Modern Believing

BOOK REVIEWS

Modern Believing (2020), 61, (2), 169–209.

Abstract

BOOK REVIEWS A. G. Reddie, Theologising Brexit: A Liberationist and Postcolonial Critique. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2019. Pp. x, 255. Hb. £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 ‘final thoughts’ offered by the author at the end. Reddie acknowledges here that he has ‘not attempted to argue for the merits of the European Union’. Instead, his attention is drawn to the way in which ‘Brexit exposed the racist and xenophobic underbelly of Britain, particularly amongst the English’, and ‘the ambivalence of the Church in challenging it’ (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: ‘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 “race” and its obverse iteration of “White supremacy”’ (p. 243). Moreover, that pattern discloses connections that Reddie traces back to the early modern period between ‘the presumption of White normality’ (p. 170), English imperialism and colonialism and the support of the English churches for overseas mission. Hence his judgement that ‘mission Christianity has helped to shape the nature of White supremacist notions of entitlement and superiority that provides the substratum for Brexit’ (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 ‘imperial mission Christianity’ on black majority churches, arguing that it was evident in the support of some black church leaders for Brexit as a means of defending ‘Christian Britain’ (pp. 38–44). For him, this version of Christianity is inextricably bound up with ‘notions of English/British exceptionalism’ that have Modern Believing 61.2 2020 https://doi.org/10.3828/mb.2020.11

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