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Christian views on slavery

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Title: Christian views on slavery  
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Subject: Slavery, Slavery in Africa, Slavery in ancient Greece, Christianity and slavery, Call and response
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Christian views on slavery

Christian views on slavery are varied both regionally and historically. Slavery in various forms has been a part of the social environment for much of Christianity's history, spanning well over eighteen centuries. In the early years of Christianity, slavery was a normal feature of the economy and society in the Roman Empire, and this persisted in different forms and with regional differences well into the Middle Ages. Most Christian figures in that early period such as Saint Augustine, accepted slavery as an inevitability whereas some, such as Saint Patrick (a former slave), were opposed to it. Historically this has presented a challenge for Christians advocating against slavery. Generally speaking, up until the 18th century Christianity accepted slavery, but had no public opinion for or against it. Eighteen centuries after the birth of Christianity (in the context of a particularly savage and rapacious slave system), the abolition movement took shape across the globe, groups who advocated slavery's abolition struggled to use Christian teachings in support of their positions. Instead they turned from the specific references to the practice in the tradition to a more general appeal to concepts such as 'the spirit of Christ', and textual argumentation.[1]

The issue of Christianity and slavery is therefore one that has seen intense conflict. In the eighteenth and nineteenth century debates in the UK and the US passages in the Bible were used by both pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists to support their respective views.


  • Biblical references 1
    • Old Testament 1.1
    • New Testament 1.2
  • In the Roman Empire 2
  • Christianity's changing view 3
    • Patristic era 3.1
    • Middle Ages 3.2
    • Christian abolitionism 3.3
    • Opposition to abolitionism 3.4
  • Slavery in the Americas 4
    • Christian conversion and indigenous African religions 4.1
    • United States 4.2
      • Baptists 4.2.1
      • Catholics 4.2.2
      • Methodists 4.2.3
      • Mormonism 4.2.4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8

Biblical references

The Bible uses the Hebrew term ebed (עבד) and Greek doulos (δοῦλος) to refer to slaves. Ebed has a much wider meaning than the English term slave, and in many circumstances it is more accurately translated into English as servant or hired worker.[2] Doulos is more specific, but is also used in more general senses as well: of the Hebrew prophets (Rev 10:7), of the attitude of Christian leaders toward those they lead (Matt 20:27), of Christians towards God (1 Peter 2:16), and of Jesus himself (Phil 2:7).

Old Testament

Historically, slavery was not just an Old Testament phenomenon. Slavery was practiced in every ancient Western culture: Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman and Israelite. Slavery was an integral part of ancient commerce, taxation, and temple religion.[3]

In the book of Genesis, Noah condemns Ham and his descendents to perpetual servitude: "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers" (Gn 9:25). T. David Curp notes that this episode has been used to justify racialized slavery, since "Christians and even some Muslims eventually identified Ham's descendents as black Africans".[4] Anthony Pagden argued that "This reading of the Book of Genesis merged easily into a medieval iconographic tradition in which devils were always depicted as black. Later pseudo-scientific theories would be built around African skull shapes, dental structure, and body postures, in an attempt to find an unassailable argument—rooted in whatever the most persuasive contemporary idiom happened to be: law, theology, genealogy, or natural science—why one part of the human race should live in perpetual indebtedness to another."[5]

The Canaanites settled in Palestine, rather than Africa, where Ham's other sons, Cush and Put, mostly likely settled. Noah's curse only applied to Canaan, and according to biblical commentator, Gleason L. Archer, this curse was fulfilled when Joshua conquered Palestine in 1400 BC.[3] Although there is considerable doubt about the nature and extent of the conquest described in the early chapters of the book of Joshua, the post-Flood story did supply a rationale for the subjugation of the Canaanites. It is possible that the naming of 'Caanan' in the post-Flood story is itself a reflection of the situation of warfare between peoples in the time when the written form of the story took shape.

Some forms of servitude, customary in ancient times, were condoned by the Torah.[6] Hebrew legislation maintained kinship rights (Exodus 21:3, 9, Leviticus 25:41, 47-49, 54, providing for Hebrew indentured servants), marriage rights (Exodus 21:4, 10-11, providing for a Hebrew daughter contracted into a marriage), personal legal rights relating to physical protection and protection from breach of conduct (Exodus 21:8, providing for a Hebrew daughter contracted into a marriage, Exodus 21:20-21, 26-27, providing for Hebrew or foreign servants of any kind, and Leviticus 25:39-41, providing for Hebrew indentured servants), freedom of movement, and access to liberty.

Hebrews could be punished if they beat a slave to death, though not if they recovered after a day or two,[7] and would have to let a slave go free if they destroyed a slave's eye or tooth,[8] force a slave to work on the Sabbath,[9] return an escaped slave of another people who had taken refuge among the Israelites,[10] or to slander a slave.[11] It was common for a person to voluntarily sell oneself into slavery for a fixed period of time either to pay off debts or to get food and shelter.[12] It was seen as legitimate to enslave captives obtained through warfare,[13] but not through kidnapping[14][15] for the purpose of enslaving them. Children could also be sold into debt bondage,[16] which was sometimes ordered by a court of law.[17][18][19]

The Bible does set minimum rules for the conditions under which slaves were to be kept. Slaves were to be treated as part of an extended family;[20] they were allowed to celebrate the Sukkot festival,[20] and expected to honor Shabbat.[21] Israelite slaves could not to be compelled to work with rigor,[22][23] and debtors who sold themselves as slaves to their creditors had to be treated the same as a hired servant.[24] If a master harmed a slave in one of the ways covered by the lex talionis, the slave was to be compensated by manumission;[25] if the slave died within 24 to 48 hours, it was to be avenged[26] (whether this refers to the death penalty[19][27] or not[28] is uncertain).

Israelite slaves were automatically manumitted after six years of work, and/or at the next Jubilee (occurring either every 49 or every 50 years, depending on interpretation), although the latter would not apply if the slave was owned by an Israelite and wasn't in debt bondage.[29] Slaves released automatically in their 7th year of service. This provision did not include females sold into concubinage by impoverished parents; instead their rights over against another wife were protected.[30][31][32] In other texts male and female slaves are both to be released after the sixth year of service.[33] Liberated slaves were to be given livestock, grain, and wine as a parting gift.[34] This 7th-year manumission could be voluntarily renounced. If a male slave had been given another slave in marriage, and they had a family, the wife and children remained the property of the master. However, if the slave was happy with his master, and wished to stay with a wife that his owner gave to him, he could renounce manumission, an act which would be signified, as in other Ancient Near Eastern nations,[35] by the slave gaining a ritual ear piercing.[36] After such renunciation, the individual became his master's slave forever (and was therefore not released at the Jubilee).[37] It is important to note that these are provisions for slavery/service among Israelites. Non-Israelite slaves could be enslaved indefinitely and were to be treated as inheritable property.[38] Whether these kinds of statement represent an active encouragement of enforced slavery upon foreign nations or simply recognition of a fact is difficult at this distance to know with certainty.

