Talk:Slavery and religion

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AfD closure comment: "Keep and stub" means to remove all the uncited content. --Deathphoenix ʕ 21:32, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

Wanted EDITS and Additional Material needing to be added[edit]

Italicised sections are my own personal opinions and should be omitted, the rest is fully referenced and sourced as appropriate.

In this section I am outlining some sections that I wish to see removed and reasons why and also additional detail that needs to be added.

Firstly in the Religion and Slavery section I think the following on Christianity should be added:


"[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts." Jefferson Davis, President, Confederate States of America 1,2


1. Dunbar Rowland quoting Jefferson Davis, in "Jefferson Davis," Volume 1, Page 286

2.Jefferson Davis, "Inaugural Address as Provisional President of the Confederacy," Montgomery, AL, 1861-FEB-18, Confederate States of America, Congressional Journal, 1:64-66. Available at:

The Christian church's main justification of the concept of slavery was based on the "curse of Ham" which appears in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in Genesis 9:25-27.

"Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem."

"This reading of the Book of Genesis merged easily into a medieval iconographic tradition in which devils were always depicted as black. Later pseudo-scientific theories would be built around African skull shapes, dental structure, and body postures, in an attempt to find an unassailable argument--rooted in whatever the most persuasive contemporary idiom happened to be: law, theology, genealogy, or natural science -- why one part of the human race should live in perpetual indebtedness to another." 1

But in ancient times, cursing a whole race into slavery was considered acceptable because it was in the Bible. The American slave owner felt that he was carrying out God's plan by buying and using slaves.

Christians at the time believed that Canaan had settled in Africa and that his descendents had become black.

Although slavery was widespread in Palestine during Jesus' ministry, the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) does not record his opinion of it. Slavery was casually mentioned without criticism in the various books of the Bible. It was accepted as a natural part of life by almost all Christians until the 19th century CE.

Anabaptists started to criticize slavery in the late 17th century. They were joined by Quakers and Mennonites. It was only when John Wesley (1703-1791), founder of the Methodist movement, became concerned about slavery that the small protest became a mass movement for the abolition of slavery.

Slavery is still advocated in North America by some Reconstructionist Christians and a few racist fringe groups within the Christian Identity movement.


1.Anthony Pagden, "The Slave Trade, Review of Hugh Thomas' Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade," The New Republic, 1997-DEC-22, as quoted in Ref. 21.

Quotations from the Bible

Correct and absolute references to the Bible on the use and proliferation of slavery.

"All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them."1

"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them."2





Slavery was sanctioned and carefully regulated by many passages in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) largely in the Pentateuch - its first 5 books. Although slavery was widespread in Palestine during Jesus' ministry, he is not recorded as having expressed any opinion on it. Slavery was casually mentioned without criticism in the various books of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). The authors appeared to accept slavery as a natural condition -- as a universal institution that was not particularly immoral.



Many times throughout the Quran and Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad it states quite clearly that slavery is wrong, that it is an injustice upon man, and except for absolute extreme circumstances, only during times of war, but as a general rule it does not nor has condoned slavery, in fact very much the opposite. Now whatever the individual, religious, secular, corrupt, good, bad or otherwise has done, the sin is on them and not on the religion.

"And what will explain to thee the path that is steep? (It is:) freeing the bondman;"

Quran, 90:12-13.

A direct reference to freeing of a slave which is the path of righteousness.

"The offerings given for the sake of God are [meant] only for the poor and the needy, and those who are in charge thereof, and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and [for] those who are over burdened with debts, and [for every struggle] in God's cause, and [for] the wayfarer: [this is] an ordinance from God - and God is all-knowing, wise."

Quran: 9:60

Again a direct reference by God to free those who are in bondage, bodily and economically. There are many exact references in the Quran to the above one which mention the freeing of slaves, but that alone should suffice. In fact out of the three Abrahamic religions only the Quran survives today with any direct mention of freeing slaves directly, as an act of righteousness and yet it is the one that is arguably most condemned for slavery when it quite clearly condemns it.

Speech of the second Caliph of the Islam Khalifate, companion of the Prophet, Umar:

Caliph `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said in a famous khutbah (speech or sermon) of his, “When did you make the people as slaves or servants of you while Allah, the Almighty, created them free!”

