‘The Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice’: a discussion


John Root writes: By a macabre coincidence the Church of England is simultaneously engaged in debates about safeguarding and the victims of abuse, and responses to its involvement in slavery in the Caribbean. Both issues raise two questions: how are we to make some assessment of the damage done under the aegis of the Church of England, and of what might constitute an adequate response to the evils we have been guilty of. Inevitably over both issues there are questions of how do we estimate the seriousness of the evils involved, within the wider context of the evils that humans constantly inflict on each other; and how can we possibly shape an adequate reparations for past evils that have enduring present consequences.

Here I limit myself to the discussion of the Church of England’s response to our involvement in slavery.

1. How much damage was done?

As regards the direct damage, it is reckoned that the money that the Church invested led to the transportation of 34,000 enslaved Africans. That is only a very small slice (roughly 0.25%, or 1 in 400) of the estimated 12.5 million Africans transported. But it indicates that the Church of England willingly subscribed to the heinous trade, that for well over a century it didn’t use its authority in the nation to oppose or condemn it, and that in the Caribbean the Church of England was an uncritical pillar of the slave owning establishments ot the various islands. It is arguable, then, that the Church was guilty not only actively but, perhaps more seriously, passively guilty for the occurrence of this evil.

This damage was directly physical—the number of people who died during the appalling conditions of the Middle Passage, the brutality and wanton rape and torture that slave-holders were capable of, the unrelenting and unrewarded centuries of harsh labour. But more seriously, and underlying Bishop Rosemarie Mallet’s reference to the ‘enduring evils’ of slavery, is its impact on the psychology and cultural, linguistic and religious heritage of the victims, compacted by the racial arrogance of their oppressors. The slavery that the Church of England was partially involved in and was broadly implicated by was of special character, not only was it exceptionally brutal but it was distinguished—unlike most historical examples of slavery—as being demarcated entirely by race. 

Once this is established, a number of surrounding arguments become irrelevant. It is no defence to argue for the historical ubiquity of slavery, nor that (contrary to some ahistorical notions of the slaves being ‘kidnapped’) they were very largely sold as slaves by fellow Africans. This was a crime against humanity committed by the British, and only rarely was a Christian moral conscience raised against it. Conversely debate over the role of slavery in Britain’s economic take off in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (which this Report gets involved in) are irrelevant. Regardless of disputed economic outcomes, the slave trade and enslavement were appalling moral evils. (By contrast, the Holocaust was most probably economically and militarily damaging to Germany).


NB: see the Additional Note below for evidence of whether the Church of England did indeed profit from this investment in the slave trade.


2. What is an appropriate moral response to the evil committed and the harm done?

As with safeguarding issues and past abuse, any attempt to ascribe a financial sum is arbitrary. Too small amount is demeaning and insulting to the victim, yet the upper limit is potentially boundless since the original harm has not primarily been financial, is chiefly experienced in psychological and experiential terms, and can never be adequately repaired. Arguably therefore no figure is ever enough. However, the Church Commissioners figure of £100 million is a sufficiently large amount to show that the Church intends to be serious about its repentance, especially when conjoined with not only with a public apology, but also with ongoing policies marked by a humbled respect and practical commitment to the well-being of the enslaved descendants. But as suggested above, whether or not all this is deemed sufficient can never be objectively determined, and responses may be determined by personal experiences and personality and by political stance rather than by any universally agreed standard.

3. So what to make of the Oversight Group’s Recommendations?

In its introductory document the Group is seen to be carrying out the Church Commissioners ‘report on its historic links to African chattel enslavement’ and ‘proposed fund to address a legacy of racialised inequality’, but we then get a very early warning that what is to follow is a very considerable inflation of the Commissioners’ intentions since the ‘legacy of racialised inequality’ that we are thinking of ‘scars the lives of billions to this day’—that is, a figure considerably in excess of the descendants of the Transatlantic slave trade. In fact ‘billions’ is a greater figure than the world’s entire ‘black’ population. The Oversight Group, then, is taking us into territory that the Church Commissioners’ original report never envisaged.

The American sociologist Rob Henderson has coined the term ‘luxury beliefs’ for those beliefs that mark you out as a member of a forward-thinking, well-informed progressive member of an elite, but which actually cost you nothing to implement. Earlier the economist Nassim Nicholas Taleb implemented the phrase ‘Skin in the Game’ to identify those whose career depended on the outcome of their decisions over against those who suffered no loss of finance or status if they made bad or foolish decisions. With the Oversight Group there is no ‘skin in the game’, rather they are able to hold ‘luxury beliefs’. They have the delicious task of spending other people’s money, and, as we have seen, no objective restraint on their intention to extend the scale of the Church’s response. As a result their report inflates the original Church Commissioners report in several directions.

Before going into detail, the inflation can be summarised in four stages (the first three follow each other logically, the fourth stands on its own): 

  • financial: the Church Commissioners contribution is to be increased, and added to considerably from other sources;
  • geographical: the remit is extended from areas impacted by chattel slavery to all ‘Black communities’;
  • intentional: rather than seeking to alleviate the continuing impact of slavery much more wide-ranging economic change is intended;
  • theological: there needs to be a retrieval of traditional belief systems alongside faith in Christ.

a Financial

The initial proposal was for the Church Commissioners to invest £100 million of seed capital, but this deemed ‘an inadequate financial contribution’ (§ 41), and is to be ‘re-evaluated and expanded’ (§ 9). The new proposal is for £1bn plus, which includes ‘a larger allocation from the Commissioners themselves’ (Recommendations, §8), and that ‘the Church Commissioners separately cover the operating expenses of the fund, including the impact assessment team, at cost without deductions from the £100m in starting assets or the imposition of a management fee’. Further the Commissioners’ real estate portfolio should give ‘below market leases to black businesses’ (§ 41c). Since, as we have seen, there is no objective financial basis on which the Church’s original moral responsibility can be based, then all figures are ultimately plucked out of the air, opening the door to a ‘Father Christmas list’ of ever greater claims. How at any point can the Church Commissioners say ‘Stop’ without being vulnerable to allegations of hard-hearted, seared-conscience racism?

Beyond the amount from the Church Commissioners, the Oversight Group now hopes to raise money from other charitable and financial sources with a target of £1 billion, though it hopes to go beyond that. The reason, as we shall see below, is that its horizons have expanded far beyond the Commissioners original intentions

b Geographical

The original fund was for ‘communities damaged by African chattel enslavement’s legacy of racism and disadvantage’. Clearly this identifies the Americas; in our context, the islands of the British Caribbean, and the descendants of those who have migrated away, particularly to Britain. So, a fairly clear geographical focus on areas of need. But the Oversight Group are considerably more ambitious. The introduction to the Recommendations refers to ‘the barriers to economic and social equality most keenly felt by Black communities today’. Which undefined ‘Black communities’? Trenchtown in Jamaica certainly. Parts of urban Britain, possibly; though the African Caribbean population is so increasingly dispersed that specific geographical communities are getting ever harder to identify. (My nearby and once notorious Broadwater Farm estate can now no longer be termed ‘Black’). Rather ‘Black’ now clearly extends to the whole of Africa, including those parts in no way affected by Transatlantic slavery. Thus the Questionnaire which yielded ‘Key Insights and Findings’ had 100 respondents in Kenya, but only 12 each from Nigeria and Ghana. There were just 15 from Jamaica—surely a prime focus for the original intention, but 47 from the more prosperous Trinidad and Tobago. The £1bn to be raised will now go outside a far wider area than just those impacted by ‘African chattel enslavement’. Remember, the original justification of this fund was the investment three hundred years ago by the Queen Anne’s Bounty in the South Sea Company, which included trading in slaves as one of its activities. The Church Commissioners response to the Oversight Group now refers to ‘impacted groups’, but if , say, Kenya is in that group then one really does have to wonder where their limits lie.

Lying behind the geographical inflation is an important conceptual shift—the Oversight Group has extended its focus from slavery to colonialism, therefore its Programme Committee will address ‘the persistent legacies and traumas resulting from African chattel enslavement and colonialism’ (§ 23). Whilst the two are often bracketed together like this in reality the differences are substantial. It is virtually impossible to make a moral defence of slavery, especially as it occurred in the Caribbean. But the outcomes of colonialism are subject to serious debate. In particular, attention needs to be given to the pre-colonial and post-colonial trajectories of very different colonised areas, as well as the widely different experiences of colonialism itself. But the Oversight Group includes in its remit not just areas facing the legacy of slavery, but also societies impacted by colonialism, certainly all of Africa.

It is on this basis that its report freely uses the dangerously imprecise term ‘Black communities’. It is, firstly, implicitly racist—no one could use the term ‘White communities’ without realising they were talking nonsense. The differences of outcome in Britain between African Caribbean and Black African populations are marked; for example 16 out of 10,000 of pupils in the former group suffer school exclusions as opposed to only 5 in the latter group. Throughout the Report is the simplistic and unexamined assumption that all disadvantages of what of black people have their source in white racism, when the disparities between black groups, and even more with other ethnic minorities, can only be understood as stemming in part from the internal behaviour patterns within those groups, not least in terms of paternal involvement.

Indeed the raison d’etre of the Fund in the first place was the very distinctive disadvantages that come as the legacy of enslavement, rather than simply being ‘black’. Agglomerating a single, unified ‘Black community’ undermines that very point. Rather its usage is too often to corral all black people to line up behind a specific socio-political outlook and agenda, when the reality is that, as Tomiwa Owolade observes of his fellow black people ‘We are barely a we’ (in ‘This is Not America’, p 28).

One possible result of this shifted focus is that we could have the bizarre prospect of the descendants of those West African rulers who profited from selling their fellow Africans to white slave traders now benefitting from a fund that compensates them for the evil activities of their forbears.

c Intentional

The Church Commissioners original intentions were simple. The money was to be used to benefit those whose lives and communities bore the continuing scars of enslavement. But the expansion of the geography is required by their diagnosis of the need and means of change. So they write:

Acknowledging the state of global racial inequality largely linked to African chattel enslavement, we recommend viewing this fund as part of a wider systems change (§ 8).

Whilst the placing of slavery as a major cause of global racial inequality is historically tendentious, the quotation makes clear that the fund is to be committed to ‘wider systems of change’ not just alleviating the local impacts of enslavement. So they are concerned to address ‘global challenges facing people of African descent’ (§ 6). They do indeed have a ‘paradigm shifting ambition’ (§ 7)! Understandably the £100 million is insufficient for such an enormous task, given that ‘it will require patient effort spanning generations to address’ (Introductory Document).

One further deflection away from the Fund’s original intentions is that whilst it was intended to particularly benefit the disadvantaged now the proposals’ beneficial outcomes will—at least in the first instance—‘create jobs among Black professionals’ (§ 16), unlock ‘access to capital for Black entrepreneurs’ (§ 20a), and ‘build Black-led venture partner networks (§ 40). ‘Preferential Policies’ typically have benefitted the more prosperous and successful in the target group, rather than the most disadvantaged (see Thomas Sowell’s book of that name, 1990), though it has not usually been expressed as nakedly as here. Presumably the assumption is that the benefits will eventually trickle down to the poor: an assumption history has not been kind to.

The shift of intention is the major outcome of the proposals. It therefore needs asking: how competent is this group to argue for and take forward the change from essentially ameliorative proposals to reduce the Americas-based suffering of post-Emancipation black people to instead seeking to impact and change the global economy? The group doesn’t contain a professional academic economist. Its focus may well be shaped by having three people who work in Investments, plus a ‘writer and financial commentator’, the others have only soft links to global economics. Nor do all of them or their employers all have track records free of controversy. It is not a group that should give confidence in steering the Church of England through a major and costly economic programme.

d Theological

The Church Commissioners saw their task as simply an attempt, basically a financial gesture, to recognise and do something to put right the evil consequences of slavery. The Oversight Group wants to go very much further. Despite past apologies for its racism and involvement with enslavement the Church is ‘to apologise publicly for denying that Black Africans are made in the image of God’ (§ 32) although no evidence is presented that it ever did so. The apology extends further to ‘seeking to destroy diverse African traditional belief systems’, though conversion to Christianity always involves a change of belief system. ‘We bring you good news that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God’ Paul told pagans of Lystra (Acts 14:15). He confronted the Athenians with the claim: ‘While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent’ (Acts 17:30). In this way did my Anglo-Saxon forbears abandon belief in Thor and Woden at the preaching of Augustine of Canterbury and his successors. 

But here we have the incoherent suggestion that the ‘enslaved’ (meaning who?) ‘discover the varied belief systems and spiritual practices of their forebears and their efficacy’. Were African Christians consulted on this? The only Group member with an African name is a ‘Jurisconsult and Scholar-Activist’. So again, a simple desire to give a financial basis to repentance for involvement in slavery is here unilaterally inflated by a small group with but three theologically educated members into a major reorientation, and arguably repudiation, of the Church’s missionary basis.

However, the Group is on more solid ground when it steps back from a vague and modish religious relativism to get closer to Caribbean realities and seek for a ‘workstream’ that would unpack the theological and spiritual violence caused by African chattel enslavement and the role of the Church in this process’ (§ 34). But is that not the remit of the Archbishops’ Commission on Racial Justice?

Conclusion

There are aspects of the Church of England’s past that certainly should make us feel guilty about racism. But, as this review has indicated, it is a concept that inflates easily without careful scrutiny. Yes, investing in the South Sea Company was wrong. Yes, there has been a much longer history of racial arrogance and disrespect for other ethnic groups. And so, apologies, repentance and restorative initiatives all have their place. But ultimately acting solely out of a sense of guilt will lead to inappropriate responses, especially when the Oversight Group at every turn has put the worst possible emphasis on events – as with the simplification, ridiculous if allowed to stand unqualified, that the Church has been ‘denying that Black Africans are made in the image of God’ (§ 32). Is that really a sensible and balanced evaluation of the whole history?

The Church of England’s earnestness to do the right thing is at present in full flood. It can lead to an unwillingness to question the judgements or the narratives that are put forward by black people. It can especially mean that it patronisingly assumes that black people (the ‘Black community’) speak with one voice, usually hearing the loudest and most dramatic voices, but very often not quieter, wiser or dissenting voices. In the United States intellectuals such as Glenn Loury, professor of Social Sciences and Economics at Brown University, have questioned the ‘bias narrative’ as the sole explanation of black disadvantage. In Britain Dr Tony Sewell’s book ‘Black Success’ is coming out this week which is billed as ‘essential reading not only for black Britons who are fed up with a narrative that denies them agency and responsibility, but also for anyone who wants a balanced perspective on race relations in Britain today’. 

By contrast, the Oversight Group’s augmenting the grievance narrative so that all black disadvantage can be laid at the door of white, racist behaviour may be effective in pressuring the Church Commissioners to increase, widen and extend their original response. But that earlier intent to ‘invest in a better, fairer future for all, particularly communities affected by historic slavery’ is a modest and realisable programme. In now accepting a very much wider remit it has taken onboard guilt-driven obligations from a group with inadequate experience and expertise, and are extending their reach far beyond their proper responsibilities. 


John Root was a curate in Harlesden, led an estate church plant in Hackney, planted two Asian language congregations in Wembley, before enjoying retirement ministry in Tottenham.

This article was first published at John’s substack here.

See also the related articles by John on this blog:

A review of Nigel Biggar’s book Colonialism: a moral reckoning

An evaluation of Was European colonialism a good thing or a bad thing?


Additional note: John offers some helpful challenges to the report of the Oversight group, on the basis that the financial basis of the initial concern (that the Queen Anne’s Bounty had profited from investment in slave trading) was correct. However, it appears that even this foundational claim is untrue.

This week the Daily Telegraph published the following letter:

We can all agree that the Atlantic slave trade was abhorrent. We also know that the South Sea Company engaged actively in this grisly business following its award of the notorious Spanish “asiento de negros” contract in 1713 (“Church of England’s fund has lessons for investors”, Opinion, March 5). However, it is surely a mistake to bounce the Church of England into a huge reparations commitment on the grounds that it profited from this trade.

The South Sea Company made only losses from its slaving operations as detailed by Adam Anderson, clerk to the company, in his history published in 1764. Furthermore it was the shareholders of the company who stood to make gains or losses from the company’s commercial activities. The Church’s investment returns from its large portfolio of South Sea Company annuities were in the form of interest passed on from the company’s holdings of government bonds. This revenue stream had nothing to do with the slave trade. By all means call for reparations but not on the basis of flawed economic history.

Richard Dale. Author, ‘The First Crash: Lessons from the South Sea Bubble’. Emeritus Professor, Southampton University, UK

The Grant Thornton report concludes that, in the year (1739) in which the SSC ceased to invest in trading slaves, the value of the QAB’s investment in the SSC was £204,000.  This sum equates to £443 million in today’s money, which was reported in January 2023. The Church Commissioners have argued that this is the extent of the Church’s profiteering from the transatlantic slave trade. However, abhorrent as slave trading was, the SSC made losses and not profits from its investment in it; where the SSC did make money over the relevant period was from its holdings in government bonds. So the £443m that has been identified arose from Government bonds, and not profit from the slave trade. Thus the initial reason for commissioning the Oversight group at all appears to have been a mistake.


Secondly, John rightly notes that the Church of England in the 18th Century was complicit in the heinous slave trade, and was slow to challenge it. Alongside that, we need to note that there were some prominent voices expressing opposition. John Wesley openly opposed the slave trade, speaking against it from the 1770s (see this assessment of his opposition). Beilby Porteus, who was Bishop of Chester from 1777 and Bishop of London from 1787, was a passionate abolitionist. In 1783 he preached at an Anniversary Service of the SPG and used it to criticise the Church of England’s approach and the treatment of slaves in the Caribbean.

And former naval officer Lewis Page points out the key role that Britain played (encouraged by leaders in the Church of England) in campaigning against and ending the slave trade globally.

