Saturday, 24 June 2006

The Bishop of Southwark got drunk as a skunk

On 10 December 2006 The Observer reported thus:

"A Bishop is facing calls for his resignation after he allegedly spent a drunken night out and then claimed to parishioners that a head injury he suffered as a result was caused by a mugger.

The Right Reverend Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, reportedly staggered home from an embassy function and climbed into the back of a stranger's Mercedes, where he started throwing an infant's toys. He was pulled out but toppled over and suffered several head wounds. Asked to explain himself, he is claimed to have said:

'I'm the Bishop of Southwark. It's what I do.'

He then disappeared into the night but left in the car personal belongings including a cross, personal organiser and correspondence with the Home Office.

Butler, 66, tried to make light of the incident the following day when he began a ceremony at All Saints Church in south London by apologising to the 300-strong congregation for not wearing his mitre, explaining that it no longer fitted his bruised head because he had 'apparently been mugged'.

It is not known whether he repeated the mugging claim when he reported the loss of his possessions to the police. His spokeswoman said the bishop could not remember what happened and had no recollection of being as 'drunk as a skunk'.

Butler, a regular broadcaster on Radio 4, is now fighting to save his job amid accusations of inappropriate behaviour.

'If it's true he was drunk then he ought to resign immediately,' said Alan Craig, leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance group on Newham council in east London.

'He can be forgiven, but he can't carry on as bishop. He's supposed to be a role model and being drunk in a gutter he can't be a good example.'...

The incident took place on Tuesday night as Butler made his way from an embassy in central London to Streatham. The Mercedes's alarm went off outside the Suchard bar near Southwark Cathedral. Nicola Sumpter, who owns the car, told the Daily Mirror yesterday:

'My boyfriend and his pal raced outside and were stunned to see a grey-haired man in the back seat. He was throwing my one-year-old son's toys everywhere. He wouldn't get out so they could pull him away. He couldn't stand up straight and fell over, banging his head.'

Sumpter said she found a bag containing Butler's possessions in the back of the car. Scotland Yard said that it had received a report about Butler's missing possessions and inquiries were continuing. Its data did not suggest Butler had alleged a mugging, and there was no question of him having wasted police time."
The Holy Joe pictured above isn't just a drunken liar. Oh no. Tom Butler very definitely has major league form on other matters. On 13 March 1999, the Rt. Rev Dr Tom Butler, gave this address:

"Like sin, racism can penetrate into the structures of any society. Following the publication of the report on the murder of Stephen Lawrence the term 'institutionalised racism', a term which the report uses about the Metropolitan Police has been much discussed...

Now, not surprisingly, people working within an organisation accused of suffering from institutionalised racism get upset by what they regard as a slur upon their integrity. 'I'm not racist' the cry goes up, 'and neither are any of my colleagues'. I'm afraid that this is rather missing the point. The point of institutionalised racism is that whether or not the organisation is made up of good people without a tinge of individual racism, the total result is that the organisation works to the disadvantage of people from the ethnic minorities.

So whether or not the police are intentionally racist, the facts are that black people in general and black young men in particular are five times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than those from the white population, they are more likely to be charged, less likely to be given bail, more likely to be convicted and if convicted, to be given a custodial sentence. Not surprisingly it is a commonly held view amongst black people that the criminal justice system does not treat them fairly".
‘Black young men’ may well be ‘five times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than those from the white population’ but black people are between eight and twelve times more likely to commit violent crime than white people in this country!

If individual members of the black population were being ‘stopped and searched’ etc. at only five times the rate that white people were, well the discrepancy definitely favours the black law-breaker, wouldn't you say?

Now, either the Bishop is so incredibly obtuse and unworldly that he was unaware that black people commit a great deal more crime, particularly violent crime, than any other section of the community, or he was being deliberately disingenuous. The Bishop continued:

"A black teenager, Stephen Lawrence, has been murdered in cold blood in one of the streets in our diocese. Sadly there's nothing too surprising about that, we live in violent times and cities are increasingly violent places, and black young men are often the victims of violent crime".
Again, the Bishop was being nastily deceitful. Black, young men are indeed ‘often the victims of violent crime,’ but the vast majority of that crime is not committed by the white population. The greater part of the violent crime committed against black people in this country is committed by other black people.
The Bishop continued:

"I believe that we are now seeing a Stephen Lawrence effect. Its not just that his racist murder is shocking and makes us ask questions about our society, it's that, perhaps for the first time white British people like myself, are able to look out through the eyes of black British people.

And we can thank two people in particular for that insight, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, Stephen's parents. Doreen's angry persistence in demanding to know the facts of Stephen's death and refusing to be side-tracked, patronised, or stopped has brought every detail of the events of that shocking night and its aftermath to public scrutiny. Whilst Neville's quiet painful dignity has meant that every parent black or white has been able to empathise with him as he aches in pain for the loss of a beloved son...

Through Stephen Lawrence's death and the dignity of his Methodist parents, whether or not we knew before of how the criminal justice system can discriminate against black people, we know now.

Now I haven't been one of those calling for the resignation of Sir Paul Condon following the Macpherson Report... When he returned as Commissioner of the Met in 1993, the very year that Stephen Lawrence died, many people including myself breathed a sigh of satisfaction because nobody could have come with a greater determination to stamp out racism throughout the force.

The fact that so little progress has been made in six years demonstrates, I believe the difficulty of the task. But now there is an opportunity for a new start. I believe that the shock of the Lawrence report will now be used by those who are determined to see a more just criminal justice system particularly here in London...

