Christian witness to abolitionism

Vimal Malik’s hyper-literal April 18 response, “Christians’ false claims of credit,” to my April 14 letter ignores history: Abolitionism was almost entirely driven by Christian witness.

The breakdown of feudalism coincided with the zenith of the church’s power in the 13th century. Absolutism? Christianity played the key role in limiting the absolute power of princes. (Montesquieu, “The Spirit of Laws,” Book 14:3).

From Jesus’ “render to God what is God’s” to Sir Thomas More’s defense of conscience against Henry VIII, Christianity practically created a concept of “conscience” unknown in the ancient world.

Malik should ask, why is the area of the world respecting human rights correlated so closely with the historic orbit of Judeo-Christianity, rather than, say, China or the Mideast? If Malik is right, the rise of anti-religious movements should have hastened rights. Revolutionary France? More people were killed in three years of Jacobin terror than in all the inquisitions of the prior 300 years.

The “scientific socialism” of Marx and Mao? Enough said there. In the 1890s, Pope Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum was developing workers’ rights while “secularists” developed eugenics and Social Darwinism. Malik needs to aim his complaints more precisely.

thomas clark
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.