King Gezo, ruler of Dahomey from 1818 to 1859, enslaved huge numbers of Africans and built an economy based on selling them to the Atlantic traders. The forced marches in which slaves were moved to the coast by Gezo and other African rulers were often as deadly as the Middle Passage itself. Things could always be worse, however: Dahomey also had a tradition of religious human sacrifice.

By the time Gezo was on the throne of Dahomey the slave trade was still very lucrative, with willing buyers across the Atlantic and many northern nations still willing to carry the trade. But one nation in particular had changed its ideas on slavery: that nation was Britain. British slave traders had been in the triangle trade along with Americans and Europeans for around 250 years. But now, not only did this become illegal for Brits, but the Royal Navy – then the most powerful navy in the world – began making active efforts to suppress the African slave trade altogether.

This was an almost unbelievably surprising and forceful move in the context of the time. A few other nations had declared slavery illegal in places where there was no slavery, it is true. This had long been decided in England by the Somerset v Stewart court case of 1772, following which slave owners stopped bringing slaves onto English territory – it was generally considered that this automatically made them free.

No other nation, however, then went on to say that the very slave trade itself should be outlawed and wiped out, and went still further to back its words with deeds…

Britain was unique in her effort and sacrifices made to end the trade, and the movement to end the trade came to power here first. Effective action by Britain against the trade actually began while we were still engaged in a desperate, all-out global struggle to the death against Continental dictatorship. A struggle fought, again, often alone…

When the terms ‘British history’ and ‘slavery’ are linked, then, this is not only grounds for shame, but also for pride: pride such as no other nation can claim.

There is no other nation on Earth, not in Europe, not in Africa or Arabia, not in North or South America, with as little cause to apologise as Britain for its history with and around slavery.

When I was in debate with Jarel Robinson-Brown on BBC 1’s ‘Sunday Live’ show, he quipped: ‘If you set a house on fire, then put it out, you shouldn’t get credit for putting it out’. But that, of course, is not an apt metaphor. Rather, we should note: many houses were on fire, and had been on fire since ancient times. When Britain (largely led by the Church of England, and in particular evangelical voices within and without) came to their senses, not only did they put their own fire out, but they then spent considerable time, money and energy (and lives of their sailors) putting out the fires in all the other houses around the world. That does, indeed, merit some credit, and undermines many of the arguments presented by the Oversight group of the Commissioners.


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277 thoughts on “‘The Fund for Healing, Repair and Justice’: a discussion”

  1. Thank goodness for the fresh air of some common sense, some actual facts, and a nuanced look at this vexed subject. What can be done about a CofE that allows ideologies to keep pressing its Guilt button, and which then has a knee-jerk reaction? It sure doesn’t build much confidence in our leadership.

    Reply
    • As they used to say at school… “Please show your working”… :-). Mere assertion is one of the problem issues…

      I’d be glad to see it, though maybe it’s not entirely central to this post?

      Reply
      • It may be relevant to apportioning any financial contribution from Fance? Would any French imperialism be attributed to merely secular motives or in any way to the spread of the Christian Gospel? Through Roman Catholicism?
        I’m no historian. Even so it is outside the scope of this article.

        Reply
    • I am sorry but I do have to remind you that France imposed a debt burden of 150 million Francs on Haiti in 1825 in return for independence and the permanent freeing of slaves there after the slave revolt in 1804. Haiti continued to pay off this debt in various ways until 1947 (from 1911 until 1947 making payments to American investors who had bought out the debt).

      Reply
  2. Thank you for much needed, cool- breeze, balanced assesment.
    As former lawyer, I’d say whether there was a financial profit or loss is irrelevant to what amounts to a question of “damages”.
    To reduce this to profit and/or loss is to see all human life as a mere economic unit , not as being in the image of God, no matter, tongue, tribe, nation, race, ethnicity, skin colour.
    Further there is no group who today has “locus standi” nor a ” cause of action”. Let alone, the idea promulgated that that a cause of action is across generations, seemingly without limitation goes beyond natural justice and trespasses into the realms of God’s eternal justice.
    It seems that some negative elements of Critical Race Theory and its founders and developers. have been uncritically absorbed into the higher echelons of the CoE.

    Reply
  3. Can we now look forward to the Church of England addressing its part in the atrocities inflicted on the Irish over the last four centuries ?

    I suspect not.

    Reply
    • Is that a racial matter, Peter? Or ethnic?
      Which raises a futher point: at what stage in history was the social construct of “race” accepted as a distinct human category or identifier?

      Reply
        • The novel idea that racism is about skin colour re-writes history.

          It is also without any doubt at all part of the reason for the social acceptability of anti semitism now visible on the streets

          Reply
        • The point Peter makes is understood: why stop there? It is question which doesn’t appear to have been addressed as being outwith the remit, or even of a lower order, level of priority, of cultural prominence in the ‘relativity’ ideology of justice.
          Is it a slippery slope argument? Or a discrete topic of race as a social construct and first order matter of justice to the exclusion or relegation of all other weighty questions of justice?

          Reply
          • Geoff

            Just treat everyone as equals and then you don’t have to worry if people from the Isle of Lewes are a different race or not

  4. Obviously I agree with the point made by Richard Dale, and would point out that the South Sea Company annuities was how you held government bonds in the 18th century. That’s why the Company carried on well after it ceased transporting slaves or indeed anything to Spanish America. It’s also why you see Queen Anne’s Bounty divesting out of the Company once government bonds came available on the open market in the 19th century.

    The point about seeing people as being in the image of God or not is important, and I think the report authors make a basic error. The moral/theological problem wasn’t that in the 17th/18th century they didn’t see black people as being in the image of God. They likely did. The problem was that they didn’t see being in the image of God as something that was incompatible with slavery.

    But what is odd with a discussion about reparations for slave trading, is that there’s been no consideration of the actual descendants of the actual people transported as slaves by the South Sea Company – those people are in Mexico, Colombia and Central America (Spanish America being the South Seas that the company name was referring to).

    Reply
    • Yes, it doesn’t seem that John Root has noticed this either, that these slaves ended up in Central and South America, not the Caribbean.

      Where did you get the information that South Sea annuities was the way of holding government bonds in the 18th century? I would be glad of details on this, thank you.

      Reply
    • AJ

      A few years ago I saw a Time Team special on a former slavery plantation and they had documents by the owner. My memory is that he was feeling bad for his treatment of his slaves, but was telling himself it was OK because God had said this was the right order. I don’t know if this was a representative view, but I do know that a lot of Christians involved in slavery (and later segregation) of Black people believed that Black people were the descendants of the son of Noah who was cursed by God and that’s why they were to be subservient to white people. Preachers used certain verses of scripture, interpreted to support the subjugation of Black people, to reinforce this order. Some of this is late enough in the US that we still have the audio of these sermons

      Reply
      • This is based on the later part of Genesis 9, but the Golden Rule (do as you would be done by) repeated by Jesus on the Mount rules out enslaving people, and Genesis 9 appears to be a prophecy rather than a command. Ther are plenty of prophecies of evil, and woe betide those who further them.

        This is not exegetical rocket science. I accuse those who used Genesis 9 to justify their own slave-owning of putting profit above their faith. They had no fear of the Lord.

        Reply
      • If you haven’t read it already I recommend getting hold of “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis” by Mark Noll which is very good at exploring this topic of what Christians in the 19th century thought about slavery (and their justification or condemnation of it).

        The idea that the Curse of Ham (or more specifically Canaan) to be a servant of servants unto his brethren (Genesis 9) was certainly part of the argument. Though I would observe that it runs completely counter to the idea that you’re talking about people who don’t bear the image of God – the Curse of Ham is very clear that it’s talking about brethren. It does not though seem to have been the clincher or main argument. The pro-slavery argument really ran:
        – The Old Testament explicitly sanctions slavery – Leviticus 25 permits slavery, Genesis 17 assumes slavery, and Deuteronomy 20 sanctions enslavement.
        – The New Testament does nothing to condemn slavery and continues to uphold it – Jesus never says a word against slavery; in Philemon, Paul instructs an escaped slave to return to his owner; in Colossians 3 slaves are told to obey their masters; and in 1 Timothy 6 we are told that slaves converting to Christianity does not create a requirement to free them.

        The arguments against slavery tended to reject this “clobber verse” approach in favour of trying to look at the whole scope of the Bible and its general principles. There were arguments that Biblical references to “bondsmen” and “servants” were different from the experience of slavery in 19th century North America and so those references were irrelevant, and the Biblical rules on slavery (Exodus 21, Deuteronomy 23 etc.) were wildly different to how slavery was practiced in the US.

        Reply
        • I’ll take the Golden Rule spoken by Jesus as a clobber verse against slavery.

          The Old Testament licensed ANCIENT ISRAELITES to take slaves in certain circumstances, essentially women and children after their men had been killed in battle against ancient Israel. Their fate in the Ancient Near East had they simply been left defenceless, to starve and be exploited horribly in other ways, is far worse than enslavement under the written laws of Moses, which stipulated that slaves were to be treated well. But Christians – gentile ones at least – never were under the laws of Moses. The hypocrisy of people who thunder “We are not under the law” one day and then use it as justification for practices they find advantageous is grotesque.

          The New Testament is about personal change for the better in a way one cannot do for oneself, and as such is non-political. Had it told slaves to start an insurrection then the early church woujld have been put down as brutally as Spartacus’s uprising was.

          Reply
        • Adam, it is not true that the OT explicitly sanctions slavery. The word ebed can be translated in a number of different ways, and the majority use of the term is about bond service—the equivalent for us of getting a mortgage to pay our debts.

          See Peter Williams’ helpful video on YouTube.

          Reply
          • Ian Paul

            There’s a difference between asserting what you think the correct interpretation of scripture is and what the common historical understanding was

          • Ian

            But you cannot deny that in the past the Bible was widely used to justify, if not require, slavery, even though you disagree with that interpretation.

          • Peter, one thing that is really interesting is that a key argument of slave-owners was that ‘The Bible doesn’t explicitly prohibit slave-owning, and if something is not explicitly forbidden, then it can be ok.’

            That is *precisely* the argument used by people (to me, this last week) about same-sex marriage, which is a fascinating parallel!

          • Ian

            So…large parts of the church were promoting if not outright requiring slavery as a fundamental aspect of Christianity.

            I’d argue that you cannot love your neighbor as yourself if you own your neighbor! And you cannot love your neighbor as yourself if you have married, but you are forbidding your neighbor from marrying

  5. Has anyone evaluated the extent of the influence of the philosophies of the Enlightenment on the Church and slavery?
    Mostly, in any discussion of slavery in Christian circles, what I’ve seen, relates to cultural relativity in interpretation of scripture and overlooks the influence of secular philosophers on interpretation in the Church.

    Reply
  6. Well said.
    As the history of Britain’s involvement in ending slavery is revisited by those who are not mere ideologues with political agendas, the history of missions should also be remembered. The efforts to end the slave trade by the Clapham Community in England and many others (yes, Wesley included), by missionaries like David Livingstone or Karl Kumm, or the Anglican-university mission of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa, etc. need to fill a large section of any report.
    The modern era that faced the reality of slavery addressed reparations in various ways, including in the life sacrifices of missionaries in Africa. Let’s hear about reparations that were made. Let the historians keep speaking.
    The postmodern era that prefers imagined identities to reality and quixotically attacks the shadows of a past cause, that feeds on self-flagellation and signals its own righteousness by burning the bones of the dead, having no theology of repentance and forgiveness, will feel better about itself in a self-imposed purgatory of a thousand years of shame and reparations and shackling its children.
    Meanwhile, Europe’s serfs for hundreds of years, France’s Huguenots, and Germany’s and Spain’s Jews would like a further word with their reparations committees. And here come the Anabaptists and Puritans.
    Paying back the past is not the same as doing good in the present. How about those black, Christian slaves in Sudan or the regular kidnapping and slaying of Christians in northern Nigeria or the worldwide sex trade of today?

    Reply
  7. It is apparent that Critical Race Theory has the ability to erase the past in the minds of people.

    As a primer, I suggest googling National Socialism and the achievement of Racial Purity.

    Reply
    • Critical Race Theory doesn’t apply to England, because England did not have racial segregation in the 20th century

      Reply
      • CRT is an outworking, a specific manifestation of Critical Theory that is prominent in Western culture and influence in the Church today. Another is the development of Queer theory outside and inside the Church.
        It doesn’t take much to scratch beneath the surface.
        One CoE minister Melvin Tinker (dec’d) has written an excellent primer book. That Hideous Strength: How The West Was Lost.

        Reply
        • Melvin Tinker was certainly no friend to any equality movement! I don’t think he was still around when “CRT” started being the phrase of the day. I would estimate it came in in early 2021

          Reply
          • That is no response at all, an entirely ad hom dismissal without even attempting to address any of the points maked in the book. Knee jerk, callowness is no substitute for reading.

            Critical Theory and its development is far from limited to the the lifespan of Tinker!
            There is a history which continues in its development and adversarial cultural ideology and advocacy today.
            This may help to set the scene for understanding, today’s cultural context which doesn’t even mention Tinker!
            It really doesn’t take much to scratch the surface.
            https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/

          • Geoff

            I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to. I’m not sure why you think Melvin Tinker – a white English man with no experience or qualifications in race relations – should be an expert on racial equality?

  8. The problem is that nobody senior in the Church of England has the courage to formulate and make public a response that makes the points we read above.

    Reply
  9. It would seem that these folk who advocate reparations have an imperfect idea of atonement. When Saul / Paul was saved was he required to pay compensation to all the families of the Christians slain with his consent? He who had caused devastating injury to the early Church was forgiven much and forgiven totally. Such is the nature of Christ’s redemptive work.

    Am I responsible for the sins of all of my forebears? Or only some on a selective basis to be determined by a Church of England committee? And by what measure would these sins be assessed and the corresponding financial penalty calculated? No, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

    Restitution should be made by the grace of God, not under the direction of any law. Zaccheus is a case in point (Luke 19:8-10). His encounter with Jesus turned his life around. With no external pressure He opened his coffers to the poor and promised to overcompensate those he had defrauded. Furthermore he cleared his conscience with his own money, not somebody else’s.

    Reply
  10. In terms of both slavery and abuse it seems to me that number 1 has to be “stop doing it” or to put it in more plain language – put systems in place to ensure that abuse and racism are no longer tolerated, not just in words, but in reality.

    I do not know the state of racial justice in the CofE, but it seems to me on abuse that there’s a lot of effort to vet the backgrounds of people volunteering their time at the grassroots and a lot of effort trying to protect the reputation of the CofE, but when there are cases of serious abuse, the abuser is quietly retired off and theres an obstinate refusal both to investigate which senior leaders knew about the abuse and allowed it to continue and to put structures in place to stop the same thing happening again.

    In the Pilavachi case there have been allegations that senior leaders in the church of England knew about his abuses. In the Fletcher case its hard to believe that this was not also the case. Neither scandal has resulted in any change in policy or oversight. There’s nothing to stop another cofe church leader from repeating their abuses.

    This seems to me far more important to get right than fussing about under which circumstances its OK to bless a gay couple

    Reply
    • AJB has well demonstrated that it is possible to engage with the topic without getting stuck in a revolving door, that seems to be your habitat, that seeks to turn every topic to what you personally consider to be of first order importance, above all else.

      Reply
      • Geoff

        You rarely engage with the substance of my posts. You seem to delight in finding fault with me personally rather than discuss the points I make. You don’t even know me!

        My post is about how the cofe should respond to its involvement in slavery and abuse, which is what this article is also about.

        Reply
  11. Without detracting from this very interesting and useful article, may I add some comments on the subject of the Church of England being ‘an uncritical pillar of the slave owning establishments of the various islands’?

    While plenty of West Indian clergy were dissolute (not uncommon in the rest of CofE in the 18th century) not all were ‘uncritical pillars’ of the plantocracy.

    First, while Church of England clergy in the islands were under the long-distance authority of the Bishop of London they locally answerable to the powerful planter community throughout the period. The planters effectively controlled the churches and priests, for example forbidding clergy from teaching slaves to read (the bible). Where clergy stepped out of line, the consequences could be severe. Clergy who showed themselves too sympathetic to slaves might be ostracised, even forced of the island. In the case of Rev James Ramsay, who for fifteen years as a rector on Saint Christopher and became one Britain’s leading anti-slavery campaigners, it was even worse. Intense attacks by allies of the planter community back in England lead to his eventual breakdown and when he died one of his chief attackers crowed that ‘Ramsay is dead. I have killed him.’ It should be remembered that John Wesley, whose ‘ Thoughts upon Slavery’ 1778 was deeply critical of the practice, was an Anglican clergyman as well.

    Secondly, there were bishops who called for human treatment of slaves (ownership then being legal) and criticised planters for their cruelty – Beilby Porteus thundered against them in a sermon in 1783 and as Bishop of London spoke powerfully on slaves behalf in the House of Lords. Bishop William Fleetwood, Bishop of St. Asaph, in a sermon in 1711, railed against planters who refused to allow their slaves to convert and treated them as sub-human. In truth these ‘unhappy Creatures, whom they use thus cruelly… [are] equally the Workmanship of God, with themselves; endued with the same Faculties, and intellectual Powers; Bodies of the same Flesh and Blood, and Souls as certainly immortal.’

    And yet the Oversight Group calls for the Church to repent for ‘publicly for denying that Black Africans are made in the image of God’ (§ 32). Really?

    Thirdly, While far from commendable, the story of the SPG/CofE owned Codrington Estate on Barbados is more nuanced than appears at first sight.

    Critics often mention the fact that the slaves were branded (though not with the sign of the fish as one vocal activist claims). The only reason why we know some slaves were branded is because the Anglican chaplain discovered it and was so appalled he put an immediate stop to it. And that was one moment in the plantation’s history not a permanent state of affairs, as some would imply. Moreover, it was done by local managers who were employed at a distance and, according to the chaplain of the time, frequently disregarded the spirit of instructions given it by the Codrington committee in London. Bishop Beilby, speaking some 60-70 years later, made the same charge against the local managers of the estate.