New Testament

Early Christians reputedly regarded slaves who converted to Christianity as freedmen, brothers in Christ, and included in Christ's kingdom inheritance.[3] However, this regard apparently had no legal power. These slaves were told to serve their masters as if they were serving Christ, with honesty, faithfulness and respect (Ephesians 6:5-8 KJV).[3] Slaves may have been encouraged by Paul the Apostle in the first Corinthian Epistle to seek or purchase their freedom whenever possible. (I Corinthians 7:21 KJV).[3] However, as Christians held no formal power before the 4th century, this recognition probably had no more significance other than as a network to assist escaped slaves.

Avery Robert Dulles held the opinion that "Jesus, though he repeatedly denounced sin as a kind of moral slavery, said not a word against slavery as a social institution", and believes that the writers of the New Testament did not oppose slavery either.[39] In a paper published in Evangelical Quarterly, Kevin Giles notes that, while he often encountered it, "not one word of criticism did the Lord utter against slavery"; moreover a number of his stories are set in a slave/master situation, and involve slaves as key characters. Giles notes that these circumstances were used by pro-slavery apologists in the 19th century to suggest that Jesus approved of slavery.[40]

It is clear from all the New Testament material that slavery was a basic part of the social and economic environment. Many of the early Christians were slaves. In several Pauline epistles, and the First Epistle of Peter, slaves are admonished to obey their masters, as to the Lord, and not to men.[41][42][43][44][45] Masters were also told to serve their slaves in the same way. The basic principle was "you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality."[46] Peter was aware that there were masters that were gentle and masters that were harsh; slaves in the latter situation were to make sure that their behaviour was beyond reproach, and if punished for doing right, to endure the suffering as Christ also endured it.[47] The key theological text is Paul's declaration in his letter to the Galatian churches that (NIV version) "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus",[48] suggesting that Christians take off these titles because they are now clothed in Christ.[49]

Paul's Epistle to Philemon was an important text for both pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists.[50] This short letter, reputedly written to be delivered by the hand of Onesimus, a fugitive slave, whom Paul is sending back to his master Philemon. Paul entreats Philemon to regard Onesimus as a beloved brother in Christ.[51] Cardinal Dulles points out that, "while discreetly suggesting that he manumit Onesimus, [Paul] does not say that Philemon is morally obliged to free Onesimus and any other slaves he may have had."[39] He does, however, encourage Philemon to welcome Onesimus "not as a slave, but as more than a slave, as a beloved brother".[52] (According to tradition, Philemon did free Onesimus, and both were eventually recognized as saints by the Church.) Seldom noted in the debate was the situation of Onesimus if he had not returned: an outlaw and a fugitive with limited options to support himself, and in constant fear of discovery and punishment. Be that as it may, as T. David Curp observes, "Given that the Church received Philemon as inspired Scripture, Paul's ambiguity effectively blocked the early Fathers of the Church from denouncing slavery outright." Curp points out that St. John Chrysostom, in his sermon on Philemon, considers Paul's sending Onesimus back to his master a sign that slavery should not be abolished.[4]

Paul's instructions to slaves in the Epistle of Paul to Titus, as is the case in Ephesians, appear among a list of instructions for people in a range of life situations. The slave situation is not singled out, it is just one life-situation one can find oneself in—and in which one can live faithfully to the glory of God. The usefulness to the 19th century pro-slavery apologists of what Paul says here is obvious: "Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior."[53]

Paul advises that "each man must remain in that condition in which he was called." For slaves, however, he specifically adds this: "Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it. But if you are able to gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity." And then follows a wider principle: "For whoever was called in the Lord as a slave is a freed person belonging to the Lord, just as whoever was free when called is a slave of Christ." [54]

The First Epistle to Timothy—in some translations[55]—reveals a disdain for the slave trade, proclaiming it to be contrary to sound doctrine. He explains to Timothy that those who live a life based on love do not have to fear the law of God; that (NIV version) “the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” [56] However, several other English translations reveal that the Greek word translated "slave traders" in the NIV could have another meaning that does not condemn slavery at all.[55]

In the Roman Empire

Slavery was the bedrock of the Roman and world economy. Some estimate that the slave population in the 1st century constituted approximately one third of the total population.[57] An estimated one million slaves were owned by the richest five per cent of Roman citizens. Most slaves were employed in domestic service in households and likely had an easier life than slaves working the land, or in mines or on ships.[58] Slavery could be very cruel in the Roman Empire, and revolts severely punished, and professional slave-catchers were hired to hunt down runaways, with advertisements containing precise descriptions of fugitives being publicly posted and offering rewards.[59]

The Book of Acts refers to a synagogue of Libertines (Λιβερτίνων), in Jerusalem.[60] As a Latin term this would refer to freedmen, and it is therefore occasionally suggested that the Jews captured by Pompey, in 63 BC, gathered into a distinct group after their individual manumissions.[19] However, the Book of Acts was written in Greek, and the name appears in a list of five synagogues, the other four being named after cities or countries; for these reasons, its now more often suggested that this biblical reference is a typographical error for Libystines (Λιβυστίνων),[19] in reference to Libya (in other words, referring to Libyans).[61][62]

Christianity's changing view

Early Christian thought exhibited some signs of kindness towards slaves. Christianity recognised marriage of sorts among slaves,[63] freeing slaves was regarded as an act of charity,[64] and when slaves were buried in Christian cemeteries, the grave seldom included any indication that the person buried had been a slave.

John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), archbishop of Constantinople, preaching on Acts 4:32-4:33 in a sermon entitled, "Should we not make it a heaven on earth?", stated, "I will not speak of slaves, since at that time there was no such thing, but doubtless such as were slaves they set at liberty...

Nevertheless, early Christianity rarely criticised the actual institution of slavery. Though the Pentateuch gave protection to fugitive slaves,[65] the Roman church often condemned with anathema slaves who fled from their masters, and refused them Eucharistic communion.[66]

Since the Middle Ages, the Christian understanding of slavery has seen significant internal conflict and endured dramatic change. Nearly all Christian leaders before the late 17th century regarded slavery as consistent with when slavery in British Empire was abolished. The Church of England has since apologised for the "sinfulness of our predecessors" with the history of these plantation estates highlighted as example of the church's inconsistent approach to slavery.[67][68] Today, nearly all Christians are united in the condemnation of modern slavery as wrong and contrary to God's will.

