Faith or Fact
Christian Civilization and Christian Morality
by: Henry M. Taber
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CHRISTIAN CIVILIZATION AND CHRISTIAN MORALITY.
WE hear much of Christian civilization and of Christian morality! There is no Christian civilization or Christian morality, any more than there is Christian mathematics or Christian astronomy; though Christians seem to assume that they have a sort of monopoly of civilization and of morality, and that (as she is often called) “the great Christian nation! ” England, is the great exemplar of all that is elevating, just and virtuous. What are the facts?
Is slavery a civilizing and moral institution? What is England’s record in regard to it? Did she not foster the slave-trade and was not slavery maintained just so long as it was profitable to her? Jefferson, speaking of England’s encouragement of the slave-trade, said: “This piratical warfare (the opprobrium of infidel powers) is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain.”
In 1775, Lord Dartmouth (Secretary of State for the Colonies), one of the most conspicuous leaders of the religious world, said: “We cannot allow the Colonies to discourage a trade so beneficial to the nation.” South Carolina, herself, among other colonies, remonstrated against the importation of slaves, but Acts of Parliament were passed prohibiting the state governors from assenting to any measures which should tend to restrict the slave-trade. (See Lecky’s History.)
Is it civilizing and moral in its effects, to send rum and opium to (what Christian England calls) “the heathen?” Canon Farrar says “where the English have converted one Hindoo to Christianity, they have made one hundred drunkards.”
Quoting the above, the Christian at Work adds, “Where the English have converted one Chinaman to Christianity they have made two hundred addicted to the opium habit.” Bishop Temple, of London, said recently, “Would to God that I might stir you all to indignation — fierce and holy — against the horrible mischief that English traders do in heathen lands.”
Is robbery civilizing and moral?
Benjamin Franklin has said that “a highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single, and a nation which makes an unjust war is only a great gang.” What part of our globe is there where this highwayman of nations has not illustrated the robber maxim that “might makes right?”
Think of the devastations of countries, the destruction of property, the despoliation of homes, the sacrifice of life, the misery, poverty and tears, the wretchedness and woe, that have been caused ; the widows and orphans that have been made ; to appease what Theodore Parker has called, “the earth hunger of the Anglo-Saxons.”
(The substance of what follows has been largely taken from a magazine of a recent year.) Can we mention a single instance in which England’s relations with a weaker government have been characterized by that large and even justice which distinguishes the philanthropist from the trader?
Can we name China? Is it one of the glories of “free trade” that is recorded in the histories of the seven years of the wars of 1840 and 1857 — of the occupancy of Hong Kong – of the forcible introduction into the empire of nine millions pounds sterling of opium every year?
Is it Spain, whose chief fortress was (in 1704) seized by England, at a time when peace existed between the two nations, and is retained — John Bright has told us — “contrary to every law of morality and honor?”
Is it India, of whose patient, dumb and famine-stricken people, even the very salt is taxed two thousand per cent., that England may prosecute Imperial wars, in which the Hindu has no voice?
Is it Afghanistan, struggling for its independence in resistance to what some of the greatest of England’s statesmen have pronounced an utterly unjust and wicked war; but whose voices were drowned by the popular clamor of men like Sir James Stephenson, who declared that “we are to decide according to our own interests?”
Is it Zululand, the first step of whose annexation has been taken by what has been called an unnecessary and criminal war?
Is it the Transvaal, whose Boers saw their cherished independence rudely trampled under foot, when it seemed to conflict with English interests?
Is it Bulgaria, to the atrocious butchery and outrage of whose inhabitants by the Turk, the English ambassador could be officially blind for the sake of “English interests?”
Is it Cape Colony (seized in 1652); Jamaica (in 1665); Canada (1759); Australia (1788); Malta (1798)? Is it Cyprus – Egypt – Abyssinia — Burmah?
All, against the protests of the wisest and noblest of England’s heritage of true men, but whose remonstrances were powerless against the popular postulatum — as enunciated by a leading London newspaper — “ the preservation of our rule in the highest moral law.”
Besides all which, these immoral, cruel and unjust acts have exerted a demoralizing influence upon the English people themselves.
Says Andrew Carnegie, “Governmental interference of a so-called civilized power, in the affairs of the most barbarous tribe on earth, is injurious to that tribe not only, but never under any circumstances — can it prove beneficial for the intruder.”
Benjamin Franklin has expressed the same thought, and accounts for this intruder’s “ deficiency of justice and morality ” by her “ oppressive conduct to her subjects and unjust wars on her neighbors?”
If the religion which asserts that “nations must answer for their sins” be true, then will England have a longer and blacker list of crimes to “answer” for than any nation in either ancient or modern times, for — as John S. C. Abbot, the historian, has said — “there is no nation in Christendom whose annals are stained with so many acts of unmitigated villainy as those of Great Britain.”
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