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How religion has been used to promote slavery
Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, but he and other religious giants accepted slavery for others, scholars say.
March 29th, 2012
09:19 AM ET

How religion has been used to promote slavery

By John Blake, CNN

Editor’s note: The CNN documentary 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' airs on CNN International TV March 29, 30, 31 and April 22. Check local listings for times.

(CNN) - Which revered religious figure - Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammad - spoke out boldly and unambiguously against slavery?

Answer: None of them.

One of these men owned slaves, another created laws to regulate - but not ban – slavery. The third’s chief spokesman even ordered slaves to obey their masters, religious scholars say.

Most modern people of faith see slavery as a great evil. Though the three great Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – disagree on many matters, most of their contemporary followers condemn slavery.

Yet there was a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims routinely cited the words and deeds of their founders to justify human bondage, scholars say.

At times, religion was deployed more to promote the spread of slavery than to prevent it.

Read about present-day slavery in Mauritania

“The lesson in all this is we need historical humility,” says Daniel C. Peterson, author of “Muhammad, Prophet of God.” “It’s stunning for us to look back now and say, how can people face themselves in the mirror after doing what they did, but they did.”

But what did the founders of the three great Western religions do? Did they have slaves and did they condemn the practice? Or were they, at least on this issue, squarely men of their times?

The answers to these questions are as murky and contradictory as history itself.

What’s a slave?

Part of the problem is historical context. Most contemporary people think of slaves as people condemned to a lifetime of bondage, working on plantations and being whipped like oxen.

That kind of slavery did exist during the lives of Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammad. Many slaves were prisoners of war; concubines, gladiators, laborers in salt mines. They could be killed, raped and discarded at any moment.

Yet there were layers of slavery in the ancient world. Many slaves would be seen today as indentured servants, or people trying to pay off debts; royal bodyguards and entrepreneurs, historians say.

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Sometimes the slaves became masters. In medieval Egypt, Muslim rulers trained and educated slaves to be their bodyguards. One group of slaves grew so powerful that they overthrew the rulers of Egypt and established their own dynasty, says Ali Asani, a professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Languages and Culture at Harvard University.

“Slavery meant different things in different cultures,” Asani says. “There wasn’t always this sense of powerlessness and oppression. In certain forms, it became an access to power.”

In other forms, it became access to freedom, says John Dominic Crossan, one of world’s leading scholars on the life and times of Jesus.

That was the case in the world of Jesus. The Roman Empire was the dominant power of Jesus’ day, and it survived on the backs of millions of slaves. Yet there was only one mass slave revolt against Rome, which was led by Spartacus, a gladiatorial slave, Crossan says.

The reason there were so few massive slave rebellions against Rome was because some of its slaves had avenues for advancement, dim though they may seem to modern sensibilities.

Slaves could buy their freedom. They ran businesses for their masters or tutored their children. Greek slaves, in particular, were often valued because of their education and culture, he says.

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Roman slavery was cruel and capricious, but not all Romans saw slaves as subhuman.

“One of the most extraordinary aspects of Roman slavery,” says Crossan, author of “The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus became Fiction about Jesus,” was that the Romans ended up with a huge number of slaves who were smarter than their masters.”

The uncomfortable historical record

It’s been said that great religious figures transcend history. They rise above the peculiar customs of their day to show a new path forward.

It’s a matter of debate if Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammad did that with slavery. All three seemed to either ignore or tolerate some forms of slavery, some scholars say.

The parables of Jesus, for example, were full of references to slaves. Terms like “servants” or “stewards” are what we would call slaves today. Yet Jesus doesn’t seem to make any moral judgments about slavery in his parables, Crossan says.

The subject may have been irrelevant to him or his audience, says Crossan, the Jesus scholar. Jesus didn’t own any slaves. Neither did his disciples or the crowds Jesus addressed. They were all too poor and lived under desperate economic circumstances.

“It may well be that the people he talked to were small farmers who would not have the luxury of slaves,” Crossan says. “He [Jesus] doesn’t say anything for or against it.”

Still, Crossan says that he believes that Jesus would have opposed slavery, given the nature of his teachings. Scholars aren’t so certain about Jesus’ most influential disciple, the Apostle Paul.

The man whose writings make up most of the New Testament had to deal with slavery. As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, many slaves joined the church.

At various parts of the New Testament, Paul seems to accept slavery. He tells slaves to obey their masters. At other times, Paul seems to challenge the morality of slavery. In one New Testament letter, Paul intercedes on behalf of a runaway slave and chides the master for calling himself a Christian and holding a slave.

