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METHODISM AND SLAVERY by Tracy Shields

posted 2 Mar 2018, 06:15 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 2 Mar 2018, 06:16 ]
Reading the “Tobago Today” supplement in the Guardian Newspaper on March 2, 2018, I came across an article that had a particularly disturbing quotation from a “holy man” that can basically sum up the systematic failures in our institutions today; this is in my opinion.

The quote went “Back then there were two classes of people-the free and the enslaved. Even the two leading denominations had slaves. Don’t hold it against them, because that was their understanding of life back then.”

(Reverend Philbert Delaney (at the event themed-Celebrating 200 Years of Methodist Heritage: Taking Flight and Transforming Lives).

This quote by Reverend Philbert Delaney, while he “reminisced” about the beginnings of the Methodist Church back in 1818, seems to say that slavery was no big deal; that Methodists of the time should be forgiven for the practice of owning slaves because it was the norm, is simply ludicrous to me.

What is perhaps more insane or inane about the statement by Reverend Delaney, is the apparent endorsement of some sort of messianic parameter in the slavery of Africans and the indigenous people of the so-called West Indies.

The interpretation of that quote seems to say that the people who endured the barbarism and torture at the hands of their colonizers, was some sort of spiritual cleansing ritual to cure the unholiness of “the uncivilized heathen”. When we subject ourselves to that type of thinking, it suggests why we are unable to rid ourselves of those deleterious ideological remnants of our colonization in the Caribbean.

It should be noted that the push to abolish the slave trade which started the eventual end of slavery was initiated by a group of Methodists lead by William Wilberforce in England. But, to excuse the immorality of the church and the part it played in supporting a commercial system that ripped families apart by abduction, rape, torture, barbaric scientific experimentation, is a travesty to say the least.

Imagine, Stan Lee of “Marvel Comics” made an Africa without colonization popular with the release of the “Black Panther” character back in the 1960s. I dare say that that is a better attempt of an apology for the role his ancestors played in the brutal enslavement of my ancestors.
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