Sunday, March 25, 2007


David Brown gave a very good sermon in church today about the role of William Wilberforce in the campaign to end the slave trade. Over the next few months we can expect and awful lot of self hating left wing criticism of England and its role in the trade. The reality was that while there was fault amongst many in the establishment, our culture and history allowed men such as Wilberforce and Granville Sharp to obtain a hearing and to win hearts and minds. Our record in abolishing the slave trade and slavery early in our empire (and earlier still in England itself) is one in which we can take some pride - our system of government enabled principle based reform and the Royal Navy ensured that its writ ran over the world's oceans to the benefit of many.

If anyone is truly interested in the subject, Simon Schama's book "Rough Crossings" gives a balanced account of our role in the trade. He shows how British thinking was ahead of American thinking and how the reality of our establishing a colony for free slaves was ahead of French revolutionary rhetoric (the revolutionary French briefly occupied and destroyed the colony).

A final thought - godless ideologies - Stalinism, Nazism (National Socialism), Marxism, Maoism, Communism have enslaved and killed tens of millions in the past hundred years. Next time someone blames the world's ills on religion, remind them that it was the evangelical zeal of Wilberforce and his ilk - men who believed that the love of Christ for all men was colour blind - which freed millions of Africans from slavery. The anniversary of the slave trade is a time to remind ourselves what a power for good the Church can be.


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