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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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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. Aubrey

    Poor Mr. Blake doesn't know what he's writing about.

    I'm willing to overlook the glaring yet simple fact that Paul was indeed NOT "Jesus’ most influential disciple". There were 12 disciples and Paul was not one of them. He never actually knew Jesus during his ministry but met him many years after the cruciFICTION.

    Which leads me to the real point here. Mr. Blake writes this article based upon the idea that what he's referencing is actual historical fact. There is no historical evidence whatsoever to the actual existence of Moses or Jesus as actual historical persons. And Muhammad, though he most likely did exist, was nothing more than a cruel and insane barbarian who created layer upon layer of mythology around his own life during a time when the Christians were killing his people for fun. Muslims don't even consider Muhammad to be the creator of Islam – something else Mr. Blake probably should have learned before he started writing this waste of time.

    The only grain of fact contained in this missive is the idea that religion, and indeed ONLY religion, ever has, does now, or ever will promote slavery. Without religion there would be no slavery.

    For more, please go to:

    http://www.truthbeknown.com
    http://www.jesusneverexisted.com
    http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com

    March 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Zaximus42

      Without Religion there would be no slavery.....I don't think that's accurate. I'm willing to bet we would have had slavery regardless of religion. It's more due to us being complete azzholes as a collective. The whole "a person is smart but people are stupid," arguement if you've heard it before. The more we mix it up and communicate the better it will be. Blur the lines.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      I would rather be a Slave to Godliness then read your slavenistic ulterior mottifs that tend to make an ass out out religiocities that people find comfort with! Godliness next to atheism will ever stand up and apart from atheistic retreatisms.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • F San Diego

      Poor you Aubrey. Please read further about the historicity if those people who you have just erased from existence.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      Wow, Aubrey, what a scholar. Too bad you didn't live in the 30's and 40's. You could have seen firsthand the worst atrocities of all time, committed by Atheists – Stalin, Mao, Hitler. Prove to me that there is no crime rate in countries where religion has been banned (the USSR, PRC, North Korea, etc.) , or where there is low adherence (e.g. most of Western Europe). You really need to read some real books and travel.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Really?

      "Too bad you didn't live in the 30's and 40's. You could have seen firsthand the worst atrocities of all time, committed by Atheists – Stalin, Mao, Hitler. Prove to me that there is no crime rate in countries where religion has been banned (the USSR, PRC, North Korea, etc.) , or where there is low adherence (e.g. most of Western Europe). You really need to read some real books and travel."

      LOL! Sorry dude but480 million people have been killed because of religion human history than any atheists. Wow what a bunch of brainwashed people.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      Aubrey, ever hear of the Gulag Archipelago, slave labor in China? Millions enslaved and murdered by godless Marxists. I guess you were home schooled...

      March 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • F San Diego

      Really? really?

      March 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      @Really?

      Where in the world of obscure websites did you get 480 million?

      Do you really think that every person in history to ever pick up a spear, bow, Uzi, had God as their prime motive for war? Lose your propaganda. Genghis Khan, Pol Pot, Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Custer didn't kill for God.

      I hate to disappoint your idealist POV, but most of the world is not terribly religious. And yet, human behavior has not changed one bit. Crime, hatred, war still marches on. You people are really delusional. Drop the hate and work with us to make the world a better place instead of hating everyone who doesn't think like you.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • wrob

      480 million? Where does that come from? Sounds like you're attributing every death by violence in the history of mankind (and then some) to religion. Because...all societies are to some degree religious?

      March 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Really?

      "Drop the hate and work with us to make the world a better place instead of hating everyone who doesn't think like you."

      You're the delusional one and won't see the REAL truth because you need to justify your stupidity. Drop the hate that's rich coming from you all I have to say is gay civil rights. Stop being so lazy and actually do some research and get the real facts because religion has killed more people in human history!

      March 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Aubrey

      F San Diego: Can't erase what wasn't there to begin with.

      Moses/Jesus is just another myth. But that's not the point.

      Religion supports slavery. That's the point.

      Try this one: If it weren't for money, slavery wouldn't exist either.

      So, we need to get rid of religion AND money. That would be a good start.

      March 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  2. don3149

    what? there is a much better piece about this here: http://adf.ly/5aPya check it out first.