It is contended that as slavery fell into moral disfavor, some Biblical translations began to translate references to slavery using softer language, and often replacing the word 'slave' with the word 'servant.' Others say the word "slave" carried with it a different meaning at the time the Bible was written,[69] and that while the key aspect of slavery is ownership by another, sometimes "servant" better conveys to a contemporary audience what the text originally meant.[70]

Sociologist Rodney Stark has stated "only in Christianity did the idea develop that slavery was sinful and must be abolished."[71] This is despite the fact that the Buddha made trading in slaves forbidden (A.III,207), the exemplar Buddhist King Ashoka liberated slaves c. 200 BC, two thousand years before the British Empire, and the Singalese Mahavamsa as well as other Buddhist texts condemn and forbid it.

Patristic era

In 340 the Synod of Gangra in Armenia condemned certain Manicheans for a list of twenty practices including forbidding marriage, not eating meat, urging that slaves should liberate themselves, abandoning their families, asceticism and reviling married priests.[72] The later Council of Chalcedon declared that the canons of the Synod of Gangra were ecumenical (in other words, they were viewed as conclusively representative of the wider church).

Several prominent early church fathers advocated slavery, either directly or indirectly. Augustine of Hippo, who renounced his former Manicheanism, argued that slavery was part of the mechanism to preserve the natural order of things.[73][74] John Chrysostom, while he described slavery as the fruit of covetousness, of extravagance, of insatiable greediness in his Epist. ad Ephes,[75] also argued that slaves should be resigned to their fate, as by obeying his master he is obeying God.[76]

Saint Patrick (415-493), himself a former slave, argued for the abolition of slavery, as had Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-394), and Acacius of Amida (400-425). Origen (c. 185-254) favored the Jewish practice of freeing slaves after six years.[77][78] Saint Eligius (588-650) used his vast wealth to purchase British and Saxon slaves in groups of 50 and 100 in order to set them free.[79]

Middle Ages

St. Thomas Aquinas taught that, although the subjection of one person to another (servitus) was not part of the primary intention of the natural law, it was appropriate and socially useful in a world impaired by original sin.[80]

St Thomas Aquinas in mid-thirteenth century accepted the new Aristotelian view of slavery as well as the titles of slave ownership derived from Roman civil law, and attempted — without complete success — to reconcile them with Christian patristic tradition. He takes the patristic theme ... that slavery exists as a consequence of original sin and says that it exists according to the "second intention" of nature; it would not have existed in the state of original innocence according to the "first intention" of nature; in this way he can explain the Aristotelian teaching that some people are slaves "by nature" like inanimate instruments, because of their personal sins; for since the slave cannot work for his own benefit slavery is necessarily a punishment. He accepts the symbiotic master-slave relationship as being mutually beneficial. There should be no punishment without some crime, so slavery as a penalty is a matter of positive law.[81] St Thomas' explanation continued to be expounded at least until the end of the 18th century.[82]

Fr. Bede Jarrett, O.P. asserts that Aquinas considered slavery as a result of sin and was justifiable for that reason.[83][84]

Aquinas placed slavery in opposition to natural law, deducing that all "rational creatures" are entitled to justice. Hence he found no natural basis for the enslavement of one person rather than another, thus removing any possible justification for slavery based on race or religion.[85]

Christian abolitionism

Although many abolitionists opposed slavery for purely philosophical reasons, anti-slavery movements attracted strong religious elements. Throughout Europe and the United States, Christians, usually from 'un-institutional' Christian faith movements, not directly connected with traditional state churches, or "non-conformist" believers within established churches, were to be found at the forefront of the abolitionist movements.[86][87]

In particular, the effects of the Presbyterian Charles Finney and Theodore Weld, and women such as Harriet Beecher Stowe (daughter of abolitionist Lyman Beecher) and Sojourner Truth motivated hearers to support abolition. Finney preached that slavery was a moral sin, and so supported its elimination. "I had made up my mind on the question of slavery, and was exceedingly anxious to arouse public attention to the subject. In my prayers and preaching, I so often alluded to slavery, and denounced it.[91] Repentance from slavery was required of souls, once enlightened of the subject, while continued support of the system incurred "the greatest guilt" upon them.[92]

Quakers in particular were early leaders in abolitionism. In 1688 Dutch Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania, sent an antislavery petition to the Monthly Meeting of Quakers. By 1727 British Quakers had expressed their official disapproval of the slave trade.[93] Three Quaker abolitionists, Benjamin Lay, John Woolman, and Anthony Benezet, devoted their lives to the abolitionist effort from the 1730s to the 1760s, with Lay founding the Negro School in 1770, which would serve more than 250 pupils.[94] In June 1783 a petition from the London Yearly Meeting and signed by over 300 Quakers was presented to Parliament protesting the slave trade.[95]

In 1787 the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed, with 9 of the 12 founder members being Quakers. During the same year, William Wilberforce was persuaded to take up their cause; as an MP, Wilberforce was able to introduce a bill to abolish the slave trade. Wilberforce first attempted to abolish the trade in 1791, but could only muster half the necessary votes; however, after transferring his support to the Whigs, it became an election issue. Abolitionist pressure had changed popular opinion, and in the 1806 election enough abolitionists entered parliament for Wilberforce to be able to see the passing of the Slave Trade Act 1807. The Royal Navy subsequently declared that the slave trade was equal to piracy, the West Africa Squadron choosing to seize ships involved in the transfer of slaves and liberate the slaves on board, effectively crippling the transatlantic trade. Through abolitionist efforts, popular opinion continued to mount against slavery, and in 1833 slavery itself was outlawed throughout the British Empire - at that time containing roughly 1/6 of the world's population (rising to 1/4 towards the end of the century).

In the United States, the abolition movement faced much opposition. Bertram Wyatt-Brown notes that the appearance of the Christian abolitionist movement "with its religious ideology alarmed newsmen, politicians, and ordinary citizens. They angrily predicted the endangerment of secular democracy, the mongrelization, as it was called, of white society, and the destruction of the federal union. Speakers at huge rallies and editors of conservative papers in the North denounced these newcomers to radical reform as the same old “church-and-state” zealots, who tried to shut down post offices, taverns, carriage companies, shops, and other public places on Sundays. Mob violence sometimes ensued."

A postal campaign in 1835 by the American Anti-Slavery Society (AA-SS) - founded by African-American Presbyterian clergyman Theodore S. Wright - sent bundles of tracts and newspapers (over 100,000) to prominent clerical, legal, and political figures throughout the whole country, and culminated in massive demonstrations throughout the North and South.[96] In attempting to stop these mailings, New York Postmaster Samuel L.Gouverneur unsuccessfully requested the AA-SS to cease sending it to the South. He therefore decided that he would “aid in preserving the public peace” by refusing to allow the mails to carry abolition pamphlets to the South himself, with the new Postmaster General Amos Kendall affirming, even though he admitted he had no legal authority to do so.[97][98][99][100] This resulted in the AA-SS resorting to other and clandestine means of dissemination.

