William Wilberforce vs. Richard Allen

A week that saw us transition from the Round of 32 to the Saintly Sixteen, winds up with a matchup between a man who dedicated his life to the abolition of the slave trade and a man who was born into slavery. William Wilberforce and Richard Allen square off for a spot in the Elate Eight. Fair? Just? Of course not! Ridiculous? Absurd? Of course! It’s Lent Madness.

Yesterday Martha of Bethany became the first saint to make it the Elate Eight as she left Nicodemus in the dark 74% to 26%.

We were also delighted to note that the three creative geniuses of Lent Madness 2019 did not relegate their talents to the first round. Sr. Diana Doncaster, Michael Wachter, and John Cabot have continued their hymn writing, show tunes, and limericks into the Saintly Sixteen. For however long the penitential creative juices keep flowing, legions of fans remain grateful for your efforts. Bravo!

We do hope your Lent Madness Withdrawal (LMW) symptoms are not too severe this weekend. If you begin to feel out-of sorts or find yourself staring at your computer screen refreshing your browser over and over again pining for Monday morning, we suggest binge watching old episodes of Monday Madness. Or attending church on Sunday dressed up as your favorite Celebrity Blogger.

But fear not. We’ll see you soon enough as things get cranked back up again first thing on Monday as Ignatius of Loyola faces Marina the Monk.

William Wilberforce

William Wilberforce (1759-1833) dedicated his entire life to ending the trade of enslaved people in the British Empire.

Wilberforce was an evangelical Anglican. He was born again not once, but twice: once when he was a young man living with his aunt and uncle, then again when he was an adult, touring Europe with his friends, upon reading “The Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul” by Philip Dodderidge.  This second conversion experience made him deeply self-critical. He saw Christianity as a call to morality placed equally on everyone. (The strong social justice bent of the Methodist movement at the time was a heavy influence on him.)

This led him to champion ethical reforms, including allowing the dissection after execution of criminals—both to prevent the thriving blackmarket trade in corpses stolen from graveyards, and to allow greater learning by doctors and scientists about the miracle of the human body. He was in favor of Hannah More’s Sunday schools (originally intended to educate the lower classes, who couldn’t otherwise afford an education), better working conditions for chimney sweeps and textile workers, and prison reform.

Notably, he helped found the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to the great joy of millions of cats and dogs everywhere. (He also founded what became the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, but that does not have quite the Cuteness Quotient.)

He wrote, in 1787, “God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade, and the Reformation of Manners [moral values].” And indeed, Wilberforce’s accomplishment in abolishing the trade of enslaved people cannot be overstated. When he wrote the above, profits made from the “Triangle Trade” made up 80% of all British income from trade. (If you cannot recall your history, the “Triangle Trade” is the deceptively innocuous phrase that refers to the pattern of shipping enslaved people from the African continent to the Caribbean in exchange for sugar and rum, then sugar and rum across to England, then the sugar and rum would be sold in England in exchange for British-manufactured goods, which would be sold down to African slave traders.)

This campaign was both lengthy, and all-consuming. Wilberforce actually was so overworked that he made himself ill, and couldn’t even be in Parliament to propose the first law himself. It was also the first grassroots, worldwide human rights campaign. The Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, founded in 1787 by Thomas Clarkson and Wilberforce, among others, brought together not only Anglicans and Quakers for the first time, but also abolitionists in France, Spain, Portugal, and the US. Chapters sprang up across the world, and members wrote pamphlets and letters to each other. The Society urged everyone to write their MP and sign petitions. Josiah Wedgewood even made a special logo for his china so everyone could show their support. It set the model for the modern political organizing we know. “If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large,” he said.

Wilberforce died three days after being told that total abolition of slavery in the British Empire was accomplished. He literally gave his life to right a great injustice.

-Megan Castellan

Richard Allen

It has been well publicized that Richard Allen is the founding bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, work he began after he and Absalom Jones walked out of Saint George’s Methodist Episcopal Church in protest of its racist policies. However, his work extends beyond the founding of the first independent Black denomination in America. In a 2016 Religion News Service article, Adelle M. Banks suggests that Allen was deeply involved in the conversion of his slave master to whom he gave a gift after his manumission for his “uncommon kind treatment.” Even so, Allen described American Chattel Slavery as “a bitter pill, notwithstanding we had a good master.”

Richard Allen’s pioneering tendencies have led many historians to write about him, touting his feminism (before it was even a word that was coined) demonstrated in licensing women to preach and his leadership in the advancement of black institutions. Dr. Robert Franklin, President-Emeritus of Morehouse College suggests that “The birth of strong black institutions is a part of his legacy.”

Prior to his founding of the AME Church or any other prominent ministry, Allen was a Methodist minister on the circuit, preaching to white and black congregations throughout much of the East Coast, including South Carolina and Maryland. He writes that he was so dedicated to the ministry of a circuit-riding Methodist that at times his “feet became so sore and painful that I could scarcely be able to put them to the floor.”

Prior to the walkout, Jones and Allen had begun developing plans to build a church for black Philadelphians to worship in. The idea was brought up to a white elder who attempted to discourage the work. Allen writes that he “used very degrading and insulting language to us, to try and prevent us from going on. We all belonged to St. George’s church…. We felt ourselves much cramped; but my dear Lord was with us, and we believed, if it was his will, the work would go on, and that we would be able to succeed in building the house of the Lord.”

Nevertheless, Jones and Allen persisted.