    March 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  3. David

    Who cares. Slavery and every other moral issue is about what was acceptable of that time. Looking back 2,000 years and judging people for their actions is ridiculous. If you lived 500 years ago your own views of slavery might be totally different, except of course if you were the slave So is mentioning slave owners used the bible or any religious text to justify their slave owning. People will always misconstrue religious texts for their purposes. They probably looked themselves in the mirror and didn't see anything wrong. The powerful will always benefit off the weak. I don't see anyone giving back their Apple products when there being built by basically slave labor in China.

    March 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Aubrey

      Hey, look back 20 years and you'll see a completely different world from the one you're in now.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Clamouring amidst the name-labelling congruencies away from the terminology of slavery will ever bring the people back to its' roots, Slaves and masters of slavery. Sooner ot later, Time will regurgitate the ensembles of riotous degenerates.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  4. Metron

    Blake is wrong. Moses asked Pharaoh to free the slaves. Come on Blake, do some reading.

    March 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • TR6

      And GOD himself hardened pharos heart so he would not let them go. So god punnished all of Egypt because phaor did exactly what god wanted him to (eye roll)

      March 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jesus

      When people hear the word slavery they automatically think of it in from a very western thought which is usually negative. They think Martin Luther king and blacks as slaves getting beat and so on but that is not the meaning of a slave when the new testament speaks of slavery.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  5. salahkamel707

    Islam is the source of liberation. Before Islam there were millions of slaves, Islam gave many solutions to liberate slaves , . For example, when a Muslim does some wronge doings, Allah promised them to forgive them if they liberated a slave, when someone forget an important deed ( procedure ) in Hajj, he must lease a slave, and all is written in Holy Quran, and teachings of Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him and upon all messengers of Allah )
    you can not prove that bad thing for Islam, Islam did not creat slavery, but Islam introduced solutions,done by Muslims, even a uslim does not commit a wrong deeds , Islam urges all Muslims,in Quran and Sunnah, that when any Muslim release a slave , Allah will reward them with paradise and forgiveness
    I am an ordinary man , not a scientist, say what you read in Quran and Sunnah, not from Jewish and Christian sources, go to , for example: http://www.islamonline.com or the like

    March 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Metron

      Ever heard of Mauritania? Almost 100% muslim and rampant slavery problems in that country. Not much liberation. Ever heard of honor killings? Liberation? No, you have not I guess.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Me

      Allah is another con-man fraud. And most of the middle east is dumb enough to again follow a fairy tale and kill innocent people because of it. Just like Christianity. Shove your Koran where the sun doesn't shine you delusional moron.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • ossha

      Metron,
      A lot of Muslims do a lot of bad stuff that Islam prohibit. You cannot blame Islam for that, just as you cannot blame the followers of any religion for following their own desires. Judge the religion according to the source not the ignorant people.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  6. F San Diego

    There is a gross misrepresentation of Christianity in this article. How can anyone who is a true Christian say that Jesus' teaching does not abolish slavery? Only the ones who are foolish to talk before they understand are able to say so. Like all things nothing seem to stay constant that including the minds of men. Knowledge and wisdom changes and improves with with time which is the same for Science. Let's take for example Newton's Law of motion and Einstein's theory of relativity. There is an ever changing body of knowledge in Scientific fields too as brought about by recent discoveries. Should we take that against Science too? No! The central thesis of religion stays the same and will never change throughout time. If you cannot understand this then go to mass or learn from religious people first.

    March 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      And yet, for well over a thousand years, Christians had no problems with slavery. And there are still people who believe that the Bible says that certain people are inferior.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • BobbyTN

      F San Diego
      "How can anyone who is a true Christian say that Jesus' teaching does not abolish slavery?"
      Ah, but you are saying that as a Christian of today, not a Christian of 160 odd years ago when slavery was generally accepted as biblical, and the abolitionists were the "liberals". 20 or 30 years from now a lot more Christians will likely be pointing the "not a true Christian" finger at everyone who doesn't accept gays the way they are. Face it, "Christianity" changes with the times, moving away from the traditional beliefs of earlier generations, just as Jesus himself was a liberal who changed traditional Judaism.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • F San Diego

      Brother if I told you that you have Eschirichia Coli living in your large intestines ever since you started drinking milk am I right to say that you are a dirty person?

      March 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • F San Diego

      BobbyTN Please learn the central thesis of religioin first and you will find that all you are saying is just white noise.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  7. iTexan

    Cult = small group of people who believe strange things.
    Religion = large group of people who believe strange things.
    Prove me wrong...

