Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 26 June 2020

The religious illiteracy of the “woke”

I am often hesitant to sign online petitions but this is one I had no hesitation in signing and forwarding, and urging readers of this blog to sign.
The petition has been started by Caroline Farrow at CitizenGO 

There are currently calls to redesign the St Michael and St George medal given out to public servants, because the image is  purportedly racist. 

This is clearly nonsense. The image is based upon a biblical reference of the triumph of good over evil and has nothing to do with either racism or 18th century slavery. 

Sign our petition asking the Honours Committee not to succumb to the cultural vandalism of social justice warriors who are using racism as an excuse to expunge religious belief from the public square. 


The brutal and unjustified  killing of George Floyd was a wicked and abhorrent act which has been rightly condemned, but we should not allow our horror to lead to   knee-jerk reactions, such as the tearing down of statues and monuments, which for better or worse, form part of our   country’s history.  

It now seems like every aspect of our country’s history is up for grabs and activists are taking advantage of the desire for racial equality and using it as a weapon to destroy any views or beliefs that they do not like.  

The latest piece of nonsense has been a petition set up by a social justice warrior demanding   that the St Michael and St George decoration which is awarded to diplomats and   ambassadors who have provided outstanding service to the UK, is redesigned, because the image depicted on the medal is supposedly racist because it depicts the victory of St Michael the archangel standing on top of a defeated Satan and casting him back down into hell.  

The image, say the protestors, is racist because St Michael is depicted in white clothing and the devil appears to have a darker skin tone and because Satan’s defeat evokes the way in which George Floyd was killed. This is patently absurd.

Join our petition and ask the Honours Committee not to allow themselves to be driven by religious illiteracy and to keep the design of the medal as it is

This image of St Michael standing on top of the devil is centuries old and clearly has nothing to do with George Floyd. This interpretation is clearly a case of agenda-driven activists attempting to put a negative spin on Christianity and the country’s cultural heritage and take offence where none was intended. 

It is abundantly obvious that the image was not inspired by racism - there are many different versions of it in which the devil is always portrayed in various dark shades and angels are always displayed or described as wearing shining light garments. It is an artistic convention dating back millennia that the duality of good versus evil is portrayed as light versus darkness. 

What next - are activists going to demand that Star Wars is re-edited because Darth Vader wears a black helmet and Princess Leia, a white robe?!

It may sound daft but once we start allowing our history, cultural and religious heritage to be obliterated, then there will be no end to the madness. Left-wing local authorities and institutes   are already beginning to exercise a knee-jerk reaction by removing historic monuments. Many activists have already demanded the removal and destruction of religious icons, statues and stained glass windows because they have taken gratuitous offence if Jesus or His Mother are depicted with a white skin. 

Ask the Honours Committee to say no to the obliteration of our religious and cultural history and reject the demands of social justice warriors who are only seeking to inflame and exacerbate cultural tensions. 

Christianity  is not racist   - it   celebrates and uplifts people of all race   and upholds the innate human dignity of everyone, regardless of their colour of skin, their faith, their sex, their sexuality and their background.  

If we look at the bible, then the first non-Jew   to be baptised was in fact an Ethiopian. St Paul makes it very clear that in Jesus Christ people are not categorised or labelled into competing groups of differing superiority - we are all one.
In case you were in any doubt - the image of St Michael standing on the devil, does not depict human beings. The devil is even sprouting a giant pair of green wings! These are not physical but spiritual creatures and therefore they do not have human bodies or skin colour.  

The cause of racial and cultural equality is not advanced by wiping out our cultural and religious heritage. At a time when the economy is floundering thanks to the devastation brought by the coronavirus lockdown measures, there are much better uses for taxpayers’ money, than a redesign of a medal which is hundreds of years old, depicting an image which has never had anything to do with either the slave trade or ideas about racism.  

Redesigning the medal would be nothing but virtue-signalling, doing nothing to address the inequalities which still exist such as modern slavery which still exists in many parts of the world, or the disproportionate numbers of black children who are lost to abortion every single year.

Sign here and tell the Honours Committee to stand up for this country’s religious heritage, not to further exacerbate racial tensions and to keep the design of the St Michael and St George medal as it is. 

Thanks for all you do,

Caroline Farrow and the entire CitizenGO Team


More information:

Calls for redesign of royal honour over ‘offensive’ image (The Guardian)


Archbishop Cramner: a racist royal honour or apocalyptic dualism? (Archbishop Cranmer website)


Black Lives Matter wages war on Archangel Michael (Church Militant):


The Clever Boy wonders if the next thing will be ‘Friends of the Komodo Dragon’ objecting to the insignia of the Garter or vegans complaining about the Golden Fleece.

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