Crossan, along with some other biblical scholars, says there are actually two versions of Paul in the New Testament: the authentic, “radical” Paul who opposed slavery and a “Pseudo-Paul” inserted into the texts by early church leaders who were afraid of antagonizing Rome.

“It’s one thing to say that Jesus is Lord,” Crossan says. “Now if you’re saying a Christian can’t have slaves, then something must be wrong with slaves. So now you’re attacking the Roman system, which is a slave economy.”

Jesus’ apparent silence on slavery and Paul’s ambiguous statements on the issue had dreadful historical consequences. It helped ensure that slavery would survive well into the 19th century in the U.S., some scholars say.

American Christians who owned slaves had a simple but powerful defense in the run-up to the Civil War. The Old and New Testament sanctioned slavery and, since the Bible is infallible, slavery is part of God’s order, says Mark Noll, author “The Civil War as a Theological Crisis.”

“The defenders of slavery said Jesus condemned quite a few things that were standard in the Old Testament,” Noll says. “He condemned polygamy, violence, easy divorce, but he never condemned slavery.”

Let my people go, but keep the others

Neither did Moses, the founder of Judaism, say other scholars.

There’s no record of Moses owning slaves, but the Mosaic laws permitted and regulated slavery, says Peterson, the author of “Muhammad, Prophet of God” and a religious scholar at Brigham Young University in Utah.

Still, under Mosaic law, a master was encouraged to free slaves and forgive debts after a certain period of time that was called the year of jubilee, Peterson says.

“They were not trying to create a permanent underclass of slaves that went from parents to child and child and grandchildren,” Peterson says of the ancient Israelites.

But how could ancient Israelites sanction any form of slavery given their exodus from Egyptian captivity? Didn’t their God explicitly condemn slavery when he ordered Moses to tell Pharaoh to “let my people go?”

The text is not clear on that question, says Brannon Wheeler, a religious scholar.

He says the Exodus stories suggest that the God of Israel was angry at Pharaoh not for enslaving a group of people, but for unjustly enslaving the “Chosen People” - the people God had promised to give their own homeland.

“In order to make that promise stick, He [God] has to get them out of Egypt,” says Wheeler, director of the Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies at the United States Naval Academy in Maryland.

“It’s not like He [God] says slavery is bad and I want to abolish it.”

The Prophet Mohammad never explicitly condemned slavery, and actually owned slaves, some scholars say.

Yet he recognized the humanity of slaves, teaching followers that freeing slaves was an act of piety. He allowed slaves to buy their freedom and demanded that they should be treated with love and respect, says Asani, author of  “Celebrating Muhammad: Images of the Prophet in Popular Muslim Poetry.”

“He himself did own slaves but he treated them as family,” Asani says. “One called Zayd he treated like an adopted son and one of his wives was a Coptic Christian slave.”

The followers of men like the Prophet Mohammad, though, would take a harsher attitude toward slaves.

By the time of the crusades, Christians and Muslims were enslaving one another by the thousands. They cited their faith as justification, says Robert C. Davis, author of “Holy War and Human Bondage.”

“Religion was the defining principle of slavery—this person is another faith and can be enslaved,” Davis says.

Some church leaders preached that enslaving others was an act of evangelism, Davis says.

“One pope said that the justification for slavery was that it was important for spreading the faith,” Davis says. “Once they were enslaved, they would more readily take to Christianity.”

Those kinds of actions may now seem barbaric, but the texts and stories that were used to justify slavery still exist in the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Few, though, would quote those scriptures today, and many don’t even know they exist.

“We shouldn’t be surprised,” says Jonathan Brockopp, a religion professor at Pennsylvania State University. “Religions redefine themselves and people draw on different stories and underplay other stories. This happens constantly.”

It happened with slavery, and, who knows, perhaps it’s happening again in our time. There may be a religious practice accepted today that future generations will look upon and ask the same question we ask about people who enslaved others in the name of God:

How could they?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church and state • Egypt • History • Islam • Islamic law • Islamic law • Israel • Jesus • Moses • Muslim • Uncategorized

soundoff (3,207 Responses)
  1. Hitchen's Razor

    Look at the poor theists trying to defend their beliefs. This article isn't saying religion has been the sole factor in promoting slavery nor is it trying to promote Atheism.