On reference to the Mamelukes of Egypt:

"Furthermore, Muslims were encouraged to manumit slaves as an act of worship. And if all that is not enough to demonstrate the differences between slavery in Islam and elsewhere, remember that the Mamelukes who ruled Egypt for nearly 300 years were slaves who legally belonged to the Islamic state."1


1.Ahmad ibn Naqib Al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveller, trans. Nuh Ha Mim Keller, pp. 458-59

Now I'm not saying that the Bible, Torah or Quran or their fundamental religious beliefs advocated slavery, because mostly those who used the religious sources to claim such beliefs did so with a warped understanding of what they were reading. But nevertheless time and time again, I come across articles and complete rubbish that is so biased against Islam, simple misunderstandings that a quick google search could put straight that it boggles the mind. Yes there is a propaganda war out there, and the western nations and many people are obligingly obedient when it comes to misinformation passed off as truth, but a certain balance in proceedings would be nice.

So before you slam another religion for that which you could lambast at your own read from your own Book and understand:

‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)" (talk) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:44, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

Appropriateness of this article[edit]

This article appears to have a lot of original research and original synthesis of ideas, as well as large chunks of possible POV problems. I wasn't able to read through it all in one sitting, which (for Wikipedia) makes it a bit too long. I strongly suggest that this entire article is overhauled as it desperately needs it. אמר Steve Caruso (poll) 14:51, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

This article is hopeless in its current form. People keep throwing in more unsourced material and it's not worth the flak to revert it because it's all in the same poor state anyways. - Merzbow 05:46, 30 June 2006 (UTC)
At this rate, I've nominated it for deletion. It's become too convoluted, unsourced, and originally researched. אמר Steve Caruso (desk/poll) 17:00, 30 June 2006 (UTC)


Stubbed as per the consensus on this article's Afd here, and per CrazyRussian's suggestion to me here. - Merzbow 20:54, 3 July 2006 (UTC)

I cut the christian stuff out of the history and pasted it into Christianity and Slavery. In addition, I have cut out some of the more egregious POV/OR, and am starting to cite what is left. Any help would be appreciated. - Francis Tyers · 13:12, 28 September 2006 (UTC)

[about Judaism/Christianity and Slavery] I think the article on slavery and religion misrepresents the entire picture on religion and slavery by leaving out critical verses.

Exodus called for death to those who engaged in stealing a man and selling but I did not see this in the article. But, this verse limits who can become a slave and effects the vary nature of slavery in Judaism.

The new testament in Timothy list manstealing on a list of sins. This again brings into question who could become a slave. Royboy111 06:44, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

New article[edit]

I have reformed the article from scratch to remove POV. Still stub-like, since I have not included most religions. Sad mouse 18:20, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

I will try and add a bit on the Baha'i teachings and slavery, it will not be a great contribution, but if we all do our bit it will be a decent article before long. Keep up the good work. Daniel De Mol (talk) 11:53, 26 February 2011 (UTC)


The reason for the revert is that the additions are POV. 1. You say that the Bible insists on the humane treatment. Currently we quote those Bible passages that prohibit violence against slaves and those that allow it. This gives a balanced view of the Bible's position. If you summarise it by "the Bible insists on the humane treatment of slaves" you are selectively giving more weight to certain passages, which is bias. Also, even the passages which are evidence for humane treatment don't really fit the modern equivalent of humane. 2. You contrast the behaviour towards slaves in the Bible to the behaviour towards slaves of "other cultures at the time". This is selective in that you are picking (without adequate reference) cultures that are less humane (possibly) to make the Bible look good. There were other contemporary cultures which did not have slaves or were far more humane. Without picking or choosing our comparison good, we can't say the Bible was either an improvement or a step backwards, so let's not make judgement calls. Finally, this article was once so biases it had to be stubbed. I tried to rescue it by sticking only to the facts and citing passages from various religious books rather than making judgement calls. I really hope it doesn't get as bad as Christianity and slavery, filled with POV to the point where it needs to be stubbed. Sad mouse 17:21, 21 April 2007 (UTC)

