Rev Chris Blog 

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April 17, 2011
 
I was invited by a cross border project to speak on a panel in Carlingford on Friday night along with noted writer and historian Tim Pat Cogan and Doctor James Quinn, Royal Irish Academy amongst others. The subject for discussion was John Mitchell , the Irish Patriot , Young Irelander and supporter of the Confederate States during the American Civil War .
Mitchell is much admired by many throughout Ireland because of his outrage at the Irish Famine and his writings in support of the Irish Nation. But what bothered me was his support for slavery and lack of empathy with people with other races. I include a part of. my contribution on the night The following are some points I made in the discussion:
“In December 1845 Frederick Douglas, a former escaped slave and well known anti-slavery campaigner, gave a lecture in the Second Congregation Church hall on behalf of the Anti- Slavery Society. He toured Britain and Ireland to avoid being recaptured by his “owner” and published his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave .
Ironically Douglas could have rubbed shoulders with Waddell Cunningham, accepted to be the wealthiest man in Belfast, with a plantation in the West Indies - who had suggested Ireland should get involved in the lucrative slave trade. However it was another Non- Subscriber Thomas McCabe ( a United Irishman) who put stop to this proposal by writing in Cunningham’s subscription book- May God eternally damn the soul of the man who subscribes the first guinea.
Which brings me to John Mitchell , in the 1850s he established a radical Irish Nationalist newspaper in New York, which was virulently anti-British but more infamous for its defence of slavery. His reasoning being that the Confederacy and Ireland were essentially agricultural and tied into unjust unions with the United States and England - which were greedy and grabbing .
I suppose we are what our experiences make us and Mitchell’s treatment would have shaped him. However when I look at the history of Non- Subscription or Unitarianism I see a church immersed in social reform rather than separation. It is hard to reconcile Mitchell’s sense of anger at the treatment of Irish people and his lack of empathy with the black slaves of America. The Non-Subscribers were to the fore in the emancipation of women. The support for Catholic Emancipation (not all), the support for Jewish inclusion. Today my own church is openly supportive of LGBT people in society and in the Christian Church. I cannot reconcile Mitchell’s concern for the Irish and contempt for African slaves.”
On Saturday I spoke to Reverend Bill McMillan of our Dunmurry Church and he cleared the matter for me. Reverend Mac maintained that Mitchell was a Biblical Literalist and saw no condemnation for slavery in the Bible. He would also have had the same negative few of women’s’ rights.
 
 

First Blog Message

March 20, 2011
As this is my first message on our newly launched website.  I will take this opportunity to say I hope you all had a very happy Saint Patrick's day.
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