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"The appeal to 'have faith'
makes it a moral delinquency
to objectively study
both sides of a question"








"The whole Christian myth
originated
in illiterate, savage minds..."










Yet another area where
a little prevention would have saved
so much was illustrated in a cartoon :



Two Orthodox Rabbis are at the
Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

Says one :

"If only He'd given a warning not to believe anyone named Mahammed...."











Looking back now,
it is easy to dismiss this
as "irrelevant past error"
and think of Christian slavers
as "strange".


But look at what was taught
for many centuries,
throughout all
but the comparatively recent years
of the Judeo-Christian civilisation :


From The Holy Bible,
"Infalible Word of God":


" Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear.
Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ".

(Ephesians 6:5 NLT)


"Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed.
If your master is a Christian,
that is no excuse for being disrespectful.
You should work all the harder
because you are helping another believer by your efforts.


Teach these truths, Timothy,
and encourage everyone to obey them.
"

(1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)


"When a man strikes
his male or female slave with a rod
so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.

If, however, the slave survives
for a day or two,

he is not to be punished,
since the slave is his own property".

(Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)


However, you may purchase
male or female slaves
from among the foreigners who live among you.

You may also purchase
the children
of such resident foreigners,
including those who have been born in your land.

You may treat them as your property,
passing them on to your children
as a permanent inheritance.


You may treat your slaves like this,
but the people of Israel *,
your relatives,
must never be treated this way.

(Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)


If you buy a Hebrew * slave,
he is to serve for only six years.
Set him free in the seventh year,
and he will owe you nothing
for his freedom.

If he was single
when he became your slave
and then married afterward,
only he will go free in the seventh year.

But if he was married
before he became a slave,
then his wife will be freed with him.

If his master gave him a wife
while he was a slave,
and they had sons or daughters,
then the man will be free
in the seventh year,
but his wife and children
will still belong to his master.


But the slave may plainly declare,
'I love my master, my wife, and my children.
I would rather not go free.' **

If he does this,
his master must
present him before God.***

Then his master must
take him to the door and
publicly pierce his ear with an awl.

After that,
the slave will belong
to his master forever.


(Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)


Notes:

* From different original sources of what we are
trained to think of as a continuous "Word of God".

** So the only way to stay
with his wife and children
was to say "I love my master..."
and commit to remaining a slave
for all his life.


Please note that
there is no provision
for the wife and children
to go free at all.


*** "... must present him before God"

Please note that
this was a religious
ritual process
and had all the importance
of "God ordained law".








"Our God was made by men,
sculptured by savages
who did the best they could.

They made our God
somewhat like themselves,
and gave to him their passions,
their ideas of right and wrong..."

- Robert G. Ingersoll













"The texts remain;
it is the practice
that has changed.

Why?

Because the world
has corrected
the Bible."

— Mark Twain (1835-1910),
in "Europe and Elsewhere", 1923






New reformation Leaving

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Where was God when
slavery started in the distant mists of history,
was continued in good faith by Christians,
and caused the deaths of 620,000 soldiers ?



The American Civil War ( 1861 - 1865 ) would not have happened if there was no slavery in the US.

"It remains the deadliest war in American history,
resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties.
Ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years of age died,
as did 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40."

Yes, I know that many Christians worked to eradicate slavery & racism.
The church made sure I knew about William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King, and many others.

Only long after I left did I realize that there were plenty of people who saw themselves as
good Christians, obeying God and the Bible,
who were prepared to go to war
to defend their right to keep slaves.


"Both sides worship the same God.

Both sides revere the same Holy Book.

Both sides pray to the same God,

to give victory to their side over the other."




An example of how Bible-permited slavery was seen as good:

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts ( SPG, in 1965 became USPG ),
a ( now ) 300-year old Anglican missionary organization,
was a slave owner in Barbados in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries,
employing several hundred slaves on the Codrington Plantation.

The Plantation was bequeathed to the Society in 1710 by Christopher Codrington and was run by managers on behalf of the Church of England, represented by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a committee of bishops.

It relied on a steady new stream of slaves from West Africa as,
by 1740, thirty years after the Church took over,
four out of every 10 slaves bought by the plantation died within three years.

