Church of Ireland bishops approve ‘Taking the Knee’ ceremony

Clerics say racism denies belief ‘that all are made in God’s image’

Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The Church of Ireland said taking the knee ‘has become a symbol of protest against racial injustice and an expression of solidarity’. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/PA Wire/NMC Pool.

The Church of Ireland bishops have approved a 'Taking the Knee' ceremony opposing racism for use in all its churches across the island of Ireland during Sunday services, at the discretion of local clergy.

It includes prayers describing racism as “an affront to God and contrary to the Christian faith” which “denies our common humanity in creation and our belief that all are made in God’s image”.

It says racism “asserts falsely that we find our fundamental identity in terms of race rather than in Jesus Christ”.

The church said taking the knee “has become a symbol of protest against racial injustice and an expression of solidarity” which “has been used by sports personalities, community leaders, and political representatives amongst others”.


It added that “like all symbols it can easily be misunderstood” but that “as Christians we are familiar with the symbolism of taking the knee”.

It notes how "in Psalm 95:6, we read, 'we kneel before the Lord our maker'. Taking the knee has special meaning for us as we regularly take to our knees in prayer in intercession, in lamentation, and in helplessness to Almighty God".

The prayer acknowledges and laments “the conscious and unconscious racism encountered by many black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in our churches and society”, and asks for “the courage to stand unequivocally for justice, and for truth. Help us to dismantle racist agendas and to transform unjust structures.”

They invite invite worshippers “to take the knee both as a sign of our devotion to God’s indiscriminate love” and “as a protest against racism as a distortion of God’s will in creation and redemption”.

Taking the Knee: Prayers for Racial Justice and Equality has been prepared the Church and Society Commission of the Church of Ireland and approved by the House of Bishops for local use.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times