Hmmm - I'm not sure that using the word 'you' is constructive. These weren't 'my' edits, rather I merely reisntated what you removed - ie, reference to a reliable source that is used in other religion and slavery articles. IN fact, i simply reinstated what you removed. I did change the wording a bit, but I think it was largely innocuous, but I will consider if you think otherwise. I don't know why you'd want to remove a reliable source.
IN fact, wouldn't interpreting a primary source to imply "it is morally acceptable" not POV in itself? Merbabu 03:23, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
My apologies if I offended, it was not my purpose. I have tried to avoid secondary sources, because they are interpretations of the primary source. Some can be good, but since most secondary sources on any given religion are written by those who are of that religion they tend to look for ways to explain everything in a good light (to see what I mean, look at Christianity and slavery). It would be nice to get some good neutral secondary sources, although that will be a big job for who ever tackles it. For your comment on "it is morally acceptable" I agree, that is POV, it should be changed to "allowable". Sad mouse 04:28, 22 April 2007 (UTC)
I read over the revisions and thought possibly that you might have taken out a little bit too much. The information stating that the Pope Callixtus was slave is accurate and I didn't understand why it was removed, although Pope Pius being is sometimes thought of as a former slave and others times not so you could simply put something along those lines. - Patman2648 03:08, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

Slavery in Fundementalist Church of Latter Day Saints[edit]

I was curious as to whether this topic had been addressed, particularly considering the practice of female trafficking across the border between Canada and the US. Is this an issue worth discussing?SCmurky 05:40, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes if you have notable and verifiable sources for it, put it in. Hypnosadist 11:00, 13 June 2007 (UTC)

Christianity section[edit]

Hey all, I know there are many problems here, so I'll be concise. The Christianity section has some flat out mistakes, and some other shortcomings (in my opinion) as well. First, the cited letter Philemon is only directed to the slaveowner and not to the slave, so Paul never tells the slave to "love his master"--that's not even in there. Also, the passage in 1 Corinithians cited as telling slaves they should not accept their slavery is a relatively poor translation (NIV) and seems to be saying (and is explicitly translated this way in other, more literal translations) the exact opposite, that slaves should remain in the position in which they were called. My personal suggestions would be some content on how Jesus talks about slavery and on how every instruction of New Testament writers towards slaves to obey their earthly masters is on the foundation of obedience and reverence to God and Christ, explicitly stated in the text of all of the writer's references. I edited that part of the article earlier today, but apparently it didn't stay too long. If anyone knows why it got changed back, I'd love to know. Thanks. Dap716 00:32, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

This section appears to have degenerated by people relying on modern interpretations of slavery in Christianity. The original text and position was far less favourable, encouraging slaves to be happy in their position of slavery. You might disagree with this position, but for the majority of Christian history this was the official position. I'll try a quick clean up. Sad mouse 16:55, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for cleaning up the Philemon part. I agree that the NT writers encourage slaves to remain and be content in their positions of slavery--in fact, I think it always says that, particularly in the 1 Corinthians passage (the context seems pretty clear--the verse comes just after Paul's saying to remain in the position your were called--as well as the Greek). I'd just prefer some foundation to this position, as it always bases the commands on reverence to God instead of a simple endorsement of slavery itself. And saying Jesus said he came to end slavery is a stretch--in that passage in Luke he is reading out of Isaiah, and then says "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." At least a qualification would be nice. Thanks. Dap716 12:51, 11 September 2007 (UTC)

I Corinthians 7:21[edit]

Would it be possible to find a citation for the interpretation offered that this verse calls for slaves to leave their masters/owners?(RookZERO 03:50, 31 August 2007 (UTC))

Good point, but better than citing a single interpretation is to give the actual text. What do you think of the change I made? Sad mouse 15:56, 31 August 2007 (UTC)
Looks good to me.(RookZERO 16:43, 1 September 2007 (UTC))

Ancient Christian Church Fathers were 'White Supremacists'[edit]

Origen (circa 185-c. 254): “For the Egyptians are prone to a degenerate life and quickly sink to every slavery of the vices. Look at the origin of the race and you will discover that their father Cham, who had laughed at his father’s nakedness, deserved a judgment of this kind, that his son Chanaan should be a servant to his brothers, in which case the condition of bondage would prove the wickedness of his conduct. Not without merit, therefore, does the discolored posterity imitate the ignobility of the race [Non ergo immerito ignobilitatem decolor posteritas imitatur].” Homilies on Genesis 16.1

“Mar Ephrem the Syrian said: When Noah awoke and was told what Canaan did. . .Noah said, ‘Cursed be Canaan and may God make his face black,’ and immediately the face of Canaan changed; so did of his father Ham, and their white faces became black and dark and their color changed.” Paul de Lagarde, Materialien zur Kritik und Geschichte des Pentateuchs (Leipzig, 1867), part II

St. Jerome: “Chus in Hebrew means Ethiopian, that is, black and dark, one who has a soul as black as his body.” (The Homilies of Saint Jerome, vol. 1, trans. Marie Liguori Ewald, Homily 3, 28).