    The estate was left to the SPG by a man who hoped it could be a model plantation to encourage other planters to be more humane and because he wanted the profits to be used to finance a group of medically trained priests to minister to the needs of slaves and others across the island. In fact it hardly made much money during its whole existence which was at the end subject to much criticism from other Anglicans. His bequest stipulated that the plantation should keep 300 slaves.

    If the SPG had refused the bequest (which it did not seek) the slaves would not have been freed. The terms of Codrington’s will were such that if at any point they shut down the estate or freed the slaves they would have broken the terms of their bequest and other family members who had already contested the bequest would have taken over the estate. The slaves would have been far worse off.

    It is hard to defend the SPG but what other option did they have but to take and keep the estate? I fully accept that it may never occurred to them to refuse it or have moral qualms about taking it. But the question still needs to be addressed by those criticising it today, almost all of whom are totally ignorant of the details I have just outlined and so make their criticism on the basis of incomplete information.

    Moreover, there has been virtually no mention of the considerable sums the Church of England put back into the West Indies to help create a stable new society for the freed slaves. Ye, the SPG/CofE received £8558 compensation for the Barbados slaves in 1835, but over the next 10 years it disbursed £61,625 to the Codrington estate & £171,777 in the rest of the West Indies to build schools, churches, and clinics to help the slaves build a new society. At the conversion rate used by the UCL Slavery Database that equates to about £200m.

    Which begs the question – have reparations actually been paid?

    Reply
    • Impressive detail, thank you.

      Satan enmeshes people in his web. You describe a very clear example. Only Jesus Christ has the right answers. Man doesn’t, even when he is well meaning.

      Reply
      • Multiple ones. I’ve done a lot of work on Codrington and the SPG but still need to write it up fully – which I intend to as soon as the opportunity presents itself, family care and a longer book manuscript (different topic) permitting. Forgive me for keeping my powder dry until then!

        Reply
  12. On other online forums, I’ve openly criticised the rationale behind the Fund. Nevertheless, John Root’s analysis, while exhaustive, reveals a misunderstanding of the normative principles that form the basis of any reparative process.

    1. There is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity
    There is statute of limitations on torts resulting from cartel-like practices. However, the statute does not extend to genocide, crimes against humanity (which includes slavery) and war crimes.

    2. Liability should not be conflated with culpability
    Consider a widow who faces eviction because the estate faces debts racked up by her deceased husband. Now, that wife may have been scrupulous with credit.

    Despite the personal impact, the liability is incurred by the estate rather than the widow per se (as the resulting attachment would show).

    The lack of intention or culpability does not relieve the estate of the liability incurred.

    As an example of corporate (national) liability, up to Dec 2010, the German people were corporately still paying war reparations (via taxes) that the Allies imposed on their grandparents after the Potsdam Conference.

    While some of this was to recoup the cost of the war itself, Germany also compensated Jewish victims of the Holocaust to the tune of 63 billion euros by 2005. German companies which exploited forced workers also made payments.

    3. Reparations are negotiated and re-negotiated.
    Notably, since 1951, it has been the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (a.k.a. the Claims Conference comprising 23 international Jewish organisations) that “negotiates for and disburses funds to individuals and organizations and seeks the return of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust”.

    A cursory scan of that organisation’s grants database reveals several disbursements from the German government that go beyond the “original intentions” (as John Root puts it) of securing compensation for the suffering and losses experienced by the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Yet, I’d doubt that anyone here, on the basis of the original intentions, would probe the justification for the German government’s grant of 8.1 million euros to fund the transcription of survivor testimony primarily held in Israeli archives. Neither would any probe the justification for progressively expanding the eligibility criteria to include far more than was originally intended.

    Most of the funding secured by the Claims Conference is disbursed to Jewish communities which (contrary to Root’s argument) is not a “dangerously imprecise term”. Nor is it “implicitly racist”.

    So, despite my own criticisms of this Fund, John Root’s repeated mention of “original intentions” and “original justification” is akin to Portia’s proviso in the Merchant of Venice:
    Tarry a little, there is something else.
    This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
    The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”

    There are better arguments against reparations and this post has failed to marshal a single one of them.

    Reply
    • Hello David.
      We have been here before around the time of covid lock-down if recalled correctly.
      Please cite the authority for your point number 1.
      Is formulted as a “Statute” within living memory? Or within modernity?
      Does it have a retrospective application throughout human history without time limit?
      2
      2.1 Point two is too simple and too specific, hence restrictive, yet seeks to have a general applicabilty it seems.
      2.2 It doesn’t relate to corporate liability, (civil or criminal).
      2.3 If “estate” is limited, as you seem to, to land and dwelling thereon, if it is held jointly, it will automatically pass to the widow, subject to any mortgage to which she was party. If the deceased other assets did not cover his debts his estate is insolvent and creditors are paid in order of priority, set out in statute.
      2.4 The deceased debts do not pass down generations, are personal to him.
      2.5 But here in this illustration there is a conflating of crime with a civil law bebt, it seems to me.
      3. You do not give any indication of what you see as better arguments. It would be good to see them.
      Yours in Christ,
      Geoff

      Reply
      • Hi Geoff,

        Yes, we’ve been here before. At that time, I explained that: “given the Allies’ victory, under the terms of surrender, Germany had no choice but to comply with the demand for reparations. Absent the ability to impose reparations (or compensation), the reaction of collective inertia is to be expected.”

        Here are my responses:

        1. It is those opposed to reparations, rather than those in favour, who have invoked the statute of limitations to repel contemporary claims that are framed as a demand for damages in tort. Since it is the contemporary statute of limitations that opponents of reparations are invoking, my point is that they would have to contend with contemporary international law (e.g., the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court) that rejects such limitations in relation to crimes against humanity.

        Also, a principled opposition to reparations would also take issue with the 1837 Slavery Compensation Act through which £2 million (40% of the Treasury’s tax receipts at the time, estimated £300 billion in today’s money) was disbursed to slave owners, but nothing going to ex-slaves who were liberated under the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act.

        “2.1 Point two is too simple and too specific, hence restrictive, yet seeks to have a general applicability it seems” The analogy’s sole purpose was to underscore the distinction between liability and culpability. In terms of general applicability, I gave the example of Germany’s post-war reparations to Israel, which underscores the principle of corporate (national) liability. Your points 2.2 to 2.5 only focus on the estate illustration, but without engaging with the ensuing ‘real world’ example of Holocaust reparations.

        In that case, Western allies wasted no time in finding Germany, as a nation, to be liable for the suffering of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. A significant part of that liability was met through the taxes of millions of Germans who weren’t involved in Nazi atrocities. Similarly, Iraq, as a nation, was found to be liable for damage inflicted on Kuwait in the Gulf War.

        So, it’s inconsistent to have no problem with reparations when they benefit the Western allies, only to oppose them when they don’t.

        3. For any argument against reparations to succeed, it must be coherent and principled. If the enrichment of the descendants of slaves through 21st reparations is wrong, then the enrichment of the descendants of slave-owners through 19th century reparations is also wrong.

        Reply
        • It’s interesting though that for all the protestations about there being no statute of limitations, that all your examples are about compensation paid to direct victims (i.e. Kuwait in the 1990s, the Allied nations in the 1950s, Jews and Israel in the 1950s and 60s etc. etc.). It’s also worth noting that these are examples of liability is direct – i.e. the Iraqi government did invade and pillage Kuwait. If we wanted to apply that to the historical slave trade (and skip over the issue that we’re not talking about providing money to any ex-slaves or children of slaves) we’d have to start with the people who actually did the enslaving, wouldn’t we? That means going after the nations of West Africa. If we want to consider reparations for African chattel slavery, is there are any particular reason to limit ourselves to West Africa? The East African and Saharan slave trades were more prolific, went on for longer, and were themselves extraordinarily brutal (mass castration for the men, and typically saw a third of slaves die every year). That would mean going after India, Pakistan and the nations of the Middle East. But for some reason, that is never suggested. And that I think rather gives the game away.

          Reply
          • Perhaps, before assuming that I support reparations, you should have read my first comment in this thread more carefully. I wrote: “On other online forums, I’ve openly criticised the rationale behind the Fund.”

            My point here has been that the arguments in the OP that relate to the “original intention” of the Fund do not bear serious scrutiny. For example, the Claims Conference has lobbied the German government to expand the eligibility criteria to include far more than was originally intended.

            Instead of these fatuous objection, I’d recommend Menachem Begin’s rejection of reparations for Israel. His position, which I support, was as principled as it was coherent: “From whom are you going to claim the property? Let me present a simple example: Shimon sets fire to the house of Ruben’s father and Ruben’s father dies in the fire. What can Ruben do? He might forego the house since his father burned to death in it. Or he might go to court, declare himself a litigant and demand that he be compensated for the cost of the house, on the basis of the court decision. But in which barbaric tribe would you find him turning directly to the murderer and demanding compensation for the house from him? Whereas you, bereaved children orphaned of your parents, you go directly to the murderer. Not to demand the “ransom” as you put it but rather to get, as it were, the value of the house which was burned down, with your fathers in it. In what barbaric tribe would you find such an abomination. What are you trying to make of the Jewish people, a people which has been civilized and has taught others to be civilized for some four thousand years.”

    • But Germany’ s reparations did not go beyond the Jews to other victims of the war, say Norwegians. If the fund is paid to Ghanaians or Kenyans it goes well beyond the original purposes of the fund to descendants of the slaves.

      Reply
      • I don’t know where David gets the idea that I oppose reparations. I have argued elsewhere that Britain has a moral responsibility to the Caribbean islands as societies we created purely to make profits from slave labour. My point is that the report extends the original purpose of the Fund both geographically and in purpose beyond the original intention and in ways that are limitless.

        Reply
    • “1. There is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity
      There is statute of limitations on torts resulting from cartel-like practices. However, the statute does not extend to genocide, crimes against humanity (which includes slavery) and war crimes.”

      Well, I think the death (centuries ago) of the perpetrators of wrong is a pretty strong ‘statute of limitations’ – unless you think the descendants of wrongdoers should be punished for the sins of the (great-great-great-great-great grand)fathers and mothers. Personally, I’m prepared to forgive the English for Culloden and the Irish Famine.
      In any case, keeping slaves wasn’t a crime three hundred years ago, so I hope you don’t believe also in retroactive bills of attainder.
      Finally, everyone should read (at least) pages 276-83 of Nigel Biggar’s book ‘Colonialism. A Moral Reckoning’ to see the moral, legal and practical absurdities of trying to make amends for long distant wrongs, especially when it is driven by contemporary political power grabs.

      Reply
      • “ Well, I think the death (centuries ago) of the perpetrators of wrong is a pretty strong ‘statute of limitations’ – unless you think the descendants of wrongdoers should be punished for the sins of the (great-great-great-great-great grand)fathers and mothers.”

        As I mentioned above: “liability should not be conflated with culpability”.

        Even in 2010, the German people (including the descendants of Nazis) were still liable for and paying (through their taxes) reparations to Israel for the Holocaust.

        I’ve heard no outcry from the British public over that intergenerational liability, but that’s because no-one here assumes that such an ongoing liability amounts to German descendants admitting culpability for that atrocity.

        Reply
  13. The idea that German reparations to the Jews is relevant to slavery reparations is just not convincing.

    The issue is consent. There was, for obvious reasons, an authentic national sentiment amongst Germans in the aftermath of 1945, that they were collectively responsible for Hitler. The simple fact is they were responsible for him. They voted for him in their millions.

    A tiny elite were responsible for decision making in this country three to four hundred years ago. The beneficiaries were also a tiny elite. The vast majority of the English over the last five hundred years lived in poverty. The majority were never more than a hard winter away from potential destitution.

    It is simply preposterous to hold not just those people but all their descendants responsible for slavery reparations.

    There is a dark parody of the history now being repeated. A tiny cultural elite have decided reparations are due. There is no national consent at all. None.

    Reply
  14. “ The issue is consent. There was, for obvious reasons, an authentic national sentiment amongst Germans in the aftermath of 1945, that they were collectively responsible for Hitler. The simple fact is they were responsible for him. They voted for him in their millions.”

    The post-war decision on reparations was made by the Allies’ political elite at the Potsdam conference and the terms were imposed as a condition of surrender. The decision had nothing to do with electoral consent to Hitler by the German people.

    And the consent rationale doesn’t explain why Germany (led by unelected Kaiser Wilhelm II) was forced to pay reparations to the Allied Powers.

    In terms of consent, long before emancipation, notions of racial superiority had spread throughout Europe that derived from the curse of Ham myth. It wasn’t merely the political elite that espoused this lie.

    As the compilers of Alphonse X’s universal history wrote: ” Whereas, anyone who wishes to know from where this great and longstanding enmity between Christians and Muslims may here see the reason; for the Gentiles and Christians that are alive today come primarily from Shem and Japhet, who populated Asia and Europe. Yet still, despite the fact that some of the descendants of Ham have become Christian, either by preaching or forcefully as prisoners or slaves. And the Muslims come principally from Ham, who populated Africa, but there are some of them descended from Shem or Japhet, who by the false preaching of Muhammad become Muslims, whereby we have, according to this right and privilege that our father Noah granted to the descendants of Shem and Japheth, that wherever the Muslims may be in whichever other lands, that because they are Muslims, are all from Ham, and if we might take from them their property through combat or by any type of force, and even capture them and make them our slaves, that we commit no sin or error in so doing… (Alfonso X 1: 91)

    The British people were complicit in that myth which developed into the civilising mission and provided the impetus for colonialism.

    Even post-emancipation, while British people now rejected slavery, they still warmed to notions of white racial superiority that were invoked by popular authors, like Rudyard Kipling, and publications, like Boys Own Paper, to justify imperial rule.

    Consent has never been the justification for imposing reparations, but the British nation was as complicit in transatlantic slavery and the genocide of the Middle Passage as the German nation missions complicit in the Holocaust.

    Reply
    • “Even post-emancipation, while British people now rejected slavery, they still warmed to notions of white racial superiority that were invoked by popular authors, like Rudyard Kipling, and publications, like Boys Own Paper, to justify imperial rule.”

      But so what? Anyone who studies history will find that EVERY racial and ethnic group has some sense of innate superiority over their neighbours, and this is just as much the case in Africa as in other continents. Did Arabs think of themselves as better than blacks? Of course they did – and still do. How else can you enslave millions of black Africans in Arab lands? Do brahmin Indians consider themselves better than other Indians? Of course – the caste system is built on this. Do Turks look down on Greeks and Circassians? Did German Nazis despise Slavs? Do black Muslim Sudanese look down on black Christian Sudanese? And Nigerians? And so it goes, through every nation.
      We just happen to know the Anglophone story better than any other. Slavery was endemic among the African peoples for many centuries before the transatlantic or East African slave trade – or even before there was an concept of ‘Africa’. One African ‘nation’ looked down on another and saw nothing wrong with enslaving ‘the other’ – or in selling them to European traders.
      The past is an impossible web of good and wrong which cannot be unpicked without causing even more wrong and harm.
      The comparison with the Holocaust is historically absurd.

      Reply
      • Well, you can reply “so what?” and assert that “the comparison with the Holocaust is historically absurd”, but what you haven’t done is to provide a coherent set of principles upon which a claim for reparations should be upheld or denied.

        For example, you state: “Slavery was endemic among the African peoples for many centuries before the transatlantic or East African slave trade – or even before there was an concept of ‘Africa’”

        So, apparently, your principle is that reparations should not be paid to any ethnic group that has ever been guilty of similar atrocities.

        If that were true, then you would reject any reparations paid to Israel for the Holocaust on the basis that they themselves perpetrated massacres of Arabs (as evidenced by 1948 Memorandum to the UN from the Representative of the Arab Higher Commission for Palestine).

        The fact that you don’t take issue with Holocaust reparations (whereas the Jewish leader, Menachem Begin did) reveals that you really don’t have any coherent principles on this issue.

        Reply
        • David, my position is perfectly clear.
          1. If any reparations were due for enslavement, it was due to those who were slaves from those who enslaved them – not their long distant descendants, many of whom ae the mized race descendants of both slaves and slaveholders. Most West Indians are actually mixed race. Should they be paying reparations to themselves?
          2. Read the pages of Nigel Biggar’s book “Colonialism. A Moral Reckoning” which I mentioned (268-73) and you will see how it is impossible to unpick the past without csusing immrnse harm and injustice. Why do you think leftwing California just gave up the idea of giving every black Californian $1 million? Because it was a ridiculous and illegal boondoggle.
          3. My point about indigenous slavery in Africa – the fact that made the slave trade possible – was to point out that the African elites became very wealthy themselves from enslaving and selling their neighbours. What reparations would you require of them? The President of Benin apologised in 2007 for the way his country enabled the transatlantic trade.
          4. West Germany (not the DDR) made postwar reparations for the crimes of the German government against the Jews (theft of homes and property, imprisonment, murder etc). There was also prosecution of individual Germans for their criminal acts – although it is the nature of war that the successful prosecution of war crimes is very often impossible. Millions of Soviet citizens were murdered by the Germans, millions of German women were raped by Soviet soldiers, and criminals got away with it. But that has no bearing on any crimes that other Jews in Israel may have committed against Palestinians after 1948. Punishing these crimes is the responsibility of the sovereign government of Israel.
          My principles are entirely coherent.

          Reply
          • James,

            To state that “West Germany (not the DDR) made postwar reparations for the crimes of the German government against the Jews (theft of homes and property, imprisonment, murder etc)” doesn’t establish that you have coherent principles on the issue of Holocaust reparations.

            For example, for your position that reparations for enslavement are “due to those who were slaves from those who enslaved them” to be a coherent principle would imply that “reparations for an atrocity are only due to actual victims of that atrocity from those who actually committed the atrocity”.

            Even in 2010, German people who weren’t responsible for the Holocaust were still paying reparations to Israel, much of which was being used to develop national infrastructure to the benefit of many who weren’t Holocaust victims.

