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In Remembrance of the Religious Right

November 29th, 2006 by Matt

British politics was divided between the Whigs (Liberals) and the Tories (Conservatives). The Tories were shocked at the violence and atrocities of foreign leftest regimes. Into this fray entered an ultra conservative religious sect who railed against the perceived immorality of British society. One member of this sect, a recent convert, was a member of parliament. Reflecting in his diary one day he decided that God had called him to reform the morals of English society and he set out on a legislative program to achieve this end. He highlighted numerous activities that he considered to be a sin against God. One of them, though opposed in principle by many people, was considered something that the State should tolerate. This convert would have none of this, his religious beliefs about the immorality of this practice must be imposed upon all British citizens, in fact, he advocated that through imperialism this belief should be imposed on the colonies. He knew that the indigenous members of such colonies practiced the sin in question, he knew also that it was only in Christian countries that this practice had been challenged. But nevertheless he was undeterred and repeatedly, doggedly brought Bills before the house advocating moral reform. The convert was met with oppositon, in one famous speech a Lord of the house denounced his program as “bringing religion to bear on public life” and hence, deemed it problematic. It should be noted also that the convert brought his children up in his strict right wing religious views. His son would later become famous for opposing evolutionary theory against Thomas Huxley and has widely been denounced in popular history as an ignorant bigot for doing so.

England are about to celebrate this convert’s achievements. Two hundred years after the fact he will be considered one of the greatest reformers in British history. The man is William Wilberforce. The sect is the Clapham Sect, a group of evangelical Christians and his legislative program was the abolition of the slave trade. Many, many people gained their freedom because of the religious right and the determination of one man to impose his unpopular religious beliefs onto society through the state.

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