St. Ennodius (474-521): “Keep your chastity constant. Don’t let the body of a black girl soil yours, nor lie with her for her Hell-black face.” Epistulae 7.21

John Philoponus, Greek Christian philosopher (6th century): “The Scythians and Ethiopians are distinguished from each other by black and white color, or by long and snubbed nose, or by slave and master, by ruler and ruled,” and again, “The Ethiopian and Scythian. . .one is black, the other white; similarly slave and master.” A. Sanda, Oposcula Monophysitica Johannes Philoponi (Beirut, 1930), pp. 66,96 (Sanda’s Latin translation).

Ishodad of Merv (Syrian Christian bishop of Hedhatha, 9th century): When Noah cursed Canaan, “instantly, by the force of the curse. . .his face and entire body became black [ukmotha]. This is the black color which has persisted in his descendents.” C. Van Den Eynde, Corpus scriptorium Christianorum orientalium 156, Scriptores Syri 75 (Louvain, 1955), p. 139.

Eutychius, Alexandrian Melkite patriarch (d. 940): “Cursed be Ham and may he be a servant to his brothers… He himself and his descendants, who are the Egyptians, the Negroes, the Ethiopians and (it is said) the Barbari.” Patrologiae cursus completes…series Graeca, ed. J.P. Migne (Paris, 1857-66), Pococke’s (1658-59) translation of the Annales, 111.917B (sec. 41-43)

Bar Hebraeus (Syrian Christian scholar, 1226-86): “‘And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and showed [it] to his two brothers.’ That is…that Canaan was cursed and not Ham, and with the very curse he became black and the blackness was transmitted to his descendents…. And he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan! A servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.’” Sprengling and Graham, Barhebraeus’ Scholia on the Old Testament, pp. 40-41, to Gen 9:22.

Gomes Eannes de Zurara (official royal chronicler of Portugal, 1453): “These blacks were Moors like the others, though their slaves, in accordance with ancient custom, which I believe to have been because of the curse which, after the Deluge, Noah laid upon his son Cain [read: Cham], cursing him in this way: that his race should be subject to all the other races of the world.” C.R. Beazley and E. Prestage, The Chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea in the Hakluyt 1st series, no. 95 (London, 1896), 1:54.

Francisco de la Cruz (Dominican, 1575): “The blacks are justly captives by just sentence of God for the sins of their fathers, and that in sign thereof God gave them that color.” Bartolomé de Las Casas in History (DeKalb, Ill., 1971), p. 417. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:04, 17 September 2007 (UTC)

Reference to Augustine and slavery badly out of date[edit]

The references in the text to Augustine are badly out of date in light of a letter by Augustine on the topic of slavery rediscovered in 1975 which shows that Augustine actually opposed the enslavement of his parishioners by "Galatian" slave raiders. Please see my discussion topic: "The Divjak letters shed new light on Augustine and slavery," at--Talk:Catholic_Church_and_slavery. Ajschorschiii (talk) 18:44, 31 January 2010 (UTC)


Somebody has cut out the overview. I intend to re-add it if nobody has any reasonable objection to it. I will record it here also to save having to go and look through the history of prior edits if I don't get back here for a while also.
"The issue of religion and slavery is an area of historical research into the relationship between the world's religions and the practice of slavery."Daniel De Mol (talk) 11:47, 26 February 2011 (UTC)


This article is misleading, giving the implication that slavery was a continuous part of Christian Europe from its inception until almost the 20th century. In truth slavery as a form of institution was removed by Roman Christianity and largely stayed that way until it reared its ugly head again in a racial form around 1500. (talk) 20:32, 20 March 2011 (UTC)