Despite such determined opposition, many Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian members freed their slaves and sponsored black congregations, in which many black ministers encouraged slaves to believe that freedom could be gained during their lifetime. After a great

  • Does the Bible condone, condemn, or remain neutral on the issue of slavery?, WELS Topical Q&A (Confessional Lutheran perspective)
  • Louis W. Cable - SLAVERY and the BIBLE
  • Christianity and Slavery
  • DeBow's Review (September 1850): "Slavery and the Bible"
  • Passages from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and from the Christian Scriptures (New Testament)
  • Christianity and slavery on
  • Bible "Contradiction" answers, # 30
  • St. John Crysostom's Homilies on the Epistle to Philemon (Circa 400 C.E.)

External links

  • Lossing, Benson J., LL.D. Matthew Brady's Illustrated History of the Civil War 1861-65 and the Causes That Led Up To the Great Conflict. Random House. ISBN 0-517-20974-8.
  • Lewis, Bernard (1992). Race and Slavery in the Middle East. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505326-5.
  • Miller, William Lee (1995). Arguing About Slavery. John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress. New York: Vintage Books.  
  • Nevins, Allan. The Emergence of Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War 1859-1861. ©1950, Charles Scribner's Sons. SBN 684-10416-4.
  • E. Wyn James, 'Welsh Ballads and American Slavery',[6] The Welsh Journal of Religious History, 2 (2007), pp. 59–86. ISSN 0967-3938.

Further reading

  1. ^ History of Abolitionism
  2. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), article on Slaves and Slavery
  3. ^ a b c d e Archer (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pp. 86-87
  4. ^ a b Curp, T. David. "A Necessary Bondage? When the Church Endorsed Slavery". 
  5. ^ Pagden, Anthony (1997-12-22). "The Slave Trade, Review of Hugh Thomas' Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade". The New Republic. 
  6. ^ Exodus 22:2-3
  7. ^ Exodus 21:20-21
  8. ^ Exodus 26-27
  9. ^ Exodus 23:12
  10. ^ Deuteronomy 23:15
  11. ^ Proverbs 30:10
  12. ^ Leviticus 25:35
  13. ^ Deuteronomy 20:10-16
  14. ^ Deuteronomy 24:7
  15. ^ Exodus 20:10-16
  16. ^ Leviticus 25:44
  17. ^ Isaiah 22:2-3
  18. ^ 2 Kings 4:1-7
  19. ^ a b c d Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), article on Slaves and Slavery
  20. ^ a b Deuteronomy 16:14
  21. ^ Exodus 20:10
  22. ^ Leviticus 25:43
  23. ^ Leviticus 25:53
  24. ^ Leviticus 25:39
  25. ^ Exodus 21:26-27
  26. ^ Exodus 21:20-21
  27. ^ Maimonides, Mishneh Torah
  28. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), article on Avenger of Blood
  29. ^ Leviticus 25:47-55
  30. ^ Exodus 21:7
  31. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), article on Law, Codification of
  32. ^ Peake's commentary on the Bible (1962), on Exodus 21:2-11
  33. ^ Deuteronomy 15:12
  34. ^ Deuteronomy 15:13-14
  35. ^ Thomas Kelly Cheyne and John Sutherland Black, Encyclopaedia Biblica (1903), article on Slavery
  36. ^ Exodus 21:5-6
  37. ^ Thomas Kelly Cheyne and John Sutherland Black, Encyclopaedia Biblica (1903), article on Slavery
  38. ^ Leviticus 25:44-46
  39. ^ a b Cardinal Dulles, Avery. "Development or Reversal?". First Things. 
  40. ^ Giles, Kevin. "The Biblical Argument for Slavery: Can the Bible Mislead? A Case Study in Hermeneutics." Evangelical Quarterly 66 (1994): p. 10
  41. ^ Ephesians 6:5-8
  42. ^ Colossians 3:22-25
  43. ^ 1 Timothy 6:1
  44. ^ Titus 2:9-10
  45. ^ 1 Peter 2:18
  46. ^ Ephesians 6:9
  47. ^ 1 Peter 2:18-25
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ Religion and the Antebellum Debate Over Slavery, by John R. McKivigan, Mitchell Snay
  51. ^ Philemon 1:1-25
  52. ^
  53. ^ Titus 2:9-10
  54. ^ 1 Corinthians 7:21-22
  55. ^ a b "The Bible and Slavery". Retrieved 2015-08-03. 
  56. ^ 1 Timothy 1:9-11
  57. ^ Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to History
  58. ^ Slavery in Bible times by David Meager
  59. ^ Resisting Slavery in Ancient Rome By Professor Keith Bradle
  60. ^ Acts 6:9
  61. ^ Friedrich Blass, Philology of the Gospels (1898), [regularly republished, most recently in 2005]
  62. ^ Thomas Kelly Cheyne and John Sutherland Black, Encyclopaedia Biblica (1903), article on Libertines
  63. ^ Goodell, The American Slave Code. Pt. I Ch. VII
  64. ^ Slavery in the Middle Ages
  65. ^ Deuteronomy 23:15-16
  66. ^ Luis M. Bermejo, S.J., Infallibility on Trial, 1992, Christian Classics, Inc., ISBN 0-87061-190-9, p. 313.
  67. ^ BBC News story about a belated official apology for the Society's crimes
  68. ^ Adam Hochschild, Bury the Chains, The British Struggle to Abolish Slavery (2005), page 61
  69. ^
  70. ^ Defending the Bible’s Position on Slavery by Kyle Butt, M.A.
  71. ^ Stark, Rodney, For the Glory of God (2003) p. 291.
  72. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, [5], Accessed 10.9.2009.
  73. ^ Augustine of Hippo, City of God
  74. ^ Elaine Pagels, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent (1988), page 114
  75. ^ Pletten, Leroy J. "Roman Catholic Church Opposition to Slavery (2005)". 
  76. ^ Daniel-Rops, Henri (1957). Cathedral and Crusade. p. 263. 
  77. ^ Exodus 21:2
  78. ^ Clarence-Smith, 8
  79. ^ Rowling, Marjorie. Life in Medieval Times.  
  80. ^ Cardinal Dulles, Avery. "Development or Reversal?". 
  81. ^ Maxwell p. 47
  82. ^ Maxwell p. 84
  83. ^ Jarrett, Bede (1 January 1968). Social Theories in the Middle Ages 1200-1500. Psychology Press. p. 97.  
  84. ^ Herbert, Gary B. (1 August 2003). A Philosophical History of Rights. Transaction Publishers. p. 62.  
  85. ^ Stark, Rodney, For the Glory of God (2003) p. 330.
  86. ^ "The abolition of the slave trade: Christian conscience and political action". Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  87. ^ Roger Anstey, "Slavery and the Protestant Ethic," Historical Reflections 1979 6(1): 157-181. Pp. 157-172.
  88. ^ quoted in Piper, 2002, p. 37)
  89. ^ The Christian Cabinet, December 14, 1859
  90. ^ Thoughts Upon Slavery, John Wesley, Published in the year 1774, John Wesley: Holiness of Heart and Life, 1996 Ruth A. Daugherty
  91. ^ Charles G. Finney, Memoirs (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1876), 324
  92. ^ Guilt modified by ignorance--anti-slavery duties, by President Finney 1852
  93. ^ London Yearly Meeting minutes, Vol. 6, 457 - 458
  94. ^
  95. ^ London Yearly Meeting minutes, Vol. 17, 298 - 307
  96. ^ Wyatt-Brown, Bertram. “American Abolitionism and Religion”
  97. ^ Jennifer Rose, The Culture of Honor: How Slaveholders Responded to the Abolitionist Mail Crisis of 1835, p.60
  98. ^ David S. Mussey, "The American Adventure," 2 vols. New York, 1980
  99. ^ American Mobbing, 1828-1861 By David Grimsted
  100. ^ Schlesinger Age of Jackson, p.190
  101. ^ "Westward Expansion and Development of Abolitionist Thought," Kentucky underground railroad
  102. ^
  103. ^ See also "The guilt of slavery and the crime of slaveholding, demonstrated from the Hebrew and Greek scriptures"
  104. ^ Dooley 11-15; McKivigan 27 (ritualism), 30, 51, 191, Osofsky; ANB Leonidas Polk
  105. ^ Allard, Paul (1912). "Slavery and Christianity". Catholic Enycyclopedia XIV. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2006-02-04. 
  106. ^ "In supremo apostolatus". Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  107. ^ "IN PLURIMIS - ON THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY". Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  108. ^   (Includes an English translation of Gaspar da Cruz's entire book, with C.R. Boxer's comments)
  109. ^ Christianity and human slavery: The final abolition of human slavery in Christian countries
  110. ^ Pope Francis on abolishing modern slavery
  111. ^ Edward J. Cashin, Beloved Bethesda : A History of George Whitefield's Home for Boys (2001)
  112. ^ Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield: The Life and Times of the Great Evangelist of the Eighteenth Century (1980), Volume 2
  113. ^ Piper, John. "I Will Not Be a Velvet-Mouthed Preacher!". February 3, 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  114. ^ [Religious Tolerance. Accessed 2009-2-3.]
  115. ^ Joe Early, Readings in Baptist History (2008), page 82
  116. ^ Michael Corbett and Julia Corbett Hemeyer, Politics and Religion in the United States (1999), page 95
  117. ^ Paul S. Boyer, Clifford Clark, Joseph F. Kett, Neal Salisbury, Harvard Sitkoff (2007). The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. Cengage Learning.  
  118. ^ Murrin, John M. Liberty, Equality, Power: a History of the American People. Concise 4th ed. Vol. I: To 1877. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2007. 115. Print.
  119. ^ "How Did American Slavery Begin?" Historian Philip Curtin
  120. ^ "The Encyclopedia of World History" 2001
  121. ^ Sublimis Deus, 1537
  122. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia "Reductions of Paraguay"
  123. ^ "Brazil's Prized Exports Rely on Slaves and Scorched Land" Larry Rohter (2002) New York Times, March 25
  124. ^ John S. Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy (London: Heinemann, 1969), p.229, as cited in The Early Church and Africa, John P. Kealy and David W. Shenk, Nairobi Oxford University Press, 1975, p.1
  125. ^ David H. Healey, The Paradox of the Two Christian Faiths
  126. ^ Jacob Neusner, World Religions in America: An Introduction, p.58
  127. ^ Classified Digest, p. 15; Perry, pp. 254-255. Compare the sermon of Samuel Davies (1757), p. 41; Thomas Bacon, Four Sermons, 1750, pp. 101, 114-115
  128. ^ The Secret Religion of the Slaves, excerpt fromSlave Religion: The 'Invisible Institution' in the Antebellum South (Oxford, 1978), by Dr. Albert J. Raboteau
  129. ^ Hugh Brogan, The Penguin History of the USA (1999)
  130. ^ "A Brief History of Jamestown," The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, Richmond, VA 23220
  131. ^ Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology (4 vols), David Levinson and Melvin Ember (eds), HenryHolt:1996
  132. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica
  133. ^ "Were there any blacks on the Mayflower?" By Caleb Johnson, member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants
  134. ^ United States Constitution, 4:2:3
  135. ^ Nevins, V.2 p.145
  136. ^ Miller, 305
  137. ^ Ingersol, Stan (November–December 2008). "The Enduring Significance of Pilot Point". Holiness Today. 6 (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House) 10: 8.  
  138. ^ Older denominations would not be reunited until the 20th century. The Methodists, for example, split in 1844 and were not reunited until 1939. The Presbyterians were not reunited until 1983, and the Baptists churches of the United States have never reunited.
  139. ^ Lossing, Chapter 26
  140. ^ Several examples appear in Wikiquote, such as
  141. ^ Masters, Peter (2006). Missionary Triumph Over Slavery: William Knibb and Jamaican Emancipation. London: Wakeman Trust. p. 51.  
  142. ^ Hinton, John howard (2012-01-31). Memoir of William Knibb, Missionary in Jamaica. UK: Lightning Source. p. 196.  
  143. ^ Spurgeon, Charles (1883-03-04). "The Best War Cry". Retrieved 2014-12-26. 
  144. ^ Quinn, John F. (January 2004). ""Three Cheers for the Abolitionist Pope!": American Reaction to Gregory XVI's Condemnation of the Slave Trade, 1840-1860". Catholic Historical Review 90 (1): 67–93. 
  145. ^ Gillis, Chester (1999). Roman Catholicism in America. Columbia University Press. p. 58.  
  146. ^ Panzer, Joel (1996). The Popes and Slavery. Alba House.  
  147. ^ "American Catholic History Classroom: The Federated Colored Catholics: Introduction". Retrieved 2010-02-16. 
  148. ^ John Bigelow, The Southern Confederacy and the Pope, in 462, 468-75 (1893)The North American Review157 .
  149. ^ Joseph Smith (B. H. Roberts ed.), History of the Church :5444
  150. ^
  151. ^ a b Joseph Smith Views of U.S. Government February 7, 1844
  152. ^ :217–2185, History of the Church
  153. ^ Compilation on the Negro in Mormonism, p.40
  154. ^ "The Mormon Church and the Curse of Cain Legacy". Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  155. ^ "Mormonism and racial issues". Retrieved 2013-11-25. 
  156. ^ "Interview With President Gordon B Hinkley",  


See also

In a 1997 TV interview, President Gordon B. Hinckley said of the "priesthood ban", "No, I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them."[156]

In June 1978, Spencer W. Kimball, the current president at the time of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after "supplicating the Lord for divine guidance" claimed to receive a revelation that "all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color."(D&C OD-2)

By 1848, the LDS church instituted its informal "priesthood ban", wherein any Mormon with one black ancestor was barred from worshipping at the temple, and such males became ineligible for the priesthood (otherwise available to male Mormons beginning at age 12). That ban was not lifted until 1978 under the auspice that revelation was needed to rescind the policy, despite it never having been official church doctrine.[154][155]

Smith was killed in 1844. Smith's successor, Brigham Young, endorsed the doctrine that the curse of Cain was "the flat nose and black skin," and that blacks were further cursed to be "servant of servants" until that curse was removed (Journal of Discourses, 7:290).

Smith would eventually argue that blacks should then be given equal employment opportunities as whites.[151] He believed that given equal chances as whites, blacks would be like whites.[152] In his personal journal, he wrote that the slaves owned by Mormons should be brought "into a free country and set ... free—Educate them and give them equal rights."[153] Later in his life, living in Illinois and running for the presidency of the United States, Smith wrote a political platform containing a plan to abolish slavery.[151]

In 1842, in another letter for publication, Smith wrote, "it makes my blood boil within me to reflect upon the injustice, cruelty, and oppression of the rulers of the people,"[149] but he continued to preach the importance of upholding the law of the land,[150] which included legalized slavery.

Some people consider that Smith got the timing wrong because in 1832 he said the war would "shortly come to pass." The Civil War started in 1861. Mormons respond that the war's start within 30 years falls within the period "shortly," especially given the long history of slavery.

In 1832 Joseph Smith claimed to receive the following revelation from the Lord, "Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; 2 And the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place. 3 For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then a war shall be poured out upon all nations. 4 And it shall come to pass, after many days, slaves shall rise up against their masters, who shall be marshaled and disciplined for war." ().

I am aware that many, who profess to preach the Gospel, complain against their brethren of the same faith, who reside in the South, and are ready to withdraw the hand of fellowship, because they will not renounce the principle of slavery...They advance in an opposition calculated to lay waste the fair states of the South, and let loose upon the world a community of people, who might, peradventure, overrun our country, and violate the most sacred principles of human society, chastity and virtue. ...I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall. After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling, unkind, and wholly unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ. It is my privilege then to name certain passages from the Bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon the matter as the fact is uncontrovertible that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the Holy Bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation, and walked with God. And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude. "And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant" (Gen. 9:25, 26). ...What could have been the design of the Almighty in this singular occurrence is not for me to say; but I can say, the curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him... ...Before closing this communication, I beg leave to drop a word to the traveling Elders. You know, brethren, that great responsibility rests upon you; and that you are accountable to God, for all you teach the world. In my opinion, you will do well to search the Book of Covenants, in which you will see the belief of the Church, concerning masters and servants. All men are to be taught to repent; but we have no right to interfere with slaves, contrary to the mind and will of their masters... I do most sincerely hope that no one who is authorized from this Church to preach the Gospel, will so far depart from the Scriptures, as to be found stirring up strife and sedition against our brethren of the South... /s/ Joseph Smith, Jun.

Smith published an article in the Messenger and Advocate in April 1836, which became known as "The Prophet's Views on Abolition" as found in the History of the Church Volume 2 chapter 30. [4] Smith writes:

However, Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, issued a number of conflicting statements regarding the church's position regarding slavery and the abolitionist movement.

Mormon scripture condemns slavery, teaching "it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another."() The Book of Mormon heralds righteous kings who did not allow slavery, () and righteous men who fought against slavery.() The Book of Mormon also describes an ideal society instituted by Jesus Christ, in which the people "had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift."()


Following Emancipation, African-Americans believed that true freedom was to be found through the communal and nurturing aspects of the Church. The Methodist Church was at the forefront of freed-slave agency in the South. Denominations in the southern states included the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) and African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) churches. These institutions were led by blacks that explicitly resisted white charity, believing it would have displayed white supremacy to the black congregations. The AME, AMEZ, and African-American churches throughout the South provided social services such as ordained marriages, baptisms, funerals, communal support, and educational services. Education was highly regarded. Methodists taught former slaves how to read and write, consequently enriching a literate African-American society. Blacks were instructed through Biblical stories and passages. Church buildings became schoolhouses, and funds were raised for teachers and students.

Methodists believed that the institution of slavery contradicted their strict morality and abolitionist principles. Methodists were long at the forefront of slavery opposition movements. The Christian denomination attempted to help slaves and subsequently freed blacks through philanthropic agencies such as the American Colonization Society and the Mission to the Slaves. It was during the 1780s that American Methodist preachers and religious leaders formally denounced African-American Slavery. The founder of Methodism, the Anglican priest John Wesley, believed that "slavery was one of the greatest evils that a Christian should fight". 18th-century and early 19th-century Methodists had anti-slavery sentiments, as well as the moral responsibility to bring an end to African-American Slavery. However, in the United States some members of the Methodist Church owned slaves and the Methodist Church itself split on the issue in 1850, with the Southern Methodist churches actively supporting slavery until after the American civil War. Pressure from US Methodist churches in this period prevented some general condemnations of slavery by the worldwide church.


Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg, was a Catholic.

During the Civil War, Bishop Patrick Neeson Lynch was named by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to be its delegate to the Holy See which maintained diplomatic relations in the name of the Papal States. Pope Pius IX, as had his predecessors, condemned chattel slavery. Despite Bishop Lynch's mission, and an earlier mission by A. Dudley Mann, the Vatican never recognized the Confederacy, and the Pope received Bishop Lynch only in his ecclesiastical capacity.[148]

Between 1821 and 1836 when Mexico opened up its territory of Texas to American settlers, many of the settlers had problems bringing slaves into Catholic Mexico (which did not allow slavery).

[147] When the slave power predominates, religion is nominal. There is no life in it. It is the hard-working laboring man who builds the church, the school house, the orphan asylum, not the slaveholder, as a general rule. Religion flourishes in a slave state only in proportion to its intimacy with a free state, or as it is adjacent to it. Daniel O'Connell, the lawyer fighting for

Some American bishops misinterpreted In supremo as condemning only the slave trade and not slavery itself. Bishop John England of Charleston actually wrote several letters to the Secretary of State under President Martin Van Buren explaining that the Pope, in In supremo, did not condemn slavery but only the slave trade, the buying and selling of slaves, not the owning of them. No Pope had ever condemned "domestic slavery" as it had existed in the United States. As a result of this interpretation, no American bishop spoke out in favor of abolition before the Civil War.[146]

We, by apostolic authority, warn and strongly exhort in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to bother unjustly, despoil of their possessions, or reduce to slavery Indians, Blacks or other such peoples. Nor are they to lend aid and favor to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not humans but rather mere animals, having been brought into slavery in no matter what way, are, without any distinction and contrary to the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold and sometimes given over to the hardest labor… We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this trade in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in these Apostolic Letters.... [We]... admonish and adjure in the Lord all believers in Christ, of whatsoever condition, that no one hereafter may dare unjustly to molest Indians, Negroes, or other men of this sort; or to spoil them of their goods; or to reduce them to slavery; or to extend help or favour to others who perpetuate such things against them; or to excuse that inhuman trade by which Negroes, as if they were not men, but mere animals, howsoever reduced to slavery, are, without any distinction, contrary to the laws of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and doomed sometimes to the most severe and exhausting labours.[145]

In 1839, after much urging by the British government Pope Gregory XVI issued the Bull In supremo apostolatus condemning the slave trade. [144]

Catholic bishops in America were always ambivalent about slavery until the Civil War. Two slaveholding states, Maryland and Louisiana, had large contingents of Catholic residents; however both states had also the largest numbers of former slaves who were freed. Archbishop of Baltimore, Maryland John Carroll, had two black servants - one free and one a slave. The Society of Jesus in Maryland owned slaves who worked on the community's farms. The Jesuits began selling off their slaves in 1837. As Catholics only started to become a significant part of the US population in the 1840s with the arrival of poor Irish and southern Italian immigrants who congregated in urban (non-slave holding) environments, the overwhelming majority of slaveholders in the USA were the white elite (Protestants).

A Catholic Union army chaplain at a Mass during the American Civil War


William Knibb was an active campaigner against slavery in Jamaica, who suffered persecution, including the burning of his chapel at Falmouth, at the hands of agents of the colonial powers.[141][142]

The break was triggered in 1844, when the Southern Baptist Convention, which fully supported slavery (though later renounced it in the mid-20th century).

By the 1830s, tension had begun to mount between Northern and Southern Baptist churches. The support of Baptists in the South for slavery can be ascribed to economic and social reasons. However, Baptists in the North claimed that God would not "condone treating one race as superior to another". Southerners, on the other hand, held that God intended the races to be separate. Finally, around 1835, Southern states began complaining that they were being slighted in the allocation of funds for missionary work.


With the Union victory in the war and a constitutional ban on slavery, abolitionist Christians also declared a religious victory over their slave-holding brethren in the South. Southern religious leaders who had preached a message of divine protection were now left to reconsider their theology.

Harriet Tubman, considered by many to be a prophet due to her success as a liberator with the Underground Railroad, warned "God won't let master Lincoln beat the South till he does the right thing" by emancipating slaves. Popular songs such as John Brown's Body (later The Battle Hymn of the Republic) contained verses which painted the northern war effort as a religious struggle to end slavery. Even Abraham Lincoln appealed to religious sentiments, suggesting in various speeches that God had brought on the war as punishment for slavery,[140] while acknowledging in his second Inaugural Address that both sides "read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other."

The issue of slavery in the United States came to a conclusion with the American Civil War. Although the war began as a political struggle over the preservation of the nation, it took on religious overtones as southern preachers called for a defense of their homeland and northern abolitionists preached the good news of liberation for slaves. Gerrit Smith and William Lloyd Garrison abandoned pacifism, and Garrison changed the motto of The Liberator to Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land, and to all the inhabitants thereof." The YMCA joined with other societies to found the United States Christian Commission, with the goal of supporting Union soldiers, and churches collected $6 million for their cause.[139]

As abolitionism gained popularity in the northern states, it strained relations between northern and southern churches. Northern preachers increasingly preached against slavery in the 1830s. In the 1840s, slavery began to divide denominations.[136] This, in turn, weakened social ties between the North and South, allowing the nation to become even more divided in the 1850s.[137][138]

The rise of abolitionism in 19th-century politics was mirrored in religious debate; slavery among Christians was generally dependent on the attitudes of the community they lived in. This was true in Protestant and Catholic churches.[135] Religious integrity affected the white slave-holding Christian population. Slaveholders, priests, and those tied to the Church undermined the beliefs of the millions of African-American converts.

Opposition to slavery in the United States predates the nation's independence. As early as 1688, congregations of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) actively protested slavery. The Quaker Testimony of Equality would have an influence on slavery in Pennsylvania. However, at independence the nation adopted a Constitution which forbade states from liberating slaves who had fled from other states, and instructed them to return such fugitive slaves[134]

For the most part, the Pilgrims who had settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620 had servants and not slaves, meaning that after turning 25 years old most black servants were offered their freedom, which was a contractual arrangement similar to that of English apprenticeships.[133]

Additionally, "New World slavery was a unique conjunction of features. Its use of slaves was strikingly specialized as unfree labor-producing commodities, such as cotton and sugar, for a world market."[131] "By 1850 nearly two-thirds of the plantation slaves were engaged in the production of cotton...the South was totally transformed by the presences of slavery.[132]

The first African slaves arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, when a Dutch slave trader bartered his African 'cargo' for food. These Africans became indentured servants, possessing a legal position similar to many poor Englishmen.[129] It was not until around the 1680s that the popular idea of a racial-based slave system became reality.[130]

United States

"When de niggers go round singin' 'Steal Away to Jesus,' dat mean dere gwine be a 'ligious meetin' dat night. De masters ... didn't like dem 'ligious meetin's so us natcherly slips off at night, down in de bottoms or somewhere. Sometimes us sing and pray all night."[128]

In addition, missionaries and clergymen wrote of the indifference of masters to their own religious welfare,[127] and some owners held that Negroes did not have souls. And although some others openly encouraged religious meetings among the slaves, yet the expression of their Christian faith was typically suppressed by owners. Former slave Wash Wilson recalled:

While the existence of Christianity in Africa is so old that some describe it as an "indigenous, traditional and African religion,"[124] it was a minority faith. In America, owners often resisted conversion of slaves to Christianity, fearing that if they saw themselves as spiritually equal then a movement for civil equality would follow, a fear which was not without substance. Others were persuaded by certain evangelists that allowing conversions would work to make better slaves. While this may have been the case, and southern slave owners saw no discrepancy between kidnapping and enslavement of Africans with their own Christian beliefs, yet Christian slaves and free blacks and the growing body of abolitionists realized that the religious principles practiced and believed by them conflicted with those who supported slavery.[125][126]

Ibo, Yoruba, and Ashanti religions did not survive the Middle Passage. The institution of slavery, and the influx of Christian conversions helped in eliminating traditional African religions in the United States.

Slavery witnessed the lack of synchronization of Christian belief with folk religion of African origin. African-American slaves did not have any organized spirituality other than what they were taught. Slavery in the United States devastated traditional culture and religion among Africans. Slaves in the 18th century came from various African societies, cultures, and nations, such as the Igbo, Ashanti and Yoruba on the West African Coast. Consequently, slaves from differing ethnic groups displayed few commonalities. Africans were black, but did not experience a homogenous existence; they shared little of their traditional cultures and religions.

