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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. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things . .

    April 1, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Dan

      Prayer changes nothing. It gives you false hope.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  2. Franny

    There's NEVER a good reason for slavery period! Not one!

    April 1, 2012 at 5:58 am |
  3. Susie

    Guess what? there was no welfare to take care of the weak and slow back then. The only hope to live was to find a landowner who would take you in. Laborers did not have the stability of a home like slaves did. The Hebrew religion actually regulated and helped keep slaves safer than in other cultures. Looking at slavery through the lens of the 21st century does not tell the whole story.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Kafir

      Maybe you'd like to see it brought back?

      April 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • bismarket

      Maybe God should have, Oh i dunno, made a commandment about it or something?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  4. Lucille

    three religions? Christianity is not a religion. It is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, his Son. Jesus is superior to Moses and Muhammed because he is diety. The other two were men only.

    Paul does not chide Philemon for having a slave. Actually when the runaway slave Onesimus returns to Philemon, Paul tells Philemon that Onesimus is more valuable now, not only as a slave but also a brother in the Lord. The jest of his message is that whatever condition a person finds himself in at salvation, remain there until the Lord brings you out.

    The Hebrews were in the land of Canaan, when there was the great famine. But they needed food and Jacob said, "I have heard that there is corn in Egypt," he told his sons. And so eventually all seventy souls of Jacob's house, including long lost Joseph, were in Egypt but the Hebrews were not supposed to stay. They did stay and a new pharoah arose "that knew not Joseph." And so captivity started as predicted – 430 years.

    Slavery in the United States was never what God intended as indentured servants or spoil of war.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:26 am |
    • Jablonski

      It always amuses me when christians state that christianity is not a religion, when it's obvious what they mean to say is "I want to divorce what I practice from all the baggage that normally comes with the word religion, and just call it something else even though religion is EXACTLY what it is".

      Clear-thinking persons will always see through stupid word games like that.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • Ren

      How do you justify chapters that condone slavery in your holly book? Even if christianity is a relationship with God it doesn't help you to have an easy way out as you use the Bible which has chapters that support slavery! "BAD"

      April 1, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  5. achilles

    Stop supporting Israeli aggression.

    Research israels crimes against humanity.

    March 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Susie

      Stop listiening to Na zi George Soros' drivel.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  6. Salero21

    The problem, and it is a big problem for people without the very minimun discernment and knowledge of Scriptures! Is, that Slaves and slavery as described in the Law of Moses, is NOT AT ALL, what we've know and know it happened in the US and elsewhere to this date and age. Slaves in the Old Testament Law was HEAVILY regulated. Regulated as much if not more than Divorce. Slaves were NOT to be mistreated. They were to set Free if injured, they could buy their Freedom or a relative could Free them. Every 7 yrs. slaves were to be set Free. On the 7th year, if a Slave though he had been WELL TREATED by his master he could choose to stay. But every 50 yrs. there was a year of Jubilee, when ALL slaves were to be set Free, even those who previously choose to stay in the 7th year.

    Slaves were more often than not, people who had a debt they could not pay with the person, who became the master. As soon as that debt was paid (without interests), thru and by the performance of services and work, such slave went Free.

    Slaves in ISRAEL in the times of the Law of Moses were such for economical reasons and sometimes self imposed or voluntary to pay back Debts. Slavery if you want to call it such; in Israel, under the Law of Moses WAS NOT, I Repeat WAS NOT for reasons of RACE. What happened here in the US and elsewhere, and still to this day WAS NOT, IS NOT what the Scriptures described and HEAVILY Regulated. These "slaves" in ISRAEL, under the LAW were NOT mistreated or looked down upon, like it happened in the US. What happened here and elsewhere is NOT apples to apples.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      And in all our "freedom" it is NOT acceptable for a woman to be differential to her husband in ways that may seem "slave like." The fact that we are both extremely happy in our lifestyle seems to have no bearing on the matter, especially when our relationship is MUCH more stable than theirs. Is it impossible for people to just LEAVE others alone? Why is everyone so caught up in the way other people wish to live, supposedly in the name of which ever deity they worship today and morality that was made up (by men) to cover their lack of understanding, bad judgement and wishes to remain in total control without ANY wisdom or sense of responsibility? Could someone please explain this? Thank you.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Reality

