A campaign is being mounted to credit Christianity with the end of slavery via a documentary called Amazing Grace. I have but one question. Is there anything Christians won’t lie about? Christianity has never opposed slavery and the reason is quite simple.
The bible supports the practice of buying and selling of other humans as private property. Christians themselves were active participants in the slave trade for 1500 years. American Christians were the worst of the lot with abolitionists being referred to as infidels and accused of blasphemy for speaking/writing against the practice of slavery.
As for the characters in Amazing Grace, John Newton was a slave-trader and remained one for several years after converting to Christianity. The excuses for this character lapse fail to grasp the bigger picture. Christianity is touted as the life-changing truth of all times. Without it, we’d be out raping, pillaging and murdering. If you doubt it, just wonder over to the Christian section of the bookstore or stop in at the local church. Furthermore, Newton did not turn against slavery until late in his life. Sorry folks, but it’s easy to stand up for something when you’re soon to be flat on your back with six feet of dirt for protection.
And lest it be overlooked, it was not individual Christians who were largely responsible for the melding of slavery and American Christianism. The churches themselves owned slaves and often sold them to raise funds for spreading Christianity. Frederick Douglass, the African-American abolitionist and former slave, put it this way in his self-written biography:
“The church and the slave prison stand next to each other; the groans and cries of the heartbroken slave are often drowned in the pious devotions of his religious master. The church-going bell and the auctioneerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bell chime in with each other; the pulpit and the auctioneersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s block stand in the same neighbourhood; while the blood-stained gold goes to support the pulpit covers the infernal business with the garb of Christianity. We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support missionaries, and babies sold to buy Bibles and communion services for the churches.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The fact of the matter is that most of our advances as a society began not in the pews or the pulpits. They began in the streets and each one was bitterly opposed by those in the pews and on the pulpits. Many, such as women’s rights, are still bitterly opposed by them. Christians would be happy for us all to forget the sheer evilness that is Christian history, but I for one refuse to do so.
Religions, their leaders and the faithful as a class are consistently playing catch-up with the rest of society, but only after they’ve failed to defeat us. We should never let them rest comfortably on the unfounded belief that they’ve led us anywhere but into the pits of their various hells.
Update: Here’s a great post from the nogodzone blog that goes into more detail about the history of the Christian church and slavery, Slavery and Christian Mythology