Slavery Free Communities
I have just finished reading “Slavery-Free Communities – Emerging Theologies And Faith Responses to Modern Slavery”, edited by Dan Pratt.
I have known Dan for several years, ever since he planted a new Baptist church with a difference, one that was targeted at Southend’s homeless community. I worked with him on homeless related matters, and after when he moved on to work in the area of modern-day slavery. As I found in my own practice, targeting the vulnerable, in this case the homeless, is a ploy that has often been craftily used by modern day slave masters. Recently, we met up, when Dan addressed a meeting I chair to do with homelessness, when he spoke about his current work. It was there he gave me a copy of his book. Given the importance of the subject matter, I undertook to read it.
I found the content challenging and given the harrowing aspects of the subject matter not one easy to emotionally detach from. Modern day slavery is a big deal and its victims often suffer significantly. It is not one that can be easily dismissed as not affecting us because, as the book explains, it affects as all. Besides, while “love thy neighbour” embraces all, it particularly applies to our neighbour who suffers injustice, because that is what modern day slavery is. It is one that applies to our neighbour living on our doorstep. It is a salutary fact that in my own town, Southend, which has a population of 180000 people, there is reckoned to be 400 modern day slaves. What makes this a sobering statistic for me personally, is while I work among the lowly, I cannot personally identify even one local slave. This heinous practice too often goes on under the radar.
The book does not make for light reading. Given its extensive notes, cross references and bibliography, it is clearly one for the more academic inclined and I can imagine it being part of theological libraries and aimed at influencing the clerical class. With my three degrees, that should not and did not present a problem, but my sister, whose reading did not progress much beyond “The Three Gollies”, it might, yet I know too she has the very necessary qualities that can effectively engage with victims. My point is that to crack the issue it needs different sorts to engage, including the politicians, and not just the clerics. I admit to feelings of reticence noting an ex British Prime Minister wrote the foreword, given establishment figures may well be part of the problem, but in fairness Theresa May was the prime mover behind the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which at least has provided us hope when dealing with the issues.
There were fourteen writing contributors to the book, skilfully overseen and integrated into a cohesive whole by editor Dan. Most were religious leaders, mainly Christian (two were Jewish rabbis) which given the subtitle of the book came as no surprise (although I would liked to have seen more lay involvement). Half were Baptists, which again was not a surprise, partly because that is Dan’s own religious brand and Baptists in the UK have often taken a lead in addressing some of the issues. Other than one disappointing chapter and an elephant in the room (which I will get to) that seemed to have been overlooked, I found that the book content was very helpful and covered many different aspects of this complex subject, including its many ramifications and triggers and the part played by a “system” not seen to support the enslaved. I like the emphasis on looking at the issues through the eyes of the victims, the realistic appraisal of what are the needs and how they might be effectively addressed and the societal inequalities and fabric that lead to people being slaves and people of evil intent exploiting these. I also enjoyed the honest theological reflection, not just one recognising a background where the Bible does not outrightly condemn slavery, but the nature of God and His purposes for the world. I love reference being made to one of my heroes of the faith, William Wilberforce, who plugged away and made a difference.
I was disappointed in the final chapter, which I had rather hoped would bring everything together and provide a fitting finale. Instead, it provided a globalist view of how the world should be, which rather than leading to setting the captives free makes for captives. The glowing endorsement of Pope Francis is not one I share (see here) or an acceptance that the United Nations and the various UN agendas and agencies are overall forces for good. His advocacy of open borders, e.g. an uncontrolled USA southern border, ostensively to give refuge to oppressed minorities, has led to an increase in child trafficking. Moreover, he oversees a church renowned for and covering up the abuse of children. Climate change and immigration are real issues and are connected to slavery but my take is a lot different. If there is a theological point, what needs pushing is the Gospel – not globalist rhetoric. In fact, with the views expressed by this higher up Baptist clergyman, I can better understand why Baptist ministers in my town are more awoke (subscribing to a leftist agenda) than awake – not just overlooking the evils behind the Great Reset but failing to preach the gospel that addresses issues of sin and repentance and salvation through Christ alone, and the importance of Christian discipleship. Even so, setting the captives free is beholden to all of us, and here we share common ground.
The elephant in the room I referred to earlier, while touched on, seemed to me to have been more skimmed over. I am talking of child sexual exploitation that has too often gone unchecked because of cover up by the media and a powerful elite who have the power to ensure it remains so. The wider public know a bit about it because of revelation in recent years of the activities of the likes of Jimmy Saville and grooming gangs dominated by Asian Muslims. But ignored altogether are the millions of children that go missing each year, with unspeakable horrors inflicted on them by powerful, Satan worshipping, elites. We get a sense of what goes on by revelations to do with Jeffrey Epstein, with more than a hint that pillars of society have been implicated yet have got away with it thus far as they are able to deflect and crush their accusers. We then get into the realm of conspiracy theories and I can understand in writing a book like this it is better to concentrate on things contributors are more certain of. If I have a suggestion: replace the disappointing final chapter with one covering these issues, which I predict in years to come will be seen as the most significant slavery issue.
I have one final thought before concluding, and that is we are all in danger of becoming slaves to a tiny cabal, whose most recent weapon used to enslave the masses is the fear of Covid-19, and lauded as the price worth paying to ensure security and freedom from the killer virus. If it is slavery free communities we are looking to see, it won’t happen if we don’t wake up to this scam. In for a penny, in for a pound (given some will have turned off now to what I say) – the other elephant that is conveniently ignored is debt slavery as money, quadrillions of US dollars worth, is siphoned off by the evil cabal and them who think they are free now pay the price.
While, my later words appear rather damming when it comes to my response to the message of the book, it was definitely not my intention – but we are talking about “slavery free communities”. In fact, I learned a lot from reading it and have been challenged as to my own response and better appreciate folk like Dan Pratt and the other contributors for doing what they do. I suggest, if we are going to approach the matter theologically, we do well to consider the words and works of Jesus, and the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.