    I love how you people get your panties up in a bunch when the real past of your religion is brought up.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Marlon

      Agree Hitchen's Razor they don't really want to know because many of the truth's of God were written in the books Of Africa that the Arabic, Greek, and Roman empires destroyed because they didn't understand it as it relates o their cultures.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
  2. aaron

    if there were actually a god, he would do away with religion in a second.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Michael Pfaff

      If Christ were here there is one thing he would not be–a Christian.
      - Mark Twain's Notebook

      March 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  3. Mayflower

    Another article attacking organized religion? *yawn* Once again, people are looking to point the finger at the religious because they want to judge someone and they're an easy mark. The fact is that slavery has been practiced by all people and cultures since well before recorded history. Does that make it ok? No. Does that mean religions are responsible for perpertuating it? Possibly, but that doesn't mean they were the only ones ignoring or encouraging the practice.

    Also, I love how they point out how the US practice slavery until the 19th century but completely ignore Australia's lost generation...of the 20th century. This is another pathetic attempt to marginalize religion. If you believe in one, great. Practice it. If you don't, good for you. Live your life. Stop attacking others for their beliefs just because you don't like what they believe.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Michael Pfaff

      Yup. The Bible never encouraged slavery... Never...

      "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)"

      March 29, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Marlon

      When you kill over 1 billion people in the name of Jesus and Christianity to promote world conquest and power for yourself, you have know justification to say that its wrong to accuse the religion. All religions are really rosponsible for these ghastly acts. The truth is religion is what messed up a lot of people because they took the universal laws of the Creator and the mysteries he revealed to the great African civilizations and destroyed them. THE TRUTH IS CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS TODAY HAVE TRIED TO SUPPRESS THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE THAT LEADS TO UNIVERSAL TRUTHS AND LOVE. AND YES THEY WILL KILL FOR IT.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  4. BeniWalid

    "Part of the problem is historical context. Most contemporary people think of slaves as people condemned to a lifetime of bondage, working on plantations and being whipped like oxen."
    Well, aren't we slave to our jobs, car/school loans, mortgages, life style, Gov. Taxes, and sometimes TV shows, etc....

    March 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Michael Pfaff

      Yup... Historical context. The Bible would never encourage permanent slavery. They were all "indentured servants"... Right?

      "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)"

      March 29, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Marlon

      CORRECTION!!!! Christianity did promote slavery. You have over 1 BILLION + AFRICANS TO ACCOUNT FOR FOR THAT ALONE. NOT TO MENTION THE MILLIONS OF EUROPEAN PEASANTS WHO DIED. WHY SHOULD I DIE FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU FORCE ME TO BELIEVE?

      March 29, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  5. Kenp

    "The lesson in all this is we need historical humility,” says Daniel C. Peterson....

    Really? That's the best you can come up with?

    No observations on the dangers of taking the Bible as the literal word of God?

    March 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  6. Bornagain

    To you non Christians out there I am truelly saddened. For as long as your hearts and minds are hardeend to the truth of the Gospel you will never know Life. Death will always reighn in your lives and that saddens me. You see you will always remain in the dark, blinded by satan and this world. You will never come to understand the truth of the Gospel untill you 1st , by faith accept Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Without that 1st the Holy Spirit will not be pour out unto you. The Holy Spirit, God that dwells within me, is the key to understanding God's Holy Word. It is through devine revilation from God himself that His Word speaks to His children.My God is the God of Love, He is Love itself, to know him takes one step of faith. I hope when that day comes for you when you are at you witts end, broken and beaten down by satan and this world that you remember reading this and KNOW that all you have to do is reach out to His outstretched hand and take hold. He will do the rest. Ezk 36:24-27

    March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • creative36

      You are seriously pathetic. You believe in a myth, a fantasy story and a cult that has caused more harm continues to cause harm.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Bob

      Are you intentionally so patronizing and condescending? Can you understand that some of us have pursued religion with an open, thirsting, heart and mind, and, despite our dearest wishes for one of them to be true, found no meat on that bone?

      March 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Zaximus42

      Yeah being blind totally blows. If only I had something I can't see, hear, feel or proove other than constantly reaffirming to myself and others it exists to fill my life with joy. It's dark and lonely in a world without faith. When I lay with my sinner wife and play with my sinner kids laughing, smiling and enjoying my sundays outside it's all for show because really I'm blind, cold and empty inside. I hope someday to find joy when spending time with my friends discussing actual real world events that exist or helping each other navigate the loneliness of a faithless life. We are all sad.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Isaac

      This was beautifully, and lovingly said! Praise God! God bless.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Michael Pfaff

      God bless! And, remember, feel free to beat your slaves so long as you don't beat them to death! For, they should worship YOU like you worship Christ!

      Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

      March 29, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Bornagain

      Creative 36: A myth? Say what you will my friend it is your God givin choice but it is no myth. To KNOW God's love is more than a factual knowledge it is "experienced" within one. It is an intimit personal relationship, fellowship with God. It is beyond words and it is real. I experience it continually moment by moment in my daily walk. Even in the midst when all hell seems to break loose in my life...I have seen God's work in my life! Prayers answered. But I have seen.

