A. G. Reddie, Theologising Brexit: A Liberationist and Postcolonial Critique. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019. Pp. x, 255.
Hb. Â£115. ISBN 978-0-367-02888-6.
The best way to grasp the central thread of this wide-ranging book
might be to begin with the â€˜final thoughtsâ€™ offered by the author at the
end. Reddie acknowledges here that he has â€˜not attempted to argue for
the merits of the European Unionâ€™. Instead, his attention is drawn to
the way in which â€˜Brexit exposed the racist and xenophobic underbelly
of Britain, particularly amongst the Englishâ€™, and â€˜the ambivalence of the
Church in challenging itâ€™ (p. 243).
For Reddie, that ambivalence is not an isolated failure of moral
judgement on the part of the churches but part of a deeper pattern:
â€˜The collective entity of White Christianity in Britain has invariably
found itself on the wrong side of the moral and ethical argument
when it comes to wrestling with notions of â€œraceâ€ and its obverse
iteration of â€œWhite supremacyâ€â€™ (p. 243). Moreover, that pattern
discloses connections that Reddie traces back to the early modern
period between â€˜the presumption of White normalityâ€™ (p. 170), English
imperialism and colonialism and the support of the English churches for
overseas mission. Hence his judgement that â€˜mission Christianity has
helped to shape the nature of White supremacist notions of entitlement
and superiority that provides the substratum for Brexitâ€™ (p. 25).
On this analysis, the forces inhibiting the capacity of white majority
churches in England to be a prophetic voice standing up for vulnerable
ethnic groups are powerful and long-standing. Reddie also sees the
pernicious influence of what he terms â€˜imperial mission Christianityâ€™ on
black majority churches, arguing that it was evident in the support of
some black church leaders for Brexit as a means of defending â€˜Christian
Britainâ€™ (pp. 38â€“44). For him, this version of Christianity is inextricably
bound up with â€˜notions of English/British exceptionalismâ€™ that have
Modern Believing 61.2 2020