1834 –Abolitionist Clergy in New England Urge Immediate End to Slavery
This letter of appeal by various individuals to the Methodist Christians in America is a passionate plea of conviction to end the institution of slavery. It is clear that the writers believe whole-heartily that slavery is a moral sin, a view that perhaps was not shared by all Christians in that day. This gives the letter an apologetic tone, seeking first to convince the brethren that slavery is wrong before even discussing how they might begin to bring it to a halt. The writers even go so far as to say that those to hold such persons in bondage are “guilty of a crime.” The writers’ then give three suggestions for action: awareness, prayer, and the seeking of law reform.
I enjoy the writers’ ability to connect a social ill with a spiritual evil. Too often the Christian response to a spiritual evil is to pray, but pray as if to keep oneself distanced from the problem. The Christians in this letter beg for others to pray, but to learn deeply about the issue they are praying against, followed by action that would live out the prayer of their hearts. It is our Christian duty not to be enveloped by the superficial trappings of pop culture and entertainment media, but remain connected (even uncomfortably so) to the realities of our world.
This historical letter is a relevant voice even today; for today many more are being brutally enslaved throughout the world. Humans are being illegally trafficked around the world for the purposes of sex and labor. Yes, this is happening in India and Vietnam, but it’s also happening close to home. Ohio has been named a major “hub” of human trafficking in the United States. Like these abolitionists, we must be aware, pray, and seek reform in law. We must take notice of the Asian massage parlor that is open until 2am and advertising to truckers. We must help our law enforcement and social leaders to understand the difference between prostitution and sex trafficking. We must target these issues, people, and places in our prayers. But…we cannot, I mean cannot, nod our head in agreement of displeasure and then go about our day unchanged. We must allow ourselves to be agitated as Christians; we must be a bothered people.