Churchill was powerfully influenced by the imperialist, racist, sexist ethos of his age. In defending “Christian civilization” and the benefits of the British Empire, he often affirmed values that clashed with Christianity’s emphasis on service, sacrifice and racial and gender equality. He resisted giving self-government to British “possessions.”
Nevertheless, throughout his life, Churchill took many unpopular stands including supporting free trade, high taxes on the affluent and pensions for elderly. And he pointed out the Nazi threat in the 1930s when most British leaders ignored it.
His greatest contribution was comforting, inspiring and empowering the British people to resist the Nazis during 1940-1941 when Britain stood virtually alone and invasion seemed imminent. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr praised Churchill’s wisdom, statesmanship and courageous leadership of Britain during “the world’s darkest hour.” Journalist Charles Krauthammer correctly claimed that Time magazine should have chosen Churchill rather than Albert Einstein as its person of the 20th century. Only Churchill possessed the “absolutely required criterion: indispensability.”