      Time of Moses? Maybe not based on the following:

      ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      April 1, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • Lee P

      what are you smoking? please share..it is obvioulsdy affecting your thinking process

      April 1, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Ren

      Slaves were NOT to be mistreated. They were to set Free if injured, they could buy their Freedom or a relative could Free them' its not true, this is what i found from your hollybook, EXODUS CHAPTER 21:20 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property." Not only does God condones slavery, but he is also completely comfortable with the concept of beating your slaves, as long as you don't kill them, slavery is the most immoral thing that human beings can do to each other!

      April 1, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  7. Rationality

    I read through this blog trying to find rational, respectful discussion and debate regarding theology. Some glimmers appeared, but it is overshadowed by ill informed hateful rhetoric. If anyone reading this blog is aware of a site where tough issues of belief in God are drespectfully iscussed, a reference would be appreciated.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      I don't think there are any of those – for very good reason – theology is nothing more than the discussion of a being that may or may not even exist. All opinions are equally just theory. But!! The more insecure a person feels in their faith – the more they will DIE defending it. It is all they have to make any sense of this world and generally become angry when their beliefs make NO sense at all.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Reality

      Maybe this prayer will help:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      April 1, 2012 at 12:49 am |
    • Reality

      If the update Apostles' Creed is insufficient, you might want to try the topics at http://www.beliefnet.com/

      April 1, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • Susie

      Just because God has not proven himself to you, does not mean He has not shown himself to others.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:33 am |
    • Reality

      Susie,

      We await your evidence.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  8. SciGuy

    Slavery is not inherently a moral evil. Read the NT if you are a Christian and it is abundantly clear that it is not a sin to own slaves. If you claim that slavery is a sin, then you are not a biblical Christian.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      I am not a Christian, but I do know in MANY cultures it is honorable to "sell" oneself in order to provide for the family. There is no shame, no abuse, and it works for those who do it. Who are WE to judge them ??

      March 31, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Kafir

      Likewise, who are we to judge a slave owner for beating their slave? Do we really wanna go that route?

      April 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  9. Semper Solacium Fidere

    "The abuse of greatness is when remorse is seperated from power."

    March 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "The abuse of greatness is when remorse is separated from power."

      It would be more fitting to say
      "Those who have become great, cease to be great when they lose their conscience while yet still having power."

      March 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      Who said – absolute power corrupts absolutely? 'And quite often in the name of their God?

      March 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  10. b4bigbang

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    2The same was in the beginning with God.

    3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    4In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

    5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

    7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

    8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

    9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

    10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

    11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

    15John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me.

    16And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

    17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

    18No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
    John 1

    March 31, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      I've read your bible – want to read mine?

      March 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
  11. Sondra LeVin

    Prayer changes nothing.

    March 31, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer changed slavery.

      March 31, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Sabina

      Thank you. I could not agree more.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • bismarket

      "Prayer changed Slavery"? If it did, it took it's own sweet time. No it was all those marches, public opinion & the deaths of some very good people that did that.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things. .

    March 31, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • NoMoreLabels

      'prayer changes things..'

      because you will deny anything else.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Sabina

      This cannot be proved. Until it can, it is just in your imagination.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven .

      April 1, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  13. YeahItsMe72

    It's almost as if the author is suggesting that, in this case, religious views were twisted and evolved to justify whatever the people in power found convenient.

    And since religion is infallible we no this cannot be true.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      And they are still doing the same thing. What I pray for nightly is EVOLUTION so everyone will understand that killing in the name of ANY so called deity is WRONG!!

      March 31, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      Do you think there is any hope that the American people will WAKE up and not Need the government to legislate morality? I don't but I keep praying anyways.

      March 31, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
  14. Cruzader

    All religion is opium for the mind.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Reason Together

      The only thing that is really opium for the mind is opium.

      March 31, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Star Tripper

      Attributed to the Marque de Sade – and others – but he was first – go figure!! LOL

      March 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  15. Reason Together

    Christianity did speak against slavery, read the letter of Saint Paul to Philemon. Also, secular states and pagans did not have the principal in their systems of thought to undermine slavery. Christianity did it in two way. 1. Because Jesus identified himself with weakness and poverty, what you did to the least you did to me. This put the burden of offering relief to those born in a different social class on the upper class. Also, the Christian reflection on the natural law, offered universal principals to undercut slavery, to be able to argue without reference to christian revelation the immorality of slavery. That is why it is a hoot to read all the comment by Christian/Catholic bashers who are appealing to thought that was cleared and refined by the great Christian philosophers like Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas. It is a shame that more people are not aware or refuse to acknowledge the great intellectual heritage that we enjoy today that came to be because of Christian reflections and philosophy.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Kafir

      This, though, would undermine the claim that jesus had divinity, because certainly a divine being would have the wherewithal to singlehandedly snuff out the ills of society, of which slavery would be one of the greatest of all.

      April 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  16. Reality

    ONLY FOR THE BEGINNERS:

    From p. 8.

    Christianity, Judaism and Islam as well as all other religions are a form of slavery as noted by the fact that said followers suffer in general from the Three B Syndrome, i.e. Bred, Born and Brainwashed in their form of religion.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  17. UNDERGROUND RIVER CC GO

    tmobligation
    kim pusapinagpala

    March 31, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  18. alfranken

    Don't forget when the Bible was translated into other languages other than latn. Very few people understood latin and thus gave great authority to the Monks and the deity which pretty much ran the monarchs of the time.

    So much hasn't change that much. People volunteer to be slaves of their religion today because they can't think for themselves.

    March 31, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Sue

      alfranken, I think you nailed it.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      "People volunteer to be slaves of their religion today because they can't think for themselves"
      Yeah, many do, usually being bound up in their traditions, not willing to part form them, whether out of fear, or just simply following their leaders.
      But what is even worse, is when people who are free, not forced to stay in their bondage, yet still choosing to be slaves. We have more slaves now, in our advanced, modern world then all the slaves that ever existed through time, made by the will of men.
      It's the slavery of sin and of servitude to the enemy of their souls, who has deceived them into thinking that they are free, yet holding them captive in his grip to do his will.
      Have problem seeing it, it's not to hard. The music, the entertainment, the pleasure seeking, indulging in ungodliness that surpasses any imagination, that is flooding our society and it's people, the greed and indifference toward other's sufferings.........The corruption of the human character in present world has surpassed the barbaric civilizations of the past This is the kind of slavery that is worse then when man puts a chain on another man. Because when this kind of slavery is in one's heart, he will have no conscience against enslaving another.. Because all evil that is committed in this world by humans originates out of sin-darkened heart.
      So your comment that people get enslaved for not thinking for themselves is only in some instances correct. Because it's not thinking that frees or enslaves us, it's what we allow to enter and take root in our hearts and souls

      March 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  19. Africa

    March 31, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Africa

      March 31, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Matt Hudson

      Perhaps the greatest failure of our time is that we in countries of modern lifestyles do not even recognize the blessings we share daily. I am a veteran of OIF. After having witnessed what people live like elsewhere. I can no longer see the world around me as so bright and wonderful when I know in my heart that the world as a whole has things occurring such as this. I wonder most of all why these people do not fight for themselves to gain their own freedom as many others have before them. Then I realize that if I lived in such desolate places, I myself wouldn't see much to fight for. Rather I would just try and pass the time until I left such a world. I feel the greatest thing any Nation could do for these people is to simply allow them to see the rest of the world. All in hopes they would bring the world they saw back to their people. It is not every Nation's responsibility to liberate places such as this. Instead it is our responsibility to show them the way and to offer refuge from such suffrage through sharing technologies that we take for granted. Africa is a continent filled with resources. Education is the key to these people gaining their freedom. Religious missions may bring hope and peace to there hearts, but skills and education is what such people need in order to gain free thought to build a better world around them. In almost every modern nation, the invention of labor reducing machinery freed many people from having to do such harsh labor intensive jobs. Perhaps instead of just food drops and refuge camps we as westerners could instead offer our knowledge as a solution. That is just my own thoughts on the matter.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      Great post, Matt Hudson!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  20. Urafkntool

    I'm tired of hearing about slavery. It's old hash and people need to get over it. The Assyrian Empire (which was a pagan empire) had slaves. Pagan Egypt had slaves. Nubia had slaves. The vikings, celts, mongolians, everyone over the history of time has both had slaves and been enslaved. Now the time is to get the hell over it. Period.