-Marcus Halley

William Wilberforce vs. Richard Allen

  • William Wilberforce (68%, 5,096 Votes)
  • Richard Allen (32%, 2,389 Votes)

Total Voters: 7,485

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147 Comments to "William Wilberforce vs. Richard Allen"

  1. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 29, 2019 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    His unceasing, inspired oration
    Helped Wilberforce win over a nation,
    And his actions unmade
    A cruel, barbarous trade:
    For these deeds he deserves acclamation.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 29, 2019 - 8:02 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the shout-out, O ye SEC!

      • Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
        March 29, 2019 - 8:58 am | Permalink

        Thank you for sharing your gift with us all!

      • Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
        March 29, 2019 - 11:18 am | Permalink

        Sorry I missed that!

      • March 29, 2019 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

        John Cabot really writes a great rhyme.
        And he hits the mark every time.
        His fan group is legion,
        Comes from every region.
        Proud to be saying this I’m.

        • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
          March 29, 2019 - 6:08 pm | Permalink

          Likewise impressed and flattered I’m! 🙂

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 9:37 am | Permalink

      Getting “cruel” and “barbarous” in there was masterful!

    • Kathie Johnson's Gravatar Kathie Johnson
      March 29, 2019 - 11:58 am | Permalink

      Another impossible choice!!!! Both men were simply amazing, by far outclassing most of the other candidates. We humans are so fortunate that people with such courage have come before us to help pave the way for a more just world. We just have so much more work to do!

    • Steve P's Gravatar Steve P
      March 29, 2019 - 12:51 pm | Permalink

      Both exceptional candidates! For me, I voted for the man fighting and working from the bottom, rather than from privilege. I think sometimes we regard those who gave up privilege more highly than those born without it. Either way, two amazing, godly men. And a great matchup, pitting two men opposed to slavery!

    • Elaine Culver's Gravatar Elaine Culver
      March 29, 2019 - 10:31 pm | Permalink


  2. Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
    March 29, 2019 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    We pay tribute to these saintly men with a song sung to the tune of “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” from “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”:

    Attend the tale of Wilberforce.
    Last round, he bested Lin Zhao, of course.
    The British people all know his name.
    He earned that by ending the slavery game.
    Became the knight on a white horse
    Did Wilberforce,
    For fighting for abolition.

    Rich Allen’s win to most did please.
    Defeated Hannah Grier Coome with ease.
    And what of white folks kept blacks from prayers?
    He started a church so they got their fair shares.
    Rich Allen.
    Rich Allen did.
    The founder of the AME.

    Cast your votes for Lent Madness!
    Choose your saint with pride!
    Think on the good works they did before they died.

    In Parliament, Will’s plans were made.
    Both Pitt and Clarkson came to his aid.
    His grassroots blitz was the first we’d seen.
    Who knew Ioan Gruffudd played him on the screen?
    For justice, he held the course:
    Will Wilberforce
    For fighting for abolition.

    Ordained Methodist, Allen was.
    Not a Pisky like Abs’lom was.
    Born as a slave. Bought himself free.
    Allen knew harshness that others can’t see.

    Allen prayed that his plan be blessed:
    Blacks should worship, not be oppressed.
    He started small. Then, the church grew.
    Allen’s was patient and saw it through.

    Lenten! Madness! Lenten! Madness!

    Attend the vote of Will and Rich.
    You must choose one with a fevered pitch.
    Which one will win? Well, some do say
    That neither would want us to give it away.
    Not Allen
    Nor Wilberforce
    Which one will move to Elate Eight?

    • Patrice's Gravatar Patrice
      March 29, 2019 - 8:57 am | Permalink

      Tuning in this morning was worth just for “Not a Pisky!” Lol!
      No idea who to vote for, since both are so deserving, but I’ll have Michael’s tune going through my head all day!

      • March 29, 2019 - 9:27 am | Permalink

        Absolutely! Love that “Pisky,” although it took me a moment to figure out what a Pisky was (or is).

        • Susan Lee Hausert's Gravatar Susan Lee Hausert
          March 29, 2019 - 9:47 am | Permalink

          Okay, I’m just gonna say it: I know what a pisky is, but not in this context. Here’s hoping I’m not the only one in the Lent Madness commenting public who does!

          • Verdery Kassebaum's Gravatar Verdery Kassebaum
            March 29, 2019 - 11:28 am | Permalink

            Susan, when I first saw the word, all I could think of was the small Cornish equivalent of a leprechaun.
            Then the light dawned. Clever! I had never heard it used the way Michael did.

          • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
            March 29, 2019 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

            OHhh!!! EPISCopalian!! Oh, I get it now!

            Michael, Mr. Sondheim would be so pleased! (And I’ll pay you a quarter if you do one from “The Band’s Visit”!)

      • Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
        March 29, 2019 - 11:18 am | Permalink


    • Karen Sculley's Gravatar Karen Sculley
      March 29, 2019 - 9:02 am | Permalink

      Brilliant again! I appreciate the attention you give to all manner of details in your songs!

    • Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
      March 29, 2019 - 9:32 am | Permalink

      A thank you to the SEC for today’s call out.
      I am humbled.

    • Jane Trambley's Gravatar Jane Trambley
      March 29, 2019 - 10:22 am | Permalink

      Brilliant, Michael! My bracket is broken for this round, so I voted for the underdog.

    • Robyn Frey-Monell's Gravatar Robyn Frey-Monell
      March 29, 2019 - 12:07 pm | Permalink

      I LOVED the shout out to Ioan Gruffudd! 😀

    • Deacon Carol's Gravatar Deacon Carol
      March 29, 2019 - 12:48 pm | Permalink

      I am of an older generation and do not know the tunes. Could we get some from musicals like Oklahoma or Gilbert and Sullivan or Jesus Christ Superstar?

