Anger at Church archdeacon’s call for ‘anti-whiteness’

A Church of England archdeacon has called for “anti-whiteness”, in comments which have been criticised as divisive.

The Ven Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, Archdeacon of Liverpool, also called for people to “smash the patriarchy” but insisted her comments were “not anti-white, or anti-men”.

Her statement prompted an angry reaction, with one person asking if it would be “safe to attend church” if Dr Threlfall-Holmes “holds racial prejudice against white people”.

Just weeks ago, the church announced it would be hiring a “deconstructing whiteness” officer as part of a new 11-person “racial justice unit” being set up by the Diocese of Birmingham.


Dr Threlfall-Holmes wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “I went to a conference on whiteness last autumn. It was very good, very interesting and made me realise: whiteness is to race as patriarchy is to gender.

“So yes, let’s have anti-whiteness, and let’s smash the patriarchy. That’s not anti-white, or anti-men, it’s anti-oppression.”

In response, users of X suggested that if the Cambridge-educated priest wanted “anti-whiteness” then she should “lead by example and resign”.

Some described her comments as “racist” and one asked: “Why do you seek to divide when your job description is literally to bring people together?”

Her words were criticised as “divisive” and “nonsensical” and one user said it would appear she had “given up Christianity to join a new and sinister cult”.

Dr Threlfall-Holmes, who was appointed archdeacon last year, also holds a role advising church leaders on implanting safeguarding reforms.


The day-long “Racial Justice Conference” in Birmingham was organised by Reconciliation Initiatives, a charity working in partnership with Coventry Cathedral to help churches “contribute to reconciliation in wider society”.

The aims of the conference included: “To encourage white participants to take next steps in facing their own whiteness, and in addressing institutional racism within Anglican churches and provinces.”

The charity also runs a four-week “Being White” course aimed at clergy and lay members who “identify racially as white” to help them address “the ways we are caught up in a system of white superiority and white advantage in UK society”.

‘A way of viewing the world’

When asked about the apparent contradictions in her comments, Dr Threlfall-Holmes told The Telegraph: “I was contributing to a debate about world views, in which ‘whiteness’ does not refer to skin colour per se, but to a way of viewing the world where being white is seen as ‘normal’ and everything else is considered different or lesser.”

Dr Threlfall-Holmes, a historian, added: “I do however understand that this is not a definition that is widely shared as yet outside of academic circles, and regret that Twitter [X] was perhaps not the best place for a nuanced argument.”


The use of such terminology has previously been criticised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said it was similar to language used in the television sitcom W1A, which satirised BBC managerial jargon.

The Rev Dr Ian Paul, who is a member of the General Synod and the Archbishops’ Council, has warned that “importing” such language from the culture wars in the US risks “alienating ordinary members of the Church of England”.

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