UK Cleric Probed After Calling Clap for Captain Tom ‘Cult of White British Nationalism’

February 4, 2021 Updated: February 4, 2021

A London-based Church of England clergyman is under investigation after he called Wednesday evening’s national clap for Captain Sir Tom Moore part of “a cult of white British nationalism.”

Captain Tom became a national hero after his sponsored walk where he did 100 lengths of his garden with the aid of a walking frame and his cheerful outlook was credited with raising the public’s spirits during last year’s CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus lockdown.

He died in Bedford Hospital on Tuesday at the age of 100, after testing positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 22.

Captain Tom
Residents participate in a national clap for late Captain Sir Tom Moore and all NHS workers, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, in Marston Moretaine, near Milton Keynes, Britain, on Feb. 3, 2021. (Andrew Couldridge/Reuters)

On Wednesday, the British parliament held a minute of silence in honour of Moore, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would encourage everyone in the UK to join in “a national clap for Captain Tom and all those health workers for whom he raised money at 6 p.m. this evening.”

In a now-deleted Twitter post, Reverend Jarel Robinson-Brown, who was last month appointed to serve in the parish of All Hallows by the Tower, the oldest church in the City of London, wrote: “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.'”

His post sparked a fierce backlash online, after which he deleted the message and posted an apology: “I offer an unreserved apology for the insensitive timing and content of my tweet regarding the clap for Captain Tom.”

Boris Johnson
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds take part in a doorstep clap in memory of Captain Sir Tom Moore outside 10 Downing Street on Feb. 3, 2021. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

The Diocese of London said on Thursday that Robinson-Brown’s comments regarding Captain Tom 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,” it said in a statement.

The Diocese confirmed that a review is now under way led by the Archdeacon of London.

“As a Church, we expect clergy to ensure that all online activity is in line with the Church of England’s social media guidelines and built on truth, kindness, and sensitivity to others. It is incumbent upon all of us to make social media and the web more widely positive places for conversations to happen,” it said.

According to his profile on the website of King’s College London (KCL), Reverend Jarel Robinson-Brown was born in London in 1991 and received ministerial training at Cambridge.

A former Methodist minister, he converted to Anglicanism and is currently training to become a priest in the Church of England.

He has interests in Liberation Theology and Queer Theology, according to his profile page.

Wednesday evening’s national clap for Captain Tom Moore was joined by people across the UK, including Johnson and his fiancee Carrie.

The family of Moore said they were incredibly touched by the idea to mark his passing.

Reuters contributed to this report.