      • lynne ball's Gravatar lynne ball
        March 29, 2019 - 6:34 pm | Permalink


      • Jackie B's Gravatar Jackie B
        March 29, 2019 - 7:35 pm | Permalink

        I’m with you. We did get “The Sound of Music.”

      • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
        March 29, 2019 - 9:25 pm | Permalink

        YouTube! I look it up if I don’t know it, and sing the lyrics with the version on YouTube. It’s wonderful to learn new musicals!

        • Michael Wachter's Gravatar Michael Wachter
          March 30, 2019 - 12:09 am | Permalink

          Great idea, Susan. Lifelong learning is an important thing.

          As an FYI, there have been two from “The Sound of Music” and songs from “Porgy and Bess,” “Mame”, “Sweet Charity”, as well as “Oklahoma!” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” and blockbuster movie musicals, like “Grease,” “Chicago,” and “Annie.”

          I choose the songs based on where the stories of the saints, creative inspiration, and the Spirit moves me. Right now, I hope something “comes floating on the jasmine wind” – but I cannot be too sure…

          • Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
            March 30, 2019 - 9:08 am | Permalink

            Porgy and Bess is a great American opera. I was fortunate enough to see it performed by Dallas Opera while I was in college. I volunteered for them for about two or three seasons, and as a lfront of house volunteer, at that time, there was the perk of a free ticket for each volunteer shift worked. The best seat I ever got was for Porgy and Bess – third row center. (Which is a great seat for an Opera performed in one’s own language, since reading the supers from that far forward would give one a kink in the neck from all the nodding.)

    • Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
      March 29, 2019 - 10:32 pm | Permalink


  3. Carolyn Mack's Gravatar Carolyn Mack
    March 29, 2019 - 8:09 am | Permalink

    A difficult choice, but I live in Delaware and have long had great veneration for Richard Allen. He needs a movie like Amazing Grace to boost his profile.

  4. Ruth Davis's Gravatar Ruth Davis
    March 29, 2019 - 8:16 am | Permalink

    Had to vote for William Wilberforce. The effect of his campaign to end the slave trade was worldwide.

  5. Kaye Bellot's Gravatar Kaye Bellot
    March 29, 2019 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Both worthy men but I’m More moved by William. A big Bill as it were.

  6. Patricia Rosenberg's Gravatar Patricia Rosenberg
    March 29, 2019 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    I could wear my William and Mary colors to dress as Megan. Andrea’s mini-me child looks like her.

  7. Susan C's Gravatar Susan C
    March 29, 2019 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    I wanted to vote for both, but know the penalty of voting twice. Wilberforce got my vote because of his pivotal role in ending the slave trade, his wisdom in wanting to allow the dissection of executed criminals (a proposal that would be politically incorrect for entirely different reasons in today’s society), and his role in founding the SPCA. His influence was widespread.

  8. Alyssa Sali's Gravatar Alyssa Sali
    March 29, 2019 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    A vote for Richard Allen is the best way to honor the legacies of both men.

    • Robyn's Gravatar Robyn
      March 29, 2019 - 8:51 am | Permalink

      I agree!

    • Catherine's Gravatar Catherine
      March 29, 2019 - 9:12 am | Permalink


    • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
      March 29, 2019 - 9:22 am | Permalink

      Agreed here as well!

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 9:42 am | Permalink

      Excellent point, Alyssa!

  9. NLT's Gravatar NLT
    March 29, 2019 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Really tough today. Both men are very deserving of the Golden Halo. But I live near Philly, so I have to go with the Home Team choice, Richard Allen.

    • Kathleen Sheehy's Gravatar Kathleen Sheehy
      March 29, 2019 - 10:11 am | Permalink

      Same here. I’m a displaced Philadelphian so Richard Allen gets my vote. And the decrepit public housing project named after him in Philly was razed and redeveloped years ago, thank goodness, as it was far from a fitting tribute to him.

  10. Kate Mason's Gravatar Kate Mason
    March 29, 2019 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Ended the slave trade.
    William was a force, and a
    light for future change.

  11. Sharon Pattison's Gravatar Sharon Pattison
    March 29, 2019 - 8:47 am | Permalink

    Love both of these saints, but my English roots are directing me to William Wilberforce!
    I love the song By Michael Wachter,are amazing! Have you written musicals that Imsouldmhave seen and heard and enjoyed! From Windsor, Ontario, Canada

  12. Sharon Foster Pattison's Gravatar Sharon Foster Pattison
    March 29, 2019 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Sorry typo

  13. Charles Stuart's Gravatar Charles Stuart
    March 29, 2019 - 8:59 am | Permalink

    Abolition of slavery and founding of SPCA too? Wilberforce has my vote.

  14. Linda Burnett's Gravatar Linda Burnett
    March 29, 2019 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    couldnt decide today. Both men are worthy of a win. I closed my eyes and hit a button. Wilberforce it is.

  15. Lorie Wacaster's Gravatar Lorie Wacaster
    March 29, 2019 - 9:00 am | Permalink

    Wow! A tough choice both men so deserving of a Golden Halo!

  16. Carolyn's Gravatar Carolyn
    March 29, 2019 - 9:01 am | Permalink

    Richard Allen gets my vote , as a black men championing blacks and females and all people his work was most difficult and his faith amazing and undaunted.

