The Crisis of Colonial Anglicanism

Empire, Slavery and Revolt in the Church of England

January 2025 9781911723585 352pp
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Available as an eBook
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This book offers a fresh, bold and unsettling truth: the British Empire and Great Britain are primarily English constructions; and the Church of England has presumed to act for and benefit from English enterprise and exploitation, serving as the spiritual arm of the imperial project. English Anglicanism has developed itself as the lead character within its own ‘serious fiction’—the main religious player in a drama of Church and Empire. Yet, in collusion with colonialism, it is now a prisoner of its own historical amnesia.

Martyn Percy examines the English interests concealed in appeals to Britishness, and shows how slavery, exploitation, classism and racism played their part in the elitist and hierarchical worldviews propagated by the English to bolster both Empire and Church. Yet, by regarding the rest of the world as lesser, both institutions have slowly degenerated in global standing. Now, ‘Britain’ and the Church of England are no more than minor national players on the world stage.

Religious, social and political imperialism are founded on the deprecation of others. Yet those peoples who were once looked down upon have fought for equality and independence. Today, the worldwide Anglican Communion faces a new era of moral reckoning.


Martyn Percy is Provost-Theologian for Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui; Senior Research Fellow at the James Hutton Institute; and Honorary Fellow at the Universities of Edinburgh, London and Oxford. He has written for The Guardian and The Times, and is the only living theologian featured in The Da Vinci Code.

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