There were a myriad of ways to view the stonkingly fantastic sermon given at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding service by Bishop Michael Curry, the Black American Primate of the Episcopalian church. One could have taken a pure racial binary view of it – a Black clergy man is still somewhat of a rare sight especially when it comes to Royal weddings and christenings which are glaringly White.
However, if you looked further, there was so much more to Bishop Curry than his skin colour. Shame on those who have since seen fit to grumble about how “everything is about race today”. In 14 minutes Bishop Curry not only set out the terms of his Christian beliefs in a way that I, as a regular Anglican church goer, ave never seen but he further managed to project a vision of Jesus that is so missing among the brand of Christianity in the Western world that has been hijacked by the idiotic Conservative Christian right.
In one fell swoop his sermon captured so much of what is wrong with society. It was a sermon shorn of division, hate and blame. Glaringly, it seemed far more in keeping with the lines of the sonnet called ‘The New Colossus’ associated with the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor…”
When did we last hear a Western head of government express any such care? The Borough of Windsor was busy rounding up the homeless in the run up to the Royal wedding. The Tory government are quite happy to see people go destitute from benefit cuts and sanctions. Donald Trump panders to the Conservative Christian white cohort who don’t give two hoots about any sort of suffering apart from the thought of having to give up their guns.
Here, instead, was a Black American man referencing race injustice, slavery, social inequality and serving it all up with what seemed to be a dollop of Liberation Theology to the White establishment. Bishop Curry stripped the message of Jesus right down to being a “revolutionary” one in “human history”. My mind was cast back to the time when St. Paul’s was complicit in trying to break up the Occupy Movement. It was a shameful moment in the UK Anglican tradition. Bishop Curry further referenced children going hungry and wars. While Western governments sell arms children go hungry and/or die.
The ethos of Liberation Theology centres around positioning Christianity as a response to social injustices including poverty and reading the bible as experienced from the poor’s perspective. Followers of Liberal Theology believe that the church should be an agent of social change. There is a Marxist component to it which is why the Catholic Church was very disapproving of it. A discussion of Liberation Theology in full is not relevant to this blog post suffice to include it as a possible influence on Bishop Curry’s sermon and to show just how wide ranging it was against accusations that it was ALL about race.
I watched the wedding with two white men who could only comment on the fact that Bishop Curry was Black and that the sermon was going on for too long, in their view. It was, instead, a monumental historical moment for so many reasons. For those who would like to watch the sermon or would like to watch it again please click here.