Black Spirituality Religion : long history of Christianity annd Slavery

Discussion in 'Black Spirituality / Religion - General Discussion' started by Ankhur, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 4, 2009
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    Christian attitudes towards slavery: 5th to late 17th century CE:
    The Christian movement gradually reversed its stance on slavery, starting early in the 4th century CE. This reversal may have been influenced by the establishment of Christianity as the only allowable religion in the Roman Empire by the late 4th century. This subsequently created a close integration of church and state. Since the Empire was dependent on slave labor, it was reasonable for the church to support the institution. The church became generally supportive of slavery, even as a very few of its theologians wrote in opposition to it:

    Circa 400 CE: St. Augustine [354 - 430 CE] speaks of the granting of freedom to slaves as a great religious virtue, and declares the Christian law against regarding God's rational creation as property.
    595 CE: Pope Gregory dispatched a priest to Britain to purchase Pagan boys to work as slaves on church estates.
    Circa 610: Isidore of Seville wrote: "I can hardly credit that a friend of Christ, who has experienced that grace, which bestowed freedom on all, would still own slaves." In his writing "Regula monachorum" which describes the monastic life, he wrote that "God has made no difference between the soul of the slave and that of the freedman." 1
    Circa 600 CE: Pope Gregory I wrote, in Pastoral Rule: "Slaves should be told...not [to] despise their masters and recognize that they are only slaves."
    655 CE: In an attempt to persuade priests to remain celibate, the 9th Council of Toledo ruled that all children of clerics were to be automatically enslaved. This ruling was later incorporated into the canon law of the church.
    13th century CE: Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) accepted the teachings of the ancient Greek Pagan philosopher, Aristotle, that slavery is "natural."
    1404 CE: After Spain discovered the Canary Islands the Spanish colonized the islands In 1435 Pope Eugene IV wrote a bull to Bishop Ferdinand of Lanzarote titled "Sicut Dudum." In it, he noted that the black inhabitants of the Islands had been converted to Christianity and either baptized or promised baptism. Subsequently, many of the inhabitants were taken from their homes and enslaved. He commanded that all enslaved Christians who were inhabitants of the Canary Islands be freed from slavery. The Pope's concern appears to have been over the enslavement of Christians by Christians, not the institution of human slavery itself. 2
    1452/4 CE: Pope Nicholas V wrote Dum Diversas which granted to the kings of Spain and Portugal the right to reduce any "Saracens [Muslims] and pagans and any other unbelievers" to perpetual slavery.
    1519: Bartholomew De Las Casas, a Dominican, argued against slavery. "No one may be deprived of his liberty nor may any person be enslaved" He was ridiculed, silenced and ignored. 3
    1537 CE: Pope Paul III wrote in Sublimis Deus about the enslavement of persons in the West and South Indies. He wrote that Satan:

    "... the enemy of the human race...has thought up a way, unheard of before now, by which he might impede the saving Word of God. ... Satan has stirred up some of his allies ... who are presuming to assert far and wide that the Indians be reduced to our service like brute animals. And they reduce them to slavery, treating them with afflictions we would scarcely use with brute animals. ... Rather, we decree that these same Indians should not be deprived of their liberty…and are not to be reduced to slavery." only hostile non-Christians, captured in just wars, could become slaves. 4

    1548 CE: Pope Paul III confirmed that any individual may freely buy, sell and own slaves. Runaway slaves were to be returned to their owners for punishment.
    1660: Charles II of Britain urged the Council for Foreign Plantations to teach Christianity to slaves.
    1629 to 1661 CE: Pope Urban VIII in 1629, Pope Innocent X in 1645 and Pope Alexander VII in 1661 were all personally involved in the purchase of Muslim slaves.

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    Late 17th century: The institution of slavery was a integral part of many societies worldwide. The Roman Catholic church only placed two restrictions on the purchase and owning of slaves: They had to be non-Christian.
    They had to be captured during "just" warfare. i.e. in wars involving Christian armies fighting for an honorable cause.

    Late in the 17th century, Leander, a Roman Catholic theologian, wrote:

    "It is certainly a matter of faith that this sort of slavery in which a man serves his master as his slave, is altogether lawful. This is proved from Holy Scripture...It is also proved from reason for it is not unreasonable that just as things which are captured in a just war pass into the power and ownership of the victors, so persons captured in war pass into the ownership of the captors... All theologians are unanimous on this." 5

    We have been unable to find anyone other than St. Augustine and Bartholomew De Las Casas, opposing the institution of slavery prior to this time. People considered it quite appropriate for one person to own another human being as a piece of property. Paul's comment in Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free...for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." did not appear to have been followed, except perhaps spiritually. Neither were the statements by Jesus about treating one's fellow humans accepted and applied.

    1667: The Virginia Assembly passes a bill which denied that a Christian baptism grants freedom to slaves.
    1680: The Anglican Church in Virginia started a debate, which lasted for 50 years, on whether slaves should be given Christian instruction. They finally decided in the affirmative. However the landowners and slave owners opposed this program. They feared that if the slaves became Christians, there would be public support to recognizing them as full human beings and to grant them freedom.
    The Roman Catholic church in South America insisted that slaves be allowed to marry. They forbade "promiscuous relationships between slaves as well as between masters and slaves, and it encouraged marriage instead of informal mating."
    In the predominately Protestant North America, slaves were considered property and were not allowed to marry. The courts decided that a slave owner should be free to sell his property has he wished.