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Modern Voices
Betty Wood on Le Jau's journals and Christianity
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Q: What does Le Jau and what his journals reveal to us about Christianity, the relationship between Christianity and slavery?
Betty Wood

A: Le Jau, like many of the Anglican clergy operating in the plantation colonies, did indeed display an arrogance of faith. They assumed that once presented with their version of Protestant Christianity, that West Africans would abandon their existing religious belief systems and structures in favor of that form of Protestantism. Many, indeed the majority of West Africans, did not [convert] in the early 18th century. But I think that Le Jau's journal shows us one particular Anglican cleric who, in his own perhaps rather patronizing way, did empathize with the clear physical brutality of slavery in his Goose Creek parish, and who also was racked not with guilt, but with frustration that he simply couldn't persuade his white parishioners, his white slave-owning parishioners, to act as Christian masters and mistresses and attend to the spiritual welfare of those who depended upon them.
Betty Wood
Professor of History
Oxford University

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