Beilby Porteus, Bishop of Chester and later Bishop of London, used the opportunity of preaching the 1783 Anniversary sermon of the SPG at St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, London to issue a call to the Church of England to cease its involvement in the slave trade.
He urged formulation of a policy to draw attention to and improve the conditions of the Afro-Caribbean slaves in Barbados.

Slaveholders had become accustomed to using Biblical justification for slavery.

Like many other major slaveholders,
the church relinquished its slaveholdings only when it was forced to
after the ( British ) Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.


( The SPG was also important in the establishment of the Episcopal Church,
formed out of the Church of England after the 1775-1783 American revolution
made it untenable to have the British king as head of a US church.)

----------


"God said it and I believe it and that settles it for me
God said it and I believe it and that settles it for me
Though some may doubt that His word is true
I’ve chosen to believe it, now how about you?
God said it and I believe it
And that settles it for me"

<<< Some of "God's Word" is quoted in the green panel at left.




Today it is easy to overlook the Bible's pro-slavery passages,
which were unchallenged for so many centuries. *


Abolotion of slavery was a very divisive issue
even in the north,when it finally began to be considered.

eg:
The Abolitionist Church, ( later Third Congregational Church )
49 Park St, Guilford, Conneticut, ( now a Christian Science church )
was built in 1840 by pro-abolitionist members
of the First Congregational Church
who were refused permission to hold Abolitionist meeetings in their church.

The issue was so divisive and pro-slavery feeling so strong
that it's minister for 36 years, Rev. A. Dutton,
who became an Abolitionist,
left First Congregational in 1842 because of it.

Our evaluation of religious claims should be honest and not overlook reality.

http://cslib.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/p128501coll0/id/1316


My point is that if there really is an all-knowing, all-powerful God,
all this could have been easily prevented.

You and I, by definition,
do NOT have "His Moral Perfection",
yet we would have acted....

----

All those devout Christians, the SPG and so many others
got it all wrong
- just like so much more in history....

Yet people still try convince themselves & try to force others to believe....

----

A religious statue weeping oil is somehow "a sign from God"
but only some people are willing to face
what preventable suffering & painful death,
as an outcome of slavery,
or from other causes,
really means....

----

Is it really sensible to think that God had "His Son" killed,
worries about how people dress, etc,

and somehow "forgot" to proof read & edit "His Divinely Inspired Word"
to clearly say "no slavery, do not buy & sell people, no racism" ?




---------

Robert G. Ingersoll ( 1833 - 1899 ), the son of a US minister,
survived the Civil War.

He became a Freethinker,
partly from watching his abolitionist-leaning father
clash with Christian pro-slavery advocates.

He was a very capable orator & his writing is widely respected & worth reading still.

Some of his many memorable quotes :


""Eternal punishment is eternal revenge, and can be inflicted only by an eternal monster.

Infinite punishment is infinite cruelty, endless injustice, immortal meanness.

To worship an eternal Jailer hardens, debases, and pollutes even the vilest soul."

----

"There can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a Tyrant in heaven."

----

"The place to be happy is here,

the time to be happy is now

and the way to be happy is to make others so."

----

"Happiness is the only good,

reason the only torch,

justice the only worship,

humanity the only religion

and love the only priest."



"Who can overestimate the progress of the world if all the money wasted
in superstition could be used to elevate and civilize mankind?"

( and all the time & effort of so many people...)



-------- ( Note * )

Attitudes have changed so much since the foundation of the USA
that we do not normally think about how much it broke
with the accepted Christian thinking of those times.

A variant of "The Divine right/s of Kings" can be found in many cultural traditions.
" God Emperor " , " Mandate of Heaven ", etc.

Court preacher to Louis XIV of France,
French bishop and theologian Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet ( Sept. 27, 1627 – Apr. 12, 1704 )
articulated it as :
"The reign of kings is from Me, says Eternal Wisdom;

and from this we may conclude that not only the rights of royalty
are established by His laws,
but also the choice of [ the ] individual [ to occupy the throne ]
is a result of His providence."
( Translated )

Thomas Jefferson's formulation in the United States Declaration of Independence
that "all men are created equal" is intentionally in direct opposition to it.

Not only was the new Republic actively fighting against their legal king,
it was fighting against the head of the Established Church.
( The English monarch is the head of the Church of England. )

Totally negating any notion that the king's reign was unchallengeable
because it derived from "God's anointing".