    • Alyssa Sali's Gravatar Alyssa Sali
      March 29, 2019 - 9:32 am | Permalink


  17. Mama J's Gravatar Mama J
    March 29, 2019 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    My vote is for Wilberforce. . . surely a ‘force’ in his time for the benefit of all God’s creatures, human and animal alike!

  18. Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
    March 29, 2019 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’m with Allen this round, but both are so deserving of the halo I won’t be sorry to see either one go forward (but truth be told, it will break my bracket something fierce if Wilberforce wins the day, ah, well).

  19. Jennie O's Gravatar Jennie O
    March 29, 2019 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Both are remarkable human beings.. in a way, the work of Wilberforce opened the door for Fr. Allen – so today Wilberforce gets my vote.

  20. Barbara Price's Gravatar Barbara Price
    March 29, 2019 - 9:21 am | Permalink

    Such a difficult choice! Wanted to vote for both

  21. John Lewis's Gravatar John Lewis
    March 29, 2019 - 9:22 am | Permalink

    William Wilberforce attacked so many injustices and cruelties in our world—I hadn’t known about his role in the founding of the (R)SPCA—at the cost of his own life, as our C. B. says of him—that he ranks with the reforming monks and friars of the medieval and early modern eras. If he makes it into the Elate Eight, I’ll say more about this.

  22. March 29, 2019 - 9:25 am | Permalink

    I have nothing against Wilberforce, an extremely honorable man, But, for his courage, his feminism and his forgiveness, I feel compelled to support Richard Allen.

  23. Susan Stewart's Gravatar Susan Stewart
    March 29, 2019 - 9:26 am | Permalink

    This was a difficult choice. However, it came down to my personal philosophy that to effectively address a “wrong” we must address the institution and change it-not flee from it.

  24. Nancy's Gravatar Nancy
    March 29, 2019 - 9:35 am | Permalink

    Yet another coin toss, as both are deserving of the Golden Halo. Wilberforce.

  25. Joyce's Gravatar Joyce
    March 29, 2019 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    This is a hard decision. I finally went with the greatest good for the mostest. So Wilberforce gets my vote. I greatly admire Allen and his determination.

  26. TJMannion's Gravatar TJMannion
    March 29, 2019 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    William Wilberforce was a true force of nature. As much as Richard Allen did good work for many, William’s persistence won freedom from slavery for the Empire. William for the win!

  27. jan bohn's Gravatar jan bohn
    March 29, 2019 - 9:38 am | Permalink

    The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (www.rnli.org) is an amazing organization. Slavery, saving dogs and cats and keeping the shores of the British Isle safe – what a guy!!!

  28. St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
    March 29, 2019 - 9:40 am | Permalink

    It’s Methodist against Methodist today. Despite the appropriation of the “nevertheless, she persisted” trope for the men, a crafty rhetorical ploy, I am voting for Wilberforce. His role in organizing against the slave trade was mighty and powerful. Not sure I understand the logic of the dissections of executed felons; it seems as though that would encourage more thefts of corpses for teaching hospitals. Those earnest Victorians could have spent more on sanitation than on dissection. However, schools for the poor and protections for animals win my vote. I read “Black Beauty” as a child and wept at the death of Ginger. “Only Ignorance” was a chapter basically filled with a sermon. Wilberforce for me today.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 9:58 am | Permalink

      Is it the same logic that is behind the movement to legalize marijuana?

  29. March 29, 2019 - 9:42 am | Permalink

    Both men are wondrful, but Wilberforce is one of my heroes and has been for years. I’m hoping he wins the Golden Halo.

  30. Miss Jan's Gravatar Miss Jan
    March 29, 2019 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    I live in a house that has as many cats as humans . . . it is tempting to let them sway me to vote for the founder of the SPCA.

    But I have known of Richard Allen a little longer than I have William Wilberforce. And I have seen (the outside) of Mother Bethel in Philadelphia.

    If only both could advance.

    Both men had long reaching impacts, though it could be argued that William”s impact had a wider geographical scope.

    My minor at Southern Methodist was in Human Rights and William did help found the “first grassroots, worldwide human rights campaign,” and pretty much give his life for it.

    On the other hand we have Richard who made his soles sore bringing healing to souls via preaching the good news of the liberating Gospel of Christ.

    It is a tough choice.

  31. Charles F.'s Gravatar Charles F.
    March 29, 2019 - 9:44 am | Permalink

    Wish this hadn’t been before the final. I’m taking founding the SPCA as a tiebreaker for Wilberforce.

  32. Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
    March 29, 2019 - 9:54 am | Permalink

    Such a tough choice! I decided to vote for Richard Allen, because while Wilberforce accomplished the greatest good for the most worldwide, it was his relative position of privilege that allowed him to do that. That’s not to downplay his hard work and devotion – but as far as saintliness and their efforts to better the world go, I think these men are clear equals. Allen did some really difficult work despite strong attempts to discourage him, and his legacy needs to be better known. So I voted for Allen because I’ve long had a soft spot for him, and I figured more people would be voting for Wilberforce. I had a bit of a political motivation, too: Nowadays, we need to lift up the work that people of color do to liberate their own communities, rather than celebrate the “white saviors.” Again, this is not at all to denigrate Wilberforce’s work. He would probably argue that he was only doing the least his faith required of him, but he certainly did go above and beyond what anyone would have expected.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 10:07 am | Permalink

      Elaine, I posted the same thoughts myself while you were posting as well!

    • Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
      March 29, 2019 - 11:22 am | Permalink

      Same reasons as mine, as well.

    • Sandy Warren's Gravatar Sandy Warren
      March 29, 2019 - 11:36 am | Permalink

      Well said Elaine – I totally agree.