      Bob / Zaximus42: I apoligise if I have offended you in any way that was not is not my intend. My only intend is to share the Love of Christ not out of duty but rather from the Love and Life that He has poured into me. I pass no judgement on you or anyone else. I am not pushing God on anyone, that is not my place but rather to share what he has done for me and let God take care of the rest.

      Bob: If I could offer any words of hope it would be not to stop seeking Him..It is not a religion that He desires for us to seek but a intimate personal relationship with him. It is not a bunch of do's and dont's! or laws. Satan and the world have worked ther way into the church and the church alot of times gets it wrong in that they preach a message to the lost when the pews are filled with the saved which inturn causes we the believers to walk a time in the wilderness. We walk not knowing our true Idenity in Christ ! What happened to us on the cross! That abundant Life that Christ came for? It is real. It is Christ's Life!I pray if it be your prayer that God will bring someone in your path that will disciple to you. To show you the truth of the Gospel!

      March 29, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  7. Bhari

    Why does this article exist? Can you say political agenda? Is it just me, or is there a concerted effort being made to make the upcoming election all about race and not at all about accomplishments? Hummmm...

    March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  8. Scranton

    Drugs and self pity continues to keep people enslaved.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  9. John

    As far as I'm concerned, religion's sole mission is to enslave mankind. The slavery may not be physical with chains, binders and whips - but it is is certainly psychological with fantasies, fairy tales and falsehoods all in an effort to get people to bomb clinics, hijack airplanes and vote Dubya as president.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Mayflower

      As far as I'm concerned, you have more of closed mind than any religious person I have ever met. Being educated will not make you wise, John. Learn the difference and try not to condemn and judge others for their beliefs. Isn't that what diversity is all about?

      March 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  10. K. Rhodes

    Garbage.....Christianity in no way commands or accepts slavery. I hear this constantly from liberals and atheist...it is not true.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Haven't read your buybull, have you?

      The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given." (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

      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)

      When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

      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)

      March 29, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Mike

      Please read Ephesians Chapter 6 and then get back to everybody on what you find.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  11. Moses and Jesus were muslim

    Whoever wrote this article is either an idiot or a sleazy bias historian. The "Mamalik' of Egypt were not slaves but rather mercenaries, same as the mercenaries that are fighting for the U.S in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were originally prisoners of war, but then they were merged with the local army to strengthen it. Many of them had very high ranks in the army and that's the reason they could manage a coup and rule Egypt. Therefore they were not slaves! Prophet Mohamed had condemned slavery and had NEVER owned a slave in his entire life. He would encourage any wealthy muslim at the time to go and free a s many slaves as possible.
    This is obviously another try to twist history and make it a fact that Islam is like Christianity and Judaism in regards to slavery. Nice try!

    March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  12. shuyaib

    Slavery transcends Abrahaniac religions. Hindus creates a whole class system to preserve their version of slavery. Chinese took other kingdoms as "slaves". I believe slavery had many different flavors across cultures. What Abrahanic religions preaches (love your neighbor (moses), be just to people (jesus), or feed your slave what the master eats (Muhammed)), were focused more on Moral ascendency of humanity, which would ultimately culminate in a better human race.

    Unfortunately, our politicians, left to their own devices, have make a mockery of humanity by enslaving nations, redrawing countries based on passion, whim, or simply bad politics.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  13. Joink

    Now all we need is a story on how CNN has justified propaganda.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      same way others do. to reach their market

      March 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  14. Charlie

    This is honestly the most absurd article I have read in a very long time. Putting it on the front page of a major news outlet is a travesty, and it shows how low CNN has fallen. If any editors are reading this, please reevaluate your standards. You're giving fodder to those who say CNN and the other major news outlets have an anti-religion agenda, and I'm starting to believe them.

    Look for just a minute at the closing paragraphs:
    "It happened with slavery, and, who knows, perhaps it’s happening again in our time. There may be a religious practice accepted today that future generations will look upon and ask the same question we ask about people who enslaved others in the name of God:
    How could they?"

    What is John implying, and why would he do it now on a major news outlet? He's just spent the whole article showing how religion has never had any authority or moral high ground since they are largely responsible for perpetuating slavery (all with great bias and historical inaccuracy) . Now take a look at the real news issues of today and it's not hard to see what he's doing. Come on, Joh,n least try to be a little subtle. The whole world can now se through you and your news outlet.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • John Jones

      Oddly, CNN usually deletes posts people make that state similar facts.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Huh?

