Fischer: Evangelical Christians Ended Slavery


Bryan Fischer makes utterly false claims on his show every day. His latest is that evangelical Christians were the ones who ended slavery, saying, “It was faith that motivated the abolitionists.” Well yes, for many of them it was (but hardly all of them). But it was also faith that motivated the slaveholders and the secessionists of the South.

And of course, the secessionists were right. The Bible does support slavery in every possible way. There are dozens of verses in support of slavery and not a single one in opposition to it. And the overwhelming weight of institutional Christianity at the time was in support of slavery. This is the same pattern we always see, where Christianity is overwhelmingly on the wrong side of every social justice issue until the progressives win those battles and public opinion shifts, then they find a handful of Christians that they would have savaged as heretics on the right side and say, “See, this was a Christian idea all along.” In 30 years they’ll be claiming that Christianity led the fight for gay rights, I guarantee it.

Comments

  1. raven says

    Before the Civil war, all the major Protestant denominations split over slavery. They are still split.

    The Presbyterians have two main branches, one southern, one northern and not very similar.

    The slavery issue put the Southern into the Southern Baptists who also opposed integration.

    The Missouri synod of Lutherans got their start this way and really aren’t that similar to the northern version.

    Religions evolve and quite rapidly. Since evolution is blind, it is not always in a good direction.

  2. Michael Heath says

    It’s also important to note that if the Bible were the word of God, then God promoted slavery even after the New Covenant. That’s because there are New Testament verses which has God instructing the behavior of slave-owners and slaves. God never took even those opportunities in the New Testament to retract his promotion of slavery in the Old Testament. Whenever the topic is raised in the New Testament those passages accept and enable slavery, it doesn’t condemn it.

    Of course there are New Testament edicts which are about how we are to treat other people in general, where it’s very difficult to reconcile those edicts to slavery. But again, if the Bible is the word of God than God had ample opportunities to clarify this seeming contradiction – and yet didn’t.

  3. jnorris says

    Evangelical Christians were abolitionists.Quakers were abolitionist. Quakers were evangelical Christians.

  4. says

    Evangelical Christians were abolitionists.Quakers were abolitionist. Quakers were evangelical Christians.

    Quakers like Oats, Oats reduces cholesterol, being an Evangelical Christian reduces cholesterol; but not through prayer.

    Sorry for the careless button clicking that resulted in 2 posts, I am shamed.

  5. wscott says

    The Bible has been used to support *both sides* of every significant moral issue of the past several centuries, at least. You’d think that would call it into question as a source for morality.

  6. matty1 says

    The Bible has been used to support *both sides* of every significant moral issue of the past several centuries, at least. You’d think that would call it into question as a source for morality.

    Nonsense it’s the ideal source for making moral sounding arguments an ink blot test of a book that lets you pretend your own assumptions have some higher authority.

  7. Reginald Selkirk says

    Just wait a couple generations, and they’ll be telling you how Evangelical Christians led the fight for gay rights.

  8. hexidecima says

    religion is the laggard, always the last to change. Culture changes from human actions, not some idiotic writings from a xenophobic ignorant people.

  9. brucegee1962 says

    One of the stages on my journey to atheism was reading a book written in the 1850s in response to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, in which a kind, well-meaning Southerner not only explains to a confused Northern abolitionist why all slaves are happy and content, but also goes throught the Bible and highlights each of the verses that condone slavery. The whole thing sounds very familiar, since it was repeated during the civil rights struggle and now in gay rights. “Hey, if it was up to me, I might take your side, but I’ve got no choice! It’s in the Bible!”

  10. Alverant says

    Not to mention that slavery continued after the civil war. Sure it wasn’t legal, it was made illegal in the traitor states by Linconln via secular law, but it still continued since it was profitable. I read an article in alternet about it, africian-americans were still being used as slaves in the evangelical-strong south up to WWII (and maybe beyond).

  11. chasbo says

    In America, you get food to eat
    Won’t have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet
    You just sing about Jesus, drink wine all day
    It’s great to be an American

  12. says

    “And of course, the secessionists were right.”

    Fairly true. As they pointed out, the literal text of the Bible seems to support or at least accept slavery in various places.

    “The Bible does support slavery in every possible way.”

