A self-styled “cosmopolitan” Anglican priest has admitted his 10-year-old son was allowed out of school to attend the recent protests which greeted President Donald Trump’s first official visit to Britain.
In a 43-minute rant over Brexit, Trump, white people and anti-immigration sentiments, Revd Dr Al Barrett of Hodge Hill Church of England Church in Birmingham bragged to a national conference that his primary school-aged son had missed a day of schooling to accompany him to the well-publicised protests which centred on the capital.
The prolific social media user, who has been vicar at the east Birmingham church since 2010, was speaking at the Annual Justice and Peace Conference in Swanwick last weekend. A quick look at the father-of-two’s Twitter feed shows him and his son at the Trump protest holding banners proclaiming ‘The wise build bridges, the foolish build barriers’ and ‘Christians for immigrants, Black Lives Matter, women, disabled people, LBGTQ+, poor people’.
“I took my 10-year-old down to London last Friday – his teachers were proud he took a day off school,” he crowed before later adding “I am thankful to Donald Trump for just one thing. That he has highlighted, beyond reasonable doubt, that we live within white supremacist structures. In our society here in the UK as much within the United States.”
During the lengthy address, Revd Barrett took regular swipes at the result of the EU referendum, referring to the largest numerical mandate in British political history as a “wafer-thin majority” and a “precarious cliff-edge”. His social media feed regularly promotes the views of arch-Remainers like David Schneider, Rachael Swindon, Stephen Fry and Labour Party MP David Lammy and at the start of the speech he claimed many of his Muslim neighbours felt more unsafe and less at home on the morning after the referendum result.
But it was perhaps his repeated claims around “white privilege” that appeared most out of kilter with the Christian faith, telling the room that white people needed to be “pushed to the edges” of society and suggesting that they were possessed by demons.
“I think those of us in positions of multiple privilege need to learn to let go of our ‘centralness’, and move to the edges, perhaps literally, physically,” he told the audience. “We need to learn to resist those temptations – the power of the provider, the performer, the possessor. We need to learn to embrace real, intimate, mutual relationships, where we become open to challenge, learning and transformation.”
He then added: “Jim Perkinson, another critical white theologian, suggests that those of us who are white need an ‘exorcism’, a ‘shaking of our being to the core’ which we can’t do on our own. We have to be open to a ‘grace from without’, we have to be ‘dis-located’, pushed to the edges so that we can learn from others.”
And at one point he even likened Remembrance Day celebrations in his own church to “cosy nationalism” telling people: “In Hodge Hill Church a couple of years ago, Phil and a couple of members of Bromford Theatre Group came and performed on Remembrance Sunday. It was profoundly uncomfortable for some in the church because the performance reminded us of the class divides of war. It unsettled the cosy nationalism that glosses over those divisions.”
What do you think? Should a vicar with such authority be imparting such politically charged views and language? Should a man of his responsibility be taking his own son out of school to attend ideology-driven left-wing rallies? Let us know in the comments below…
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain