Book Review: Race for Justice, edited by Richard Reddie
REVIEWED BY LIEUT-COLONEL JONATHAN ROBERTS
The contributors to this important book address issues of racial injustice within the British and Irish churches they represent, including The Salvation Army. They reflect on successes and failures since the launch of Racial Justice Sunday in 1995 and outline their hopes for the future.
The bishop of Croydon, the Right Rev Rosemarie Mallett, takes a long, hard look at her denomination. Despite the persistent ‘un/conscious bias in church institutions’, she is hopeful that the steps being taken will help create an inclusive Church where diversity is recognised as a strength. Writers from other denominations, parachurch groups, ecumenical bodies and minority ethnic congregations also reflect on responses to racism within the Church and wider society.
In his chapter, Major Jonny Smith (UKI) celebrates the growth in racial diversity in the Army over the past 25 years. He also points to ‘far too many incidents of racism and institutional racism’ and gives disturbing examples.
Jonny mentions the work of Salvationist Linbert Spencer, who was a member of the Churches Commission for Racial Justice, which established Racial Justice Sunday, and who has been an important advocate of racial inclusion within the Army and the wider Church.
Jonny also quotes the territorial leaders’ 2020 statement on racism, which was followed by a major report that led to the setting up of the Racial Inclusion Working Group.
Jonny acknowledges the need for repentance and forgiveness and concludes that ‘real racial justice can start to become a tangible reality within this Movement’.
Race for Justice is timely, with 22 April marking the 30th anniversary of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in south London – a tragic event that formed the backdrop for the establishment of Racial Justice Sunday.
Although parts of the book are disturbing, there are notes of hope, encouraging and calling us all to make equality and inclusion a reality.
The book is available from Koorong. Click here
This review first appeared in The Officer magazine (April-June 2023 edition)