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"These are the days when the Christian is expected to praise every creed except his own." G.K.Chesterton

"You cannot grow a beard in a moment of passion." G.K.Chesterton

"As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that."C. S. Lewis

"I blog, therefore I am." Anon

Friday, September 26, 2003

Let my people go

Indian born Dinesh D'Souza writing in the Washington Times on "How the West Grew Rich" notes:

[C]olonialism is not a Western institution, neither is slavery. Slavery has existed in every known civilization. The Chinese had slavery, and so did ancient India. Slavery was common all over Africa, and American Indians had slavery long before Columbus arrived on this continent.

What is uniquely Western is not slavery but the movement to abolish slavery. There is no history of anti-slavery activism outside of Western civilization. Of course in every society, slaves have strongly resisted being slaves. Runaways and slave revolts occurred frequently in all slave cultures. But only in the West did a movement arise, not of slaves, but of potential slave-owners, to oppose slavery in principle.

The unique Western attitude is captured in Abraham Lincoln's remark, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master." Lincoln... rejected slavery altogether, and he was willing to expend a good deal of treasure and ultimately a great deal of blood to destroy the institution. During the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of white men died to bring freedom to African Americans — a group that was not in a position to secure freedom for itself.

What D'Souza does not mention is the central role played by Evangelical Christians in the abolition of slavery first in Britain and then in the United States.

This cause, along with prison reform, welfare reform, educational reform, medical reform, workplace reform, the origins of the union movement, child protection and other human rights issues and even animal welfare were born out of the "Great Awakening" of heartfelt Evangelical belief. This period of Western history - the first half of the nineteenth century - saw Evangelicalism as a significant religious, moral, social and political force in Britain and the U.S.

It is ironic that so many of the causes that have subsequently become identified as cause celebres of the secular left have their roots in the chapel and the manse.

7:23:00 am