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Reform Magazine | June 14, 2024

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Change is coming up - Reform Magazine

Change is coming up

Anthony Reddie became Oxford University’s first ever Professor of Black Theology in September. Next year, he will provide anti-racist training to every minister in the United Reformed Church, as part of its commitment to becoming an anti-racist Church.

Reform spoke to him at Greenbelt festival

You’re talking at Greenbelt about how churches can respond to Black Lives Matter and the cost of living crisis without being ‘saviours and rescuers’. What’s the problem? Should the church not be saving and rescuing people?

I want to remind the Church that it is part of the problem, sometimes, not necessarily part of a solution – though I do believe that the Church has an important message to help bring about change.

But we must recognise what happened once empire – in the first instance, the Roman Empire – became the framework by which the Christian faith developed, when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Christianity became a religion of empire, which you see in the rise of European empires across the globe. And the biggest of all was the British Empire. At its height, pretty much a quarter of the world was controlled by Britain. And Christianity was a central framework in what helped to develop empires, creating this binary divide between powerful and powerless. There are those who are seen as the white man’s burden, the ones who are there to be cured and saved; and the people who are going to do that are white British people.

And the truth is they didn’t do a great job, to be perfectly honest with you. Despite the efforts of modern reactionary scholars trying to argue that empires were a force for good, that’s not the evidence of any objective history.

Once you take this seriously, it means that the Church should exercise a degree of caution in how we approach things like Black Lives Matter and the systemic injustices that we have seen more clearly since the pandemic, and in the murder of George Floyd…


This article was published in the November 2023 edition of Reform

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