Yesterday (Oct. 13) on his radio program, American Family Association spokesman, Bryan Fischer claimed Muslims were responsible for slavery in America. Today, he followed up on the theme by saying that the Tea Party was responsible for ending it. Here’s a transcript of today’s remarks (you can hear them in the video at left as well):
So the people who brought slavery to an end, the Tea Partiers, evangelicals; they are the ones; that’s the type of American that brought slavery to an end. Why? Because we rejected Sharia law and its legitimization of slavery and we said, “look. uh, slavery, the slave trade is wrong. It is pernicious. It’s wicked. It’s evil for people to be bought and sold like that; like chattel. It’s a horrible offense against God and against His law.” It was evangelical Christians that led the drive to abolish slavery. Don’t ever forget that. That’s a moment for which we, the evangelicals of the church of Jesus Christ can be justly and rightly proud. Don’t let anybody take you away from that. The credit for the abolition of slavery goes to evangelical Christians.
I wonder if that credit includes the Southern Baptist Convention? You know, the folks who broke away from the other Baptists because they supported slavery and who didn’t even apologize for their role in defending it (and the Jim Crow racism that followed emancipation) until 1995. There were evangelicals on both sides of the issue but even the ones who fought against it were hardly alone in the matter as Fischer implies. Nor were the religious the only ones involved in the battle. One of the first pamphlets to attack slavery published in America was written by Thomas Paine just before the Revolutionary War (which, incidently, marked the last time there was a “Tea Party movement” in this country until 2009). Paine’s principles were those of the Enlightenment, a humanist movement. So were those of another early abolitionist, John Jay, who later became the first chief justice of the Supreme Court. In fact, a good case can be made that religious and secular opposition to slavery were both derived from Renaissance Humanism (I’ll have to do an article on this some day).
Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation, never formally belonged to any church and, while the Confederate army that defended the slave-holders was almost entirely composed of evangelicals, the Union army (which, I think, played some role in stamping out slavery) certainly wasn’t. As for Fischer’s claim that Muslims were responsible for American slavery? Phht! That’s too stupid to even address.
The problem is, it’s not too stupid for many evangelicals to believe. Nor, apparently, is any of the rest of the hate-filled nonsense that Fischer and his employers spew. If it were, the American Family Association, a right-wing religious lobbying group with a $14 million yearly budget, wouldn’t have the influence it has. It wouldn’t have the wherewithal to sponsor Rick Perry’s political prayer-a-thons or lobby against equal rights and hate-crime legislation or for the criminalization of homosexuality. If it were, the intolerant bigotry about Mormons, Catholics, gay “nazis,” American Indians, liberals, etc. (watch 4 minutes of hate from the religious right), that comes out of Bryan Fischer’s mouth, would get him shunned instead of invited to values voters summits and political forums.
But neither Fischer or the AFA are shunned. It is scary how so many evangelicals so highly value the authority of tribal leaders like these that what they say is regarded as gospel and believed in the face of all evidence to the contrary. It is even scarier that they vote as if it were gospel and completely horrifying that they are raising their children to value authority over the ability to reason and the fantastic over any real world fact that doesn’t support their prejudice.
(Thanks and a tip of the Hatlo hat to Right Wing Watch for some of the links)
For those who do value real world facts, here’s a short list of resources on the role religion played in American slavery:
Slavery in the United States (Wikipedia)
The Bible and Slavery (Wikipedia)
Noah’s Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Amazon.com)
19th Century Pro-Slavery Arguments (Frederick Douglass Resource Page)
Dr. Richard Furman’s Exposition of The Views of the Baptists, Relative to the Coloured Population in the United States, 1838 (Pro-slavery. Frederick Douglass Resource Page)
A Condensed Anti-Slavery Bible Argument; By A Citizen of Virginia (George Bourne 1780-1845)
If you enjoy my articles, you can click on “subscribe” at the top of the page and you’ll receive notice when new ones are published.