There are scores of lessons we can learn from Wilberforce, but take just one: his civility. As a follower of the way of Jesus, he loved his enemies and always refused to demonize them. At one time he was the most vilified man in the world, but while he never minced words in speaking about the evils of slavery, he was always gracious, generous, modest, funny, witty, and genuinely loving toward his enemies. When one of his worst enemies died, he at once saw to it anonymously that his widow was cared for adequately. Compare this with the religious right’s demonizing of its foes. The latter is not so much uncivil as unChristian.
Similarly, Guinness in The Case for Civility: And Why Our Future Depends on It (pages 93-94, emphasis added; HT: JT):
As one who believes that the call of Jesus is to a path of suffering that shuts the door to every form of victim-playing, I am angered by organizers fo the Religious Right who play the victim card and appeal openly to Christian resentment. . . .
Do they not know that those who portray themselves as victims come to perceive themselves as victims and then to paralyze themselves as victims? . . .
But whether “victimization” then or a “war on Christians” now, such tactics of the Religious Right are foolish, ineffective, and downright anti-Christian. The problem is not that these people are theocrats, but that they are sub-Christian. They do not violate the separation of church and state so much as they violate Christian integrity. Factually, it is dead wrong for Christians to portray themselves as a minority, let alone as persecuted. Christians are as close to a majority community as any group in America; what their fellow Christians are facing today in China, North Korea, Burma, and Sudan is real persecution.
Psychologically, victim-playing is dangerous because it represents what Nietzsche called “the politics of the tarantula,” a base appeal to resentment. But worst of all, it is spiritually hypocritical, for nothing so contradicts their claim to represent “Christian values” as their refusal to follow the teaching and example of Jesus of Nazareth by playing the victim card and finding an excuse not to love their enemies. Shame, shame, shame on such people; and woe, woe, woe to such tactics.