Why are bishops doing PR for a chocolate company?

In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of easter eggs, as Tennyson almost wrote.

As the world falls apart around us, it’s sad to see two great British institutions, the Church of England and the National Trust, tearing strips off each other over a third pillar of Albion, milk chocolate. But here we are.

The Archbishop of Yorkie, John Sentamu, has declared war on what he sees as the National Trust and Cadbury declaring war on Easter, by removing references to the Christian festival of resurrection from the marketing for the annual Egg Hunt, when children in Russell & Bromley shoes get a rare chance to run amok on National Trust properties and gorge themselves on chocolate (subs please check).

There are a few flaws in the Archbishop’s argument, chief among them being that neither the National Trust nor Cadbury’s have banned the use of the word, or idea, of Easter (see picture). But lack of evidence for a proposition has never been a big problem for the clergy, now has it?

A post by the Church of England states that;

“The Archbishop of York has provided the following quote about the so-called ‘Trinity of Chocolate’ (Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry): ‘These were Great Quaker industrialists. If people visited Birmingham today in the Cadbury World they will discover how Cadbury’s Christian faith influenced his industrial output.

‘He built houses for all his workers, he built a Church, he made provision for schools etc. It is obvious that for him Jesus and justice were two sides of the one coin.

‘To drop Easter from Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt in my book is tantamount to spitting on the grave of Cadbury.

‘Maybe everyone should now buy The Real Easter Egg.’”

It's already been pointed out that Quakers, simple folk they are, aren’t really that big into Easter anyway, so we’ll leave that one as it is.

But what about “Maybe everyone should now buy The Real Easter Egg”?

The Real Easter Egg is a, er, real thing, manufactured by a company called the Meaningful Chocolate Company. Every Real Easter Egg comes with “an Easter story booklet in the box” (i.e. the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection). It is, in effect, a proselytising tool.

The website of the Meaningful Chocolate Company, which makes the eggs, echoes the language the archbishop uses in his statement, saying: “In the Victorian era hundreds of Quaker families were key players in the UK economy. Barclays, Lloyds, Cadbury, Rowntree and the Lever Brothers believed in fairness for their workers and quality products. We aim to rediscover a business tradition that brings together our passion for Fairtrade and inventive products.”

As the Daily Mirror points out, the archbishop’s website contains 15 different articles encouraging people to buy the eggs.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has also been busy plugging the Real Easter Egg, weighing in in 2015 when supermarkets allegedly refused to stock them. He even went so far as to say other chocolate eggs were “rubbish”, which isn’t very Godly of him.

Bear in mind both Sentamu and Carey get automatic seats in the House of Lords, by virtue of being really good at believing in God, or the English version of God.

Is it really appropriate for them to use that position to help whip up ill feeling in the name of marketing a preferred chocolate brand? is such cynicism, worthy of Pilate himself, really suited to Easter, supposedly a time of hope and redemption?

John Sentamu
George Carey