    • Barbara Gay's Gravatar Barbara Gay
      March 29, 2019 - 2:31 pm | Permalink

      I’m not sure who I’m going to vote for. But this “white savior” allegation was brought up against Wilberforce when he was in the last round, and I’m not seeing him that way. Wilberforce worked within his own social, political, and economic system to make it less racist and exploitive. Surely that’s what we all should be doing. He must have alienated many friends and other associates, yet he persisted. Do those of us who work to make our own country less racist see ourselves as “white saviors”? I would hope not.

  33. Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
    March 29, 2019 - 9:57 am | Permalink

    I’m voting for Richard. I am thrilled with William’s life story and know that he did good for untold numbers of souls. But Richard came up against the system–was a victim of it himself–and forged ahead out of slavery with his faith and his message of love intact. William was white; he was in Parliament and part of the system to an extent (although a force for good). Richard worked from outside the system, swimming against the tide and out of the depths.

    I am voting, too, for my own sore feet.

    • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
      March 30, 2019 - 5:25 am | Permalink

      That gives new meaning to “voting with one’s feet “!

  34. Tiffany's Gravatar Tiffany
    March 29, 2019 - 10:02 am | Permalink

    Richard Allen also helped lead the free black community of Philadelphia to take care of white people during the yellow fever epidemic in 1793. They nursed the sick and buried the dead. It was Dr. Benjamin Rush who asked them to help, believing erroneously that blacks would not get the disease. In fact, Richard Alan himself contracted yellow fever, but fortunately survived. It was a great service to the white community. (And yet, rather than being thanked for their charity, they were accused of trying to profit from their endeavors.)


    I honestly don’t know who to vote for! These were the two I most esteemed going into Kent Madness. Both are such impressive men in working for social justice!

  35. Michelle's Gravatar Michelle
    March 29, 2019 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    This was hard. Both are very worthy. Wilberforce in his life and works changed so many things and influenced so many people that I had to vote for him. His work was at the core of civil rights movements in most places.

  36. Peg S.'s Gravatar Peg S.
    March 29, 2019 - 10:07 am | Permalink

    Today my mantra is “no crying in baseball, no losers in Lent Madness.” What wonderful souls, these two. And this year, the field is packed with choice choices, the blogs are especially special, and the comments are uncommonly cogent. Lent Madness X is in all ways X-ceptional.

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 29, 2019 - 10:23 am | Permalink

      To celebrate, I nominate Malcolm X for Lent Madness XI.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 10:25 am | Permalink

      I always look forward to your comments, Peg. Thank you for them.

  37. Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
    March 29, 2019 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    I want to vote for Wilberforce. BUT given the current state of the “United” Methodist Church, Allen has to get my vote for his strength to walk out and start a new denomination!

    • St Celia's Gravatar St Celia
      March 29, 2019 - 10:22 am | Permalink

      Ah, this is an angle I had not considered. The sadness of Protestantism is that once the church splits, it keeps splitting. May this angle become an angel for enlightenment and unity in the Methodist Church.

      • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
        March 29, 2019 - 10:52 am | Permalink

        I fear that unity is gone. In the spirit of Richard Allen, we are quite likely to walk out.

      • Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
        March 29, 2019 - 11:25 am | Permalink

        St Celia, you are so right. We Protestants always come up with some reason to split. We don’t know how to live John Wesley’s teaching, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these smaller differences. These remaining as they are, they may forward one another in love and in good works.”

        • Elaine's Gravatar Elaine
          March 29, 2019 - 11:38 am | Permalink

          I love that quote. We tried.

        • Sandy Warren's Gravatar Sandy Warren
          March 29, 2019 - 11:38 am | Permalink

          Thanks for sharing this Victoria – it is a wonderful quote.

        • Grace Kennedy's Gravatar Grace Kennedy
          March 29, 2019 - 11:47 am | Permalink

          Thanks for that quote from Wesley. I agree.

          • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
            March 29, 2019 - 1:46 pm | Permalink

            He sounds like the Anglican he was! I think that is much the same as Bishop Curry is saying to the Lambeth bishops.

        • March 29, 2019 - 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Yes, beautiful quote. The Episcopal church has been struggling to maintain its “big tent” for decades, but it is a terribly difficult to maintain.

    • Emily's Gravatar Emily
      March 29, 2019 - 4:03 pm | Permalink

      That is my thought as well. A gentle suggestion for all to reflect on past history and the brave decisions that resulted in a stronger, more vibrant Methodist Church.

  38. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 29, 2019 - 10:13 am | Permalink

    While the people of Philadelphia have good reason to revere Richard Allen, the whole world owes a debt to William Wilberforce. When one gets down to it, this was an easy choice. Wilberforce’s initiatives saved – and continue to save – thousands of lives, both human and animal (Megan may not hold that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has as much cachet as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – it’s the RSPCA in the UK – but then Megan probably doesn’t have any relatives whose lives were saved from a watery grave by the brave volunteers of the RNLI.) When one looks at the breadth and depth of the causes championed by William Wilberforce, there can be no doubt that God received him in heaven with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  39. Mary Jane C. Ingalls's Gravatar Mary Jane C. Ingalls
    March 29, 2019 - 10:32 am | Permalink

    Anyone who abhors slavery (human trafficking) and cruelty to animals, will rejoice in a vote for William Wilberforce. Bless the beasts and the children.

