Carlson Religionwashes Slavery

Another great example of religionwashing, this time from Tucker Carlson. One of the other ways history is religionwashed is by pointing to Christians who helped end [fill in something bad] while ignoring the fact that Christians also helped maintain and protect [bad thing]. Slavery is a textbook example.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Sunday declared that all slavery in the world had been eradicated thanks to the Christian faith.

At the National Prayer Breakfast last week, conservatives accused President Barack Obama of comparing Christianity to the Islamic terrorist group ISIS when he observed that many religions had been used to justify violence throughout history.

“So we’re responsible for the Crusades a thousand years ago?” Carlson complained. “Who’s ‘us’ anyway? And by the way, who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King. Christians.”

“Christianity is the reason we don’t have slavery in the world today,” he added. “I mean, talk about ahistorical.”

Yes, there were Christians who helped fight slavery and were a big part of the abolition movement, but they tended to be part of minority, liberal denominations that were roundly condemned by the majority of Christians, like Unitarians and Quakers. This claim completely ignores the fact that slavery was justified largely on the basis of Christianity and the Bible (in this country, at least; other nations used Islam or other faiths to justify it). For instance, this is what Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, said in his famous Cornerstone speech:

“[T]he first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society … With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so.

It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of His ordinances, or to question them. For His own purposes, He has made one race to differ from another, as He has made “one star to differ from another star in glory.” The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to His laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws.”

The white supremacy that helped maintain and justify the Jim Crow laws and segregation? Also Christianity. The KKK? A Christian organization. The primary argument against giving women the right to vote? Christianity. But this is how Christian apologists whitewash history. In each of those battles, you can find some Christians on the right side of history, so Christianity gets all the credit and none of the blame. In 20 or 30 years, they’ll be pointing to Gene Robinson, Jim Wallis and Bishop Tutu as proof that it was Christians that brought equality to gay people, ignoring the obvious fact that it was Christianity that was responsible for their oppression in the first place.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • eric

    MLK ended slavery? I guess he borrowed Darwin’s time-travel machine.

  • mmfwmc

    I like the concept, but I think “Godwashing” sounds better.

  • Artor

    “I mean, talk about ahistorical…”

    Yes, Tucker, you ignorant dipshit, let’s talk about that. How about the fact that there still is slavery in the world. More now, in fact, than there ever was, even before the Civil War.

    http://www.alternet.org/story/142171/there_are_more_slaves_today_than_at_any_time_in_human_history/

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    …ignoring the obvious fact that it was Christianity that was responsible for their oppression in the first place.

    Hardly. The real vicitims are all those Christians who have all that disgusting, sexy, gayhomo man-on-man hot mansex shoved down their throats! Who will mourn for them? Where will the Straight Pride floats run, covered in bibles and topped with a symbolic Christian huddled in the corner, refusing to sell a homocouple a wedding cake, tears streaming down his face, masturbating furiously?

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    Christianity is the reason we don’t have slavery in the world today

    He’s also incredibly ignorant if he actually believes that slavery no longer exists in the world.

  • Loqi

    And by the way, who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King.

    Martin Luther King ended slavery? Was he borrowing Obama’s time machine?

  • Loqi

    Guess I shouldn’t leave the page unrefreshed for hours at a time, lest I make an identical comment to eric.

  • Loqi

    Co-host Ainsley Earhardt said that Obama’s remarks were “completely inappropriate” because there were many evangelical Christians at the National Prayer Breakfast.

    “Know your audience,” she recommended. “No one expected the Inquisition to be mentioned at the National Prayer Breakfast.”

    The joke writes itself.

  • eric

    @6 – well, you used a different time machine. Though when it comes to fundie ahistorical blamestorming, I think my Darwin time machine is to your Obama time machine what the Tardis is to Bill and Ted’s phone booth. :)

  • LightningRose

    Huckabee has been making the same claims, which is double plus ironic considering he is an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Convention, founded in 1845 to (in part) promote slavery.

  • lofgren

    I hate this man out of all proportion to his worth.

  • http://reasondecrystallized.blogspot.com andrew

    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win, then their children claim it was their idea all along.”

    –David Malki

  • otrame

    Modus, I know I’ve said this before, but I love you.

  • illdoittomorrow

    “So we’re responsible for the Crusades a thousand years ago?” Carlson complained.

    Well… yeah. Who do you think actually, y’know, went on those things in the first place?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    otrame “Modus, I know I’ve said this before, but I love you.”

    And I’ve said this before, but the Restraining Order specifies 500 feet.

  • theignored

    Ok, a more relevant post. The true relationship between xianity and slavery:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20130122043445/http://www.worldfuturefund.org/wffmaster/Reading/Religion/slavery.htm

  • theignored

    I wish I could edit my post. My first sentence above will make no sense unless one has seen my post on a different topic.

  • had3

    My recollection is that the Vatican was the last holder of slaves in Europe. But they probably don’t count as true Christians.

  • marcus

    @ 17 theignored Did you say something?

  • heddle

    eric,

    MLK ended slavery? I guess he borrowed Darwin’s time-travel machine.

    The money quote from whoever this guy is:

    who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King. Christians.

    it seems pretty clear, right or wrong, that he is giving MLK credit for ending Jim Crow, not slavery.

    • LightningRose

      Heddle, clarity has never been one of your strengths.

  • heddle

    LightningRose

    Heddle, clarity has never been one of your strengths.

    Oh, good one! Clearly incisive criticism is one of your strengths!

    So tell me, oh sage of clear thinking, are you going on record as affirming that as far as

    who ended slavery and Jim Crow? Christians. The Rev. Martin Luther King. Christians.

    the clearer explanation is that he was crediting MLK with ending slavery as opposed to ending Jim Crow? Are you? Or are you just blowing smoke?

  • U Frood

    If that were a written statement, I’d agree that Carlson’s words were poorly phrased. As part of a discussion, it works well enough. He started out just saying Christians solved those two problems, then thought of a specific example and mentioned it, even though King was only instrumental in fixing one of them.

  • U Frood

    Since there weren’t many people publicly calling themselves atheists at the time, of course the people who ended slavery and the blatantly racist laws were Christian (or claimed to be so), just like the people who implemented slavery and passed those laws to begin with.