Carlson Religionwashes Slavery

Carlson Religionwashes Slavery February 10, 2015

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.


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