Is there a link between Christianity and slavery?

Discussing morality is always fun – coming to a conclusion is the farthest thought from your mind, you hear some of the zaniest arguments ever and logic, for the most part, is irrelevant.

Seldom do I expect discussions about morality to turn incredibly sour, but it happens.

Take, for instance, a conversation I recently had with my friend on the role of the church during slavery. His argument seemed to defend slavery.

My friend was relying on the Bible and faith. I, on the other hand, used what I had learned from research for an African-American history course.

I argued, quite reasonably, that while certain Christian sects aided slaves in their quest for freedom, in general the church was dangerously indifferent, vile and counterintuitive to what I believe the overall purpose of the Christian Church was – providing equality for all under God.

I gave facts as to how the church actually contributed to and benefited from slavery; how religion, in some cases, was used to make slaves more obedient; how slaves were still discriminated against even after conversion.

My friend, possibly bewildered by the barrage of arguments, might have posited one of the most ridiculous claims ever. He said, “Had it not been for slavery, Africans would have never been introduced to Christianity.” By implication, of course, we can conclude that slavery must have been a good thing. At that point, several of our other friends in the room actually considered the preposterous conjecture. I thought to myself, it is time to get new friends, immediately.

Logic of this sort is not new. In fact, several people have actually made similar claims.

African-American reverend and author Earl Carter argued in his book, “No Apology Necessary,” that Europeans need not apologize to people of African descent for two reasons: (1) God instituted slavery due to Africans’ pagan idolatry and (2) importation to the New World eventually resulted in the Christianization of African slaves.

David Horowitz, a conservative author and political commentator, actually argues that had it not been for the slave trade and slavery, Africans would still be heathen and would not enjoy the benefits of living in America.

Essentially, the problem with this logic is that it is utterly fallacious and grossly assumptive. While slavery did introduce Africans to Christianity, I’m pretty sure there were many other ways this could have happened. Christianity could have developed similarly to how it developed in European countries – through warfare, crusades and civil strife, for example.

Moreover, this argument presumes that the Christianization of Africans was a good thing. Some, like myself, can argue that any imposed institution (including religion) is negative to the individual because it impedes freedom of thought. Concluding that this process was positive is questionable.

It is difficult to defend an institution that you desperately believe stands on the right side of justice. Some Christians like to believe that the church can do no harm. Therefore, ridiculous arguments are made in defense of the church against the egregious acts they have committed in the past (and present).

Here is what I say – bite the bullet and accept that your religion is as fallible as the Colts in Week 13 of the playoffs.