    Exaggeration. Jesus could have commanded his followers to conquer foreign countries and take everyone as slaves, for instance. And the various passages endorsing the golden rule, etc., lean against it.

    “There are dozens of verses in support of slavery and not a single one in opposition to it.”

    Basically true, although see above.

    “And the overwhelming weight of institutional Christianity at the time was in support of slavery.”

    Extremely debatable to the point of being wrong. England had banned slavery well before the Civil War, famously led by the Anglican evangelical convert William Wilberforce. In the U.S., the Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist denominations had all schismed between northern and southern branches years before the Civil War. Quakers. John Brown was a rabid fundamentalist, for goodness sake. The Catholic story is a little complex as far as I can tell, but basically it looks like several popes before the Civil War were publicly out against slavery in a major way.

    You can still make the argument that Enlightenment forces led the way and the Christian establishment followed, but this mostly happened in the early 1800s. The Christian establishment in the U.S. South was a last-ditch holdout by 1861.

    “This is the same pattern we always see, where Christianity is overwhelmingly on the wrong side of every social justice issue until the progressives win those battles and public opinion shifts, then they find a handful of Christians that they would have savaged as heretics on the right side and say, “See, this was a Christian idea all along.” In 30 years they’ll be claiming that Christianity led the fight for gay rights, I guarantee it.”

    A lot of truth here, but it is also true that “The Enlightenment” was a very broad thing and Christians were a part of it as well as some of them resisting it, and it is undeniable that progressive Christians have taken extremely important leadership roles at various points in the history of the fight for Civil Rights and Enlightenment values. I.e. Wilberforce, John Brown, MLK. I don’t think one needs to go overboard to make the point.

  13. cjcolucci says

    Nick Matzke said a good deal of what I was about to say, so there’s no sense in repeating it. It’s true that a significant number of slavery opponents were evangelical Christians and drew their motivation from their religious beliefs. It’s also true that major religious figures taught that the Bible supported slavery, and to the extent that there is such a thing as theological truth, they seemed — then and now — to have the better of the argument. The one thing I would add is that the best secular science of the time could be, and was, recruited to support slavery. From a moral point of view, it’s just a lucky accident that better science no longer supports racial subordination and slavery.

  14. laurentweppe says

    This is the same pattern we always see, where Christianity is overwhelmingly on the wrong side of every social justice issue

    Actually, you’re wrong: when the slave system was still young and the province of opportunistic adventurers, Christianity did oppose it, as writtings produced by the School of Salamanca attest.
    .
    But, as it became more and more an essential part of the hereditary wealth of the upper-class, religious institutions became more and more silent about it, to the point that when facing mounting criticism, the slave owners, now part of the aristocracy, responded “T’is the will of Heaven” a great many priest obediently nodded their head and defended their rich patrons privileges.
    .
    If anything, one could easily make the case that defense of slavery was the result of corruption of the Churches by worldly powers and have quite a pile of evidence in one’s favor, showing christians institutions damning slavery in the early 16th century, then lowering the intensity of their criticism, finding excuses, then finally proclaiming that they had always been at war with Eastasia and always in favor of slavery by the 18th-19th century. But of course, that’s never going to be Fischer’s argument, since the last thing he wants is people scratching their heads and asking if he’s not himself one of these corrupt priests fighting for his rich patrons.

  15. says

    Christianity led the fight for gay rights

    I misread it as “Christianity led to the fight for gay rights” and was trying to figure out what was inaccurate about that.

  16. kermit. says

    The one thing I would add is that the best secular science of the time could be, and was, recruited to support slavery.

    Certainly religion has always wanted the cachet of science. Look at the Creationists now who claim that science supports their assertions. But I don’t recall any point at which science supported slavery.

    nicholasmatzke, suggesting that the bible / God /Jesus disliked slavery because it wasn’t promoted at every opportunity is a pretty weak claim.

    For the record, I was told by my southern Baptist preacher granddaddy that the “colored” were happier when they were slaves. Of course, at other times he said that it was our duty to punish them because they were the children of Ham, and Ham’s descendents were to be punished until the End Times. I never asked him how he knew they were the children of Ham, nor how they could have been happier if they were being punished. Little kids learn quickly to not ask questions in these environments.

  17. bluentx says

    brucegee1962 @ #13:
    Do you remember title/author of that book? Sounds like a good rebuttle resource.

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