The integrity of our national union, vs. abolitionism: an argument from the Bible

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,794
USA
Prior to and during the US civil war a # of Christian leaders(at least one from the pro Union side) argued that Christianity supports slavery... now we have heard this before but perhaps many folks have not had the chance to read documents from the 19th century authored by pro slavery Americans... therefore I wanted to provide this forum with such a document.. The following is a pamphlet from 1843 authored by George Junkin. Junkin, the eventually father in law of Stonewall Jackson...was a respected educator and Christian minister. Junkin also went on to support the Union, breaking with his former son in law who as we know went on to become a famous CSA general.

The integrity of our national union, vs. abolitionism: an argument from the Bible, in proof of the position that believing masters ought to be honored and obeyed by their own servants, and tolerated in, not excommunicated from, the church of God:

https://archive.org/details/integrityofourna00junk

As we can see to this day religion plays a massive role in society...and it played such a role during the US civil war. Just as today certain religious people in the middle east are fighting each other over whose religious views are correct....during the US civil war Christian men went to war with each other and largely did so based on how they interpreted the Bible. Contrary to what some may claim....Christians have a history of pointing to the Bible to justify what many would label as crimes against humanity.

Otoh one of the famous abolitionist Christians of the civil war era was John Brown ...a Union hero who provided the Christian argument that nay, Christianity does not support slavery like how anti abolitionist Union and CSA members felt it did... but rather whether one is white or black....they are to be treated equally and with respect.
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,794
USA
Remarkably one of the arguments put forth by Anti abolitionists such as George Junkin was that abolitionists of the time were rude and aggressive toward anti abolitionists...that some abolitionists did not understand that some of the anti abolition camp stood for liberty. Basically Junkin was saying the opposition to abolition was a diverse opposition and that even somehow, someway some of the anti abolition folks were against slavery. I can not imagine how Junkin pulled off this argument...perhaps Junkin would make a great modern day lawyer. How any man opposed to abolition of the civil war era can also say they oppose slavery does not make sense to me. But that was indeed an argument put forth by Junkin. I suppose perhaps Junkin and some other anti abolitionists wanted to perhaps keep up segregation...but eventually do away with slavery. Junkin and his crowd were probably worried that if abolition took hold in the USA...that black men would quickly rise up the ladders can gain equality to whites and perhaps compete with white people for good jobs.

Junkin was apparently offended at anti slavery Christians who would disagree vehemently and aggressively with pro slavery Christians. In the eyes of Junkin there should be a more civilized debate between Christian men....even over the issue of slavery.
 

Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,257
Caribbean
during the US civil war Christian men went to war with each other and largely did so based on how they interpreted the Bible.
I don't think it is accurate to say "largely." They went to war because the south seceded and Lincoln didn't want to let them get away with it. And there are few atheists in foxholes.

Also, there is the issue of which comes first: doing what you want and cherry-picking Bible passages, or getting a holistic understanding of the Bible before deciding what is Biblical.

There had been a substantial dichotomy between Romanist and Reform Christians ever since Martin Luther. Here is a quote that might help grasp the extreme diversity of opinion one can put under the rubric, "Christian" - and they can't all be right.

"No man has a right to choose his religion."
-- John Hughes 1864, Archbishop of New York
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
Both sides of the slavery debate attempted to justify their position by quoting the bible. Northern preachers argued that slavery was an affront to God while Southern preachers argued that slavery was biblical and that abolitionism was against a natural order ordained by God. There was also a denominational element to it. The Quakers for instance were staunchly anti-slavery, and the Baptists and Methodists split into separate churches over the slavery issue.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,614
San Diego
Silly arguments all round-

1- No Anti-Abolitionist is standing for "Liberty" because they are expressly arguing for the Liberty to deny other people Liberty.

I don;t care how they pretzel their addle pated minds around to try and say its okay- they are simply NOT making a self consistent argument.
They are arguing that abolition is denying a people the "Liberty" to form their own laws- then on what possible basis can they argue that you should be free to deny people liberty?

If they WIN the argument... then They themselves can not hold slaves.


2- There is no valid biblical defense of slavery because the USA is NOT formed in any part by Biblical principals.
It is specifically and pointedly a SECULAR nation that forbids the rule of the bible.


So- yeah- the bible endorses slavery... but so what? It is clearly an immoral tome chock full of barbaric and outmoded embarrassments of modern moral thinking.
In the US- you literally can not argue any legal point on the basis of the bible. It doesn't GET a say.


