Monday, August 24, 2009

250th Anniversary of William Wilberforce's Birthday

William Wilberforce

Today is the 250th anniversary of William Wilberforce's birthday. William was a was a British Politian a philanthropist and a leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade. His Christian beliefs and ideals underpinned his life and work for good.

I came to know of this heroic man in history through the movie, Amazing Grace. If you have not seen this move yet, bookmark it for an evening viewing in the home, you won't be disappointed! I think what struck me most was the very close parallels between the Abolition movement he led and the Pro-life movement of today.

Both movements believe in the innate dignity and rights of a group of people who in a certain time of history, who have lost both. The struggle to defeat the evil is also similar. Wilberforce believed in allowing people to see images of the suffering slaves and their horrendous, hellish conditions...

Medallion created as part of the anti-slavery campaign by Josiah Wedgwood, 1795

..but sadly the laws were not changed due to any enormous outpouring of sympathy for their plight. It took a law to be made that seemingly at face value, had nothing to do with the slave trade itself, to stop it ~ it took stealth and cunning on behalf of Wilberforce and his parlimentary was only afterwards, when people were no longer making money out of the lives of others, that people were prepared to face the horror of it and give it their full condemnation.

Isn't the Pro-life movement like that? To show images of the sad reality of an abortion means you risk being attacked verbally and sometimes physically, it was as if you were the perperator of such evil.. To point out to people how it secretly (and often not so secretly) destroys the lives of the women, is to invite open and virilent scorn. People are not prepared to look at what needs to be done to change their own behaviours, or to look at what they could be doing to support others in need and so abortion continues to thrive...and abortionists continue to make BIG money out of it all.

And so on this 250th anniversary the great grandson of William Wilberforce, Fr Gerard Wilberforce, a Catholic priest in Exeter has written this letter below stating that if his greatgrandfather were alive today he would fight against abortion. HT: Lifesite News

"I am writing as the great great grandson of William Wilberforce, who campaigned vigorously for the ending of the transatlantic slave trade in 1807, which ultimately paved the way for the abolition of slavery itself throughout the entire British Empire in 1833.

I am often asked what would be the campaigns Wilberforce would be fighting if he were alive in 21st century Britain. I believe that there would be a number of different issues among them human trafficking and the scourge of drugs. But almost certainly at the top of the list, would be the issue of abortion.

As the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill comes before Parliament over the next few weeks, the opportunity presents itself to amend the abortion Act. With the number of abortions having reached 200,000 per year in the UK alone, the time is right to tighten up the law that was designed to protect women by ending illegal abortion, but never to allow such a high degree of deprived life.

There are great similarities between the status of the foetus and the status of African slaves two centuries ago. Slaves were considered a commodity to do with whatever the vested interests of the day decided. Today, in our desire to play God in our embryology experimentation, with all its' unfulfilled promises of miracle cures, and our decision to abort unwanted children, we are no better that those slave traders who put their interests and world view higher than they placed the sanctity and value of human life.

Most people at the time didn't believe the evil of slavery could ever be defeated, as so much of the economy at the time was dependent on the trade. It's easy for us to think that is the case today with abortion, but I believe William Wilberforce would not take such a view.

Whilst our hearts go out to those who have chosen abortion, there should now be much greater emphasis on the alternatives that exist. Many of us would like to see far more support to those who have made such a significant and difficult decision but whilst we recognise the trauma many women have gone through, we also have a duty to 'Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves' (Proverbs 31).

The Psalmist says 'My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.'

With abortions in the UK reaching 600 a day, it seems to me that the 'secret place', is one of the most dangerous places to be in modern day Britain.

As with my great ancestor, the battle took many years, even decades. But now, with the passage of time we look back in horror at how we devalued human life. I truly believe we will look back in years to come, repent and ask forgiveness for what we let happen to the unborn child.

There is something deeply depressing about a society in which abortion is so easy, yet alternatives such as adoption are made to appear so difficult."

I think William would be comforted to know that he has decendants that recognise the evil in it's day and is prepared to state it for what it is and do something about it.


Lindsay said...

Annie, what a great post! It surely brings to mind the words of our savior, "Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves."

Gae said...

dear Anne,
Wonderful post. We are right with you on this.
God Bless

Elizabeth C. said...

Thank you Annie for posting this. I have watched "Amazing Grace" and was moved the actions of William Wiberforce. But, to know that his great (great) grandson is a Catholic Priest brought joy to my heart. How awesome!!!

Thank you again.

God bless,

wrestlingwithGod said...

I love this letter from Wilberforce's descendant. The movie is great and I also really liked the autobiography, also called "Amazing Grace," written by Eric Metaxas. Wilberforce is a great example of faith in action, letting God's truths transform our world for His glory. I think it is really important to show people this connection between abortion and slavery. I think if people can realize the connection, they will see more clearly how evil abortion is, and how it must be stopped. I am planning on writing a series on this on my blog and would welcome feedback.