Christian conversion and indigenous African religions

In 1888 Brazil became the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery completely, although in 1871 it had ensured that eventual result with the gradualist method of freeing in the womb.[123] See Abolition of slavery timeline for other dates.

In 1810, Mexican Catholic Priest Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, who is also the Father of the Mexican nation, declared slavery abolished, but it wasn't official until the War of Independence finished.

Many Catholic priests worked against slavery, like Peter Claver and Jesuit priests of the Jesuit Reductions[122] in Brazil and Paraguay. Father Bartolomé de las Casas worked to protect Native Americans from slavery, and later Africans. The Haitian Revolution, which ended French colonial slavery in Haiti, was led by the devout Catholic ex-slave Toussaint L'Overture.

...The exalted God loved the human race so much that He created man in such a condition that he was not only a sharer in good as are other creatures, but also that he would be able to reach and see face to face the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good ... Seeing this and envying it, the enemy of the human race, who always opposes all good men so that the race may perish, has thought up a way, unheard of before now, by which he might impede the saving word of God from being preached to the nations. He (Satan) has stirred up some of his allies who, desiring to satisfy their own avarice, are presuming to assert far and wide that the Indians ... be reduced to our service like brute animals, under the pretext that they are lacking the Catholic faith. And they reduce them to slavery, treating them with afflictions they would scarcely use with brute animals ... by our Apostolic Authority decree and declare by these present letters that the same Indians and all other peoples - even though they are outside the faith - ... should not be deprived of their liberty ... Rather they are to be able to use and enjoy this liberty and this ownership of property freely and licitly, and are not to be reduced to slavery ...[121]

The introduction of Catholic Spanish colonies to the Americas resulted in forced conversions, indentured servitude and even slavery to the indigenous peoples. Some Portuguese and Spanish explorers were quick to enslave the indigenous peoples encountered in the New World. The Papacy was firmly against this practice. In 1435 Pope Eugene IV issued an attack against slavery in the papal bull Sicut Dudum that included the excommunication of all those who engage in the slave trade. Later In the bull Sublimus Dei (1537), Pope Paul III forbade the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (called Indians of the West and the South) and all other people. Paul characterized enslavers as allies of the devil and declared attempts to justify such slavery "null and void."

Slavery was by no means relegated to the continental United States, as in addition to vast numbers of Native Americans slaves, it is estimated that for every slave who went to North America, South America imported nearly twelve slaves, with the West Indies importing over ten.[119] By 1570 56,000 inhabitants were of African origin in the Caribbean.[120]

The Christianisation of Europe in the Early Middle Ages saw the traditional slavery disappearing in Europe and being replaced with feudalism. But this consensus was broken in the slave states of the United States, where the justification switched from religion (the slaves are heathens) to race (Africans are the descendants of Ham); indeed, in 1667, Virginia's assembly enacted a bill declaring that baptism did not grant freedom to slaves. In contrast to the British colonies, following 1680, the Spanish government of Florida offered freedom to escaped slaves who made it into their territory and converted to Catholicism. This offer was repeated multiple times.[118] The opposition to the U.S. Civil Rights movement in the 20th century was founded in part on the same religious ideas that had been used to justify slavery in the 19th century.

Slavery in the Americas

Some members of fringe Christian groups like the Aryan Nations still argue that slavery is justified by Christian doctrine today.

In 1837, southerners in the Presbyterian denomination joined forces with conservative northerners to drive the antislavery New School Presbyterians out of the denomination. In 1844, the Methodist Episcopal Church split into northern and southern wings over the issue of slavery. In 1845, the Baptists in the South formed the Southern Baptist Convention due to disputes with Northern Baptists over slavery and missions.[117]

... the right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.
Every hope of the existence of church and state, and of civilization itself, hangs upon our arduous effort to defeat the doctrine of Negro suffrage.
— Robert Dabney, a prominent 19th-century Southern Presbyterian pastor
[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts. Passages in the Bible on the use and regulation of slavery have been used throughout history as justification for the keeping of slaves, and for guidance in how it should be done. Therefore, when abolition was proposed, many Christians spoke vociferously against it, citing the Bible's acceptance of slavery as 'proof' that it was part of the normal condition.

Opposition to abolitionism

"...Inspired by our confessions of faith, we are gathered here today for an historical initiative and to take concrete action: to declare that we will work together to eradicate the terrible scourge of modern slavery in all its forms. The physical, economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men, women and children that is currently inflicted on tens of millions of people constitutes a form of dehumanization and humiliation. Every human being, man women, boy and girl, is made in God's image. God is the love and freedom that is given in interpersonal relationships, and every human being is a free person destined to live for the good of others in equality and fraternity. Every person, and all people, are equal and must be accorded the same freedom and the same dignity. Any discriminatory relationship that does not respect the fundamental conviction that others are equal is a crime, and frequently an aberrant crime. Therefore, we declare on each and every one of our creeds that modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, and organ trafficking, is a crime against humanity..."[110]

Pope Francis was one of the prominent religious leaders who came together in the Vatican, 2 December 2014, with the aim of eliminating modern slavery and human trafficking. During a ceremony held in the seat of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences in the Vatican they signed a Declaration of Religious Leaders against Slavery. Joining Pope Francis were eminent Orthodox, Anglican, Jewish, Muslin, Buddhist and Hindu representative. In his address Pope Francis said:

In 1917, the Roman Catholic Church's Canon Law was officially expanded to specify that "selling a human being into slavery or for any other evil purpose" is a crime.[109]

Roman Catholic efforts extended to the Americas. The Dominican Gaspar da Cruz in 1569 strongly criticized the Portuguese traffic in Chinese slaves, explaining that any arguments by the slave traders that they "legally" purchased already-enslaved children were bogus.[108]

In 1839 Pope Gregory XVI condemned the slave trade in In supremo apostolatus;[106] and in 1888 Pope Leo XIII condemned slavery in In Plurimis.[107]

Roman Catholic statements also became increasingly vehement against slavery during this era. In 1741 Pope Benedict XIV condemned slavery generally. In 1815 Pope Pius VII demanded of the Congress of Vienna the suppression of the slave trade. In the Bull of Canonization of Peter Claver, one of the most illustrious adversaries of slavery, Pope Pius IX branded the "supreme villainy" (summum nefas) of the slave traders;[105]

Other Protestant missionaries of the Great Awakening initially opposed slavery in the South, but by the early decades of the 19th century, many Baptist and Methodist preachers in the South had come to an accommodation with it in order to evangelize the farmers and workers. Disagreements between the newer way of thinking and the old often created schisms within denominations at the time. Differences in views toward slavery resulted in the Baptist and Methodist churches dividing into regional associations by the beginning of the Civil War.[104]

used the Bible, logic and reason extensively in contending against the institution of slavery, and in particular the chattel form of it as seen in the South. [103]

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