Our police service to a large measure reflects the attitudes of society in which its set, and the truth is that none of our institutions can bear too much scrutiny, they all suffer from institutional racism. Bishops are frequently called to give prizes at school speech days. From my experience of such occasions in multi-cultural schools, the prizes go to mostly to white and Asian boys and girls and AfroCaribbean girls. Afro Caribbean boys do not do well in British schools; they are far more likely to be excluded from school, and they emerge with fewer qualifications.

I was recently at a university graduation. Graduate nurses were receiving their degrees, almost all white young women, and yet our hospitals are staffed by large numbers of talented black nurses. Why aren't they finding their way through to the higher qualifications which will further their career?

And then there's the Church. Are we any better? No we are not, and yet there are two reasons why we should be even more concerned about institutionalised racism than other organisations. First because our base commandments tell us to love God with all our hearts and mind and soul and love our neighbour as ourselves - it doesn't mention whether that love should be of a different quality depending upon the colour of our neighbour's skin or eyes...

I believe that wherever Christians might be living, it is their duty to challenge the bigotry and discrimination of the major race or tribe in that place, particularly if they belong to it themselves...

And for those of us who are white and British, I believe that our particular calling is to recognise racism within ourselves and challenge it wherever it appears in church or nation, for we are the majority tribe and the majority race in this land and minority ethnic groups here need our support.

So, firstly we're concerned about racism in our own structures and the structures of our society because such concern flows out of our faith. Then, secondly we're concerned because we are, in fact, a multi-ethnic church. The Church of England indeed has more black members than any other denomination in this land, and to my delight, many of them are worshipping here in the Diocese of Southwark...

Afro Caribbean Christians, like Bishop Wilfred, arrived in Britain in the 50s 60s to make a new life for themselves in the factories, hospitals and transport systems of Britain. Mostly Christian, mostly Anglican, they naturally expected a welcome from mother church and to our shame it didn't happen. I was there, a teenager worshipping at St Hilda's Warley Woods, in the white highlands of Smethwick in the Midlands. And I saw how these interesting though unsophisticated newcomers were politely frozen out from a respectable church like mine.

Then came Enoch Powell representing the neighbouring constituency of Wolverhampton and his 'Rivers of Blood' speech and a young brash parliamentary candidate stood for election in my home constituency. His views were similar to those of Enoch Powell; his supporters went further. Their slogan was, ‘If you want a nigger for a neighbour vote Labour.’ I was there. The sitting MP, Patrick Gordon Walker, a shadow minister, ignored all of this. He floated about above it. He refused to engage with such squalid sentiments and he lost his seat.

A new vicar was then appointed to St Hilda's and he took on the views of our new MP tooth and nail. He denounced them from the pulpit and shamed those who supported such sentiments. And the good people of St Hilda's supported their vicar and at next election the MP was out. From that teenage experience I learned that the Church can be in the forefront of racism, or the Church can be in the forefront of the fight against racism.

But I'm not proud of what my church did here in Britain in the 50s and 60s, freezing out good, faithful, loving pious Anglicans, from their home church so that, of course, many of them formed their own churches where they could worship and serve and pray and live. That was a shameful episode in our history, and I was there.

But now forty years later you and I are in the Diocese of Southwark and our gracious God has given us a second chance for, in congregation after congregation, particularly in the urban areas, there are large groups of black and Asian worshippers, sometimes a strong minority, often the majority of worshippers in that church. Who are they? Some are the remnant of those who refused to be frozen out of their church. They knew themselves to be Anglican, often third or fourth generation Anglican and they weren't going anywhere else. And here they are still, now with their children and grandchildren. We don't deserve them but God bless them for their persistence and faith.

Their numbers have been swelled ten fold by more recent arrivals from Africa, India, the Caribbean and Asia. People who didn't have the experience of being frozen out in the fifties, who in more recent times just showed up in their parish church and thankfully found a welcoming congregation. For things have changed.

We're a black church in terms of our congregations, but we're not a black church in terms of our ministry and decision making structures. The number of black ordained men and women serving in the diocese, the number of black Christians serving on diocesan and deanery synods, councils and committees do not in any way represent the proportion of black Anglicans in our congregations. Now if this is true for a Diocese like Southwark which prides itself on being in the forefront on issues of social justice, then it is probably true for every diocese.

Stephen Lawrence was murdered on our patch, and we, I believe must now be in the forefront of putting our church in order. And if, as seems obvious, the normal processes have not achieved the necessary levels of participation then we need to think creatively and act decisively to redress the balance.

The Area Bishops and myself have decided to initiate a rigorous independent inquiry into the structures of the Diocese of Southwark. We intend to invite the Diocesan Board of Finance to meet the cost of this, and would report back to the Synod through the Board for Church in Society and the Bishop's Council. We have already been in touch with Sir Herman Ouseley, the chair of the Commission for Racial Equality and in principle he has agreed to work with us in establishing this inquiry...

I am asking the Diocesan Secretary to examine with me the composition of every Diocesan Board, Council and Committee and where there is no membership from black Anglicans to enable co-options to take place to ensure representation, and where co-options are not available under the present constitution, to draft changes to that constitution. I will be arranging training in race awareness for every member of my senior staff and would then wish to see such training become part and parcel of every level of diocesan life.

If this kind of action is initiated immediately, then the diocese will be better placed to respond swiftly to any recommendations proposed by the external inquiry team. I believe that the report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry is a 'kairos' moment, a moment when history shakes and new possibilities open".
Thus did a drunken bum of a Bishop intone the mantra:

"Black legs good, white legs bad".
Anyway, now you know why a Ugandan (Sentamu) is the Archbishop of York and a Pakistani (Nazir Ali) almost got to be the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Keeping count, you Bishops. The British are keeping count.

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