Save the order of St Michael and St George

Don't let religious illiteracy obliterate our culture


Save the order of St Michael and St George

11,775 people have signed. Help us reach 20,000 signatures.

Save the order of St Michael and St George

The brutal and unjustified killing of George Floyd by policemen in the US is an abhorrent and wicked act, which has caused the world to re-examine our attitudes towards racial equality and view everything through the lens of oppression.

Everywhere statues of those who profited from the slave trade are being torn down by angry mobs with no consideration for historical and cultural context  These statues form part of our history, for better or worse and should not be arbitrarily removed thanks to a knee-jerk reaction.

As many predicted, the Black Lives Matter movement has not simply stopped at slave-traders and there are now calls to reinterpret and remove symbols of Christianity in case they cause potential offence.

The latest potential casualty is that of the Order of St Michael and St George - an honour given to ambassadors and diplomats in recognition of their distinguished service. Campaigners are claiming that this image, which depicts St Michael clad in white, standing on top of the devil who is black, is not only racist, but also reminiscent of the killing of George Floyd and so the medal should be redesigned and updated and an apology given for any offence caused.

The comparison to George Floyd is patently absurd and further inflames tensions. The epic battle between St Michael and Satan is a biblical reference and therefore should not be viewed in racial terms since neither entities are physical creatures and neither have bodies nor skin colour. The image is centuries old, represents a spiritual or metaphysical battle of good overcoming evil and has absolutely no connection with either racism or slavery.

The tradition of depicting good as white or light and evil as black or dark goes back as far as time itself and has been used in many ancient traditions, including the Chinese and Persians. Angels, such as St Michael, are typically described as wearing shining white robes and demons and figures from the underworld, always depicted in darkness or shadow. The same is true of modern cinematic tradition, such as the Stars Wars series in which the villains are referred to as the Dark Side and clothed in black.

We should not allow religious and cultural illiteracy to wipe out our country’s  religious and cultural heritage and neither should we allow our faith traditions to be misappropriated and politicised by those with different agendas who wish to exploit the situation in order to suppress religious views they find offensive. This is a clear attempt by activists who wish to see how far they can go in terms of expunging Christianity from the public square.

Tearing down statues and reinterpreting images to find offence where none was intended may soothe the consciences of social justice warriors, but does nothing to address or overcome the very many problems of inequality, such as modern slavery, which still exist in many societies around the world.

Sign our petition and ask the Honours Committee not to succumb to religious illiteracy  or cultural vandalism and keep the image of St Michael on the honour.

The Guardian: calls for redesign of royal honour over ‘offensive’ image

Archbishop Cramner: a racist royal honour or apocalyptic dualism?

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

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Don't redesign the Order of St Michael & St George

To the Honours Committee

There are currently calls to redesign the Order of St Michael and St George because the image, which depicts St Michael clad in white standing on top of the devil, who is black, is supposedly racist and evokes the recent brutal killing of criminal George Floyd by policeman in the USA.

As you will be aware, the  image derives from a biblical reference. This Christian symbolism of a battle between St Michael and Satan which employs the imagery of light and dark does not reflect either bodies or racist identities, since in Christian iconography angels are not physical creatures and therefore have neither bodies nor skin colour. They are not human beings, as ought to be clear. 

We therefore ask you to exercise extreme caution and restraint before rushing to interpret this image in the light of current political and racial tensions. The victory being celebrated is that of the devil being cast into hell and the triumph of good overcoming evil and bears no relation to either the slave trade or the behaviour of rogue police officers.   The image follows a centuries-old artistic convention in terms of using the contrasting motif of darkness and light to portray the duality of good versus evil. 

We should not allow our decisions to be guided by religious and cultural illiteracy. The cause of racial and cultural equality is not advanced by wiping out our heritage and religious symbolism through a misunderstanding of what is being depicted. The Christian faith celebrates people from all races, as St Paul makes clear:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The country’s economy is already floundering in the wake  of the COVID-19 pandemic, please do not allow misinformed sensitivities to spend taxpayers’  money on a wholly unnecessary redesign of an image which does not in any way condone slavery or racism. 

It would be a tragedy if our sensitivity to racial questions and awareness leads to an informal ban on Christian iconography or symbolism within the public square and if Christianity, which upholds the innate dignity of every human being, is allowed to be willfully misconstrued as racist. Such a move would only further inflame and unnecessarily provoke cultural tensions.  

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Save the order of St Michael and St George

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11,775 people have signed. Help us reach 20,000 signatures.