  40. Linda S's Gravatar Linda S
    March 29, 2019 - 10:37 am | Permalink

    Wilberforce! One godly soul applied Mica 6:8 to the institutions of his own society … which enabled him and his own to enjoy so much privilege, and he saw they were not just. The Triangle Trade was responsible for 80% of the wealth involved in British trade??? And he took that on as a loyal love-toting soldier of Christ.
    I’ve got my pick for this year’s Golden Halo!

    • Ruth Douglas Miller's Gravatar Ruth Douglas Miller
      March 29, 2019 - 11:04 am | Permalink

      ‘To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.’ Yes, that about sums it up. Thank you, Linda S.

  41. Kathy in Nicaragua's Gravatar Kathy in Nicaragua
    March 29, 2019 - 10:39 am | Permalink

    The thing that surprises me is the spread of the votes. I would think this one would be much closer, as I agree with many of the previous comments that both men are so worthy of our votes. I voted for Richard Allen because I would like to see more people of color recognized for their contributions and because I thought Marcus’ write-up was more in the spirit of the Saintly Sixteen round. Megan gave us one sentence of quote. Surely William Wilberforce had more to say for himself than that.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 1:48 pm | Permalink

      Hear! Hear! I was hoping for that golden halo for Richard, too.

  42. Susan Reeves's Gravatar Susan Reeves
    March 29, 2019 - 10:44 am | Permalink

    Voted for Wilberforce. Those who lift up the oppressed are generally going to get my support. Their actions show their spiritual focus and how they live into their faith, acting out their baptismal vows to respect the dignity of every human being.

  43. Nancy S.'s Gravatar Nancy S.
    March 29, 2019 - 11:02 am | Permalink

    Such a tough choice. In the end I’ve decided on Wilberforce for many of the reasons given in previous comments. What swayed it for me? Part of my application for an Evangelical Education Society (does it still exist?) scholarship for my senior year in Seminary was an essay I wrote on Wiberforce.

  44. Ann Tottenham's Gravatar Ann Tottenham
    March 29, 2019 - 11:10 am | Permalink

    O that we had political leadership today with the values and moral toughness of Wilberforce!

    • Grace Kennedy's Gravatar Grace Kennedy
      March 29, 2019 - 11:50 am | Permalink

      Amen to that!

  45. Victoria's Gravatar Victoria
    March 29, 2019 - 11:15 am | Permalink

    Another tough choice. Almost a coin toss.

  46. Petey Pete's Gravatar Petey Pete
    March 29, 2019 - 11:20 am | Permalink

    Though not perfect, my bracket is still holding up well. I worried today…a European (read “white guy”) up against a man of African descent and a slave as well. In ProgressiveLent…I mean LentMadness the latter would clearly win, EXCEPT for the fact that William Wilberforce was also concerned with “ethical treatment of Animals!” Expecting the winner to be, as usual, not who is the better saint, but who is the better progressive, I believe WW will win, and my bracket continue to shine. Too easy this year.

  47. Nancy S.'s Gravatar Nancy S.
    March 29, 2019 - 11:21 am | Permalink

    Is it my imagination or has Sr. Diana not been posting hymn texts this year? I haven’t seen one yet. If anyone has, please let me know where. I don’t know very many of the show tunes, so I miss her creativity with hymns.

    • Sandy Warren's Gravatar Sandy Warren
      March 29, 2019 - 11:31 am | Permalink

      I have been thinking the same thing Nancy S. – I also miss the hymns.

    • John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
      March 29, 2019 - 11:42 am | Permalink

      I believe that they are being posted to LM’s FaceBook page. I hope that Sr. Diana will consider posting them here for us to enjoy as well.

  48. Sandy Warren's Gravatar Sandy Warren
    March 29, 2019 - 11:27 am | Permalink

    An achingly hard choice today. Despite Wilberberforce’s world wide impact, I finally chose Allen because all his faithful work was done while he himself was under the continuous burden of injustice and oppression.

  49. Lisa Keppeler's Gravatar Lisa Keppeler
    March 29, 2019 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    Hard choice today. My location in the suburban reaches of the Diocese of PA, and my admiration for the strong legacy of women’s leadership in the AME Church, call me to vote for Richard Allen. But Wilberforce’s persistence and dedication changed the whole world. Besides, now that we know he helped to found the SPCA, my cats are campaigning clamorously. (Well, actually, they’re probably all sleeping on my bed right now …but as rescue animals, where might they be instead if not for the Wilber Force?)

  50. John Miller's Gravatar John Miller
    March 29, 2019 - 11:37 am | Permalink

    Wilberforce had a vision of justice that was all-consuming. His actions began a world-wide consideration of an evil that struck at the heart of the Anglo-Saxon world.

  51. Barbara MacRobie's Gravatar Barbara MacRobie
    March 29, 2019 - 11:40 am | Permalink

    As all have said, a tough call, and either man is a great win! I’ve decided to vote for Wilberforce. When you’re an “insider” yet work completely against what the entrenched system wants, the personal cost is high. And I’m thrilled to learn about all the other good works he did.

  52. Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
    March 29, 2019 - 12:00 pm | Permalink

    For reasons that have all been covered by others, Wilberforce is my guy today. I’m still working on “Pisky” and looking forward to the laugh when I figure it out:)

    • Jane Bucci's Gravatar Jane Bucci
      March 29, 2019 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

      Admit I had to google Pisky – let’s just put it down to a night without much sleep………

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 1:57 pm | Permalink

      If you want a hint, think about what was the chief difference between Absalom Jones and Richard Allen. If you don’t want a hint, ignore me!