            If, in your comments, you had taken issue with that divergence from your stated principle, then your position would be coherent.

        • David, if we think reparations are a good idea, presumably those African nations whose ancestors enslaved and sold their fellow Africans to the Europeans and profited from it should now be paying reparations to Black Caribbeans?

          Reply
    • Hitler was elected by a democratic system. There was no democracy in England three hundred years ago.

      It is a tendentious and unconvincing assertion that you make. England in the seventeenth century was not Germany in the twentieth century.

      Reply
      • Hitler was actually appointed Chancellor (i.e., Prime Minister) by a President who wanted to end months of deadlock in repeated elections in which no party leader had been able to form a coalition having an absolute majority in the Reichstag (Parliament). Hitler then quickly seized emergency powers and abolished democracy.

        Reply
      • There was democracy in England 300 years ago, just less than 5% of the population could vote for MPs and 95% had no democratic voice until the expansion of the franchise in the 19th and early 20th centuries

        Reply
        • “DEMOS. A Greek word meaning: (1) the people, either in contrast with a despot or the nobility, or as the depository of supreme power.”

          No… There was no democracy. You fail in basic word definition

          Reply
          • Ian – if you replace ‘the people’ by ‘the people who have had a wash’ then T1’s use of the word ‘democracy’ matches up with your definition of ‘demos’.

    • Well David,
      1 Please now give us the better reasons for no reparations that we have all missed.
      2 As far as criminality is concerned execpt for strict liability cases criminal intent is a necessary constituent. BTW You have not answered whether crimes against humanity is retrospective in application, throughout history?
      3. Wasn’t a key element of the Nazi War Crime trials establishing criminal intent?
      4 Have there been any benefits such as now living in a democracy, with its freedoms, education, legal systems, religion.
      5 My grand-dad was a coal miner, fought and was injured in the Great War, one of 10 children, grand mother one of 11 yet were in relative, white working class literate poverty, pressed down by industrialists and government, yet were passively a-political until, I suspect, voting came around and it would be always Labour.
      6 Dad and uncle both fought in WW, unapologetically, yet without jingoistic pride.
      7 Is the UK perfect? Hardly.
      8 BTW how did you become a Christian, learn about Christ, the Jew and why? What were the intentions of those from and through whom you heard the Good News?
      9 None of this, it seems to me goes towards truth and reconciliation, rather it divides, opens and festers wounds, running sores, rather than heals. And it is not the way of Christ, as disciples, brothers and sisters in Him. We truly all need to examine our own hearts, or rather have them examined by God. If I may say, as a personal point there seems to be some measure of unforgiveness, in perpetuity, in what you write on this matter.
      Yours in Christ, Geoff

      Reply
      • Hi Geoff,

        The better arguments against reparations is encapsulated in Menachem Begin’s principled rejection of them: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/begin-on-german

        1: The acceptance of reparations carries the immoral connotation that a financial transaction can somehow eradicate the enduring infamy that has resulted from perpetrating atrocity on an industrial scale. In 1952, Begin explained this immoral connotation to Knesset: “They are perfectly clear: they state that if the matter of the compensation of the Jews by Germany is taken care of, then, in the opinion of the Government of Israel, the restitution of Germany’s honour as a nation within the family of nations would indeed be possible.”

        2: The hands of those with whom reparations are being negotiated are still not clean. As Begin explained: “Perhaps you will say that the government of Adenauer is a new German government, not a Nazi one. You must know who this Adenauer is. I ask you: In which concentration camp was he when Hitler ruled Germany, into which prison was he thrown as a result of the bloody regime of the Nazis? I ask you: Who are Mr. Adenauer’s assistants? You reply: About half the people in Adenauer’s Foreign Ministry are members of the Nazi Party.”

        3: Seeking material reparations from an institution that has had a supposed change of heart after centuries of complicity in my ancestors’ genocide insults their dignity and moral legacy that I am honour-bound to maintain.

        As Begin put it: “From whom are you going to claim the property? Let me present a simple example: Shimon sets fire to the house of Ruben’s father and Ruben’s father dies in the fire. What can Ruben do? He might forego the house since his father burned to death in it. Or he might go to court, declare himself a litigant and demand that he be compensated for the cost of the house, on the basis of the court decision. But in which barbaric tribe would you find him turning directly to the murderer and demanding compensation for the house from him? Whereas you, bereaved children orphaned of your parents, you go directly to the murderer. Not to demand the “ransom” as you put it but rather to get, as it were, the value of the house which was burned down, with your fathers in it. In what barbaric tribe would you find such an abomination. What are you trying to make of the Jewish people, a people which has been civilized and has taught others to be civilized for some four thousand years.”

        Reply
        • These “better arguments” are an Aunt Sally when applied to slavery:
          – There can be no restitution of honour amongst the family of nations – who is supposed to have honour on the issue of slavery given it was a universal human practice?
          – The hands aren’t clean – Begin was objecting to German officials who’d been part of the Nazi regime, but there’s no suggestion that the current British public, government, or CofE are slave traders or slave owners.
          – Begin argues that you shouldn’t discuss reparations with the perpetrator, and instead seeks to separate himself from them entirely: i.e. you might go to court, but you don’t talk to them directly. So it doesn’t work if you haven’t separated yourself. It’s a critique Begin could make from Israel, but would find it much harder if he lived in Germany.

          Reply
    • The original civilising mission was the long-running and expensive military campaign to abolish the slave trade. Are we now to be told that was a horrific mistake and evidence of historical racism?

      Reply
  15. Well, the article goes wrong in the statement ‘the evils *we have been guilty of*’ in the first paragraph – when the discussion is about historic events. Or is the author saying that everybody who signs up to the Church of England inherits the guilt of corrupt C. of E. people from 200 years ago? If so, then David Shepherd, this includes you! You decided, using your sanctified common sense, that the C. of E. presented the best mechanism for you to do the work that God had commissioned you to do, so you joined them, and now (according to the logic of this piece) you’re contaminated by the guilt of every single bad egg that has ever belonged to the C. of E.

    Everybody with a social conscience (and I’d hope that this includes everybody who describes themselves as a ‘Christian’) would like to pinpoint situations where there is need, how to meet that need, if money can help, they how to put money in the direction of need – in a way that it actually helps – and doesn’t get trousered by corrupt people who only want to build up their own family fortune.

    In my own background, my grandparents didn’t have much money at all and had to work hard in force 10 gales to make a meagre existence by catching herring (this gave a very poor living in the 1930’s; things only improved post-war when they started using diesel engines). The major game changer in the 1950’s occurred when my parents got bursaries to study at university and ended up with middle class jobs and middle class salaries. A pre-requisite for this (of course) was that (a) there were quality universities and (b) there were middle-class jobs (with decent remuneration) for those who got a decent university degree.

    This could give some indicators about useful ways to target resources to improve the lives of people and the societies that they live in.

    I don’t understand where ‘reparation’ comes into this and why this business seems to be restricted to those whose ancestors were slaves – when you find lots of destitute people whose ancestors weren’t slaves.

    I’d say that I’m strongly supportive of a major fund, major financial resources to help out where there is need, but there is something that smells very badly about this ‘reparations’ fund, the rationale behind it, the twisted logic that holds individuals morally culpable for things done by their ancestors, long since dead.

    I’d like to see inheritance tax put at 100 percent – I don’t think that passing on family fortunes actually does much good.

    Reply
    • David’s arguments are often historically muddled and selective, and ethically muddled as well.
      In truth, the only reason we are hearing all these drumbeats about “reparations” (from people who have no descent from the untraceable slaves in Spanish America of three hundred years ago) is because of the economic situation of West Indian Britons today, which is on the lower rungs of the ladder: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/incomeandwealth/articles/householdwealthbyethnicitygreatbritain/april2016tomarch2018
      Afro-Caribbean Britons have less household wealth and own less property than White Britons because fewer ACBs are in the higher professional classes or operate small businesses than WBs. Contrast that with Indian Britons who are better educated than WBs and strongly represented in the higher professional classes and have higher household wealth and property ownership than WBs.
      The West Indians who came to Britain in the 1950s and 60s were largely unskilled or semi-skilled workers, so they were not going to assume well paid jobs. The way out of poverty is the same for everyone: complete your education, get and stay married, and progress through your career, practising thrift as you go. This is the route that poverty-stricken Jewish immigrants followed in Britain and America and it is the one aspirational African immigrants today are following.

      Reply
    • “Or is the author saying that everybody who signs up to the Church of England inherits the guilt of corrupt C. of E. people from 200 years ago? If so, then David Shepherd, this includes you! You decided, using your sanctified common sense, that the C. of E. presented the best mechanism for you to do the work that God had commissioned you to do, so you joined them, and now (according to the logic of this piece) you’re contaminated by the guilt of every single bad egg that has ever belonged to the C. of E.

      Jock,

      In my above comment, I rejected the notion of intergenerational guilt by writing: “Liability should not be conflated with culpability”. On that basis, your argument amounts to a ‘straw man’.

      Reply
      • David – I wasn’t arguing against you – I was arguing against the assumptions of the piece by John Root. He definitely writes ‘the evils *we have been guilty of*’ (who does he include in the ‘we’?) and he writes ‘…. response to *our involvement in slavery*’.

        So you reject the notion of intergenerational guilt – as do I – because it isn’t Scriptural (Scripture is clear – Deuteronomy 24:16, Ezekiel 18:20) – and I’m very glad you do – the point is that I’m not sure that the author of the piece does.

        Reply
    • Absolutely not, why should those who have built up assets and savings not pass some onto their family when they die rather than give it all to the state?

      Reply
  16. Shepherd really is in a muddle over reparations.

    On the one hand he asserts that they are negotiated as was the case in relation to post war Germany’s restitution in regard to Israel. On the other hand he asserts that it was imposed by the victorious allies.

    His legal “arguments” are a complete dogs breakfast, frankly. Just including legal vocabulary in a set of assertions does not make it a legal argument.

    Reply
    • “ On the one hand he asserts that they are negotiated as was the case in relation to post war Germany’s restitution in regard to Israel. On the other hand he asserts that it was imposed by the victorious allies.”

      To state that, initially, the reparations established at the Potsdam conference of 1945 were imposed, whereas the reparations of the later 1951 Claims Conference were negotiated is not muddled.

      Of course, if you want to disparage my knowledge of history, you should now be able to explain how this statement is historically inaccurate.

      Or you can admit that your comment is no more than an ad hominem.

      Reply
    • “ On the one hand he asserts that they are negotiated as was the case in relation to post war Germany’s restitution in regard to Israel. On the other hand he asserts that it was imposed by the victorious allies.”

      To state that, initially, the reparations established at the Potsdam conference of 1945 were imposed, whereas the reparations of the later 1951 Claims Conference were negotiated is not muddled.

      Of course, if you want to disparage my knowledge of history, you should now be able to explain how this statement is historically inaccurate.

      Or you can admit that your comment is no more than an ad hominem.

      Reply
  17. David,

    I have said nothing ad hominem. My criticism is of your analysis, not you personally.

    Nor have I said every statement you have made is historically inaccurate.

    Your general claim is – or at least appears to be – that the genocidal actions of the National Socialists in seeking to exterminate the Jews is comparable to slavery (or at least that part of slavery which is the obvious subject of debate) insofar as it creates a generational collective guilt which remains on the English.

    That is a moral assertion. Not a historical analysis.

    Reply
    • Peter,

      “Nor have I said every statement you have made is historically inaccurate”. No, you haven’t, but you did provide the following as evidence in support of your moral assertion: “On the one hand he asserts that they are negotiated as was the case in relation to post war Germany’s restitution in regard to Israel. On the other hand he asserts that it was imposed by the victorious allies.”

      So, you should, at least, be able to rebut my specific reply to your moral assertion.

      Reply
        • Peter,

          You’ve cited a supposed example of confusion that you appear unable to prove.

          When you can prove that example, please let us know.

          Reply
          • There is no presumption in favour of a claim for reparations !

            My ancestors were Irish. They were taken in ships to the West Indies as indentured servants. Ready access to judicial services was not a feature of the West Indies back then so my ancestors were denied freedom and lived as de facto slaves.

            So, that is my claim for reparations. Are you happy to pay – assuming you are a UK citizen ?

            You need to convince people – and they are the judge of your argument.

          • Peter,

            Just so we’re clear, I’ll repeat and refute your example of purported muddled thinking on my part.

            “ On the one hand he asserts that they are negotiated as was the case in relation to post war Germany’s restitution in regard to Israel. On the other hand he asserts that it was imposed by the victorious allies.”

            To state that, initially, the reparations established at the Potsdam conference of 1945 were imposed, whereas the reparations of the later 1951 Claims Conference were negotiated is not muddled.

            Now you can explain to everyone how your example (that I quoted) supposedly demonstrates muddled thinking on my part.

  18. Hello David,
    As I don’t get notification of replies to any comment I make, and I invariably use my, I didn’t see your reply to me above citing some of our interaction during covid.
    As far as criminal limitation is concerned as opposed to any civil statutes of limitation, minor offences, crimes do have a time limitation for prosecution, serious crimes don’t but in reality are limited to the life span of the perpetrator. Jimmy Saville is an example. Corporate criminal liability is limited to the life of the corporation (which is a “legal person” in itself), and personally to the life of its legally responsible officers.
    In all cases there is a de-facto life-span limitation which is not inherited, passed -on, nor is it a “statutory” limitation.
    Crucial points you have not answered are
    1. whether “Crimes Against Humanity” effectively operates as a statute without limitatation
    2 whether such crimes ( as defined) can be prosecuted Retrospectively down history beyond moderenity, and living memory, back down throughout human history without a time limit.
    That is, is it retrospect in application?
    The argument against reparations does not depend on civil law statutes of limitations!
    You have written, above, that there are arguments against reparations that have not been considered in the article or comments.
    Do they include morality, as morality is not a one way street in favour of reparations?
    Please set them out.
    PS.
    As an aside one of the main principles in determining damages in civil law (financial loss including set amounts for personal injury) is to place the petitioner in the position as if the tort had not been carried out!
    Now that would be an interesting workshop/ focus group to determine what lives and families and nations and inheritances would have been like today, had it all not have taken place.
    Yours in Christ, Geoff

    Reply
  19. Overheard in Waitrose: “Can’t *we* get reparations from Norway, Sweden and Denmark for the Vikings? 250 years of raiding and robbing with a millenium of compound interest should be enough to cover the UK’s transatlantic slave trade liabilities. In fact, we could just get the Scandinavian countries to vire the funds directly to the West Indies and/or people of Caribbean descent in the UK and there’s the church of England’s compensation sorted.”

    It wasn’t literally Waitrose, before you ask. (Waitrose? On my stipend? As if!)

    Reply
    • Harry – there’s a wee problem with getting reparations from Norway because of the damage they did to ‘us’ during the Viking era. It seems to be reasonably well established that my own ancestors came over from Norway and settled in the North East of Scotland in the 1200’s, which is approximately 100 years after the Vikings finished their escapades.

      So if the Norwegians bunged some money in the general direction of the UK for ‘reparations’, would I be entitled to any of it? Or should I be the one paying reparations for the damage my ancestors did to Britain? How would these issues be determined?

      If you haven’t read ‘Röde Orm’ (The Long Ships) by Frans G Bengsson, I’d strongly encourage you to do so – a great account of the Christianisation of Sweden.

      Reply
  20. David Shepherd asks a good question, in essence: If the return of a Jewish flat to the surviving children of a Holocaust victim in Germany, necessitating the eviction of Germans, is morally correct, why not something similar in regard to the transatlantic slave trade? The exchange above is in danger of turning into an ad hominem, and avoidance of a hard question for one side by asking a different hard question to the other.

    It might well be that there is a good answer to this question. But if so, what is it?

    Reply
    • Anton – why does it have to be a Jewish flat and a Holocaust victim? If there is an apartment which is the home of a family, who are wrongfully kicked out, the parents murdered but the children survive, should the current occupants get kicked out in order to let the children back into the apartment which they consider to be their home?

      The answer (I think) would depend on several things: why do the children want back into the apartment? (Is it simply money-grabbing vengeance? Or do they have a genuine sentimental attachment to the place where they were brought up? Will their lives be substantially improved by moving back and living there?) Did the current occupants move into it in good faith that everything was above board? Or were they knowledgable, or even complicit, in the crimes committed to make the apartment available?

      A whole bunch of questions – so that the scenario you presented doesn’t have a unique answer.

      Reply
    • There is a perfectly straightforward answer.

      The Holocaust has always been recognised as an episode of unique moral depravity.

      Millions and millions of people have suffered at the hands of others. It is simply irrational to assert that all those wrongs can and should be rectified.

      The Holocaust has stood as a separate category of depravity for eighty years.

      Reply
      • Peter – I’m confused. Yes, we all agree that the Holocaust was an episode of extreme moral depravity. But wasn’t putting Black Africans onto slave ships, under terrible conditions where many of them died – and forcing the survivors to work in the plantations also extreme depravity? You haven’t explained why one is qualitatively different from the other.

        Reply
        • If you are confused then you must have a limited grasp of history.

          The Holocaust has been viewed as a unique episode. It is historically illiterate to suggest otherwise.

          If you want to assert that should change – we’ll go ahead. If it is a category of more than one – then there is no limit to the number of episodes that could be included.

          Two ? Ten ? Hundreds ?

          It ceases to be a category at all

          Reply
          • I don’t know. ‘Has been viewed as’ is not an argument. One abomination is unspeakably bad, and there are also others unspeakably bad. We cannot compare unless things are put in the same category on different points of a sliding scale.

          • Peter – perhaps it is you who has the limited grasp of history? One where history starts at about 1930 and anything that happened before that doesn’t count?

    • A key difference is timescale, a historical time line-span and the point Jock makes as receivers of stolen property, (in the illustration the German occupants in circumstances where criminal, knowing intent of living in illegally obtained premises would be implied of a criminal acquisition in living memory.)
      And a general primciple is that good title (ownership) can not be transfered from a criminally obtained ownership and restitution would be the lawful remedy to the orginal owners on proof of legal ownership.
      It is far from ad-hom.

