The British empire was driven by greed but it helped spread Christianity, promoted human rights and opposed slavery

Sir Roger Casement is a venerated Irish republican martyr, but was knighted for his earlier life work as a British diplomat. ''A dossier he compiled exposed human rights abuses in the rubber industry of the Belgian Congo
Sir Roger Casement is a venerated Irish republican martyr, but was knighted for his earlier life work as a British diplomat. ''A dossier he compiled exposed human rights abuses in the rubber industry of the Belgian Congo

Billy Kennedy (‘Welby lambasts empire in shock intervention,’ March 16) questions the wisdom of recent negative comments about the British empire by Archbishop Justin Welby.

The British empire was a military and economic powerhouse driven by greed, but it did facilitate the spread of Christianity to far flung parts of the world.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

British empire trade routes carried missionaries and bibles to distant lands, with English remaining a powerful medium for global mission today. These observations should not surprise us if we consider ‘The Spreading Flame’.

‘The Spreading Flame’ is a term used by historians to describe the explosive growth of the Early Church. The Roman Empire, Greek language and ‘God Fearers’ were all important factors in Early Church expansion.

‘God Fearers’ were gentiles attracted to synagogue worship, but never able to fully identify as Jews. They often embraced full Church membership with joy.

Greek was a ‘lingua franca’ that allowed the gospel to penetrate diverse language groups. The stability of Roman Empire trade routes allowed missionaries and manuscripts to safely travel over long distances.

The later British empire had one very positive dimension that the Roman empire maybe lacked. The later British empire promoted human rights and challenged slavery. Sir Roger Casement is a venerated Irish republican martyr, but was knighted for his earlier life work as a British diplomat.

A dossier compiled by Sir Roger proved pivotal in exposing human rights abuses in the rubber industry of the Belgian Congo.

Archbishop Welby might benefit from reading a recent article by Dave Brennan of Brephos. The ‘media articles’ section of the Brephos website explores how Sir Roger scored a human rights coup, while employed as a British diplomat.

That an Irish republican martyr, who worked as a British diplomat and was knighted, might be described as the father of twentieth century human rights investigations is quite fascinating. Fact is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Is Roger Casement possibly one of the Ballycastle district’s most famous sons?

If Sir Roger was alive today, and banquetting with Justin Welby, what UK human rights issues would he be whispering about in the Archbishop’s ear between glasses of Port? “Up to 500 abortions a day in Great Britain with 97-98% of them for social reasons”.

James Hardy, Belfast