Published on Sunday, 18 March 2012 06:35 Written by Ketlan Ossowski
John Sentamu ( left) and Rowan Williams
The far-right, such as the English Defence League and the British National Party, must be toe-curlingly embarrassed at the moment, with the news that John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, is the front-runner to take over from Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Anglican Church.
For years, the far-right has droned on about the need for a stronger church to aid in the return of 'traditional English values', which has always been code for white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism.
The far-right, by its nature, is deeply conservative, seeking to live in a mythical 1950s-style England that is wholly white and where everyone follows the tenets of the Church rather than those of the mosque, synagogue or gurdwara. Fair enough. There's room in this country for Muslims, Jews and Sikhs to live happily side by side with a dozen other religions (or, naturally, those who are agnostic or atheist).
What they absolutely abhor, however, is those religions that are in any way linked to those members of the community who are anything other than white.
Those of us who are old enough to remember the last Ice Age have lived through some interesting firsts: the first man on the moon, the first female Prime Minister, the first black US President and so on, and if Tory traditionalists have their way, we're going to live through another one, for John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu is black. As black, as they say, as the ace of spades. And not only that, but he is also an immigrant, having come to the UK from Uganda in the early 70s to escape the lunatic despot Idi Amin.
Sentamu should be appealing to the far-right - he is, after all, very conservative and has called for 'a re-discovery of English pride and cultural identity'. Not at all the kind of thing the far-right expects to hear from an immigrant - though most of the immigrants I've ever met seem to be far more inclined towards English conservatism than most of the English, who couldn't care less about 'traditional English values'.
Sentamu has also spoken out against the perceived mistreatment of Christians in the workplace, citing the case of Jennie Cain, a school receptionist who claimed she was disciplined for sending an email asking her friends to pray for her when her daughter was reprimanded for telling a friend she would burn in hell. Sentamu said; 'Asking someone to leave their belief in God at the door of their workplace is akin to asking them to remove their skin colour before coming into the office', and emphasised that 'Christianity is the tapestry upon which our country's heritage was woven'.
Unfortunately, Sentamu also takes a traditionalist (and confusing) view of gay relationships, stating that gays are 'valued by God' while also arguing that 'marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman'.
For some obscure and tradition-led reason, the position of Archbishop of Canterbury alternates between the conservative and the liberal wings of the Anglican Church, and Rowan Williams was generally perceived as a hardcore liberal, if there is such a thing. The return, if John Sentamu wins and becomes Archbishop of Canterbury, of conservative Christian values, should be welcomed by the likes of the BNP and the EDL. But what's the betting that they either say nothing or oppose his appointment as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury?