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. Don

    The Holy books of the Jews, Christians and Muslims are full of many wonderfully humane passages. They are also full of many horribly cruel passages. We pick and choose what we want to believe or follow. In the 21st century, we know the difference between good and evil conduct and have no further need of these "sacred", outmoded and archaic texts.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Paul

      In other words, the Bible (specifically) records life. Why is that hard to understand? Shall we open up the same annals of irreligious history and look at the "horribly cruel passages"? I bet you wouldn't want that, because it's much more bloody than anything in the Bible.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Benny

      Exactly. Why still stake our whole perspective on outdated books full of indisputable errors and racism?

      Sure, the earth is the center of the universe. Sure the sun can stop in the middle of the sky so an army can have more time to slaughter its enemies. How long must we even have to revisit these ignorant, fantastic texts?

      March 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • plucky

      So the bible is the true and perfect word of god because you can find some history somewhere that is more gruesome?

      March 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Leo

      Don, to claim "They are also full of many horribly cruel passages." you error greatly in the use of the word full, for there are areas of Judgement and revenge upon evil wicked peoples, but that provides us all with a clear understanding that in the end God will finally put an end to the evils perpetrated by MAN.

      Read the bible and you will find Grace, forgivness, Hope, and Love and hopefully last of all salvation the faith in Jesus the Messiah!

      March 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • plucky

      I'm sure the world is full of atheist that have read the bible (and they usually know it better than "religious" people) and not found Grace, forgivness, Hope, and Love and hopefully last of all salvation the faith in Jesus the Messiah!"

      March 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Paul

      Plucky, no, it's the true word of God, because it is. It's stood the test of time in every aspect of life. The original author was lowering its value based on what he called cruel history. What he forgets is that God is a just God and that oftentimes does not bode well with those who don't respect or love Him. They will find out some day that He was right when they are judged by Him.

      Atheists (and anyone) who reads the Bible and doesn't find forgiveness, peace, etc. only does so because they choose not to believe it. It's available for all. But each person must believe themselves. History affords some atheists that DID believe and who found peace in their hearts and forgiveness of sins. I think of C. S. Lewis and Lee Strobel off the top of my head. But many more could be given.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Anon

      The bible is just another ancient book of myths AKA telephone game for the delusional.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • JD

      Haha you "know" the difference between Good and Evil? Please inform us. Where do you think you got your presuppositions for good and evil sir? Whether you admit it or not, Biblical morality pervades western society, don't get on your high horse and condemn the Book just yet.

      March 29, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Anon

      Lighting a bible on fire can give warmth during winder. 🙂

      March 30, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  2. Paul

    And what force was the greatest behind the eradication of slavery? Bingo! Christianity. Folks who bash the Bible for "allowing slavery" seem to forget that elephant in the room.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • plucky

      You don't get to claim your religion is the one true religion because it might be on the correct moral side now and then.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Paul

      But I can claim it to be the true one if it is always on the right side or moral issues, and it is. Christianity, and Jesus Christ, specifically, is the only answer to the moral problems of the world.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • mike w

      @Paul "
      "But I can claim it to be the true one if it is always on the right side or moral issues,"

      Let's see how history judges how Christianity has dealt with gay rights and marriage in another 50-100 years. I'm pretty sure folks will see the religion for what it is – corrupt and evil.

      Don't forget that Jefferson Davis used Christianity to defend slavery during abolition.

      That SOME Christians were decent human beings and abolitionists doesn't change the fact that the religion itself and its dogma can be used as a tool of oppression.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  3. Ladervijd


    March 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Ladervijd

      There are various aspects to that. About how life was at that time, about social culture at that time, and about economics at that time. E.g. ancient Rome, there were Citizens, and there were non-Citizens living basically on property of state, and of citizens. But yes, 'slavery' in the sense of exploiting a human being/s e.g. for own profit and/or satisfaction or such is wrong, in the sense of any human being or even living being regardless of legal status.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  4. reason

    The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil deities to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place. Looking at organized religion objectively, they are myths from stone age societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

    Rationally speaking if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you lived your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your case.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Jon

      You are the man. Now good luck convincing the 5 billion religious delusional people out there to believe that.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Leo

      There are a lot of elements of Christianity that other religions share. In example Christianity starts with the foundation in the belief in God, as do many other religions especially the other monotheistic religions. Please notice the kind of God I am talking about here is not some force in the universe as is believed in many of the eastern religions, but rather a God that is a person, and this person is different from that which he created. So it isn’t that everything is God which is the case with pantheism of the eastern religions, but again this God created something separate from himself and there is a clear distinction of the two. Part of what he created are personal beings, part of which are human beings in particular and in addition you have all the animals. Human beings are separate and unique from all other creatures. These previous points once again are believed by many religions, but there are also many religions that don’t make this clear distinction as with some forms of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and others which believe in the transmigration of the soul through reincarnation from humans to animals and vice versa.
      When it comes to Christianity and Judaism God has created human beings as unique and special made in some sense in his image which sets them distinctly apart from all other creatures. There is another observation that can be made of human beings and that is that humans can be both noble and cruel. There is a certain nobility and dignity of human beings that sets him above the animal kingdom, which we can find in the great works of art they produce and the humanitarian gestures that are performed. On the other hand they can be very cruel and there is also something twisted and broken about human beings, so we have this anomaly. The Christian and biblical world view helps us makes sense of this for man in the beginning was made in the image of God with noble characteristics, but through rebellion against God something happened and something got broken and something got twisted. This twisted and broken human being leads to a twisted and broken world.
      There is however great hope for God did not just leave it at that though he might have if he so willed, but rather out of love he reached down to mankind with a rescue effort. This rescue effort was not for him to toss some teaching our way and hope we would live better lives, but rather Gods rescue effort is that he came down himself to communicate in the most clear form possible his intentions and desires, and to make a sacrificial provision for pardon for mans crimes against God. So the incarnation of God becoming a man through Jesus is unique, and what Jesus did was take the penalty of the crimes of man upon himself so that human beings could be freed. He took the rap for the crimes against God, so that those that trust in him then could receive the pardon that the Father offered. This is another unique element, not only does God come down and reach out to man, but he gives him a free pardon of his crimes. The solution to the problem is not in making man better so as to make up for past deeds, for that doesn’t work. The solution is grace, it is an act of unmerited mercy on God’s part. It is not by any moral behavior that we qualify for salvation, it is actually our crimes against God that qualify us for his pardon and rescue. It is a pardon that God is willing to do graciously as we respond to that gift.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Anon

      You're all screwed up in the head.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Leo

      You probably didn't even read it.... so wise in your judgements...

      March 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Anon

      The mythological mo'fo known as Jesus means nothing to me, he's just another sick cruel joke for humanity.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm |


      March 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  5. Nebron

    Inequality will NEVER end.........slavery is part of which........with or without religion, slavery & supremacy exist.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  6. Leo

    The truth is we are all slaves in one way or another, slaves to sin, slaves to greed, slaves to lust, slaves to the evil one or slaves to the Almighty God!

    I will gladly be a slave to Jesus Christ for though this world has grown evil and dark the Day of the Lord is coming quickly!!

    March 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Anon

      Nothing to see here, just another mental slave for mythological Jesus.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Paul

      Anon is probably such because they don't want to be identified with poor scholarship. Jesus was real. No true scholar disputes that.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Anon

      There is zero archeological evidence for the mo'fo (pun intended) known as Jesus.
      If apologists (religious and secular) were to admit that, they'll be out of a job.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  7. reason

    To the commentor who thinks atheism is just another religion, you should watch this video:


    March 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • plucky

      Very funny and spot-on.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • steve

      brilliant video, thanks for posting that

      March 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  8. nomi

    The writer mentions there may be acts of oppression happening nowadays because they're being justified by religion.

    Hehem. Gays not having the same marriage rights maybe? *cough*

    March 29, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • First & Last

      If men can create things, why is it so hard to accept that God created men?

      March 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Anon

      Ancient zealous men created the Abrahamic god of the three desert blood cults.
      Those ancient mo'fos made something far worse than nuclear weapons.

      March 29, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  9. Anon

    Christians are mental slaves.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Leo

      We are Faithful Slaves!! To the Creator of the Universe! Jesus the Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords!!

      March 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Anon

      Mythological Jesus is basically "Dear Leader" from North Korea.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  10. Qubee

    Religion is great, but it's not exactly a "beacon of light". it gives the instigators control over people. In Papua New Guinea the men give their "milk" to the young boys to make them attain "manhood", all in the name of religion (60,000 years old, by the way). Anybody ready for some "milk" in the name of Christianity?

    March 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Tom Robson

      Young catholic boys are already quite familiar with the concept, I believe

      March 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  11. † In God We Trust †

    Christianity means freedom and love. That's why we have ni dietary law, no clothing law, no strict sabbath law, excellent holiday and calendar, great culture, love and fun! GOD BLESS CHRISTIANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • plucky

      We already have words for freedom and love.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Tom Robson

      No strict sabbath law? Come on man, if you're going to troll, at least be less blatant. Nobody likes an obvious troll.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      If Christians had strict sabbath law, that means 80% of the retail stores wouldn't be able to work on Sundays, and therefore they would be required to remain closed.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

      Your own bible tells you not to work on the sabbath.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Also, cite your source that 80% of retail stores are "christian" stores.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Since the majority of Americans are Christians (80%), that mean retail store employees at any given store are mainly Christians. If we had strict sabbath observing, that mean most stores would have been forced to be closed on Sundays!

      March 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      No they would choose to close their stores on sunday. And a correlation between the population that "identifies" as christian, and the number of people who own businesses are not correlative. By your logic, 12.6% of businesses are owned by blacks, and 16.3% of businesses are owned by Hispanic or Latinos. Also by your logic, New York City (with 8million+ people) Should be the most christian city in the country, with it's laws, crime rates, etc. reflecting that.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Also, keep in mind that the christian leasership determined that the "Mosaic Laws" do not apply to Christians, even though jesus "reportedly" said that the laws of moses still applied to all who followed him.

      EXODUS 31:15
      15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whoever does any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

      According to what you say you believe, there is a very strict law concerning the sabbath.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  12. wavejump1100

    i believe in god. i dont believe in religion. i think religion is just a way to control people. control people and also explain what long ago was unexplained. now we have science. i believe in science. i also believe that god created the laws of science.
    i find some of the nicest people i know dont go to church, yet some of the nastiest most mean spirited people i know attend church every week. its almost as if they feel they can get away with being a bad person as long as they go to church. i think they are wrong.

    March 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Qubee

      Without religion, the concept of God is completely useless. Which should give you a clue.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • plucky

      I like your post.
      Now about this god thing... Wouldn't it be better to just say you (and we) don't know how the universe got here?

      March 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Qubee

      Religion is great, but it's not eactly a "beacon of light". it gives the instigators control over people. In Papua New Guinea the men give their "milk" to the young boys to make them attain "manhood", all in the name of religion (60,000 years old, by the way). Anybody ready for some "milk" in the name of Christianity?

      March 29, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Delly

      God and religion are quite opposites. Just as water and thirst. We thirst for spirituality due to ur 3 dimensional nature (spirit, sould and body) but it does not mean that water is the only think that can cure thirst. Coke, juices etc are selling more than water. God is like water, you can love him or hate him, duplicate him or shorn Him. His humble anture means that we as man can dominate and opearet this earth without God. But God is not reliegios.
      On to the question of slavery, its really quite silly to think that slavery 2000 years ago is the same. back then they were called slaves, toda they are called staff. Its really quite simple. 4000 years ago you had slaves, now that man has mentally developed, we have found a way to organise society, so that people need not be forced into labour. They have a bit of choice, not total freedom, as they will find out at the end of the month if their rent is not paid.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  13. Qubee

    Religion is backwards, quite stupid (neanderthal was religious!) and absurd. Is it any wonder it is not the "light" people want to believe it is?

    March 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Leo

      Funny how we forget all the good things the Bible teaches Feed the poor, love your neighbor, consider others more important than yourself.

      Matthew 5

      1 When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,

      3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

      5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

      6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

      7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

      8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

      9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

      10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

      11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Anon

      Ironically all that is in spite of the bible and contradictory teachings of mythological Jesus.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Leo

      Too funny!! Jesus has impacted the world more than any other, but only a fool would fall for the claim he is a myth.

      He died for your sins and was risen from the dead, the good news is that is for even you!!

      March 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Anon

      Well what can I expect from forced religious childhood indoctrination. It's either submit or suffer.
      Screw mythological Jesus, even a circus clown can do better.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  14. LouAz

    All religions currently practice SLAVERY OF THE MIND.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  15. Ted

    Then again Christianity is one of the most evil organizations to operate on the face of the earth.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Go to h.ell with your Anti-Christian bigot

      March 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Anon


      March 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  16. Ted

    Not much have changed. Someone working today from paycheck to paycheck is in slavery. But as in ancient times if they are smart enough, revolt (stop paying) file Bankruptcy or get a higher paying job they too can escape.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  17. pluto

    One man's insane is called crazy, a group of men' insane is called religion. Historically, it is pretty obvious that religion is nothing but the tool used by elites to govern and control their people.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  18. Wiw Smoth

    "A slave who deals wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, and will share the inheritance as one of the brothers." -Proverbs 17:2

    Seek to understand what "slavery" means first in a situation, then criticize.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  19. † In God We Trust †

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things..............

    † Atheism is a religion that makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things (90% of silly comments here are posted by closet Atheists)
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate!
    **Only 2-3% of the U.S. are Atheists/Agnostics VS. over 90% who believe in God (80% Christians) in the U.S.**

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††

    March 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Qubee

      Please report this loonie as "abuse". Hopefully we'll get rid of this stupid troll..

