Rev Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields

Apparently, the C of E invested heavily in the slave trade. I know, shocking, isn’t it. You’ll be glad to know that the church has now fully repented and it’s about time you did too.


6 thoughts on “Rev Dr Sam Wells, Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields

  1. It’s not easy writing a holy book, but cut me some slack. I only had a few billion years to work out the exact wording required to inform my chosen species of my rules. You might say that my guiding hand in the evolution of that species gave me the chance to instil a guiding hand in their moral outlook, but how was I to know that racism would cause problems all over the world?
    Sometimes I think you expect too much of a supreme, all knowing being.


  2. Slavery was wrong. Everyone accepts that nowadays, apart from the many nations and cultures that still practise it. A lot of people appear to believe that slavery was invented by white Europeans in the 16th century, and that white Europeans in the 21st century are still its direct beneficiaries. It’s all our fault, and we must be made to pay.

    The speaker (who was it, by the way?) was very liberal with his apologies on behalf of the CofE, but was careful to suggest that one form of reparation would be for the Government to invest in the infrastructure of “victim” nations. Why the Government? Surely the best way in which the Church could demonstrate its own contrition and repentance would be by devoting the entire value of Queen Anne’s Bounty to that end itself?

    Besides, successive Governments have been investing in poorer countries’ infrastructure for years, in the form of international development spending, with decidedly mixed results. I think it was Rory Stewart who pointed out that the Government and the aid charities have been investing in Malawi since it became independent, but that Malawian GDP per head has scarcely changed in that time. Maybe not everything is our fault after all.


  3. As part of their protest against slavery, cotton workers in Manchester and other northern towns boycotted imported cotton from the slave-owning states during the American Civil War. There were reduced imports anyway, owing to the Union blockades, but working class people at least stood up for a principle and suffered loss of wages or unemployment as a direct result. Many of their employers, however, along with other wealthy plantation owners benefitted hugely through reparations handed out to former slave owners.

    The same working classes lived lives of misery whilst mill and factory owners amassed vast fortunes. Mill and factory workers, colliers, slate miners etc etc were not slaves, but there’d be a good case to argue that they might be due an apology and some kind of compensatory gesture. But, of course, the fortunes of the C19th industrialists have now been spent and dissipated. I’m afraid that historic wrongs – slavery, poverty, poor wages and conditions, exploitation of children – remain wrongs; and the best form of ‘reparation’ is to prevent them happening again. The Church has not done enough in this direction; but it is not alone amongst the guilty institutions.


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