Christian faith destroyed slavery

To the editor:

On May 5, the Register & Bee republished an article from The Washington Post by reporter Julie Zauzmer about how “The Bible was used to justify slavery. Then Africans made it their path to freedom.” The article was not false, but it wasn’t the whole story. Indeed, it wasn’t even half the story.

Skeptics of Christianity today often use that less-than-half story to mock Christianity as an enabler of one of the worst atrocities in history. Sure, some people used the Bible to support “the peculiar institution.” It’s a big book and isolated verses can be taken out and twisted to support something the Bible in its entirety doesn’t. The other half, or more, of the story is that Christians, motivated by the Bible, ended slavery.

If you think that’s just the self-serving boast of a pastor trying to reinterpret history, consider that the world’s greatest expert on slavery, the man who won a Nobel Prize for his research into slavery, a self-professed “secular Jew” who had no vested-interests to spin history to support Christianity, concluded that Christians ended slavery. Robert W. Fogel, Nobel laureate in economics and professor at the University of Chicago, concluded that, economically, slavery was on the ascendency prior to the Civil War but was ended because Christians concluded that it was evil. They read the Bible, saw that it taught that we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves, realized that enslaving some of our neighbors was a violation of that “second greatest command” (like the first) and so turned against slavery.

In 1776, every colony in what was to become the United States of America was a slave colony. That changed because Christians turned the hearts and minds of Americans against slavery. I know this because I was Professor Fogel’s teaching assistant and was tasked by him to teach his findings about slavery to his students. During one after-class chat, Professor Fogel told me that he was astounded to discover that Christians ended slavery. He said something like, “Here I was, a professor in some of America’s leading universities, and I had no idea that Christians had done that.”

Fogel concluded that it was not economic forces that brought about the end of slavery but a revolution in moral sentiment brought about by Christians. Sadly, few Christians know of him. In an age when Christianity is attacked for retarding progress, even for championing slavery, when Christians are routinely labeled bigots and oppressors, it’s tragic that we don’t all know that the abolition of slavery was a triumph of biblical Christianity.

Rev. JOHN B. CARPENTER

Covenant Reformed Baptist Church

Yanceyville, N.C.

Danville could use a casino

To the editor:

We need a casino in Danville to help provide extra taxes to take the burden off of the homeowners now and, if it’s legal, use 2 percent of the taxes to build our schools.

I would not allow any spending from casino taxes collected to raise any payroll.

JEFF MATHIS

Danville

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