      March 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Eltrip

      Keep your sunny side up.

      March 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Ted

      You sound possessed. See an exorcist.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Lilarose1941

      You are missing some brain matter in your head. Do you neglect your family, your job, and yourself for your strange religious idealogies?

      March 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Jim Neumann

      Hi "In God We Trust,"

      As a fellow believer, I appreciate your faith and share your disavowal of atheism; however, I do not believe this post of yours is a healthy or Christlike way to approach this matter. The Bible says to "Speak the truth in love." There is no love in any of these comments. Moreover, atheists are mostly not dumb people, nor are they many of the other things you've said. They may be wrong, but please remember THEY ARE HUMAN...the only difference between you (and me) and them is the difference Christ has (or hasn't made).

      March 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • wavejump1100

      not only are you wrong, you are also brainwashed.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Brian

      Believers do not feed this troll. All its comments are very unChristian.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Anon

      Nope, they're very christian-like.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • † In God We Trust †

      Tell me one thing that I mentioned is false? NOTHING! Be honest and tell me from your heart.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • ToleranceDemanded

      1. Atheism is not a religion. It is the opposite of that. Religions or the lack thereof do not make one stupid.
      2. Atheism is also not a disease. It is simply a system of belief (or disbelief), as is Christianity.
      3. It is difficult to respond to this point without sarcasm, but once again, a system of beliefs does not make one stupid, nor does it make one post stupid things.
      4. Atheists are neither Gothic nor Satanic, Satanists are Satanic, Goths are Gothic. Atheists are Atheistic.
      5. Atheists do not cause problems, people do.
      6. Atheists are not mentally ill. They have simply chosen a different set of beliefs (or non-beliefs) than you have.
      7. Atheism will not take you to the kingdom of heaven, but Atheists believe that neither will Christianity (nor will anything). Once again, simply a different set of beliefs.
      8. Atheism does not make you agree with anyone. Comparing all Atheists to Stalin is akin to comparing all Christians to Vlad the Impaler.
      9. Being Atheist does not necessitate any lack of family, traditions, or holidays. There are many secular holidays, secular traditions, and, yes, secular families. Everything does not come from religion anymore.
      10. Atheists are no more angry, drug addicted, or criminal than anyone of any other social group. Also, even if this were true, correlation does not imply causation. Ever.
      11. Atheists do not try to convert people any more than you are doing with this post. You have disproved your own point here.
      12. Atheists do exist. So do Buddhists. So do Muslims. Etc.
      13. No more Atheists have had bad childhoods bereft of love than people in any other social group.
      14. Atheists are no more uneducated than people of any other social group. An Atheist could not run for President because of American intolerance, his or her unelectability would have nothing to do with education.
      15. Atheism did not bring about the French Revolution. No one thing brought about the French Revolution, but historians would not include Atheism as a cause. Many revolutionists were Deists, not Atheists.
      16. Neither Atheism nor any other system of beliefs (or dis-beliefs) can explain the origin of the universe. All have explanations, but none can prove theirs.
      17. Atheists generally believe in evolution, but that in no way implies that they do not believe in morality or in behaving like animals.
      18. Atheists do not believe in the Bible. Neither do Buddhists. Or Hindus. Also, many Christians would concede that the Bible, although divinely inspired, cannot be infallible as it is written by man and compiled by the Council of Nicaea.
      19. Countries in which Atheism is prevalent do not necessarily commit more suicides. The number one nation in terms of most suicides, Lithuania, is 79% Catholic.
      20. Your final point, while not germane, is also false, as closer to 15% of US citizens do not identify as religious.

      Your tirade of hurtful, insulting, and narrow-minded generalizations is not appreciated. Christians claim to be kind, compassionate, and tolerant, and none of these things exist in your post. I have endeavored to remain respectful throughout my response, and I hope that no one will find reason to be offended. Also, what numbers I have cited are from Wikipedia, and are therefore suspect. However, should one decide to disbelieve my points on these grounds, I will refer them to my "correlation does not imply causation" argument.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  20. adam

    This writer is not very well researched. The scriptures speak out against oppression in hundreds of places.

    March 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • plucky

      You are cherry picking, sir.

      March 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • mike w

      LOL Adam. That's like saying, "But what about all the GOOD things Hitler did?!"

      March 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Tom Robson

      I take it you've never actually read the bible. Ephesians 6:5 and Colossians 3:22 makes quite the argument to the contrary.

      March 29, 2012 at 8:03 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.