A Church of England reverend has described tributes to the late Captain Tom Moore as a “cult of white British Nationalism”.
The shocking outburst from Reverend Jarel Robinson-Brown comes after the nation mourned the passing of Captain Moore on Tuesday, prompting Boris Johnson to say he was “open” to erecting a statue of the Second World War veteran and describing him as “a hero in the truest sense of the word.” On Wednesday evening the prime minister led a nationwide clap as a mark of respect for the legendary NHS fundraiser.
But the collective national gesture, at a time when spirits are low due to the winter Covid lockdown, was too much for some.
Reverend Robinson-Brown tweeted: “The cult of Captain Tom is a cult of White British Nationalism.
“I will offer prayers for the repose of his kind and generous soul, but I will not be joining the ‘National Clap’.”
The clergyman is a committed race and gay rights activist. Before deleting his Twitter account following a fierce backlash, his profile featured the description: “Black Prophetic Fire”.
“I offer an unreserved apology for the insensitive timing and content of my tweet regarding the clap for Captain Tom,” he tweeted shortly before removing his account. He has also said that he will follow the Church’s digital charter to “help make social media and the web more widely positive places for conversations to happen”.
Former Conservative MEP, David Campbell Bannerman described the original tweet as an “appalling comment”.
Robinson-Brown was recently appointed as curate of All Hallows’-by-the-Tower, the oldest church in the City of London by Right Reverend Sarah Mullally, the Bishop of London.
The Diocese has rushed to distance itself from the 29-year-old reverend, releasing a statement saying: “Jarel Robinson-Brown’s comments regarding Captain Sir Tom Moore were unacceptable, insensitive, and ill-judged.
“The fact that he immediately removed his tweet and subsequently apologised does not undo the hurt he has caused, not least to Captain Tom’s family.
“Nor do Jarel’s actions justify the racist abuse he is now receiving.”