      Reply
      • Geoff,

        So, is the inference from your argument that “knowing intent of living in illegally obtained premises” (albeit authorised by the 1938 Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property) is criminal, whereas “knowing intent of living off illegally obtained forced labour” (albeit authorised by the charter of the Royal African Company) isn’t?

        Reply
        • You know it isn’t David. It was subsequently retrospectively considered set aside to be unlawful in furtherance of war crimes, within a gernation or two.
          Please answer the questions I’ve asked of you.

          Reply
          • “It was subsequently retrospectively considered set aside to be unlawful in furtherance of war crimes”.

            So, you accept the principle that a previous lawful deprivation (whether of property or unpaid labour) can be rendered criminal and that “restitution would be the lawful remedy”.

          • Please David, do me the honour of answering my questions. I have answered this point below in a more general way in reply to Anton. Have youve no answer to my questions.
            I could gove an answer to your specific question from a point of UK Constitutional Peace Time law but don’t consider it relevant (logically probative) to the questions of historic restitution, reparations. Neither would my answer satisfy you. I’m unsure whether any reparations would fully satisfy you, sadly..
            We disagree over this profoundly and I am drawing a line under it, particularly as the evidence from your comments, answers from you on the balance of probabilities, more likely than not, will not be forthcoming.
            Bye. Yours in Christ, Geoff

      • It’s possible that the flat was not forcibly purchased for a sum far below its market price (which happened to a lot of Jewish businesses) but that it was empty but was then occupied by squatters made homeless by allied or Soviet bombing.

        Also, it is conceivable that the survivor of the family never actually lived in it.

        I am proposing these scenarios because want to stimulate those who disagree with David Shepherd to up their game, if they can.

        Reply
        • “up their game” ? Seriously ?

          The scenarios that you are floating are intellectually risible.

          The notion that you and David Shepherd are rocking the foundations of the way we understand the Holocaust would be laughable if it was not so serious.

          Reply
          • I am asking a question based on a simple scenario. If you can’t answer it, is it not wiser to keep quiet than to say that you don’t like it so you won’t tackle it?

            The irony is that I suspect there *IS* a good answer; I am not of David Shepherd’s camp. But I am yet to see it on this thread.

        • Anton,

          Your scenario is convoluted in the extreme. It includes multiple contingent events. It has absolutely no connection at all to the issue of slavery arising from people being taken from Africa across the Pacific. It includes an entirely specious assumption about “what happened to Jewish businesses”.

          You are deluding yourself if you think you are asking a question that merits a moment’s attention from anybody at all.

          Reply
        • Anton – well, from my point of view, the ‘to each according to his needs’ principle holds if it had been occupied by squatters made homeless by bombing. Only a very privileged elite few actually had much in the way of money back then (at least my grandparents didn’t – through no fault of their own) – so I have zero sympathy for anybody trying to liberate the ‘family fortune’ from Swiss banks.

          Reply
          • Jock you have more than once cited the Marxist dictum…? Is it Christian? Please don’t go down that rabbit hoe here..

          • Geoff – there is a lot of good stuff in Exodus through Deuteronomy about how the society was expected to run – which did seem to level things a bit and make sure that the poorer members of society were catered for. For example, a style of harvest which mean that there were large quantities of food left over to be gleaned – a jubilee every 50 years whereby land had to be returned, etc ……. You’re right that it isn’t exactly Marxist, but it certainly doesn’t have much to do with current western bourgeois capitalist system either.

        • Anton,
          i’d appreciate David honouring me by answering question I asked of him.
          It is not a question of upping a game it is so very far from a game, an armchair intellectual debate. It is doubted that David would consider it to be a game. Even the principles of civil and criminal law in England and Wales on questions of rights and remedies in peace time democracy do not apply, which you seem to want to engage in. Even questions of morals.
          And the the application of larger questions and principles of the British Constitution’s embrace of the Rule of Law, which was clearly set aside in Germany.
          It could be likened to bar-room lawyers.
          The holocaust is not a model for centuries old historic reparations.

          Reply
  21. David Shepherd,
    I am unclear as to what you think ought to happen with regard to this report. Could you explain whether you think the CoE should take any action over it or take any practical measures, and if so, what do you think they should be?

    Reply
  22. The Oversight Group, if given too much power, would clearly waste vast resources of C of E assets which should be going into Parish ministry, including inner city Parishes and churches with significant black populations, on woke schemes instead. Synod must therefore debate thoroughly its role and influence and if necessary vote down any further funds being given to it

    Reply
  23. Christopher Shell asserts that “has been viewed as” is not an argument. (I had pointed out the historical perspective on the Holocaust ” which has been viewed as” a unique episode)

    Even by the standards of the blogosphere, Christopher is taking reductionism to the level of the preposterous.

    The fact that for eighty years the Holocaust has been viewed as a unique category is the reason why the attempt to insist it is not unique should be subject to challenge.

    What is happening on this forum and elsewhere is a form of Holocaust denial.

    Reply
    • Your so-called “historical perspective”, a.k.a. “the way we understand the Holocaust” “as a unique category” is no more than a baseless appeal to authority.

      A refusal to acknowledge the Holocaust “as a unique category” of genocide isn’t “a form of Holocaust denial”.

      Even so, what did the 1951 reparation demand amount to? Israel’s calculus was based on (1) the cost of absorbing half a million Holocaust survivors at $3k per person (equivalent to $33,800 in 2022) and (2) $6 billion worth of Jewish property had been confiscated by the Nazis.

      Ultimately, Israel exercised full discretion over the disbursement of the 3 billion marks (over 14 years) that was finally agreed with Germany. A significant proportion was used to fund the country’s electricity network, the railway system and to provide grants for private and publicly owned industrial plants and factories.

      The disbursement of reparations was not confined to providing restitution for those who were dispossessed by the Nazis.

      Reply
      • You are quite partial to argument by assertion yourself, David !

        On your first point, I am not appealing to any authority at all. Not all contentious matters are issues of law.

        It is a perfectly respectable historical claim to say that the Holocaust has been viewed as a unique category of depravity. I am confident that is the perspective of the majority of Jews, for example. You disagree, of course, but that does not nullify my position.

        Essentially the same argument applies to my claim that Holocaust denial includes diminishing the unique character of that episode. Again, I am confident that the majority of Jews would regard the matter in such a way.

        On your final point: The Third Reich was a diabolical death cult that incinerated cities, populations and Countries.

        There is no convincing parallel with Elizabethan England.

        Reply
      • Peter,

        Previously, you declared without qualification that: “the Holocaust has always been recognised as an episode of unique moral depravity…The Holocaust has stood as a separate category of depravity for eighty years.”

        That would imply a wider recognition/acknowledgement than just being: “confident that is the perspective of the majority of Jews, for example”. Absent any evidence of broad global consensus, your assertion of uniqueness is nothing more than (as I said) a baseless appeal to authority.

        Reply
        • Honestly, David.

          You are, I assume, familiar with the foundation of the state of Israel.

          Are you suggesting it was a coincidence that global decision was made in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust ?

          You weaken your claims by an obviously vexatious attempt to refute the reality of the historic perspective on the Holocaust

          Reply
          • Hey folks—something has gone wrong here in what was a useful discussion.

            I don’t think it helps to accuse someone of being ‘vexatious’.

            Can we still to respectful discussion please?

          • “ Are you suggesting it was a coincidence that global decision was made in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust ?”

            The UN vote to partition Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state was prompted by the post-war refugee crisis. That still doesn’t make the Holocaust a unique category of depravity when compared to the transatlantic slave trade or the systematic extermination of indigenous Americans by European colonisers.

          • David – mind you, I found this recent piece on Craig Murray’s blog about the UN quite interesting:

            https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2024/03/assange-truth-and-un-shenanigans/

            I think the UN has always been a fairly corrupt organisation, whose main aim has been to serve the interests of the evil Anglo-Saxon empire (Of course, that is not their ‘official’ position – but there is a lot of behind-the-scenes coercion). So the fact that they voted for something does not in and of itself mean that the thing they voted for is morally right.

  24. Is it possible to pull the discussion back from the absurd to reality.

    Nobody in the UK lives in a property that was taken from people who were illegally transported on slaves ships.

    The slave trade took people from Africa not the UK.

    Anton, David, please get a grip.

    This is not a childish debate between students.

    Reply
    • Peter,

      I regret that you are asking me to get a grip while multiple persons are giving verbal abuse to David Shepherd because he is asking a difficult question. I have learnt how to boil an issue down to a simple question, I have done so, and I am seeking an answer. If by doping so I am subject to the same abuse as David Shepherd then I regard that as improper. If you don’t like my question and you can’t answer it then best ignore it.

      Reply
      • Anton, firstly, nobody is being abusive.

        Meddling around with the history of the Third Reich and the Holocaust is not a parlour game. Look what is happening on the streets.

        David Shepherd is not asking difficult questions. He is being vexatious and provocative – and doing so in relation to the most ancient and incendiary of racisms.

        You are deluding yourself by imaging you have a unique insight into the framing of the issue.

        You are also making the issue your own personal sensibilities. It is not about you.

        It is about defeating hatred of the Ancient people of God

        Reply
        • Then I shall make it more about me. I am a gentile Zionist Christian and I jointly lead a prayer group for Israel that regularly invites Messianic Jewish speakers to inform us better.

          I disagree with David Shepherd but I do not call him vexatious. Talk to him, not about him.

          Reply
          • I am not talking about David Shepherd. It is not about him.

            We have recognised the Holocaust as a unique episode for decades.

            The general abandonment of that acknowledgement will not end well

          • The Holocaust is indeed special, because the Jews retain a special place in Christian theology when it is done correctly (Romans 11). But this fact doesn’t affect the principles of moral right and wrong.

      • Ian,

        why has the Third Reich been brought into this discussion ?

        Do you think that is helpful or wise or responsible ?

        I suggest not. Look on the streets.

        Reply
  25. Meanwhile, the national survey of Parish Finances shows that giving to the C of E is now below pre-covid levels and – very ominously- the number of givers to the C of E has fallen from 572,000 in 2013 to 400,000 today. The illegal act of closing the churches destroyed giving. The details can be found in the lead story on tbe “Thinking Anglicans” website.
    By every index – attendance, finances, popular esteem – Welby and Cottrell are the most ineffectual leaders of the Church in living memory.

    Reply
  26. Just who are these multiple persons giving David Shepherd personal abuse? That statement of itself denigrates and disparages the simple, yet seemingly hard questions, which are not ad hom. David Shepherd does not answer and places David in the same category.
    As unanswered points they, as a matter of law in legal pleadings would be deemed to be conceded therby putting up a self-rebuttal of his own case.
    Not only that, David has written that there are arguments against reparations that are better but have not been marshalled in the article and comments, but has also declined to set them out. That would also form part of a cumulative conclusion , reluctantly drawn, that David is being somewhat significantly vexatious in this matter, in the comments.
    But I’d be more than pleased to stand corrected.

    Reply
    • Geoff,

      You wrote at 11.05pm: “Not only that, David has written that there are arguments against reparations that are better but have not been marshalled in the article and comments, but has also declined to set them out. That would also form part of a cumulative conclusion , reluctantly drawn, that David is being somewhat significantly vexatious in this matter, in the comments.”

      However, at 9:15pm, I outlined the better arguments against reparations which echoed Menachim Begin’s principled rejection of reparations for the Holocaust. You haven’t replied to those arguments.

      On that basis, your conclusion that I am being “somewhat significantly vexatious in this matter” is unfair and should be retracted.

      In just one of your replies, you provided nine points for my consideration. Now, you conclude that: “as unanswered points they, as a matter of law in legal pleadings would be deemed to be conceded therby putting up a self-rebuttal of his own case. exchange should be at the expense of others on this comment thread.”

      Alternatively, you might conclude that nine-point comments aren’t likely to elicit a response any time soon because they unfairly demand much longer replies than comments from others. Delay doesn’t amount to self-rebuttal.

      Reply
      • Did not see your reply you have mentioned as have operated on the phone and I get no notification of replies, that may het lost in the cascade of comments.
        You complain that there are nine points but the main points have been made more than once, yet you chose not to answer one, but instead ask me questions? You are better than that. I have not been disuaded so far from my conclusion.

        Reply
        • So, you can excuse your error (“David has written that there are arguments against reparations that are better but have not been marshalled in the article and comments, but has also declined to set them out”) by merely stating: “Did not see your reply…”

          Yet, you persist in asserting (despite that reply that addressed your question about better arguments): “yet you chose not to answer one”.

          I thought you were better than that, but, clearly, you aren’t.

          Reply
          • I’m closing this. My error was asmitted You persist in not answering the main substantive point repeatedly asked of you.
            Having slept on it I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt putting it down to tenacity for a cause, rather than vexatious, but your response seems to negate that with a personal insult. I forgive you , brother in Christ.
            Yours in Christ, Geoff on resurrection day with a brotherly hug.

  27. Racial grievance – now put on steroids by talk of reparations and claims of equivalence with the Jews – will bring division and acrimony to our country such as we have never seen.

    The Church of England has placed itself at the vanguard of this madness

    Reply
  28. David, you assert (March 17th 1.10 am)
    That the State of Israel was founded to address the post war refugee crisis.

    That is obviously not correct. The cities that were incinerated either by Hitler or by the allies as they defeated Hitler were in central and eastern Europe.

    It would have been irrational to set up a state in the Middle East to address the post war refugee crisis.

    David, please, just face the facts. The Third Reich was a diabolical and unique regime which chose the Jews as their enemies.

    History is blood soaked and we both have ancestors who suffered at the hands of racist barbarism.

    Nothing is achieved by re writing history. It actually untethers the darkest of forces when we do so.

    Reply
    • Peter, and David, and others in this part of the discussion: I am really not sure that the comparison between the legacy of slavery, 300 years ago, and the situation of Israel following the holocaust are comparable, and the ongoing debate about comparison doesn’t seem to me to be helpful.

      Just to note that the holocaust happened because of an explicit commitment to eliminate a racial group on behalf of the Nazis. The terrible atrocities of the slave trade, it wasn’t predicated on a desire to eliminate a racial group.

      So I think the comparisons are limited. Just also to note that things have happened one or two generations back are easily traceable, and responsibility can be clearly delineated. More than that, until very recently, the people who perpetrated the atrocities were still alive.

      The situation with slavery is entirely different. I think we need to move to a different tack rather than endlessly debate.

      Reply
      • Ian – the discussion was beginning to generate more heat than light – clearly something that you were quite right to be concerned about. On the other hand, seeing through the tone, I thought there were very good points from David and Anton here. The Holocaust is relevant, because that is a situation where there were indeed reparations. If the question of reparations for slavery is brought up, then it is of interest to look at precedents, what are they? (the Holocaust is an example), whether the right (or wrong) decisions were made, the extent to which these precedents actually apply.

        Reply
      • Ian,

        The key reason for discussing other previous reparations (whether for Israel, or Kuwait) was to determine whether those who supported them here could provide a coherent and principled rationale that could be applied in arguments for or against reparations for slavery.

        150 comments later and, instead of a coherent, principled rationale, what has emerged is an ‘echo chamber’ of specious reaction, incoherently rejecting reparations by assuming that:
        (1) liability and culpability are synonymous (‘guilt’ or ‘guilty’ is mentioned 18 times)
        (2) institutional (corporate) responsibility can be diminished/eliminated by generational money-laundering of earlier unjust enrichment (e.g., that was “300 years ago”).
        (3) institutional (corporate) responsibility can be diminished/eliminated by any integration between the racial lineage of perpetrators and victims (“most West Indians are actually mixed race. Should they be paying reparations to themselves?”)
        (4) institutional (corporate) responsibility can be diminished by citing personal/familial ‘remoteness’ from that atrocity (e.g., our forbears fought in WWI or WW2, lived on the bread-line, or were indentured servants)
        (5) institutional (corporate) responsibility for an atrocity can be diminished by the statute of limitations
        (6) institutional (corporate) responsibility towards victims of an atrocity can be diminished by evidence of perpetrators/colluders who belonged to victims’ race.

        Whether individually or collectively, these assumptions don’t provide a coherent rationale for rejecting reparations. Menachem Begin’s speech to Knesset provides a coherent rationale for rejecting reparations.

        I’m sure that the ‘echo chamber’ agrees that: “the situation with slavery is entirely different”. In fact, for the reactionary echo chamber, the situation for people of colour will always be ‘entirely different’.

        What you and others here are yet to provide is even one alternative example of an atrocity on the scale of the transatlantic slave trade for which reparations were acknowledged. And that’s because such an example would impose an uncomfortable demand to apply coherence and principle in addressing reparations for slavery.

        It is far less demanding to dismiss reparations with a bunch of selectively applied incoherent objections. Just don’t anyone outside of a reactionary echo chamber to agree with them.

        Reply
        • David,

          You say “for the reactionary echo chamber, the situation for people of colour will always be entirely different”.

          So, people either agree with you – or you smear them as racist.

          You should withdraw this slur and apologise.

          Reply
          • Peter,

            Difference does not denote inferiority and no-one has to agree with me.

            It’s not racist to believe “the situation for people of colour is entirely different”. In fact, that is implied by the absence of even one alternative example (for comparison) of an atrocity on the scale of the transatlantic slave trade for which reparations were acknowledged.

            Of course, you now have ample opportunity to provide such a comparator.

        • David, the idea that the objectors to reparations are in an ‘echo chamber’ is odd! They are in almost all cases people with historical expertise who are correcting clear errors of fact in the proposals.

          I agree with you that Begin offers a coherent rationale for rejecting reparations. And I have noted (on FB) that in this case there argument is even stronger.

          So perhaps we are agreed!

          Reply
          • Ian,
            As I explained, there are better arguments against reparations which the objectors that you mention haven’t advanced, despite their historical expertise.