  53. Elaine Snider's Gravatar Elaine Snider
    March 29, 2019 - 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Having learned about the RNLI as I lived in St. Ives, Cornwall last September and seen these volunteers put out to sea and return to harbor in challenging conditions, my vote tipped to Wilberforce – although both men demonstrate living a life in God.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 2:22 pm | Permalink

      But did you see any piskies there??

      • Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
        March 29, 2019 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

        There are piskies at the bottom of our garden.

        • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
          March 29, 2019 - 9:35 pm | Permalink


  54. Margaret T.'s Gravatar Margaret T.
    March 29, 2019 - 12:20 pm | Permalink

    William Wilberforce used his privilege for great good, and he is well-known for this. What we haven’t heard are the voices of the oppressed who, though having no privilege, accomplished great things too. My vote is for Richard Allen so we can raise the voices of those we have not heard. Go Richard!

  55. DEJAAGER's Gravatar DEJAAGER
    March 29, 2019 - 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Hard choice to make, this one. Wish these two weren’t competing to eliminate each other so I could vote for both of them!

  56. TJ's Gravatar TJ
    March 29, 2019 - 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Both great men, but Richard Allen is my forever fave!

  57. Anne E.B.'s Gravatar Anne E.B.
    March 29, 2019 - 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce was incredible. Ending slavery throughout the Empire as well as founding the SPCA. He had me with the pups and kitties. Go Willy!

  58. John Cabot's Gravatar John Cabot
    March 29, 2019 - 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Besides being a passionate admirer of Wilberforce’s 45-year campaign against the slave trade (see http://www.lentmadness.org/2019/03/william-wilberforce-vs-agatha-lin-zhao/#comment-63985), I have been delighted to discover (via LM) his additional connections to the antecedents of the present-day RSPCA and RNLI.

    Wilberforce was not the creator of the RNLI; that distinction belongs to Sir William Hillary. However, Wilberforce was among the influential and energetic group present at its inaugural public meeting on March 4, 1824. (see http://rnli.org/about-us/our-history/timeline/1824-our-foundation)

    I have tremendous respect for the RNLI’s efforts from my travels in Britain, and urge any visitors to contribute generously to their lifesaving charity.

    As a tribute to Wilberforce’s many good deeds, here is the RNLI’s “Modern Slavery Statement”:

  59. Gena Gilliam's Gravatar Gena Gilliam
    March 29, 2019 - 1:47 pm | Permalink

    So not fair! Both, please…

  60. Donald Harting's Gravatar Donald Harting
    March 29, 2019 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m from Philly, so had to go with the hometown hero. But this was a tough choice.

    P.S. Dear SEC: please don’t overlook our way-cool haiku poet.

    • Susan Lee Hauser's Gravatar Susan Lee Hauser
      March 29, 2019 - 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, indeed!

  61. Katrina S Soto's Gravatar Katrina S Soto
    March 29, 2019 - 2:04 pm | Permalink

    A very difficult choice today. But soul satisfying to see two people who were so inspired to give their all to such basic human rights. We need to read about such people at times like these. It gives me hope!

  62. Judy Bye's Gravatar Judy Bye
    March 29, 2019 - 2:05 pm | Permalink

    William Wilberforce because I think he deserves to win over all the remaining saints.

  63. Gail's Gravatar Gail
    March 29, 2019 - 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I was impressed by Allen’s conversion of his one-time master. However, Wilberforce is a giant, and deserves to win.

  64. Kathleen's Gravatar Kathleen
    March 29, 2019 - 2:09 pm | Permalink

    This one was really hard, but I am deeply grateful for all the shelter cats we’ve had the privilege of bringing into our little family over the decades, so I’m going with Wilberforce.

  65. James Oppenheimer's Gravatar James Oppenheimer
    March 29, 2019 - 2:41 pm | Permalink

    All of our kitties said that unless we vote for Wilberforce, they will not be in our laps for some time.
    Actually, I have a special place in my heart for Richard Allen, because of the work he and Absolom Janes did in promoting the welfare of free and enslaved Black people. They founded the Free African Society, which, in addition to providing assistance to the needy, also was instrumental in the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
    I was privileged to read the memoirs of Bishop Allen. They were never published, but discovered among his personal effects after his death. Reading his own words was a truly blessing experience, as he was foremost a devoted man of God doing his best in a world that seemed dedicated to placing obstacles in his path.
    A tragic bit of history is that the free Blacks of New York City’s Zion Chapel, when they were founding a church for Blacks, refused to join the AME church of Bishop Allen, so they formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church – Zion. Both denominations continue to this day, and it is recognized that their theologies are identical; the only impediment to their union is the fact that in any union, someone has to step aside, and neither of the denominations’ leaders seem inclined to do that.

  66. Cap'n Black's Gravatar Cap'n Black
    March 29, 2019 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I cannot believe no one else has said this yet, “May the Force be With You!”

  67. Pamela Payne's Gravatar Pamela Payne
    March 29, 2019 - 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I echo the thoughts of so many of you today…both of these men are highly deserving of the Golden Halo. I am grateful to be learning so much more about them. (But my cat actually stepped on the keyboard and voted for Wilberforce, so my vote was decided.)

  68. Fiona's Gravatar Fiona
    March 29, 2019 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Wanted to vote for both, but in the end lent my support to Wilberforce because of the profound effect his energy and vision still have in Britain today. If only he had more politicians of his courage and determination…

  69. Michelle C's Gravatar Michelle C
    March 29, 2019 - 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much to our poets and lyricist. You’ve made Lent Madness even more fun.

  70. India Dawn Welzenbach's Gravatar India Dawn Welzenbach
    March 29, 2019 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

    In 1968, I graduated from the former Hannah More Academy that was in Reisterstown, MD, USA.

