Christianity in Politics: Wilburforce and Shaftesbury

You hear a lot of chatter these days from people who want to abolish the action of the Christian faith on the institution of politics. And they would attempt to do it under an obnoxious interpretation of the first amendment which amounts to the separation of Christianity and State. If you tried to make it a separation of religion and state you would end up with no state at all because there is no non-religious position known to man that is free of  unprovable suppositions. Certainly not atheism, which can only be maintained by a continued faith in the non-existence of a Creator and a blind and stubborn belief in the spontaneous generation of life in the face of the first law of biology and the law of entropy.

And if you want to block all of the action of Christianity on future political activity, why not purge all the results of the faith on politics in the recent and not so recent past? Shouldn’t we then repeal the abolition of the slaves and African slave trade, brought about by the strident preaching of men like William Wilburforce on the floor of the parliament of Great Britain?

“Let us not despair; it is a blessed cause, and success, ere long, will crown our exertions. Already we have gained one victory; we have obtained, for these poor creatures, the recognition of their human nature, which, for a while was most shamefully denied. This is the first fruits of our efforts; let us persevere and our triumph will be complete. Never, never will we desist till we have wiped away this scandal from the Christian name, released ourselves from the load of guilt, under which we at present labour, and extinguished every trace of this bloody traffic, of which our posterity, looking back to the history of these enlightened times, will scarce believe that it has been suffered to exist so long a disgrace and dishonour to this country.”

William Wilberforce,
speech before the House of Commons, 18 April 1791

Wilburforce wasn’t the first Christian to recognize the rights of slaves, as he was just one in a long line of Christian and Jewish champions of human rights starting with Moses. And how about repealing all those laws which brought an end to the use of children like chattel in the factories and mines and fields of England? Because the first champions of the child labor laws were also Christian men and women driven by a Biblical morality, like Lord Shatesbury who said…

 “I may be charged with cant and hypocrisy, but I must regard (the children) as being created like ourselves, by the same Master, redeemed by the same Savior and destined for the same immortality”

Shaftesbury in front of the English Parliament, Aug. 4, 1840

I believe those same elegant and passionate words would serve well in todays battle to recognize the lives and value of the unborn in this newly pagan nation. No, to banish Christian morality would appear to be the utmost folly because as Theodore Roosevelt said;

   “There are those that believe that a new modernity demands a new morality…there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality, all else is immorality. There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism. If we are to fulfill our destiny as a people, we must return to the old morality, the sole morality.”

Johnson, David, Theodore Roosevelt; American Monarch , 1981, p. 44

And to abandon Christianity would be tantamount to abandoning the very basis that our republic was built upon. There is no other foundations for recognizing the rights of men. Evolution only gives us the law of the survival of the fittest…somthing Hitler and Stalin understood well. As John Adams said;

“Be it remembered that liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. But if not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasures and their blood…Let it be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes or parliments…that many of our rights are inherent and essential…established even before Parliament existed…Let us recollect and impress upon our souls the view and ends of our immediate forefathers..(the Puritans), Their amazing fortitude, their bitter sufferings…the civil and religious principles that…contantly supplied them and carried them through all hardships with patience and resignation..which conquered all discouragements.”  John Adams

Our founding fathers were well aware that the battle for individual rights and freedom of conscience followed the bloodied path of the martyrs.  And was built upon such an absolute faith in the God of the Scriptures that the Puritans were enabled to stand up and fight against overwhelming odds and circumstance in order to obtain them.

“we hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights…”

That is not an evolutionary or atheist creed. It was the creed of Christian men and women who dared to carry their faith into the realm of hierarchy and monarchy and establish a new nation, dedicated to a new principle. Remove that principle and all you will have left is anarchy.

National suicide anyone?


About notmanynoble

woodcutter from Washington State
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