BY A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
FOR 15 years the churches in England had corn-1pletely turned their backs on the problem of racialism and now it was imperative that they should give a lead, Mr. Michael Dummett said at
Oxford on Monday.
Addressing the university's newly-formed Slant group Mr. Dummett, a Fellow of All Souls and a founder member of the Oxford Committee for Racial Integration, said that in the face of the challenge of racialism the churches had been totally blind and "deserved very bad marks indeed" for their behaviour. "In certain, parts of the United States the leaders of the Church have thrown themselves into the Civil Rights Movement, but the Catholic Church in this country is not in a position to do so. It has first to put its own house in order.
"It is not enough just to have a special letter from Cardinal Heenan in the Times every few years. The people need to be told from the pulpit and in the confessional that it is sinful, just as adultery is sinful, to practice racial discrimination or insult coloured people," he said. Only when Christians firmly believe this could we do anything about convincing the non-believing majority of racialists. he said. Mr. Dummett said that while in 1966 it had been possihle to prevent a racialist society, in 1969 his worst fears had been realised and there was little that could now be done that would have the slightest effect on the problem.
"The assumption has been
planted in the minds of the people of this country over a number of years that black people by their very existence constitute a problem," he said. This was the essence of racialism. It was precisely this assumption that was built up in Germany just after the First World War and made possible the Nazi race policy. Once one asserted that there was this problem there could be no limits to which inhumanity would not go.
The blatant inadequacies of the Race Relations Act, the main plank of which was racist, rested on immigration control. It was owing to the "gigantic fraud" of politicians attempting to separate the problem of immigration and race that we had sunk into the present situation while successive Governments had implemented their policies of immigration control that the racialist temperature had steadily risen higher. "I think that at the moment we are only seeing the beginning of things, it will get very much worse during the next ten years as Government and opposition continue to vie with each other to capture the racialist vote." He added that it was perfectly plain that no political force was available to prevent the situation deteriorating, but some lead may be given by the churches and "I hope they will face the challenge they have turned their hacks on for the last 15 years."