    March 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Zaximus42

      I forget the name of it but when I was looking for faith there was a small religion that truly believed there was a race of alien lizards that governed our lives across space by the movement of their tails. I'm not making this up either. I was speechless.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      Strange are the bedfellows while stranger still are fellows' beds.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • MrHanson

      Belief that life is a cosmic lucky cosmic accident? Belief in a purposless universe? People are just reorganized star dust? Yes strange indeed. Dawkins and his ilk are basically a cult.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  8. Finnian

    Beware!!! Religion has endorsed and opposed slavery, but so has Atheist. The only difference between religion and atheism is that semantics. Under religion slaves are called slaves. Under atheism slaves are called criminals. The communist regimes of both Russia and China held millions in bondage. Mankind will always find excuses to commit the most heinous of crimes. Blame religion if it makes you think you are superior, but in the end I pray that level heads may prevail.

    March 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Trevor

      You've almost got it, Finnian. Atheism doesn't say that slavery is OK; atheism is actually simply a lack of belief in a god, and is silent on the subject of slavery. Those regimes you listed were not doing slavery in the name of atheism, nor for any dictate of atheism. They were doing it for a variety of reasons, but at least partly because they could get away with it. However, certain religions texts such as the bible explicitly say that slavery is OK.

      So, not a valid comparison, alhough you got some of it right.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Trevor

      I have to add that atheism is more for human dignity than religion is, generally. Religion generally demands that you bow down to some superior being. No such thing about atheism.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • gregwolf824

      You're misunderstanding. Atheism has never been USED to CONDONE slavery. Yes, atheists have probably enslaved others at some point. But religion itself has actually been used to condone slavery, as in, people have taken passages from the OT/NT/Koran to justify the act of enslaving. Any atheist who enslaved others did so for very different reasons that have nothing to do with faith.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • TR6

      Comunisum is just another murderous, dogmatic religion. Just like Christianity

      March 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Jarno

      The difference is that religion actually involves religious texts, which are taken as being unquestioned truth – passages supporting slavery can be found in the Bible.

      "Atheism" is simply the lable for ONE idea, and ONE idea only – the lack of belief in the existence of deities. That's it. There's no central teachings, no holy books, no ideology beyond the disbelief in the existence of deities in atheism.

      Thus a regime can be "atheistic" in that it doesn't subscribe to any religion, but nothing can be derived from that – no policy at all. Atheism does not equal communism – communism (or at least most versions of it) may include atheism, but atheism doesn't include communism, or any other political theory.

      Saying that "I am an atheist" tells you nothing about what I believe, beyond the fact that I don't believe in the existence of gods. "Atheism" certainly does not include any support for slavery – nobody ever, including the "atheistic" regimes of history, has used atheism as a justification for slavery, or any of their other repressive actions; it would be absurd to even try to do so.

      The problem is DOGMATISM. The idea that some teachings, some texts, or some people are infalliable, and you are not allowed to question them. That is the one thing that is common to both secular tyrannies, AND theocracies. Religious texts are just one of the possible – and very commonly used – foundations of such tyranny.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • iTexan

      The only thing that athiests (should not be capitalized, as it's not a religion) have in common is that they don't believe in a deity. Athiests have owned slaves, been slaves themselves, been heroes, been murderers, worked for the good of mankind, and worked to destroy mankind. The same exact list of attributes can apply to anyone of any religion or lack of one. We are all human and do some good and some bad things.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  9. Fenris

    Slavery was and IS a reality in the world. Everybody seems to only talk about the American South, but you know perfectly well there are still slaves in other countries to this day. There has been slavery as long as there have been human beings. Religion merely attempted to deal with the reality of slavery, that's all.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  10. iTexan

    Religion can be used to justify anything, and I mean–anything. That's the problem with it. And to argue against it requires education and confidence–attributes many people lack. It is a crutch/comfort for those who have no will to think logically. I can understand its appeal–it's nice to know that you will always be loved and if you do certain things that great rewards await you in the afterlife. The real world certainly doesn't work that way, so it's comforting to believe in something different. That's why we tell kids fairy tales–they are comforting. Most adults (like kids) freak out when the realize their lives depend on their actions and those of other people they can't control. Hey, I wish it were all true too, but it doesn't make it so. But there are tenets in all religions that are good. We should embrace those and throw the garbage away (i.e. slavery, judgment, hate, persecution, prejudice, rules about food/fabrics/race, magic beings, etc.).

