, leaving shortly before the financial crash caused by the bankers that plunged Britain in to austerity that has killed tens of thousands of the most vulnerable in our society.

“Christian refugees should be prioritised because they assimilate better”
and
Muslims are the problem"

Again eminating from the same Church of England parish, the first sentence contains the exact words said to me by an officially appointed church reader, a man who is supposed to guide and nurture the parishioners:

“Christian refugees should be prioritised because they assimilate better”

This is a man who appears to have judged my objections to my military service in Afghanistan as a bias towards Muslims over an exclusively Christian society he is advocating for. He had stopped me in the street and I believe he said these words intending to aggrevate me; I did not react or respond, but just bid him goodbye and continued on my way. It was over the next week or so that three people stopped me on seperate occassions whilst I was walking in our village and without context declared to me the exact same words:

“I think Muslims are the problem”

The last of these abhorrent incidents of Islamaphobia was without doubt orchestrated by the afore mentioned officially appointed church of England reader; I have determined that because the person who said it, a woman I have known since we attended primary school together, had seconds before being talking with the church reader and as turned to walk and talk to me, starting the conversation with the words “Hiya, you know what? I think Muslims are the problem, the church reader was stood less than five-metres away watching us with a smirk on his face. The two other miscreants who expressed the same ignorant view were or are also close confidents of the said church reader. But, despite this targeted aggrevation of me I chose not to react and walked away without engaging them further.

“We’ve got to look after our own!”

It was some months before I saw the church reader again, but as we passed in the street I chose to engage with him as diplomatically as I could. The following conversation unfolded:

Me: 
“John, do you know your comments about segregating refugees according to their faith upset me?”

Church reader: 
“Good! I like to challenge people”

Me: 
“John, not only are two members of my own family Muslim, but also a Pakistan born British Muslim soldier was killed in Helmand”

Church reader:
<Grinned inanely at me whilst saying nothing>

Me:
<I walked away before doing or saying something I might regret>

Church reader:
<SHOUTED at me down the street as I walked away> 
“WE’VE GOT TO LOOK AFTER OUR OWN YOU KNOW!”

Islamaphobia within the Church of England tolerated by senior officials

Seeking a reasoned resolution to this situation I contacted the recently appointed parish Vicar. I asked him to act as a mediator to allow myself and the church reader to engage in a reasoned debate to establish exactly what was or wasn’t acceptable within our community. The Vicar first spoke with the church reader and then invited me to the vicarage to discuss the matter. The new Vicar said that the reader had denied nothing of what I’d accused him of saying and whilst agreeing that it was diametrically opposite to the Chuch of England’s official position he said he was unable to control the officially appointed reader’s views. The Vicar went on to say that due to the readers wider ‘good works’ within the community he had decided to take no further action but he did say he would arrange and mediate a meeting between myself and the church reader. That Vicarge meeting was on the 29th November 2017; on the 6th December 2017 the Vicar emailed me to postpone the proposed meeting till after Christmas due to to his festive season commitments - I replied that was no problem. I next heard from the Vicar on 31st January 2018, fifty-six days later, when he emailed me to say that the proposed meeting would be of little point due to both mine and the church readers entrenched views - that was the last contact I had with the church on this matter, till now.

Hope

The War mongering, ignorance, bigotry and Islamaphobia I have detailed here has all come directly from the church of England institution or from the older generations in the village. The sentiments I have heard from the younger generations, generally people in their twenties, has been the exact opposite: they are a generation who are questioning our Wars of aggression and our increasingly militarised society. Based on their own first-hand experiences they have also rejected the blind bigotry of the older generation; having attended mixed-faith schools and having Muslim friends themselves, they’ve told me that the Islamaphobic narrative they've heard no longer holds water, and they are rejecting it. There in lies my hope, a generation that is living through the information revolution, no longer indoctrinated by a society built on the Empirical notion of divide and rule.

© Anthony C Heaford 2016