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Slaves Were Christians?


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I was reading a book about the slaves and it told that many slaves were religious and had Christian beliefs.  I was wondering how the slaves held those beliefs in light of passages like "Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ" (ephesians 6:5....must have been written by somebody who'd never been a slave) and

    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) & exodus 21:20 says it's ok to beat your slave if they don't die. 

On the one hand I understand that Christianity might give the slaves hope ( hope of an afterlife where they could be free), on the other hand I don't understand why the slaves held onto Christianity in spite of these passages. 

 

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A lot of it has to do with education. The American slaves pre-civil war simply were not. What little education they did receive came rom the bible so for those its all they  new and most could not read so they only new what they were told. Christianity is a pinnacle religion in other words it has evolved  to incorporate the most useful brainwashing aspects of all religions previous to it. Its a well oiled machine. If that's all you knew it would be amazing if you didn't believe. what is reprehensible is the descendants of   these former slaves who have access to a better education that cling to the religion that helped enslave their anestors

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     You've just stumbled upon the history of the entire religion (religions in general) and didn't even realize it.  Before the printing press few people had any true access to bible and for even some time afterward there weren't a lot of people educated enough to read it if they happened upon a copy anyhow.  So the bible, handwritten or otherwise, were taught to the uneducated masses until very recently.  The idea that anyone who had a mind to picked up a brand new copy in Greek and sat in the park reading the recent adventures of some guy in Judea is just nonsensical.  Someone told a bunch of uneducated people that's what happened and they didn't know enough to say otherwise.

 

          mwc

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Don't underestimate that in America, it was illegal and punishable by torture and death for slaves to practice the religion of their home country. That was one of the biggest scare-tactics for whites: beat the "old country" religion out of them, otherwise they will rise up and kill and rape everyone!

 

African-American slaves, in particular, were brainwashed with the story of Moses leading his people out of Egypt, and the idea of the "Promised Land." You may be slaves in this earthly life, but if you believe in Jesus, you will be free in Heaven. Many convinced blacks that they were the cursed tribe of Canaan, and that is why they were destined to be slaves here on earth. This is why so much of the traditional "African-American spiritual" music will repeat certain themes. It was also a way for slaves to express feelings about their condition in an acceptable framework. Caribbean-American slaves had different religious traditions that were often in conflict with American Christianity, which is why you see many of those elements of religion "added" to Catholicism and variations of Christianity in the deep South where many of the slaves came to the US thru the Caribbean, elements still present today. It was all about altering the message just enough to get the ignorant to be afraid enough to believe and be docile. Sound familiar? 

 

There were also pro-slavery materials that insisted that, since slavery brought Christianity to the "heathens," it was a "benevolent" thing. Sure, whites may be treating blacks as sub-human, but it's giving them SALVATION. Joel Chandler Harris, author of the Uncle Remus stories, was a proponent of this belief. 

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On the one hand I understand that Christianity might give the slaves hope ( hope of an afterlife where they could be free), on the other hand I don't understand why the slaves held onto Christianity in spite of these passages. 

I doubt if any slaves were aware of those passages.

Freed slaves might have become aware of them over time.

Considering how slick apologists are, even if some slaves became aware of them, they would quickly have been taught that their duty was not to question the ways of the Lord, for he is sovereign.

They would also be told that the Hebrews were slaves and loved by God.

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This question can be fixed with one scripture!!! yellow.gif  This is what we were always told..........

Matthew 5 -verse 45...

 

...........and the lord spoke and said............

 

''In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.''

 

......god is so good. woohoo.gif Makes you wonder what benefits there are to following him??? Wendyshrug.gif

 

Poor darlin' slaves.... breaks my heart.....

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... on the other hand, in areas with a high enough population density, and since most slaves came from Yoruba cultures, they did keep a hold on the old ways, just disguised and mixed a little with the new. Hence whole new syncretic religions like Santeria, Voodoo (Louisiana), Vodou (Haiti), and Candomble.

As a further aside, a similar thing also happens in other parts of the world where Christianity was imposed by force on a larger population. Mexico, for example, has the Dia de los Muertos, with a lot of traditions as a hold over from the Mexica. Then there's Santa Muerte, basically an old Mexica goddess with a thin veneer of Christianity on top. Bodhisattva Guanyin or the Virgin Mary (conflated in a lot of East and South Asia)?? Not to mention some other hold-overs, like the Yule Goat (/sarcasm yeah, I'm sure that has a lot to do with the baby Jesus /sarcasm) ...arguably, Christmas isn't a Christian holiday, anyhow.

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Slaves were allowed to participate in the worship of their masters; not the worship of their homeland. They often did this to placate their masters And as long as it was the same religion as their masters they were allowed to take time off to worship.

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were the people who wrote the bible such as Paul, James, Mark....slave owners? 

 

As far as anything written in the Bible to tell is if they were or not, it doesn't seem so.

 

If the letter to Philemon was really written by Paul, he sent it to Philemon by the hand of Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave, owned by Philemon, and according to that book and maybe some information in Acts, Onesimus escaped and wound up in contact with Paul, who baptized him and sent him back! However, the instruction to Philemon seems to say that because Onesimus was now a Christian, Philemon should give him his freedom. It isn't all that detailed, so I might be reading something into the story that isn't really there.

 

If American slaveholders had read the book of Philemon that way, they would have had to free a lot of slaves that they made Christians of. Something tells me they didn't read it that way.

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were the people who wrote the bible such as Paul, James, Mark....slave owners? 

 

As far as anything written in the Bible to tell is if they were or not, it doesn't seem so.

 

If the letter to Philemon was really written by Paul, he sent it to Philemon by the hand of Onesimus. Onesimus was a slave, owned by Philemon, and according to that book and maybe some information in Acts, Onesimus escaped and wound up in contact with Paul, who baptized him and sent him back! However, the instruction to Philemon seems to say that because Onesimus was now a Christian, Philemon should give him his freedom. It isn't all that detailed, so I might be reading something into the story that isn't really there.

 

If American slaveholders had read the book of Philemon that way, they would have had to free a lot of slaves that they made Christians of. Something tells me they didn't read it that way.

 

The fun thing with Philemon is the kind of veiled threat in it: 'oh, I am going to come and visit you at some point soon, probably, if I can arrange it'. (So, you know, I'm gonna check up on that Onesimus guy and ask him how he's doing).

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Here's what I don't get...Christianity remains SOOOO strong in the black community today. When looking back at the way it was forced upon the slaves, wouldn't it seem like a good idea to let go of it now? I know this gets into sensitive racial territory. And I'm not just talking about African Americans. Hispanics also had Jesus shoved down their throats.

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