This break with a contemporary Christian view
was only possible because of an earlier dramatic change in accepted Christian thinking:

Prior to the Protestant Reformation,
European kings were subject to the belief that the Pope,
as representative of Christ on earth,
should have the ultimate authority over the states and its crowns.

Throughout the Middle Ages the Pope claimed the sole right
to depose the Christian kings of Western Europe.

The Reformation ended the previously accepted understanding of the Pope
as the " Representative of God ",
to an extent that even modern Popes probably fail to appreciate.

The Republic broke with accepted theology, ushering in a new way of thinking.

The break from seeing slavery as endorsed by The Holy Bible, God's church and the Republic took much longer.

Here is another example of the pro-slavery arguement by a Christian minister :


A Brief Examination of Scripture Testimony on the Institution of Slavery, in an Essay,
First Published in the Religious Herald, and Republished by Request:
With Remarks on a Letter of Elder Galusha, of New York, to Dr. R. Fuller, of South Carolina
[Washington: Printed at the Congressional Globe Office], 1850.

Summary of the essay :

" His four major points in this essay are as follows:

1) Slavery received the sanction of God in the time of the Patriarchs;
2) Slavery is incorporated as a part of the only commonwealth
expressly established by God; (!!)
3) Slavery is recognized by Jesus Christ as legitimate;
and 4) Slavery is full of mercy.

In support of these contentions, Stringfellow calls attention especially to Abraham, Jewish Law, and the Pauline epistles in the New Testament.


Added to this essay are two shorter essays.
The first responds to an attempt by a pro-abolition individual to convince him that scripture condemns slavery.
Stringfellow refutes every scripture employed by the abolitionist.

The second essay uses the Israelite conquest of Canaan to prove that slavery is legitimated by Mosaic Law. "


From http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/stringfellow/summary.html
Full document : http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/stringfellow/stringfellow.html

By Rev. Thornton Stringfellow (1788-1869), the pastor
of Stevensburg Baptist Church in Culpeper County, Virginia.
http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/stringfellow/bio.html


There is nothing to suggest that these people were not sincere, prayerfull
and believed themselves to be "guided by God".

Please note again if God was real He could have prevented or corrected all this,
and so much more.




"..... Some groups who were also making very strenuous , different efforts,
believed and tried to teach as "God's Truth" extremely different doctrines.
( some examples: LDS - Mormons ; Jehovah's Witnesses; etc )

most people in all these different groups just totally discounted the existence,
and claims to "Truth", of the others;
including the group of which I was a member.



Understanding came when I realised that all distinctive subcultures,
including the one that I was with,

have developed, instilled & reinforced,
thought habits
that automatically made their own group
the final authority on some matters.

( A "tribalisic" way of interpreting and interacting with a wider culture. )


Only by mentally and emotionally "moving outside" the group
can we attempt
to objectively judge the validity of those group beliefs. "

from Galaxy.htm






"Our God was made by men, sculptured by savages who did the best they could.

They made our God somewhat like themselves,
and gave to him their passions, their ideas of right and wrong...

As man advanced
he slowly changed his God
- took a little ferocity from his heart,
and put a little kindness in his eyes.

As man progressed
he obtained a wider view,
extending his intellectual horizon,

and again he changed his God,
making him
as nearly perfect as he could,

and yet this God was patterned
after those who made him........

...As man became more civilised,
as he became merciful,
he began to love justice,
and as his mind expanded his ideal became purer, nobler,
and so his God became more merciful, more loving.

In our day Jehovah has been outgrown.
He is no longer the perfect.
Now ( preachers ) talk, not about Jehovah

( one of the Old Testament names for God - editor ),

but about a God of love, call him the Eternal Father,
and the perpetual friend and providence of man.

But, while they talk about this God of love,
cyclones ( hurricanes ) wreck & rend,
the earthquake devours,
the flood destroys...
( disease)...
still the tireless reapers in the harvest fields of death...

As Christians changed their God,
they have according changed their ( emphasis on what is in the - editor ) Bible..."



----

"The place to be happy is here,

the time to be happy is now

and the way to be happy is to make others so."

----

"Happiness is the only good,

reason the only torch,

justice the only worship,

humanity the only religion

and love the only priest."





"The texts remain;
it is the practice
that has changed.

Why?

Because the world
has corrected
the Bible."

— Mark Twain (1835-1910),
in "Europe and Elsewhere", 1923


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