      John Jones,

      Deletes posts? What do you mean? Please cite instances of this.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  15. MackQuigley

    1. The atheist system of Communism enslaves MILLIONS of people, whether sent to Siberian slave camps or forced to work in Chinese prisons. These atheists out-do all religious people in the zeal to enslave humanity.

    2. The article pretends Jesus Christ was silent on the issue. WRONG. From John's Gospel chapter 8 "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (8:34-36).

    3. The article attempts to create a ridiculous equivalence of Mohamet to God's prophet Moses and to the Lord Jesus Christ – a ludicrous comparison. Mohamet bought and sold slaves, fornicated with them, and treated them harshly. In fact he nicknamed one slave "Ship" as he dumped heavy loads on him to carry across the hot sand. Mohamet also mocked his black slaves calling them "raisin heads."

    Obviously CNN has an agenda to promote propaganda and ignorance, but thankfully we can see from the comments that that most people are aware of it.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Zaximus42

      Marlon

      The right thing to do is to know your own culture and history of your people, especially Africans. Dr. John Henri Clark, the legendary historian of African history, exposes, on you tube, what the European did to us as far as Slavery and Religion has done. Over a billion plus Africans were murder in the name of Christianity and lie in unmarked graves and the & seas and all rivers all over the world. The greatest holocaust ever experienced in all ages.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      promoting ignorance? and basing your ideas of right and wrong from a iron age text is not?

      March 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • sam stone

      Also, Mack, the Communism is not an atheist system, despite claims to the contrary. In Communism, the system is god.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Rgeneration

      Well said. Atheists forget that Hitler and Stalin were well-known fellow atheists.

      What this article is doing is trying (and quite successfully with the weak minded) to get people to think that Jesus allowed slavery as a practice. Far from it. When Jesus asked slaves to be respectful of their masters its a message to Christians who are slaves who should by their practice of humility and love respect their masters although they are harsh on them. Some love to twist the words to mean something else.

      Quite sad, actually....and ignorance at its best.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • WMoonFox

      Everything you just said is completely false. Ten minutes on Google will show you as the fraud you are. Congratulations on proving just how immoral the religious right is.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Mark in California

      And it's obvious that you still don't see that religions enslave people still to this day. If Jesus came back today, he'd storm the temples of all the churches as you've learned nothing. Jesus shall set you free, but the religions that spung up around his teachings have enslaved you with falsehoods. You're all hypocrites.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • joejeffrey

      Yours is the agenda: pushing Christianity over all other religions. CNN's agenda is to be even-handed in a world where there are many religions, only one of them being yours. The article does not "create an equivalence"; it is simply silent as to whether Moses, Jesus, or Mohammed should be the most highly revered religious figure, as it should be. This is not church, and CNN's job is not to preach; it is to inform. Sometimes they do a bad job of that, but not this time.

      March 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  16. Marlon

    The right thing to do is to know your own culture and history of your people, especially Africans. Dr. John Henri Clark, the legendary historian of African history, exposes, on you tube, what the European did to us as far as Slavery and Religion has done. Over a billion plus Africans were murder in the name of Christianity and lie in unmarked graves and the & seas and all rivers all over the world. The greatest holocaust ever experienced in all ages.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  17. Juan Valenzuela

    Christianity has never promoted slavery, that's nonsense, just read the letter to Philemon was sent by the apostle Paul. On the other hand John Dominic Crossan consult for an article about true Christianity is another who is learned disparate.Ya was a member of the Jesus Seminar, an organization that attempted to discredit Christianity and Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  18. Scott Ferguson

    Religion IS slavery – physically, emotionally, and spirtually. The sole purpose of organized religion is to enslave one group under the direction and edicts of another. I applaud and fully support individual SPIRITUALITY – but religion is a blight on the record of humanity.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • African descendant

      I completely agree with you , friend

      March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  19. tga

    Galatians 3:28
    "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Written by Paul, he's telling us God is not prejudiced nor a respecter of persons. There is total equality among believers no matter, race, color, position, etc...

    March 29, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  20. QuestioningYourLogic

    I am saddened by the negative bias toward religion that is found throughout this article. Many of the most ardent abolitionists during the 1800s in the United States were also Christian. Much of their passion and motivation found its root in their religion. The author also fails to recognize the positive Judeo-Christian influence upon democratic thought and individual rights that we enjoy today. To say that someone supports something because they did not speak out against it (as mentioned in the case of Jesus) seems, at best, a logical stretch. Please do a better job of distinguishing accurate, intelligently written stories from poorly written ones like this.

    March 29, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Hiramnnua

      Sorry... but I think you've totally misread this article.

      March 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.