            And when those objectors end up re-hashing each others’ versions of the six fallacious arguments that I mentioned, they do become a veritable echo chamber.

            Perhaps, the flimsy rhetoric of such arguments will be revealed by re-wording some of the questions posed to me in this thread to apply to Germany’s reparations for the Holocaust:
            “Ian, if we think reparations are a good idea, presumably the estates of any Jewish people who collaborated with the Nazis and betrayed their fellow Jews to the Nazis and profited from it should now be paying reparations to Israel?”

            “there are 275000 Germans who are actually mixed race (partly Jewish). Should they be paying reparations to themselves?”

            Such questions are insulting distractions from anything resembling coherent and principled opposition to institutional (corporate) reparations.

            And, it’s surprising that, despite the historical expertise that you mention, you and others here are still unable to provide even one alternative example (as a comparator) of an atrocity on the scale of the transatlantic slave trade for which reparations were acknowledged.

        • You agree with Menachem Begin’s stance?

          As I understand it, Begin viewed reparations as a betrayal of the six million Jews who had died. He was horrified by the notion that reparations would allow Germany to pay its way out of its guilt, seeing this as bad as the Holocaust itself.

          He seems to have based his argument that Germans after the war felt no real sense of guilt for the Holocaust. For Begin reparations would be blood money that violated the memory of the six million who had died. Instead, Israel needed to be a proud and independent state that didn’t sell itself for money.

          Of course his argument against reparations rested on the closeness – 1952- to the Holocaust. Begin claimed: “From a Jewish standpoint there is not one German who is not a Nazi and not one German who is not a murderer.”

          Do you make the same claim about “white” people?

          Reply
          • (Thanks HC for taking the time and effort to follow this through with more detail.)
            Not only that, but all the peoples in this nation (or as this matter is specific to the CoE and all affiliated thereto) from the time of slavery until now are to be likened to Nazis for that argument against reparations have any validity today, it seems.
            Is that really a better argument?To suggest so is a self-refutation of any suggestion that the comparison or model between historical slavery and the Nazi Germany is a false one. It does not form any precedent at all, particularly for retrospective application. As it has been emphasised a number of times the contracted generational times spans, as you and Ian also emphasise also do not admit of the same category.

          • Of course, for context, you could consider the words that preceded that particular excerpt from Begin’s speech: “Sixteen million Germans voted for Hitler before he rose to power. There were 12 million Communists and Social Democrats in Germany. Where did they disappear to? In the German army, they were 12 million soldiers, millions in the Gestapo, the S.A. and the S.S…

            His point was that those who had facilitated Hitler’s rise to power or had been complicit in the Holocaust had not evaporated into thin air at the end of the war. Instead, just six years later, those people remained part and parcel of the German nation and leadership with whom Ben-Gurion was negotiating.

            Perhaps, you (or Geoff) can clarify how any agreement with that point could imply that I’m making same claim about “white” people today.

          • My initial question was whether you supported Begin’s argument?

            Do you?

            If so, it seems to follow you must support his central and fundamental line of reasoning. In the case of reparations for the slave trade, the argument would read: “From a black person’s standpoint there is not one white person who is not a racist and not one white person who is not a slave trader.”

            If you disagree, then what part of Begin’s argument do you support?

          • Here’s a solid set of arguments against reparations:

            Reparations require the country to put a literal price on the generational traumas of slavery. How much is one slave’s suffering worth to the country? What is the compensation for several generations of enslaved ancestors? Determining those numbers could insult descendants and other Americans alike.

            Coleman Hughes, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, stated in 2019 testimony before Congress: “If we were to pay reparations today, we would only divide the country further, making it harder to build the political coalitions required to solve the problems facing black people today; we would insult many black Americans by putting a price on the suffering of their ancestors; and we would turn the relationship between black Americans and white Americans from a coalition into a transaction — from a union between citizens into a lawsuit between plaintiffs and defendants.”

            Hughes continues, “[P]aying reparations to all descendants of slaves is a mistake … [because] the people who were owed for slavery are no longer here, and we’re not entitled to collect on their debts. Reparations, by definition, are only given to victims. So the moment you give me reparations, you’ve made me into a victim without my consent.”

            Former NFL player Burgess Owens expands on the idea of victimhood: “At the core of the reparation movement is a divisive and demeaning view of both races. It grants to the white race a wicked superiority, treating them as an oppressive people too powerful for black Americans to overcome. It brands blacks as hapless victims devoid of the ability, which every other culture possesses, to assimilate and progress. Neither label is earned…. It is their divisive message that marks the black race as forever broken, as a people whose healing comes only through the guilt, pity, profits and benevolence of the white race.”

            Meanwhile, if reparations were paid, the country’s problems with racial inequality would not be solved and may actually be exacerbated.

            Columnist Ron Chimelis explains, “Angry white Americans will say, ‘Stop whining about racism in modern America. Stand for the flag of the country that just sent you a check. We paid you, that’s it and we’re done.’ But we wouldn’t be done, because racism certainly does still exist in America. It’s more subtle than slavery, and it won’t be solved only through legislation because you can’t entirely legislate basic human respect.”
            https://www.procon.org/headlines/reparations-for-slavery-top-3-pros-and-cons/

          • HJ,
            This is not about white people. It is a specious argument even as it continues, misunderstood with further citations which corroborates the points made repeatedly: Nazi Germany is a false equivalent therefore the arguement that it is a better argument is manifestly wrong, misconceived and misapplied. It is a non argument. It strikes as a predetermined/judged conclusion searching for justification.
            Apologies if this may seem like something of an argument by proxy with David Shepherd. It is something he appears to seek to engage in. with some personal antagonism., some oblique and some direct. It is a methodology I do not wish to engage in.
            I held him in esteem for his contribution on this site a few years ago, less so now. To profoundly disagree now brings superior high handed derogatory disparaging and inflamatory-goading – last- word comments.
            It is hoped that you will not be discouraged from making frequently wise and scripturally based comments, by this.

          • Er, no. What you sought to do was to ask a rhetorical question that relied on making an illogical inference from Begin’s claims about the Nazi sympathies in German nation just six years after WWII (an important qualification) to a broad-brush unqualified claim about “white” people.

            Begin’s position was not unqualified and neither is mine.

          • @ David Shephard

            From your earlier comment, this appears to be your position:
            “Seeking material reparations from an institution that has had a supposed change of heart after centuries of complicity in my ancestors’ genocide insults their dignity and moral legacy that I am honour-bound to maintain.”

  29. David,

    You have changed what you said.

    You did not say “the situation for people of colour is entirely different”

    What you said was “for the reactionary echo chamber, the situation for people of colour will always be entirely different”.

    The statements have entirely different meanings

    Reply
    • “For the reactionary echo chamber, the situation for people of colour will always be entirely different” is correct.

      A reactionary view that believes that the situation for people of colour will always be entirely different is not necessarily precipitated by racial prejudice.

      Reply
      • David,

        Obviously Marcuse would applaud your
        notion that objections to your claims are reactionary – but you have no prerogative to frame the issue on your own terms.

        Just saying those who object to your claims are “ reactionary” does not nullify the objection.

        Your claim fails because it rests on defective analysis – as summarised above by Ian Paul.

        Your position is ideological.

        Reply
        • Er, no. My evidence of specious reaction are the six oft-repeated fallacious assumptions which weren’t stated as direct objections to my position, viz.:
          (1) liability and culpability are synonymous (‘guilt’ or ‘guilty’ is mentioned 18 times)
          (2) institutional (corporate) responsibility can be diminished/eliminated by generational money-laundering of earlier unjust enrichment (e.g., that was “300 years ago”).
          (3) institutional (corporate) responsibility can be diminished/eliminated by any integration between the racial lineage of perpetrators and victims (“most West Indians are actually mixed race. Should they be paying reparations to themselves?”)
          (4) institutional (corporate) responsibility can be diminished by citing personal/familial ‘remoteness’ from that atrocity (e.g., our forbears fought in WWI or WW2, lived on the bread-line, or were indentured servants)
          (5) institutional (corporate) responsibility for an atrocity can be diminished by the statute of limitations
          (6) institutional (corporate) responsibility towards victims of an atrocity can be diminished by evidence of perpetrators/colluders who belonged to victims’ race.

          In fact, you (and some others here) erroneously assumed that by pressing for a coherent and principled rationale for opposing reparations, I was making claims in support of reparations for slavery.

          Reply
          • David – well, I saw that you were opposing reparations – and I more-or-less agree with the points you make, except that the whole idea of ‘corporate liability’ in this context stinks. Let us imagine that 200 years ago there had been a body with judicial powers that decided that Britain (as an entity) had ‘corporate liability’ and should pay reparations – and they were able to enforce this. Then we can be pretty sure about what would have happened: taxes would have been levied – probably from peasant farmers, who had never consented to slavery and who had never benefited from it in any way. They would have been forced to pay for the luxurious life-styles of the elite. Fast forward to nowadays – pretty much the same principle holds; you can be sure that the people who really have the money (and may be sitting on capital that actually does have its origins in slavery) will be able to afford clever accountants and avoid the taxes. When applied to nations, it seems to me that ‘corporate liability’ will always mean that the honest poor suffer at the hands of dishonest government. It is very difficult (at least for me) to see how the concept of ‘corporate liability’ can be applied to a nation.

            The discussion earlier in this thread about reparations to Israel for what happened in WW2 is quite instructive. Firstly, there are huge numbers of Jews who suffered catastrophically during the holocaust who are not Zionist, who do not support the State of Israel – and therefore reparations going to Israel do not go in their direction. And we can also see that the State of Israel really has an awful lot of spare money to spend on weapons which enable them to perpetrate genocidal policies against the Palestinians. So if the UK really does act on some sort of ‘corporate liability’ and ends up bunging money in the direction of nations which have a legitimate grievance, how can we be sure that the money will go to improving the lives of individuals – rather than going towards weapons to enable countries to go to war with each other?

            For the record (as I’ve indicated above) I’m strongly in favour of much larger sums of money going from more advantaged nations to less advantaged nations. I look at my own background, the opportunities that my son has, that I have, that my parents have – but which my grandparents did not have – and I’d like to see everybody having such opportunity. I think that Scripture makes it completely clear that there is duty of care from the more advantaged to the less advantaged.

            But the whole concept of ‘corporate liability’, when applied to nations, doesn’t seem to me very well defined – and doesn’t look like a good starting point.

          • Jock,

            In relation to corporate liability, my point has been that many who oppose reparations have conflated it with culpability. Whether you are for or against it, corporate liability remains the only way to explain why the German government used the taxes of those weren’t complicit with Nazism to continue reparation payments to Israel.

          • David – yes, and as I’ve indicated, I don’t agree with that – particularly because the Israelis are turning the money into weapons and committing real atrocities against the Palestinians.

          • David,

            You go on making a fundamental error that is a reflection of the fact your position is ideological.

            There is no presumption in favour of a claim for reparations. Your continued insistence that a “coherent rationale” for opposing reparations has not been made is no more than a framing technique.

            The number of potential grievances giving rise to such a claim is without limit. There can therefore be no general presumption in favour of the category.

            It is you who must present the coherent rationale for a specific claim.

          • Now who has changed what was stated.

            I wrote: “The key reason for discussing other previous reparations (whether for Israel, or Kuwait) was to determine whether those who supported them here could provide a coherent and principled rationale that could be applied in arguments for or against reparations for slavery.

            To expect a coherent and principled rationale, whether for or against reparations, does not amount to a “presumption in favour of a claim for reparations”.

          • David,
            I did ask you this earlier, but can you tell me what *you* think ought to happen here? Should the Cof E set up some kind of reparation fund or not? What is your view on this?

          • Hi Chris,

            My assessment of the Oversight Report is in the light of long-standing principles that undergird two key international law conventions (one of which was ratified by the U.N. General Assembly), viz. Responsibility of States for Intentionally Wrongful Acts (https://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/draft_articles/9_6_2001.pdf) and Vienna Convention on Succession of States.

            Notably, both rely on long-standing legal concepts, such as equity, unjust enrichment and customary international law without which international treaties could not be established. For example, successor states are not free to abdicate responsibilities and obligations incurred by the wrongful acts of their predecessors.

            So, the Vienna Convention states:
            “When an internationally wrongful act is of a composite character, the international responsibility of a predecessor State and/or that of a successor State is engaged if a series of actions or omissions defined in aggregate as wrongful occurs. If the action or omission, taken with the other action or omission, is sufficient to constitute the wrongful act of either the predecessor State or the successor State, such State is responsible only for the consequences of its own act.”

            “If, due to the nature of restitution, only a successor State or one of the successor States is in a position to make such restitution or if a restitution is not possible without participation of a successor State, a State injured by an internationally wrongful act of the predecessor State may request such restitution or participation from that successor State.

            Clearly, “may request” indicates that, in principle, such restitution is only legally permissible. However, according to these principles:
            (1) any collusion of East African nations, only renders slavery a composite wrongful act, but does not excuse Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade.
            (2) A successor state cannot abdicate liability for wrongful acts committed by its predecessor.

            Nevertheless, for reasons that I’ve previously outlined, I think that a reparation fund is inadvisable. Overall, the CofE membership remains committed to a de facto ‘separate but equal’ position on race.

            In turn, that position just precipitates the reactionary ‘whataboutery’ or ‘fixed-pie fallacies’ which are all too prevalent in this comment thread and which would never be considered when discussing the apportionment of compensation for various slave-owning families in 1837, or for those displaced and rendered stateless after WWII.

            My key criticism of the Oversight Group’s recommendations is that they place no boundaries on their remit:
            “But it is important to emphasise that the scope of reparations extends way beyond financial considerations. At the heart of reparations is the idea of repair: repair of damage caused by past injustice which continues via present injustice. The call for reparations is a call to repair the world and ourselves.”

            That statement wrongly attributes any and every disparity experienced by black people in any part of the world (from the venture capital and cash flow woes of black-led start-ups, SMEs and investment funds to migration of the black diaspora to the unhealthy ingredients in African/Caribbean diets) to persistence of past racial injustices into present day society. That’s simply untrue, but that narrative appeals to an Oversight Group’s predominantly left-wing activist majority, who assume that they speak on behalf of most black people.

            Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that all of the Fund’s initiatives (e.g., scholarships and research funding, community wealth creation via black-led credit unions and housing associations, etc.) are ill-advised.

            I just wish that they weren’t framed as reparative because, while their success will salve overwrought consciences among the CofE elite, they will only breed resentment and discontent among the CofE rank-and-file.

      • ‘A reactionary view that believes that the situation for people of colour will always be entirely different is not necessarily precipitated by racial prejudice.’

        David, I think you are conflating two different things. I agree with you that racial prejudice is always an issue, and we should tackle it.

        But the claim is being made in the public realm that all racial prejudice derives from the slave trade, and so to tackle prejudice we must make reparation. I cannot see any evidence for that.

        Reply
  30. Does anyone think about how reparations were conducted in the old testament? Victims of Saul, for instance. This must be the starting point for a Christian discussion.

    Reply
      • I’m just pointing out that not all the tribe of Benjamin were to suffer, only the closest to Saul. Therefore CxE laity should not suffer , only, perhaps, the Archbishops, 10% of Bishops, some Church Commissioners etc.

        Reply
  31. David writes: “Whether you are for or against it, corporate liability remains the only way to explain why the German government used the taxes of those weren’t complicit with Nazism to continue reparation payments to Israel.”

    I don’t think that is correct. Governments do all kinds of things in the name of their peoples, many of whom are not ‘complicit’ with Government policy. (Being a pacifist doesn’t exempt you from paying taxes that are used for military purposes.) The Holocaust wasn’t just the crimes of individuals, it was the policy of the German State, and in principle some compensation for the criminal actions of the State could rightly be expected (that was the thinking behind Versailles, for example). Thus the Soviet Government expropriated factories in the Eastern zone and took them to Russia. Whether it is prudent to do so is another question. Most opinion on Versailles holds it was badly handled and did more harm than good.
    In any case, Menachem Begin’s reasoning was wrong. The State of Israel in the 1950s included hundreds of thousands of refugees from Europe who had lost their homes, families and savings as a direct result of German Government policy 1933-55, and some measure of compensation was right. To continue such a thing 300 years later would be nonsense.

    History is full of strange vicissitudes that it are difficult or impossible to put a price tag on (part of Nigel Biggar’s point in ‘Colonialism’). Are the standard of living and life opportunities of people in the West Indies better than if their ancestors had remained in Africa? Immensely so – the median wealth per capita of adults in the West Indies is *much higher than the wealth of adults in West Africa: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_wealth_per_adult
    By nearly every index you could mention – education, nutrition, housing, political freedoms – the West Indies offers a much better life than staying in Africa.
    Should Britain be rewarded for investing so much money and manpower into the West Indies over 200 or more years? Not to mention the Church of England ….

    Reply
    • That should say ‘1933-45’, of course.
      Nor did David grasp my point about the mixed genetic inheritance of most West Indians – in Jamaica it is said to be about 25%, so I hope they had a good celebration of St Patrick’s Day yesterday. Consider this: If X thinks he is owed money because of what Y’s ancestors did to X’s ancestors 300 years ago, X had better do a good bit of genealogical investigation first. A big proponent of reparations for slavery in the US recently discovered that one of his ancestors was in fact a slave holder – and many of the elite in West Africa are descended from local slave traders.
      Should we do genetic testing of every claimant? David doesn’t grasp that this is a serious question.
      That is why I said you can never happily unpick events of ten or more generations ago.
      A true story on the pitfalls of ethnic politicking:
      A (white) friend from New Zealand met and married an (ostensibly) white girl who had a special university scholarship established to help Maori students. Why did she get it? Because she was one-sixteenth Maori. Now their (1/32nd Maori) son has married a Korean girl and their grandson is 32/64th Korean, 31/64th white and 1/64th Maori – and one day that boy may apply for his grandmother’s scholarship. This is a problem that would tax the sharpest enforcers of the Nuremburg Laws.