    March 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Zaximus42

      Well put. I would take it once step further and say just be a good person and throw all the other religious stuff away. Teach your kids well and they won't need it. You won't need it. Then they don't have one more thing to unite under when they face something else they don't understand.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      So can Atheism. Look at what the atheists justified under Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot...

      March 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • F San Diego

      That is just not factual. Religious ideas can be misinterpreted but it cannot be used to justify anything that is contrary to its central thesis. To do so is to not understand the central thesis of religion.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Trevor

      MormonChristian, that just isn't so, and you should know why by now, even if you are in denial. Those regimes that you list were not acting on demands made by atheism. In fact the regimes had more in common with religion than not, in that they assumed supreme power over certain peoples and were the supreme authority.

      Good try at spreading the same old lies, though. You Mormons even lie to yourselves a lot. Hey, how's wife number 3 today? She told me she wasn't getting enough.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Trevor

      FSD, what do you think is not being understood? Some of the instructions in favor of slavery in the bible are pretty darn clear.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • AJR

      @ MormonChristian...that is a nonsensical comparison. Those dictators you mentioned were not promoting atheism, they were promoting a dictatorship under which they yeilded unlimited power. Atheism was not used as a justification for their actions.

      You must be a big fan of Rush Limbaugh...he uses the same rhetorical tactics to make it seem as if he is making an incredibly astute point. When in reality, it's complete rubbish....much like your statement.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • getyourBibleon

      My eternal salvation in Christ Jesus wasn't one that was earned. There is nothing at all that I can do to earn or work my way into heaven nor will there ever be. I don't have a religion, but a relationship with a Saviour who willingly took my place as the sacrifice for my sin. The sacrifices are no longer required because of Jesus. He was the pefect sacrifice. He came to earth and lived a sinless life. Because of this, it is my desire to please Him. I fail (sin) often and daily. It's a process (relationship). I am not the same person that I was 5 years ago or even 10 years ago. And as for the fairy tales, I do not tell my child fairy tales. The Bible is a history book from cover to cover. For more on this check out http://www.answersingenesis.org/

      March 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  11. Philosopher

    "Imagine NO Religion." – John Lennon

    March 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Pipe-Dreamer

      It's easy if you try,
      No hell below us,,,,

      March 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  12. Pipe-Dreamer

    The tawdriness in many of these postings is almost palpable. Be yee a slave and learn to master of its' abundancies

    March 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  13. MormonChristian

    Yet another article saying: "let's blame religion for all the evil in the world". Christ did not condone slavery by what he said and no true Christian can be a slaveholder. People can twist religion to serve their purposes. Let's be clear – the Bible teaches men to love one another and that the master is not greater than the servant.

    I'm waiting now to hear a story about how Marxism and Communism have used slaves. What about all the billions who have not practiced religion and yet have subdued their fellow man??

    March 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Zaximus42

      If I say it enough people will believe me. This is actually why we chant and pray over and over and over. It affects the mind. Also why the militaries of the world use this technique. Cults too. Thank you for illustrating.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • BobbyTN

      Not all evil, just it's fair share.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      Zaximus – if you say it often enough it will be "true" – just like the oft repeated lie that religion is to blame for all the evils in the world. More people have been killed by Atheists (Hitler, Stalin, Mao) than religious figures. But that's not what the atheists preach.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • LivinginVA

      For the VAST MAJORITY of the time Christianity had existed, it had no issue with slavery.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • johnny rockets

      Hitler was actually a Christian. It says so in the Mein Kampf as well as on most of the Nazi paraphernalia they used. Get your facts straight.
      Pol Pot was a despot as well as Stalin. they abolished the religions in their area so the members of society could work as a whole for the state and nothing but the state.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • TR6

      " Christ did not condone slavery by what he said"
      He didn't do anything to oppose it either unlike adultery and greed

      March 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  14. MormonChristian

    Yet another "let's blame religion for all the evil in the world". Christ did not condone slavery by what he said and no true Christian can be a slaveholder. People can twist religion to serve their purposes. Let's be clear – the Bible teaches men to love one another and that the master is not greater than the servant.

    I'm waiting now to hear a story about how Marxism and Communism have used slaves. What about all the billions who have not practiced religion and yet have subdued their fellow man??

    March 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • TR6

      " What about all the billions who have not practiced religion and yet have subdued their fellow man??"

      Do some research. You will find that almost everyone who has owned a slave also had a religion

      March 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  15. ANYK

    Prof Dawkins ... Google this guy apparently he was the guy all atheists prayed to well until his belief in God =)... funny little man

    March 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Research Research Research!

