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Social Issues: Slavery

How have Christians responded to the issue of slavery?



For more than 200 years Britain was at the very heart of an inhumane but extremely lucrative trade in millions of slaves. However, by 1807 the slave trade was abolished. Christians played a huge role in bringing about this change and probably the most famous was William Wilberforce, MP for Hull and an evangelical Christian.

Wilberforce belonged to a Christian group known as The Clapham Sect that was made up of wealthy and influential Christians. These Christians, or the saints as they were known, used their money and power to campaign against the injustices of the time, including slavery, poverty, and lack of education for the working people.

Although the work that Wilberforce and the other abolitionists did was amazing, the sad fact is that there are now more people being trafficked as slaves than in any other time in history. It is estimated that the number of women, men, and children being forced into slavery is around 30 million, although the exact number will never be known. With this new wave of slavery, has also come to a new abolition campaign and Christians are once again at the heart of it.

Organisations such as Hope for Justice and Stop the Traffik, alongside many others, are involved in the anti-trafficking work in many different ways. With the help of NGOs, Non- Government Organisations, they will investigate claims of trafficking throughout the world and then will assist in the rescue of the victim.

The organisations will then assist in the care of the victim and also in bringing the perpetrators to justice. A large part of their campaign at a local, national and international level is to ensure the laws on human trafficking work effectively to combat the problem.

At the heart of the 18th century anti-slavery campaign, Josiah Wedgwood designed this medallion to raise people’s awareness of the need for abolition. Challenge Design your own anti-trafficking campaign aimed at today’s society. Who would you involve? How would you get your message over? What media sources would you use?