      Reply
      • James,

        Ideology is a very different way of thinking as against as reason and analysis of the kind which you are I (and others) are adopting on this thread.

        A person or group enters into an ideology after which the see the world through that lens – and it makes sense to them !

        CRT , which is the basis for the “reparations claim” which David Shepherd is making, is one form of the wider Critical Theory movement.

        It is based on Marcusian Theory which invented (perhaps re-invented) a collectivist view of the world.

        It needs to be rebutted in the public sphere – including social media – but the proponent of a Marcusian “claim” will never recognise any counter argument.

        Part of the genius of Marcuse was that he convinced his believers that opposition and rebuttal simply validates the theory.

        Reply
        • Peter,

          I’ve already outline my rationale for opposing reparations. So, your assertion about me (“CRT , which is the basis for the “reparations claim” which David Shepherd is making, is one form of the wider Critical Theory movement).

          I’m not making a “reparations claim” at all.

          Reply
          • You need to watch Ian Paul on the New Culture Forum

            A direct descendent of African rulers who owned slaves schools Ian Paul (of Irish descent, and therefore living with the legacy of racism and de facto slavery suffered by his Irish ancestors) in the morality of reparations.

            Quite the most bizarre moment is when the slave owner descendant tells Ian Paul that back in Africa everybody has moved on from the issue of slavery !!

            Ian Paul goes out of his way to secure courtesy on this site towards you but enough is enough

            This rubbish about reparations needs to stop.

            My ancestors were also Irish. They were also human beings.

      • James – I suppose it depends which 1/64th part of the grandson is the Maori part. It could be that the grandson has a Maori brain, Korean torso and white legs – in which case the Maori scholarship might be appropriate.

        Reply
      • James,

        Your point about mixed genetic inheritance really isn’t difficult to grasp. It’s just wrong because you’d have no problem with Germans with partial Jewish heritage indirectly contributing (via taxes) to German reparations for the Holocaust.

        I don’t believe that the German government has resorted to genetic testing to ensure that those contributions are proportionate to taxpayers’ racial heritage!

        Reply
        • No, it isn’t wrong. Many Germans, including quite a few Nazis, had some Jewish ancestry because many Jews in the 18th and 19th century (like Karl Marx’s father and Heinrich Heine) converted to Lutheranism or Catholicism to gain entry to the universities and professions. The Nuremburg Laws specified how much ‘Jewish blood’ you could have (at most, one Jewish grandparent) and still be a ‘echt deutsch’. Germans with less than ‘25% Jewish blood’ were not considered Jews by the Nazis (but maybe ‘Mischlinge’).

          Reply
          • Straw man. The issue I’ve raised relates to whether the German government resorted to genetic testing to ensure that those contributions (i.e., to reparations) are proportionate to taxpayers’ racial heritage.

            So, just provide proof of that to justify your previous assertion that mixed genetic inheritance makes reparations unworkable.

  32. David,

    Reference your comment 11.51 am today, we really do need to get the issue of framing right.

    There is no historical, moral, ethical or other basis which allows your reparations “claim” to even get off the ground.

    I have told you before, my own ancestors were Irish. They suffered racism on a population level scale. They were forced onto ships and taken to the West Indies where they lived and died in servitude. The women and children would be thrown over the side of the ships when it was clear they were dying of malnutrition.

    I have the same grounds for mounting a reparations claim as you do – which is to say, none at all.

    It is hundreds of years ago.

    The reparations claim is a piece of American CRT ideology. There is no case “for” and “against” it.

    Reply
    • Peter, how did you get from David’s 11.51 comment to your comment here?
      To commenters: can I have your permission to use your comments on this thread in a Pragmatics class (based ultimately on Paul Grice! 😉 ) on how texts are understood/interpreted largely through inference?

      Reply
      • David approaches the issue from the premise that he is shaping or framing the scope of the discussion.

        The second paragraph of his 11.51 am comment is an assertion that the discussion must constitute adequately thorough arguments for and against reparations. It’s a device used in Critical Theory which seeks to establish the axioms.

        In this particular case, the axiom is that a debate about slavery reparations is needed.

        There is no basis for this assertion being treated as an axiom.

        My ancestors were Irish. They suffered racist barbarism. That does not mean a debate about reparations for the Irish is needed.

        David is a champion of Critical Race Theory. It’s ideology, not History

        Feel free to use my comments as you wish

        Reply
        • Ian Paul,

          Since Peter has resorted to open calumny (“David is a champion of Critical Race Theory”), I expect you to intervene.

          Reply
          • David – the poster Peter (known as ‘safeguarding risk Peter’, since he describes anyone who disagrees with him as a ‘safeguarding risk’ – and in so doing thus makes himself look like the real safeguarding risk – put it this way, I would never let my son loose in a church fellowship which contained anybody like him) has good form in the calumny department – so it’s best either to ignore him or else (as I do) to treat his contribution as a form of entertainment.

            I, for one, saw that you never once expressed support for Critical Race Theory – and that therefore any attempt to impute this to you was, in fact, a serious calumny.

            However, in common with Chris Bishop – while I have seen what you are against, I haven’t actually seen what you are for. Do you think that ‘corporate liability’ is a mistaken concept? Do you think it was correct (or incorrect) for Germany to pay ‘reparations’ to the state of Israel? How do you think the gross inequality both within nations and also between nations should be addressed? Are there issues (other than the general burden that those with resources have towards the disadvantaged) that would make one nation morally liable to put resources in the direction of another nation?

            I get a clear picture of what you are against (not the refusal to pay reparations, but rather, you are against the reasons that many people use against it – which look like hypocrisy, given that they are in favour of ‘reparations’ in other circumstances which click the same buttons), but (like Chris Bishop), while I have seen what you are against, I have failed to understand what you are for.

        • Thank you, Peter, for your permission. I will use it to illustrate how to turn a quoted question into an axiom by asserting that someone belongs to a particular school, or, possibly, how to add two and two and get 22.

          David, I second your request to Ian below.

          Reply
  33. It could indeed include setting up a fixed framework which is inheritly incoherent and puts opposition to in into the bracket of incohernce the is evidence the rightness of your position.
    It was seen in a document produced and for use in Change Management, the NHS, “Towards a Million Change Agents” A review of the Social Movements Change Liturature (2004) available here:
    https://www.england.nhs.uk/improvement-hub/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2017/11/Towards-a-Million-Change-Agents.pdf

    If recalled correctly, the authors were Social Science academics at Durham University, published by the Modernisation Authority a now defunct Government quango. It was launched in 2001, by Labour Health Secretary, Alan Milburn
    I have a copy, I think, somewhere!

    Reply
  34. In an excellent interview on the New Culture Forum, Ian Paul highlights an issue we have really failed to address on this thread.

    The reprehensible apology by the Church of England for taking the Gospel to Africa. That alone says all that needs to be said about the moral void at the centre of these claims.

    Reply
    • The outlook that is worse than a moral void: it is actually Satanic in character because it hates the work of Christ.
      Could you imagine these people saying the same things about Islam, which spread through the Sahara and the Sahel into western Africa?
      Or the Arab slave traders who purchased slaves in central and eastern Africa?
      In my childhood we learned with pride about the great work of David Livingstone, who spearheaded British efforts to end the Arab slave trade, and in teaching history I sometimes told students about him. The ignoramuses of today who write these ignorant reports have probably never heard of Livingstone or the Indian Ocean slave trade, nor of the very costly work of the Royal Navy to stop this. Zanzibar was the centre of this trade. It was halted by British pressure (and naval guns). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Zanzibar

      Reply
    • From the Church of England website:

      In response to a media enquiry about one of the recommendations of the recent report of the Oversight Group to the Church Commissioners on African chattel enslavement, relating to missionary work, a spokesperson for the Church of England said:

      “This recommendation addresses complex matters of history and theology and can be interpreted in a variety of ways but we do not believe it calls for the Church of England to apologise for spreading the Christian gospel around the world. However, we need to be transparent that appalling abuses took place in the past, supposedly in God’s name, which have absolutely nothing in common with the gospel of God’s love. For 2,000 years Christians have sought to share the gospel around the world, as Jesus commissioned his disciples to do, and will continue to do so.”

      The question relates to recommendation 32 of the report.

      Here’s recommendation 32:

      Penitence: We call for the Church of England to apologise publicly for denying that Black Africans are made in the image of God and for seeking to destroy diverse African traditional religious belief systems. This act of repair should intentionally facilitate ongoing and new sociological, historical and theological research into spiritual traditions in Africa and the diaspora, thereby enabling a fresh dialogue between African traditional belief systems and the Gospel. This work should reach beyond theological institutions and be presented in ways that will enable all Africans, especially descendants of the enslaved to discover the varied belief systems and spiritual practices of their forebears and their efficacy. We recommend the Commissioners work with all faith-based communities to which descendants of African chattel enslavement belong.

      Reply
      • “Seeking to destroy diverse African traditional belief systems”

        The media office can put whatever spin they want on it – the meaning of recommendation 32 is crystal clear

        Reply
      • More worrying:

        This work should reach beyond theological institutions and be presented in ways that will enable all Africans, especially descendants of the enslaved to discover the varied belief systems and spiritual practices of their forebears and their efficacy.

        As a friend of mine commented:

        It’s possible to ‘baptise’ elements of local culture, but you can’t simply import one religious belief system into another (although in the pluralist mess that the CofE is descending into, maybe you can). They seem to also forget that it’s quite often converts themselves who destroy their old idols and renounce their old rituals.

        There have been times when Christians have forcibly converted people, and this was wrong. But the belief systems they replaced were also likely forced on people by conquest at some point, just as Roman gods and emperor worship were transplanted onto existing Celtic deities, and Norse ones after that, and so on. Where does one stop? There is also another large global religion that has been far from shy in compelling conversion among subjugated people, but nobody wants to talk about that.

        Reply
        • “Recommendation 32” is precone of the reasons I called this report “Satanic” – because it is an outright lie that the Church of England denied that Black Africans were made in the image of God – and the response of the media office is mealy mouthed (‘can be interpreted in various ways’) when it should have washed out these lies with truth. The pusillanimity of these functionaries is one reason why the C of E is fading away.
          A second is the evident fear that Welby has of Islam – witness his words about the new proposed definition of “extremism”. In once sense this is understandable, because some parts of some English cities such as Birmingham are becoming no-go areas for white Christians and vicars and their families are subject to abuse there. Bradford is another place where the Church has retreated, a subject on which the otherwise voluble Bishop Nick Baines has had nothing to say.

          Reply
          • “precisely one”, it should say.

            I have now trawled through two years of Nick Baines’s blog consisting of his BBC radio talks and Diocesan Synod addresses and have found endless references to some Canadian singer called Bruce Cockburn, one reference to LLF (about which he is clearly uncomfortable but can’t bring himself to say “homosexuality”), about four comments on Ukraine and Russia (I think he supports partitioning Ukraine but can’t say so openly), many references to the conferences in Europe he goes to (is this the purpose of bishops?), and no reference at all to immigration and Rwanda, or to Israel, Gaza, Islam and Islamist terrorism – which is understandable, given the combustible demography of Bradford. The ‘theology’ he expresses, such as it is, is pretty thin and marked by vague languid longing – perhaps the result of listening too much to Canadian folk singers.

          • Stick that into your theological peace pipe and smoke it. And to be clear, I didn’t say, ‘woke it”. It is not one of my too regular typos.
            Theologically, it is for the hard of hearing and subjugation by the relativistically myopic.

        • Indeed…

          This “and their efficacy” is rather more than mere worrying. I can’t think of a scenario for this which doesn’t make it so.

          Reply
    • Apparently all belief systems are equal because they are diverse.
      Diverse means different.
      They cannot but be different.
      Therefore there is no way any can be better or worse.
      ???
      Stupidity.

      Reply
  35. Emphatic no; charity begins at home etc.

    Give clergy a decent rate of pay, ditto with retired clergy, provide more financially for clergy widows/widowers, fix the issues with church buildings, vicarages, and clergy retirement property.

    For how long do we have to go through the sackcloth and ashes routine:
    1. Just because the church has money, doesn’t give others (those outside the church) and automatic right to have a share;
    2. Stop apologising on behalf of what some people did from time to time in times past;
    3. Stop with the political correctness;

    I think there is a large amount of white liberal guilt within the C of E, which sees anything white as bad and anything else good, by default.

    Reply
  36. Someone called Yemi Adedeji completely out of his depth when confronted by facts – and I burst out laughing at 18 minutes when he was ‘outed’ as the descendant of a slave-owning king in West Africa – where slavery was apparently a Good Thing (except in Benin, where they were used for human sacrifice). Rafe Heydel-Mankoo made him look very silly indeed. I imagine the Reverend Yemi was looking for a fat research grant to employ him for the rest of his life:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PwK8qxiYZw

    Reply
  37. I take my hat off to Ian Paul in the interview, who I had not appreciated is, like me, of Irish descent.

    The nerve of the people who peddle CRT is extraordinary.

    David Shepherd has called for Ian to intervene and defend him on the grounds my observation that David is a CRT champion is unacceptable !!

    CRT people only like free speech where they decide the meaning of freedom

    Reply
  38. In his comment on recommendation 32 – that the Church of England should apologise for ‘seeking to destroy diverse African traditional belief systems’ – John Root first wonders whether African Christians were consulted, and then points out that there is only one member of the Oversight Group with an African name.

    He is no doubt referring here to Esther Xosei. [1] She was born (as Esther Stanford) in London of Caribbean parents, so it is inherently unlikely she would have been able to input into the Oversight Group the views of African Christians.

    Indeed, it seems likely that the opposite would apply. Ms Xosei has dedicated much of her life to promoting the cause of reparation, campaigning openly, energetically, and with considerable commitment. One relevant aspect of her work is the view that colonialism and neo-colonialism have destroyed traditional African knowledge – a process which she calls epistemicide. [2]

    Her view is that “reparations must also entail restoring indigenous Afrikan [sic] knowledge systems of language, spirituality and philosophy, music, art and symbolism”.

    Since it foundation in 2017, Ms Xosei has been closely involved with the International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR). In 2018 INOSAAR arranged a major conference in Benin, at which Ms Xosei was a speaker, and this event ‘was preceded by libations and prayers in the traditional temple’. [3]

    Given the above it would not be surprising if she, and others of similar view on the Oversight Group, promoted recommendation 32.

    The fact remains that, quite apart from its antagonism to dissemination of the Christian religion in Africa, recommendation 32 probably goes beyond the remit of the Group.

    I say ‘probably’ as we cannot be sure of the Group’s remit, as its terms of reference are not included in its report. This is most unusual: I cannot immediately recall any other major report which did not include the terms of reference.

    The Commissioners could usefully publish the terms of reference for the Oversight Group so that readers of its report can form their own views whether it has strayed beyond its brief, and whether it has compelling reasons for doing so.

    [1] The website of the Oversight Group is at https://hrjfund.org/ and this includes a list of its members.
    [2] Ms Xosei describes her work at https://roape.net/2022/03/10/afrika-and-reparations-activism-in-the-uk-an-interview-with-esther-stanford-xosei/; and records it at https://reparationsscholaractivist.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/outline-of-my-activist-work-on-reparations
    [3] For INOSAAR and the conference see https://www.inosaar.llc.ed.ac.uk/ and the various documents on that site.

    Reply
  39. David Shepherd,

    In a spirit of goodwill, let me offer you a compromise. You object to being described as a CRT champion. Perhaps you’re not. Perhaps I have got it wrong.

    If you confirm that you recognise my Irish ancestors belong in the same category as your ancestors in regard to racial barbarism I will gladly withdraw my comment to the effect you are a CRT believer.

    That is a fair offer. I look forward to you accepting it

    Reply
  40. David, there is a technical error in an extended articulation of your position given to Chris Bishop.

    You cite the Vienna Convention as an authority. That Convention relates to Treaties between States.

    No State is seeking or can seek reparations from the UK in regard to the category of slavery which is the subject of your argument.

    The Convention does not apply.

    Reply
    • Peter,

      Firstly, I referred to long-standing principles that undergird two key international law conventions (one of which was ratified by the U.N. General Assembly), viz. Responsibility of States for Intentionally Wrongful Acts.

      I described those principles as: long-standing legal concepts, such as equity, unjust enrichment and customary international law without which international treaties could not be established. In fact, several African nations, including Ghana, have legal standing to seek reparations from Western successor states.

      I anticipated your objection by writing: “‘whataboutery’ or ‘fixed-pie fallacies’ which are all too prevalent in this comment thread and which would never be considered when discussing the apportionment of compensation for various slave-owning families in 1837, or for those displaced and rendered stateless after WWII.”

      For example, under Nazi law, Jewish people were rendered them stateless in 1933. Their German nationality was not automatically reinstated at the end of the war. Despite their statelessness, Germany still recognised the demands of the Claims Conference on their behalf.

      So, there is a clear precedent for reparations to be established in the absence of a reciprocal state.

      Reply
      • Please do not treat what happened to my ancestors as “whataboutery”.

        They were human beings, David. Just like you and I.

        I was entirely genuine in my offer. You were evidently affronted by my observation that you are championing a version of CRT.

        All you needed to do was to acknowledge the humanity of my ancestors and the racist atrocities inflicted on them, as I am happy to do in relation to your ancestors.

        You are unwilling to do so, and therefore the observation that your thinking is based on CRT stands.

        Reply
        • Peter,

          Peter,

          The comment thread indicates that my reply was to your comment at 12:07 (not any other), which made no mention of your Irish ancestors.

          My mention of ‘whataboutery’ refers to your assertion in the comment to which I replied about the inapplicability of the Vienna Convention.

          I don’t categorise barbarity. I consider the evil inflicted on Irish indentured servants to be no less evil that the atrocities inflicted on German Jews and no less evil than the atrocities inflicted on chattel slaves.