    March 31, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Cq

      You're forgetting that lots of Christians had slaves. The Bible obviously didn't speak out against it very hard because they would have given them up at the very beginning. Christians decided to stop slavery because the Enlightenment, the dawning of modern free thought and even atheism, began exploring the equality of all humans. The Christians who became interested struggled to find justification for abolition in the Bible, but were "outgunned" passage -wise by the pro-slavery camp, which is why it was such a hard struggle.

      Like the health care story at the top of the list here in Belief Blog the Bible, and Jesus' example, can be used to justify pretty much any position you care to, which makes it pretty useless, doesn't it?

      March 31, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Rscan

      I'm sick of it too, and so much is religious based, and so much goes on yet today. I'd like to give the skeptics and scientists the helm for the next 6-7000 years, if we can survive that long as a species. History, or science, has already proved that DNA is much more persistent than humanity or religion across the eons of time and space. Those dna guys are curious little bug.gers. Were they mentioned in the good book?

      Morning Cq.

      March 31, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      None of you can read. AT ONE POINT, EVERYONE, IN EVERY COUNTRY, IN EVERY EMPIRE, IN EVERY CITY-STATE, HAD SLAVES OR WERE SLAVES. Now, it no longer happens. Get over it. I'm sick of the mainstream media forcing white guilt down our throats.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Reality

      "Now, it (slavery) no longer happens."

      Actually, it does. For example:

      Contemporary Islam and slavery:

      "Dr. Abdul-Latif Mushtahari, the general supervisor and director of ho-miletics and guidance at the Azhar University, has said on the subject of justifications for Islamic permission of slavery:[124]

      "Islam does not prohibit slavery but retains it for two reasons. The first reason is war (whether it is a civil war or a foreign war in which the captive is either killed or enslaved) provided that the war is not between Muslims against each other – it is not acceptable to enslave the violators, or the offenders, if they are Muslims. Only non-Muslim captives may be enslaved or killed. The second reason is the se-xual propagation of slaves which would generate more slaves for their owner."

      "Saudi Arabia is a destination for men and women from South and East Asia and East Africa trafficked for the purpose of labor exploitation, and for children from Yemen, Afghanistan, and Africa trafficking for forced begging. Hundreds of thousands of low-skilled workers from India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, and Kenya migrate voluntarily to Saudi Arabia; some fall into conditions of involuntary servitude, suffering from physical and se-xual abuse, non-payment or delayed payment of wages, the withholding of travel docu-ments, restrictions on their freedom of movement and non-consensual contract alterations. The Government of Saudi Arabia does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.[134]"

      March 31, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Urafkntool

      okay Reality, now also realize I'm discussing the civilized, developed world, not the third world trash. I could care less what third worlders do to each other. In Europe, the US, and Canada, it's gone. Period.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • Lorraine

      Urafkntool, It all just proves that the adverage person, and people in general are innately, and just plain LAZY, and wants someone to do what they should get off their own butts to do. Unbelievable, I once had a cousin who said if she became rich, that she wants wippers when she is done doing her business. This is absolute crazy, lazy.

      March 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Reality

      From MSNBC:

      "In Europe alone, officials estimate that more than 200,000 women and girls — one-quarter of all women trafficked globally — are smuggled out of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics each year, the bulk of whom end up working as enslaved prosti-tutes. Almost half are transported to Western Europe. Roughly a quarter end up in the United States. Human rights activists say the numbers do not tell the full story, because most women remain silent rather than turn to frequently corrupt authorities for help."

      April 1, 2012 at 12:44 am |
    • Urafkntool

      @Reality: A smart man once said "100% of statistics are made up." I honestly don't believe the number is nearly that high. There would be no women LEFT in Europe after just a few years if that were the case. No doubt there's human trafficking left in the world. Very little of it goes to anywhere civilized. Most of it ends up in places like Thailand or subsaharan Africa.

      April 1, 2012 at 1:49 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.