You CAN argue that slavery is 'currently' legal and that it is important to the economy of the South. That is a defensible argument.
But ALL arguments made to defend Slavery or secession for the purpose of preserving slavery that imply ANY from of Freedom, Liberty, or SELF Determination are, de facto, fallacious arguments because they are self defeating.

Mind you, they are GOOD arguments.... for eliminating slavery... but they simply can not be cogently put to any defense of keeping slavery.
You can not argue for the freedom to deny others freedom. At least, not without revealing yourself to be a moron.

3- While it is pertinent to point out that BOTH sides cited the Bible as their backup for their point of view- and claimed a religious inspiration... that both derive opposing views from the same document is proof that the document is simply NOT morally instructive in any meaningful sense. That is- thru all history- people have combed thru the bible to find passages to serve as justification for their actions.
And they have been able to justify ANY action they wanted to take.

Ergo- the Bible is nothing but a mirror in which each person peers to find their own prejudices and agendas validated. This makes it useless as the basis of argument... but more tellingly, it reveals that people's Moral and Ethical frameworks have NO basis in the bible.

They bring their moral framework TO the bible they do not derive it from the bible.
Their pre-existing moral and ethical prejudices ARE the Lens thru which they perceive the bible.

Thus- the bible is useless for any form of moral instruction.

The North had few slaves and people raised there found slavery repugnant and wrong. And Claimed their faith told them so when it did not.
And the people of the South HAD slaves- saw it all around, and thought it perfectly normal and profitable... and of course BENT their religious perceptions to endorse what they had already decided was okay.

There IS NO COGENT ARGUMENT from the bible on any subject whatsoever.
It is the swiss army knife of rationalizations.
 
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Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
So- yeah- the bible endorses slavery... but so what? It is clearly an immoral tome chock full of barbaric and outmoded embarrassments of modern moral thinking.
That isn't entirely correct.

Pro-slavery clergymen claimed that was the case, but abolitionism also had religious roots.

Although many Enlightenment philosophers opposed slavery, it was Christian activists, attracted by strong religious elements, who initiated and organized an abolitionist movement. [1] Throughout Europe and the United States, Christians, usually from 'un-institutional' Christian faith movements, not directly connected with traditional state churches, or "non-conformist" believers within established churches, were to be found at the forefront of the abolitionist movements.

In particular, the effects of the Second Great Awakening resulted in many evangelicals working to see the theoretical Christian view, that all people are essentially equal, made more of a practical reality.

...Quakers in particular were early leaders in abolitionism. In 1688 Dutch Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania, sent an antislavery petition to the Monthly Meeting of Quakers. By 1727 British Quakers had expressed their official disapproval of the slave trade.

...In the United States, the abolition movement faced much opposition. Bertram Wyatt-Brown notes that the appearance of the Christian abolitionist movement "with its religious ideology alarmed newsmen, politicians, and ordinary citizens. They angrily predicted the endangerment of secular democracy, the mongrelization, as it was called, of white society, and the destruction of the federal union. Speakers at huge rallies and editors of conservative papers in the North denounced these newcomers to radical reform as the same old “church-and-state” zealots, who tried to shut down post offices, taverns, carriage companies, shops, and other public places on Sundays. Mob violence sometimes ensued.

...Roman Catholic statements also became increasingly vehement against slavery during this era. In 1741 Pope Benedict XIV condemned slavery generally. In 1815 Pope Pius VII demanded of the Congress of Vienna the suppression of the slave trade. In the Bull of Canonization of Peter Claver, one of the most illustrious adversaries of slavery, Pope Pius IX branded the "supreme villainy" (summum nefas) of the slave traders;[21]

In 1839 Pope Gregory XVI condemned the slave trade in In supremo apostolatus;[22] and in 1888 Pope Leo XIII condemned slavery in In Plurimis.
Christian Abolitionism

The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage was the first American abolition society. It was founded April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by quakers and held four meetings.[1] Seventeen of the 24 men who attended initial meetings of the Society were Quakers, or members of the Religious Society of Friends. Thomas Paine was also among the Society's founders.
Pennsylvania Abolition Society

Consider also the lyrics of the popular abolitionist tune from the Civil War. The lyrics are filled with religious language:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal";
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free*,[14]
While God is marching on.