          I also believe that Zacchaeus’ God-wrought repentance and restitution was part and parcel of each other and that, if hadn’t followed through on his promise (Luke 19:8), then no amount of inter-generational money-laundering could expunge his guilt, or his descendants’ liability for unjust enrichment.

          I’m not interested in your ‘fair offer’. You can continue to accuse me falsely, if you choose.

          Reply
          • David

            Your clarification of your view on the suffering of my ancestors is helpful.

            In the light of it I withdraw the observation that you are a CRT believer

            Peter

          • So David Shepherd @ 4:40 pm today, 19th.
            Lets have it, do you believe that there should be reparations?
            We disagree as does Ian Paul that Zacchaeus is a Biblical precedent for historical reparations. It was discussed at some greater length during the height of Covid/lockdown/BLM on this site. If correctly remembered that was the position you took in you advocacy for reparations in the comments section on this site.
            Do you continue to hold that position?
            Yes or no will do.
            Should reparations be made?
            Yes or no will do.

            But to return to your legal framework of Crime. Dishonesty is an irreducible aspect to theft. It can not be passed on. It has to be established for every person in the chain. To be otherwise would be immoral.
            As for the question of present day morality for historical reparations I’m not sure you’ve made a case.
            The question of Equity Law has not been considered in your legal paradigm.
            Here are some basic equity law maxims:
            https://lawtutor.co.uk/maxims-of-equity

      • David,

        On the technicalities, The Convention governs Treaties. There were no applicable Treaties in place on which Ghana or any other state could rely in relation to the particular form of slavery to which you are referring.

        In regard to general legal standing principles, African nations which were complicit in slavery are going to have a job on their hands getting a claim off the ground as sovereign states.

        I am not sure what rules of evidence you think would then apply, given the time that has lapsed runs into centuries.

        It just does not add up, is the truth of the matter.

        Reply
  41. A critique of a critique.
    Theses
    1 A Fixed Framework of critique was set up.
    2 Anything outside that framework would be seen as obiter dictum, irrelevant or denounced.
    3 Any prior writings and discussion on the topic of race, BLM would not be mentioned, such a scriptural reference to Zaccariah in support of reparations..
    4 The framework model is Crime.
    5 There is no discussion of the Nature and Purpose of a Crime and the efficacy of Remedies, even within an assumed modern Democracy such as England an Wales.
    6 In England and Wales is an act against the State.
    7 The constitutent parts of a Crime are not acknowledge;
    “Actus reus”- criminal act, so defined
    And “Mens rea” criminal intent
    8. Criminal intent may be specifically defined. It may be implied, imputed from the surrounding circumstances, such as in “receing stolen goods”.
    9 The separation, distinction of culpability is not found in matters of criminal law of criminal intent. It is a false dichotomy.
    10. All Crimes and Remedies are inherently Time Limited, wherether it is personal or corporate.
    11 No distinction or discussion has taken place of law v morals a classic Devlin v Hart discussion.
    12 there is no consideration given to the Rules of Natural Justice.
    13 Public Policy, whether written formally or informal, such a “public interest” and “avoidance of multiplicity of actions” is not taken into account
    14 Public Policy varies with Governments in Power.
    15 Crimes are either extant or future.
    16. As they are are mostly operative through legislation, they are Not Retrospective in application.
    17 Crimes Against Humanity have not been defined here.
    18 Remedies are time Limited personnally or corporately.
    19 The use of terminology of “washing” again is time limited.
    Knowing criminal Intention is required.
    20 A Crime is not subjectively defined.
    21 An exception would be an offence of Strict Liability, such as motoring, exceeding the speed limited. Here opinion even of a law officer is not permited. Objective evidence is necessary
    22 Modern exceptions are “hate crimes”.
    23 Hate crimes are based on Public Policy.
    24 There is little to no acknowledgement of the role Critical Theory plays, it’s in determining, influence on, public policy. Hate crime may be an example.
    25 Incoherence has been inherent the fixed framework of critique.
    26 That fixed framework is not Coherent And it is not Cogent.

    From memory as a trained, practicising lawyer, long gone from the law and without resources of reliable of legal authorities.
    Of course, that puts me beyond the pale of Critical Theorists, a reactionary that I am. Who’d have thought it. A younger me was an unbelieving 60/70’s reactionary against…?and remain a one, but now as a convert to Christ.
    As we look over our shoulders to the comments, have we glorified Christ, his name. Do we in our grievances? Do we in our superrior responses?
    In the voice of GK Chesterton:
    Q .What is wrong with the world? A. I am

    Reply
    • AJB.
      There, David Shepherd might be reactionary and harness opposition to Critical Theory infiltration in support.
      But It seems like a lifetime ago when you made your helpful comment on this article topic.

      Maybe try predestination and the Sovereignty of God. If it were to be linked to the topic of the article, there could be meltdown, without Christ.
      Lets look to Easter, together with all the festivals of Christ.

      Reply
  42. A different framework: The Bible’s view on Race and Justice.

    Last, from me, here is a substantial compilation of essays, which the article and the comments do not significantly address.
    They are essays on the Bible’s view on Race and Justice and how it compares the the reigning paradigms of our day.
    It is suggested that it forms a significant contribution to the topic of the Article.

    https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/tim-keller-on-race-and-justice/

    Reply
  43. For the avoidance of doubt, I agree entirely with David Shepherd’s moral stance as set out in paragraph 3 of his post above timed today at 4.40 pm.

    I therefore withdraw the claim that he is a CRT champion.

    Reply
      • Ian,

        You have no problem with Jock defaming me by saying I am safeguarding risk on the absurd grounds that I raised safeguarding concerns about a previous commentator on this site – but you want an apology from me because I reached the conclusion (along with others) that there is a connection between David’s arguments and CRT ?

        You are a mystery to me, Ian.

        You are a clear and articulate thinker and communicator, but at times you are completely unpredictable.

        I will wish you well and say farewell

        Reply
        • I am not unpredictable; I am busy. I have been in an AC meeting all day—and in any case, I do not have the time or the will to police spats between commentators.

          That is why I have a comments policy above, and I expect people to abide by it. I am sorry that you and others have not been able to!

          Reply
          • Fair enough Ian.

            I didn’t mean to needlessly offend you. I entirely see the points you are making.

            This may not appear conciliatory, but I promise you it is intended to be. I am certain not a single person who has commented on this thread has enjoyed the process.

            The people who have landed us all in this cauldron of conflict are the Bishops.

            I genuinely and grateful to you and thankful for your own attempts to moderate their actions through AC. I regret offending you
            Peter

  44. David Shephard

    Sorry to harp on about this and I acknowledge much of the discussion with you hasn’t “connected”, but I’m genuinely confused and want to understand your position.

    From your earlier comment, this appears to be your stance:

    “Seeking material reparations from an institution that has had a supposed change of heart after centuries of complicity in my ancestors’ genocide insults their dignity and moral legacy that I am honour-bound to maintain.”

    This implies the reparations suggested by the Oversight Group is a token gesture not based on an authentic change of heart or real desire to make amends for past evils.

    In a later post, you add that the Oversight Group:

    attribute any and every disparity experienced by black people in any part … to persistence of past racial injustices into present day society. That’s simply untrue, but that narrative appeals to an Oversight Group’s predominantly left-wing activist majority, who assume that they speak on behalf of most black people.

    Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that all of the Fund’s initiatives (e.g., scholarships and research funding, community wealth creation via black-led credit unions and housing associations, etc.) are ill-advised.

    I just wish that they weren’t framed as reparative because, while their success will salve overwrought consciences among the CofE elite, they will only breed resentment and discontent among the CofE rank-and-file.

    Now I may be right or wrong, this suggests to me that your objection is not to reparations in principle or to their legality or justice, but rests on the motives of the Oversight Group, i.e., they are political driven, they seek to salve consciences and they will be divisive.

    Then this comment stood out:

    I also believe that Zacchaeus’ God-wrought repentance and restitution was part and parcel of each other and that, if hadn’t followed through on his promise (Luke 19:8), then no amount of inter-generational money-laundering could expunge his guilt, or his descendants’ liability for unjust enrichment.

    So, I’m left scratching my head! It implies there is a liability for unjust enrichment from the slave trade. However, what we lack is a proper sense of repentance that has to come before restitution. So it seems to me your main objection is the disconnect between repentance and restitution.

    As I said, I may be wrong here but I’m trying to understand.

    Reply
    • Here HJ, I too wonder what is included in unjust enrichment? Is a life to be reduced to finances? That too would denigrate a human life being in the image of God.
      More greivous than stealing money, as with Zacchaeus is the stealing of a human life.
      Does unjust enricment include the benefit of living in England today? Is there a need a salve a conscience here that has an outworking from carrying the weight of being personally duty bound??
      If I may say so, and it is not considered to be out of order, David, it seems to me, in his life Is honouring his forbears. Sorry David, I’m aware that you may be in the room.
      What evidence of true repentance of heart will be sufficent? If reparations of themselves will not? And if left wing drivers can not be removed, which may taint true repentance. If recalled correctly Ian Paul has said that there were secular people involved in the compilation of the report. Are they able to more truly repent, not at all or only partially so?
      What will fully satisfy?
      I ask this, not condescendingly so; the ultimate Justice, Judgment of God beyond this life?

      Reply
    • HJ,

      So, here is my position on reparations. In summary, they are legally permissible, but mostly ill-advised attempts to acknowledge corporate culpability for a past atrocity (or other wrongful act) by providing funds that acknowledge harm in material terms.

      Any fund that acknowledges harm in material terms would be unrepresentative for three reasons.
      1. Guilt before God, legal culpability and liability are far from synonymous. So, no amount of financial restitution can adequately represent the extent of harm, evil and inhumanity that was inflicted over more than 400 years through the transatlantic slave trade.
      2. Nothing amount of financial restitution can alter the de facto ‘separate but equal’ position on race that is espoused by the majority of CofE members. So, despite its monetary value, the Fund does not symbolise a ‘new chapter’ in the Church’s race relations history. It is unrepresentative of the racial status quo in the CofE. To join in any pretence that it represents anything more is indeed an insult to the dignity and moral legacy of my ancestors.
      3. The elites who have secured these funds are unrepresentative of the CofE majority or the majority of black people in this country. Also, to argue over whether Britain or the Church should be liable for reparations and who should receive them has no bearing on (and, in fact, obscures) a far more important spiritual issue for Britain and the CofE in relation to past atrocities, viz. the sin of subtly conniving at and trivialising the evil and enduring impact of past atrocities.

      It is for those reasons that I believe reparations to be mostly ill-advised and unrepresentative attempts to acknowledge corporate culpability. Nevertheless, arguments against reparations can’t magically right the wrong of unjust enrichment. At best, the specious ‘statute of limitations’ arguments amount to an endorsement of inter-generational money-laundering.

      Yet, there is far better spiritual remedy for past unjust enrichment that’s found in John the Baptist’s reply to the crowd (Luke 3:11), Christ’s call to the Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:21) and Zacchaeus’ extravagant sharing of half of the wealth (that he hadn’t stolen) with the poor (Luke 19:8).

      That’s a remedy that early Christians applied liberally and that, for the most part, modern Christians continue to explain away.

      Reply
        • Ian,

          I am sorry, but the claim that David Shepherd is influenced by CRT breaches your comments guidance – but an assertion that the majority of the Church of England espouse a “separate but equal position” on race falls within your comments guidance ?

          Do you think you might be applying different standards to different people ??

          Reply
      • Thank you David, I can understand this position, but it doesn’t seem entirely consistent to me.

        First, is the CofE’s position that of “separate and equal” when it comes to black people? This is essentially a stance that gave constitutional sanction to laws in America that were designed to achieve racial segregation by means of separate and equal public facilities and services for African Americans and whites. Rather, isn’t the CofE’s stance that of Galatians 3:26-29: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” If it isn’t, then it should be. Certainly, the Overview Group can be accused of this.

        Second, the CofE isn’t a “state” for the purposes of international law in relation to reparations. As I understand your last point, your saying Christians following the Gospel should share their goods and wealth with those in need. They can do this in their private lives as well as through supporting charities and services that tackle wealth inequalities and their root causes. Also, through supporting government policies that aim at promoting the “shared destination of goods”, no matter how the inequalities arose in the first place. This is in line with: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 36-40) This is not to say the great evil of the slave trade should be overlooked or lost to the public memory. Like you, I agree throwing money at this isn’t the answer.

        Reply
        • HJ,

          In response to your first point, I wrote de facto ‘separate but equal’ position specifically to distinguish the practical inertia of CofE churches in relation to their overall racial homogeneity from the CofE’s official (de jure) position on race relations (which you articulated).

          Concerning your second point, over the course of this discussion, I’ve been careful to focus on eliciting coherent overall principles from international law that relate to equity and remedies for past wrongs ame unjust enrichment. So, despite the fact that the CofE isn’t a ‘state’ for the purposes of international law, those principles are still applicable to non-state institutions.

          In fact, non-state successor institutions have applied those principles in relation to various historic atrocities and wrongs committed by their predecessors, instead of pressing the law to the letter to avoid any prospect of liability for their unjust enrichment from past ill-gotten gains.

          I agree that Christians following the Gospel should share their goods and wealth with those in need. The reality is that early Christians did so with extravagant lifestyle-altering generosity (2 Cor. 8:15)

          In today’s consumer society, I still don’t think that modern Christians (myself included) are fully emulating that lifestyle-altering generosity,

          Reply
          • You have changed what you said.

            You actually said the majority of the Church of England espouse “separate but equal” . Espouse means to adopt or support.

            You said the majority of the church of England support “separate but equal”.

            That is a calumny by any reckoning

          • Peter, David comment is not “calumny”; it’s his view. He’s perfectly entitled to that. I’m unclear why you keep making the discussion so personal.

          • Peter,

            To espouse a ‘separate, but equal’ position isn’t necessarily discriminatory.

            For example, an institution can provide separate, but equal bathroom amenities for male and female clients without attracting a charge of sexual discrimination because (a) the reasons for them are considered legitimate and (b) there is no burden of proof on the institution to demonstrate that doing so is not detrimental to a particular sex.

            In the case of US civil rights (Brown v Board of Education), Thurgood Marshall was able to demonstrate the detrimental impact of the de jure ‘separate but equal’ doctrine on the education of black children to SCOTUS.

            So, even if there is evidence of a detrimental impact of de facto overall racial homogeneity in CofE churches on black people, the overall collective inertia on changing that homogeneity indicates that most CofE people aren’t that convinced that there aren’t legitimate historic and social reasons for that overall homogeneity (when compared to the wider society) and they aren’t that convinced that the CofE’s overall racial homogeneity is detrimental to non-white people.

            And, even if I disagree, until detriment can be proved, ‘separate but equal’ can be espoused (and racial homogeneity can persist) without any proven implication of racism.

            My statement is not calumnious at all.

          • @ David Shephard

            Thank you for your helpful reply.

            I’m not sure just what can be done about your assertion there is a “practical inertia of CofE churches in relation to their overall racial homogeneity.” Just what should these churches do? The same criticism can be made about the CofE’s receptiveness to white working-class males and about a range of other distinct groups. Isn’t this an issue about evangelism and being open to cultural contexts, rather than race?

            I’ll leave the points about “remedies for past wrongs and unjust enrichment” as I’m not a lawyer and the conversations on here to date have been circular and somewhat fruitless. When one looks at the history of early unregulated capitalism, it’s not unreasonable to state that a great deal of individual wealth today comes from injustice and exploitation.

            My own heritage is Jewish/Irish. I wont repeat the points made earlier by others about the Irish. The Jewish people have experienced various forms of social and economic injustice for many centuries, not just during the Shoah. They encountered repeated persecution and wealth deprivation in Europe. They survived, by the grace of God, by standing together, holding onto their faith, helping one another, preserving a strong collective identity and, not least, by remembering and commemorating their shared history.

            My sense is you want the same for those still impacted by the evil of the slave trade, not token monetary payments.

            Anyways, thank you again for making your position clearer.

      • David,

        It what possible sense can it be reasonable or fair to say the majority of the Church of England espouse a “separate but equal” position on race ??

        You (and Ian Paul and others) take great offence at the suggestion you are influenced CRT. Fair enough, I will not apply that term.

        How does the phrase “separate but equal” mean anything other than racist ? You are saying this is the position espoused by the majority of the Church of England

        Reply
        • Peter,

          Please see my reply on that point to HJ in which I emphasised the phrase de facto. The practical collective inertia that prevents any significant change to the racial homogeneity of CofE churches is not the same as the intentional de jure efforts in the Jim Crow to preserve racial homogeneity.

          The former observation has nothing to do with seeing the CofE through a CRT lens.

          Reply
          • David,

            Your assertion is that the majority of the Church of England espouse separate but equal between the races.

            You are not making a factual observation with such a statement. You are inferring intent amongst the majority of the Church of England.

          • Hello David,
            Many thank for explaining your position more clearly. While clearly there is no Christian reason for gracious giving, I certain don’t think the legal case has been made out. Neither of us is qualified in International Law, though I’ve discussed from first order Criminal Law principles which you do not appeared to have recognised of dissmissed out of hand.
            But an underlying current seems to be your own position and those of your own heritage in the CoE hierarchy; their actions and words don’t match up, no heart repentance, implying a continued racism, discrimination in fact.
            Is it easier to change an organisation from the inside or outside?
            Outside culture has changed the CoE and its influence may be seen on this report.
            Indeed, you wrote something to that effect, above, when mentioning Zaccheaus, that it was God’s doing that brought an immediate response to salvation. Reptance and restitution were a response, not a cause of salvation.
            But I’m with HJ in his citing of scripture.
            I accept that CRT plays no part in your reasoning, as you are more than aware of what it is, and apologise. An olive branch. Yours in Christ, Geoff

          • Hi Geoff,

            Thanks for your reply. Despite all that we might both claim to know and contend for, we are all bound to agree with St. Paul: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:2)

            What we do know should not beget reticence, but what I might not know should beget humility. As James put it: “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:2)

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