Rev Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

Mo Farah’s story has a happy ending. Many victims, trafficked as modern day slaves, have no such happy ending. To add a faith perspective, don’t do as Christianity did for most of its history, and completely ignore, or even justify, slavery.

I can tell you now that slavery is always wrong. You can trust me on this because I’m a Christian, and we’re right about everything. Always have been.

6 thoughts on “Rev Dr Michael Banner, Dean and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge

  1. It wasn’t until the 19th century that a religion based on the word of God decided that, perhaps, some of that word wasn’t how to carry on.
    But if it is now obvious that slavery is wrong then what else might they have got wrong?
    Jesus rose from the dead and then flew up to heaven. Like some sort of Disney cartoon character, the main story character in all fairy stories does what is expected and magically overcomes the baddies. We all believe that one.
    Moses went up a hill and came down with some commandments. Why not just sit round a table with a few other bright people and thrash out what are the most important things in human civilisation when you can pretend that they were handed over in a secret supernatural ceremony on a sacred hill.
    Jesus was born of a virgin inseminated by a supernatural being. If a sixteen year old gets herself pregnant and her family wants the best outcome for the child then fooling her neighbours into believing that she was ‘visited by the Lord’ in the night is as good a way as any in a superstitious society, but I can’t see a middle class family in the UK trying to pass that off as realistic in the 21st century.
    Jesus is now seated on the right hand of God in heaven. We all watched episodes of Dr Who when we were awestruck children where the Doctor ends up on some weird and outlandish planet after travelling through some sort of time and relative dimension portal and would have loved it to be true. In the 21st century we have the Webb telescope showing us an immense universe where there is no place for a heaven to hide. Grow up Christians for goodness sake.
    Transubstantiation. Bread and wine are “transformed into the actual body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.” Mmm, I’ve read all the Harry Potter stories and don’t believe in that sort of magic, but “Transubstiato” must have been one of the spell names that Rowling could have used.


      1. Yes I like also Two four six eight time to transubstantiate..and a lot of the laughter
        came from seminarians. What a horrible word and mess of a doctrine it is anyway.


    1. PaulT. Very well stated.
      Re “Moses went up a hill…”
      I’m often amused by artistic depictions of this moment which usually show Moses returning down the hill with two tablets of stone. Anyone who has ever shifted a paving flag will recognise the super-human effort required to carry a substantial stone slab in each arm – and down a hill! But, perhaps Moses was superhuman too!


  2. This isn’t entirely a Christian peculiarity – many (most) other belief systems seem to have endorsed it in the past.

    The basic story-line is that:

    1 — There are those on the inside (us) and those on the outside (them, the others). Anything that goes right is due to ‘us’; all problems are based on ‘them’. ‘We’ are always the good guys and/or victims; ‘they are always the baddies / aggressors.

    2 — ‘We’ are special (our IMF tells us so) ergo ‘They’ are not — from this we can say that ‘they’ are somewhat less than us **

    3 — It’s perfectly OK to enslave ‘them’ as they are lesser beings; enslaving ‘us’ is totally evil.

    4 — Many centuries later … Some enlightened folks realise that the differences between them and us are small / contrived / non existent and call for an end to slavery; those in entrenched positions of power resist.

    Sadly some still exploit the ‘them & us’ divides with horrific consequences (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zhedong, ISIS…).

    Broadly though, secular democracies are moving away from this position (religiously at least – politically blaming ‘the other’ is still well established)

    5 — Religions wake up to the humanist secular position and now claim that they were against slavery all along. Selective memory and platitudes win you a spot on TFTD.

    6 — Still waiting for politicians to catch up

    ** Incl. 21st century outpourings from RC Cardinals about Atheists !!


  3. I suppose Banner deserves a bit of credit for telling his students the truth about slavery and the Church’s inglorious role in it. But in reality he had little choice: that role is so well documented, with such a wealth of evidence, that there is no point in trying to cover it up any more.

    But as Paul points out, the faithful are willing to swallow all manner of outlandish claims in the BBoMS, and from armchair theologians ever since, that have been equally thoroughly debunked by modern cosmologists, archaeologists, historians, geologists, and the rest. Nobody with a reasonably open mind could, for instance, read more than five pages of a simple handbook on astronomy without realising that the Biblical concept of the heavens is nonsense.

    The atheist philosopher Julian Baggini once did a survey of his Christian friends, all university-educated types like himself, in the expectation that they would agree with him that the resurrection story was metaphorical or symbolic. Not a bit of it; almost all of them took it absolutely literally, and even felt that their lives would be meaningless if it had never really happened. Human psychology is a funny thing.


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