5 Roles Christianity and Islam Played in the Enslavement of Black People

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The Color Purple, 1985

For The Bible Tells Me So

Slaveholders justified the practice by citing the Bible.

For the oppressor, the act of acquiring slaves was not only a divine spoil of war for the victor, but it was also the right of God’s “chosen people” to enslave others who were not part of their group during times of peace. In the Bible, Deuteronomy 20:10-11 states:

“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you.”

What if the people of that land aren’t interested in surrendering their freedom? Well, Deuteronomy 20:12-14 states:

 “And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it.”

The Bible doesn’t present many options for freedom outside of death. Fortunately, the New Testament is full of helpful tips for handling slavery while you’re living. Ephesians 6:6 states:

 “Slaves, obey your masters here on earth with fear and respect. And do this with a heart that is true, just as you obey Christ.”

Do your work and be good at it. Don’t upset your master with sassy talk and empty threats. Don’t even think about pulling a Nat Turner.

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