  71. Robert E's Gravatar Robert E
    March 29, 2019 - 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I voted for Richard Allen. I left the Episcopal Church and church in general as a teenager during the Vietnam War. It was the call to the alter rail at Allen AME Church in Tacoma, Washington at the onset of the first Gulf War which has led me back to church and now the Episcopal Church.

  72. Ann Lane's Gravatar Ann Lane
    March 29, 2019 - 6:20 pm | Permalink

    Wilberforce was so amazing in his care for th poor, for animals, and in his fight to end the slave trade and then slavery. Hope he wins the Golden Halo!

  73. Peggy Hans's Gravatar Peggy Hans
    March 29, 2019 - 6:27 pm | Permalink

    Ferdinand (King of Cats) is going on 19 and, as of vet visit yesterday, declared “healthy geriatric cat.” Ferd acknowledges today’s tough choice, but meows (loudly) “Wilberforce.” Who am I to ignore the cat? The Force be with y’all (as we say here in Southeastern Indiana).

  74. Mary Theresa Anderson's Gravatar Mary Theresa Anderson
    March 29, 2019 - 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I accidentally voted for the wrong person, no way to correct that mistake. I would have voted for the underdog because I knew he didn’t have a chance!!

  75. Linda's Gravatar Linda
    March 29, 2019 - 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I voted for William Wilberforce. After watching the movie “Amazing Grace” in 2006, I couldn’t vote against him.

  76. Janene's Gravatar Janene
    March 29, 2019 - 7:07 pm | Permalink

    While both men deserve honor, I voted for Wilberforce because by his actions to fight slavery, he saved thousands of Africans from capture and enslavement in England.

  77. Rene Jamieson's Gravatar Rene Jamieson
    March 29, 2019 - 7:33 pm | Permalink

    I’ve already voted and given my reasons why I voted as I did, so this comment is not apropos of that. I find it interesting that so many people have been tangling with the word ‘pisky’ and its meaning. Let me help. If one is of British descent – especially if one comes from the southwest corner of the UK – a pisky is one of the little people, otherwise known as a pixie. If one is a Scottish or an American Anglican one is a Pisky, otherwise known as an Episcopalian.

    • Kate the Catechist's Gravatar Kate the Catechist
      March 29, 2019 - 8:00 pm | Permalink

      It definitely make me feel like a member of the chorus in “Iolanthe” being called a “Pisky”. 🙂

  78. Vhughes's Gravatar Vhughes
    March 29, 2019 - 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I have a feeling that, given the tenor of the present times, that William,(who is a personal hero of mine) would want Richard to take this one – a living out of the forward movement of the still unrealised, end of racism and injustice that both saints worked for. SO Go Richard GO!

  79. aleathia nicholson's Gravatar aleathia nicholson
    March 29, 2019 - 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Sadly, a quite incomplete bio of Richard Allen that quite possibly made the difference in the outcome. Omitted was the treatment of Allen and the man who became the first black Episcopal priest-they were pulled off their knees while praying in St. George’s. plus many other noteworthy acts with public health issues. Water under the bridge now

  80. Davis Dassori's Gravatar Davis Dassori
    March 30, 2019 - 5:17 am | Permalink

    Choices such as this strain my limited capacity for self-examination. I take for granted that residual racism and sexism infect my thinking, and I try to identify their effects and compensate for them. But where, in each instance, is the line between appropriate and excessive compensation? I can’t accept that (in this context) just voting for the woman and/or the person of color is the best choice; it eliminates uncertainty, but at the cost of a different kind of distortion.

    By now, gentle reader (if indeed anyone reads this, written in Berlin at 5 am Eastern time), you will have sensed an apologia for a vote for Blessed Willy. The trifecta of emancipation, animals, and lifeboats won me over. As other have pointed out, the RNLI is a beloved charity in the island nations of Britain and Ireland, where according to their website they assist 22 people daily. Wilberforce and his legacy have thus freed millions from lives of misery and snatched thousands from the jaws of death; I couldn’t but go with him.

  81. Beverley Anne Bryant's Gravatar Beverley Anne Bryant
    March 30, 2019 - 7:48 am | Permalink

    Something weird happened with the link – lots of code but no comments. I’m having difficulty accessing them. Shame!

  82. Greg S.'s Gravatar Greg S.
    March 30, 2019 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    I was all for Wilberforce, until I realized his role in dissection ‘reform,’ which was the stuff of nightmares for the poor and those with mental illness in the family at the time. In practical terms, Wilberforce prevented grave robbing, by allowing the use of bodies from workhouses and asylums.

    The classic work on it is Ruth Richardson:

    It’s not easy being saintly. Allen by a nose.

    • Michael Pettinger's Gravatar Michael Pettinger
      April 1, 2019 - 9:49 am | Permalink

      I’m only now reading through the string of comments, Greg, ad it seems that you and I are the only ones troubled by praise for Wilberforce’s role in the dissection industry. I wrote a blog post about it, but now I need to go find Ruth Richardson’s work. Here’s what I wrote.


      • Greg S's Gravatar Greg S
        April 5, 2019 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Michael, I’ll take a look. I have a PhD in Russian and modern European history, and was very familiar with the dissection issue, but not Wilberforce’s role in it. It really was the stuff of nightmares at the time.

  83. andrea's Gravatar andrea
    April 1, 2019 - 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Will the Force! I voted for him because his fight to end slavery, RNLI, and RSPCA. Liked the musical number. Thanks, Michael!

Comments are closed.