Bryan Fischer Lies About Slavery and the Bible

Bryan Fischer on a recent show claimed that the kind of slavery practiced in America was a capital crime under the Old Testament law. In order to make that case he has to tell the lie that nearly all people like him tell, pretending that the rules for Hebrew servants in Exodus applied to all slaves. Here’s the video:

He’s quoting Exodus 21, which deals only with Hebrew servants, their fellow Israelites. Under the Mosaic law, they had to be treated with kindness and could not be bought or sold. And they had to be released every 7 years during the year of jubilee. But that has nothing to do with non-Israelite slaves. That is regulated by Leviticus 25:

44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

He also doesn’t mention other verses in Exodus 21, which says the slaveowner can beat his slaves nearly to death without punishment:

20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

So as long as they don’t die immediately, they can be beaten to within an inch of their life. But remember, “God is love” or some such rot. And by the way, if Fischer were right, wouldn’t that mean that Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and the other slave-owning founding fathers that Fischer claims were good Christian men should have been put to death?

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  • donkensler

    Don’t introduce logic into the conversation, it only confuses him.

  • alanb

    Also: If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. -Exodus 21:7

  • secular1004

    16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death

    The “kind” of slavery in America, was a crime punishable by death because the slaves were stolen/kidnapped. As opposed to the “kind” of slavery where the slaves volunteered……what an ass! Only reinforces how people will twist and spin everything they can to make it fit in the book they so desperately want to be the world’s moral guide.

  • rabbitscribe

    After a century and a half, the go-to resource remains Confederate R L Dabney’s Defense of Virginia.

    The book is extremely frustrating and not historically reliable. However, his biblical defense of every aspect of ante-bellum slavery is simply incontrovertible. Chapters 5 & 6 address the matter in minutest detail, including the biblical arguments set forth by Abolitionists; these are soundly refuted. Nowhere does the bible condemn the institution of slavery.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I’m sure that Christian theologians have an explanation for how the Christian Fulfillment of the Mosaic Code made the permissions you cited moot but left the verses he cites.

    Now all he has to do is explain how the theologians of the Southern evangelical branches that disagreed with Fisher’s current interpretation [1] were heretics, despite being the revered founders of the churches that most of his listeners belong to.

    [1] and the ones he cites as authorities on so much else, being his direct predecessors — remember, we’re supposed to defer to their greater authority, being closer to the Revelation than we are and all that.

  • Larry

    To be a xtian like Fischer and justify the total evil your religion represents, you have to twist yourself into knots so tight, Houdini, himself, wouldn’t be able to escape from them.

  • raven

    As already noted, releasing Hebrew slaves after 7 years only applied to males. Females were slaves forever.

    In Exodus, it says it’s all right to sell your kids as sex slaves if you need a few bucks. Even the US Confederates didn’t do that. Their white kids anyway. We know many of their slaves were their kids with black women.

  • Modusoperandi

    So the War of Northern Aggression was good, now?

  • colnago80

    Re raven @ #7

    Including the 6 that ole Thomas Jefferson had with Sally Hemmings.

  • steve oberski

    From the Autobiography of Mark Twain Volume 1, page 212:

    In my schoolboy days I had no aversion to slavery. I was not aware that there was anything wrong about it. No one arraigned it in my hearing; the local papers said nothing against it; the local pulpit taught us that God approved it, that it was a holy thing, and that the doubter need only look in the Bible if he wished to settle his mind – and then the texts were read aloud to us to make the matter sure; if the slaves themselves had an aversion to slavery they were wise and said nothing.

    And while no atheist, Twain was most definitely not a theist, coming across as a universe as life force sort of deist in his autobiography, but makes Dawkins and Hitchens look like pikers when it comes to tearing a strip off of organized religions.

  • D. C. Sessions

    As already noted, releasing Hebrew slaves after 7 years only applied to males. Females were slaves forever.

    Well, it’s not like he’d be able to sell her as a bride after that now, would he?

    This is generally explained as being for the benefit of the woman, who would be guaranteed a home etc. for the rest of her life. Which is sick and misogynistic, but might even have been true given the sick and misogynistic society surrounding it. In other words, the best of a menu of very bad alternatives.

  • tuibguy

    I don’t know if a slave beaten within an inch of their life would recover within one to two days, however there is no punishment specified for those who take 3 or more days to recover. Would that be a capital crime?

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne


    Ed is citing the New International Version. Most translations of this verse, however, make it not about recovery, but about survival, e.g. “if the slave survives a day or two” (Revised Standard Version), “If the party remain alive a day or two” (Douay-Rheims), “If he remain a day, or two days” (Young’s Literal Translation). The original verb literally means “stand”, but is elsewhere used metaphorically to mean things like “endure”, “continue”, “remain”. In my experience this verse is usually interpreted to mean that the beating is punishable only if it’s severe enough to kill the slave within the first two days.

  • dingojack

    The King James* translates it as:

    20 And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.

    21 Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.

    Can anyone confirm the original Hebrew?



    * The Bible as God and Jesus spoke it. @@

  • D. C. Sessions

    In my experience this verse is usually interpreted to mean that the beating is punishable only if it’s severe enough to kill the slave within the first two days.

    In other words, he didn’t die of traumatic shock or intracranial bleeding. After that, he might have a decent chance as long as he avoided infections. Obviously, infectious disease was the Will of God.

  • sundoga

    ModusOperandi @8 – So, who really thinks the War of Southern Aggression was a bad thing?

  • steffp


    {כא אַךְ אִם-יוֹם אוֹ יוֹמַיִם, יַעֲמֹד–לֹא יֻקַּם, כִּי כַסְפּוֹ הוּא. {ס}

    which Google translates to

    “But if – a day or two, he set – arose not because money is.”

  • steffp
  • dingojack

    steffp – thanks for the great source (to go back to the first page, in case anyone else is interested).

    Google Translate gives ‘יַעֲמֹד’ as arise when considered by itself. So a rough translation would be:

    ‘If in a day or two he [the slave] does not rise, he [the master] shall abide because he [the slave] is property’.

    Or something like that.


  • eric

    Great defense there, Fischer. Even if you were right (you’re not), saying that the bible supports a more limited form of slavery is saying the bible supports slavery.

  • sharonb

    Which leaves out the entire New Testament repetitions of “Slaves, obey your masters.”

    Roman slavery.


    Not Israelite slavery.


  • lorn

    Try to keep in mind that Christianity is a religion of peace.