      Personally, I think there is a God...The problem is you cannot pour the entire Ocean into a 4 Oz Cup..Our brain is less than an 1 Oz.. This is the issue.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Kevin

      Research is probably right.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • AJR

      Richard Dawkins is a self-proclaimed atheist. He is leading an "atheism rally" in Washington D. C. in the upcoming weeks/months. He has not recanted or proclaimed to believe in any god. Why do atheists scare the religious believers?

      March 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Research Research Research!

      Neither is Religion and other living things don't pray..They try to live there lives without being slaughter to mankind.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Zaximus42

      Prayer makes people who pray feel better if they believe that there is someone listening. That's cool for them I guess. But as far as the world is concerned...cow farts have had a greater affect on the planet. I really mean that. Look it up.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • mike w

      No it doesn't. I've been praying you'd stop with this asinine comment for weeks now.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Kevin

      Wrong. Prayer is a type of meditation that leads people to be calmer when making important decisions affecting their lives. I doubt it has any physical affect. However, if you think more sound decisions made by countless humans over the centuries, as a result of prayer, has no effect, then you are the one who is not paying attention.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • BobbyTN

      "Moderation in all things." including religion, because you can take anything too far, and end up hurting people.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • The Unindoctrinated

      "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." Your god had the power to wipe out hundreds of years of slavery by saying three words: Slavery is wrong. He freely chose not to. Your god is evil. Face the overwhelming evidence of it in the bible.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • F San Diego

      To Research3x: Please research about prayer first before you make such reckless assumptions.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Jesus

      Lying is a sin, you've been proven a liar over and over again on this blog. A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.! .. .. .

      March 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      @ The Unindoctrinated: Christ clearly taught that "the master is not greater than the servant", that men should love one another as themselves. There are so many scriptures that teach this. You know what you are saying is a lie.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Trevor

      FSD, the research has been done and shows that prayer doesn't even do sweet f-all. Nice try at promoting your delusion, though. Feel better now?

      March 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Trevor

      Mormons are the grand masters of lying.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  17. Tom

    CNN's trolling with this article.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  18. THE WISDOM OF ISLAM

    This was the justice of Umar the Companion of the Prophet Muhammed PBUH, and that was his living statement, “When did you enslave people, and their mothers have given birth to them as free-men!?”

    March 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • just sayin

      Islam is an idolatrous cult.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Kevin

      Are you trying to say that Muhammed was opposed to slavery?

      March 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • total nonsense

      Islam is a text book exemple as of why religion is wrong. Muslims are vermins who need to be exterminated. they represent the whorst of the human race (no sure they even qualify as human).

      March 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      @ Total nonsense. Just like your atheist brethren the Nazi's and Communists: Exterminate/kill everyone who believes in God and looks different than you. You prove my point that it is the hatred within man that kills and enslaves, not true religion. True religion, as James says, has to do with simple things like taking care of widows and the fatherless. It has nothing to do with revenge.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  19. Dave836

    Oh look. CNN has posted yet another article that takes advantage of people's religious differences. Way to go CNN, way to be a mature news station >_>

    I'm moving over to BBC...

    March 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Me

      I'm sure they are crushed. P***Y!

      March 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  20. Mr Howdy 2 u

    I am a christian and I find Slavery to be reprehensible and completely at odds with Christs teachings...you cannot be a christian and not know right from wrong....and to not be generous and forgiving and understanding of people's weaknesses....you just cannot be a christian in true faith if you dont have compassion.

    March 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • nik

      ...and, yet, your bible has numerous references to it and Jesus, himself, said that it's okay to beat your slaves even if they don't know what they've done wrong. Google "Bible endorses slavery" and click the first link.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Kevin

      If you think about it, atheism in the Nietzchean sense endorses slavery too. Take advantage of others. Why would you not? You'd be silly not to.

      March 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      Nik – not any Bible I've read...

      March 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • BobbyTN

      Mr Howdy 2 u
      Then the folks who created the USA were absolutely horrible people because I don't see anything in the Declaration stating that slavery is wrong. That's the kind of "Christian nation" folks are arguing the USA was created to be; a slave-owning one.

      March 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      Nik – read Luke 12 again. In NO WAY does this endorse beating of slaves, including those who don't know what they've done. It's talking about people who knew better what to do with their lives and didn't do it. Like you...

      March 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
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About this blog

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.