(Chorus)
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,614
San Diego
That isn't entirely correct.

Pro-slavery clergymen claimed that was the case, but abolitionism also had religious roots.



Christian Abolitionism



Pennsylvania Abolition Society

Consider also the lyrics of the popular abolitionist tune from the Civil War. The lyrics are filled with religious language:
So, your essential argument is that the religious are too stupid to comprehend the constitution? And too oblivious to recognize that their holy book is used to endorse diametrically opposite ethical arguments?


I GET IT that the religious BELIEVE that their ethics and morals are by divine fiat... but they, by definition, suffer delusional beliefs.

I understand that many people TRY and force their religious beliefs into law and government... but that is NOT the Constitution and a goodly portion of the Supreme Court's mandate is to Strike laws that try to inject religion into law.

For these reasons, I don't care how much a people believes they are against slavery, ( or for slavery ) because of what they believe about god.
They are deluding themselves... looking for rationalizations for what they feel in a book that has no specific and definable stance on any of it.


In fact- Northerners found slavery immoral because of ethical and moral arguments against it that were founded in the Rights Of Man and other scottish enlightenment works of REASON that specifically denied biblical accounts of King and priestly prerogatives.
These ideals had soaked into their everyday culture and caused them to INTERPRET their religion in these terms.

But there is no way that the Bible endorses the rights of man- The ideas of the scottish enlightenment and of democracy have NO foundation in religion whatsoever- they exist in almost every democratic culture and tribal group prior to any organized religion. Northern Native American cultures and other stone age tribal peoples were democratic long before the greeks gave it a name.

That the religious CLAIM their beliefs to be the origin of morality is a false claim that they can not prove- especially since morality has demonstrably changed in SPITE of what the bible and other religious texts mandate.

The only extent to which either the south or north can claim their faith as the origin of their ideals is precisely the extent to which they IGNORE or gloss over the portion of the bible that directly contradict what you claim the book says.

That is to say that we can very accurately measure the morality of any modern society by the extent to which they DO NOT BELIEVE what the bible says.
Today- we most gloss over parts endorsing slavery- genocide- chattleizing of women- stoning of apostates- and the abomination that is shrimp...And the people who take the bible more literally are seen as 'extremists'.

So- people STOPPED thinking slavery was good to the precise extent that they stopped taking seriously the parts of the bible that endorse it.


The fact that MOST people in europe once believed the earth to be the center of the universe does not make them any LESS mistaken in that belief. And the fact that people CLAIM religious inspiration for what they feel does not make them any less mistaken in that belief.

MAN's moral beliefs EVOLVE with his understanding of the real world-

And we DRAG reluctant religion along BEHIND US- kicking and screaming the whole way- and yet giving it credit it does not deserve.


Every moral argument CLAIMED to be predicated in the bible can be shown to be either a fallacious argument- or an argument actually originating outside the bible from secular philosophical arguments that had become cultural norms.

The South argued correctly that the bible endorses slavery- But it was a weak argument because the Constitution is NOT a religious law.
The North argued Christian teachings as rendering slavery immoral- but there are no specific teachings arguing against slavery in the bible- and their beliefs therefore actually stem from the secular arguments of the scottish enlightenment.

But even those are weak arguments. The strong arguments are the LEGAL arguments, and those specifically relating to the POWER of the Union to preserve the union. and the fact that the South had no just cause of being treated unequally By the Union.
 
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Code Blue

Ad Honorem
Feb 2015
4,257
Caribbean
Since, I am neither side of the "war," I can advocate for the Bible. :)

If I may, God is not stupid. He knew there were going to be kings and kingdoms, wars and slaves. The Bible talks of equity, the golden rule.
"Masters, giue vnto your seruants that which is iust and equall, knowing that yee also haue a Master in heauen."
KJV 1611, Colossians 4:1

One thing that Bible does not advocate is mass emancipation by force of someone else's slaves. Of course, that doesn't exonerate the South, either.
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
So, your essential argument is that the religious are too stupid to comprehend the constitution? And too oblivious to recognize that their holy book is used to endorse diametrically opposite ethical arguments?
No, though that appears to be yours.

I was merely pointing out that both sides of the slavery debate pointed to the bible as justification for their position, and that it would be entirely incorrect to claim that religion endorsed slavery, when the abolition movements in Britain and the United States had religious origins as well.