by Mark Douglas
Suddenly, they never mentioned the God of slavery again. The Great Hush.
SHHHHH — We don’t talk about that God anymore.
Can you kill a God?
No. But you can show it’s so fake that its own believers never mention Him again. That’s what happened to the Southern “God of Slavery.”
What the South bragged about at the time, our history books don’t even mention now. Slavery was very much a religious based enterprise, and could not possibly have thrived in the Southern US without it.
In fact, the “Bible Belt” got its start, ironically, from this fierce religious defense of slavery. As Debow (of Debow’s Review) said in 1843, “God has completely silenced all opposition to slavery by His Holy Word.”
Well, God silenced opposition in the SOUTH — with the help of the draconian “anti-incendiary” laws, which set torture as the punishment for those who wrote openly, or even owned books, that questioned slavery. Those preachers and people who were against slavery faced physical torture and jail if they spoke out against it.
The antebellum South shaped their world on this God — literally. The president and vice-president of the Confederacy both said slavery was the cornerstone of their nation. Their wars, their economy, their religion, was based on this idea that God that ordained slavery — and that slavery must spread, like the gospel itself.
Robert E. Lee himself wrote that abolitionists “are trying to destroy the American Church.” That’s right — CHURCH. Objections to slavery was met with the same basic response — slavery is “of God.” Lee said only God could end slavery, because He ordained it.
Please don’t get me wrong — there were many great and kind people in the South. But slavery was a vile, evil enterprise. If you grew up as they were raised, you would of course believe much like they did. Lee, and men like him, never heard a legal sermon against slavery, never read a legal book that contradicted slavery as being from God. We seem to forget that now.
We all know, and would agree, that power corrupts. Well, slavery was an astonishing power, and it corrupted the entire system of government and religion.
Books against slavery were banned, of course, ships were searched regularly for “contraband” — meaning books and pamphlets against slavery. Preachers could not even own books against slavery — or they too were subject to not only arrest, but torture as well.
Stopping free religious speech corrupted everything. With religion unable to fill its moral role, unable to challenge evil, there was no power to stop slavery. Religion became SUPPORTIVE of not just slavery, but even supported the torture of slaves.
A Southern “best-seller” was Slavery is Ordained of God by Pastor Ross.
The Bible, it said, condoned not only slavery, but the torture of slaves. You can beat a slave woman to death — as long as she doesn’t die the same day you beat her. If she lives a day or two, and then dies from her injures, that’s fine.
If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. (Exodus 21:20-21)
The Bible also implies that slave women must submit to the master’s sexual demands. This is another scripture widely known at the time — but never mentioned now.
And remember, no one could preach otherwise. There were very strong scriptural arguments against slavery — but such arguments were outlawed.
It was not always that way. Up to 1820, there were more anti-slavery publications in the South than in the North! But, as slavery grew, so did the threat of rebellion and the dangers of runaway slaves. So slave owners, who took virtual control of all Southern governments, and most of the federal goverment, passed laws outlawing all speech and writing that was against slavery.
If you preached to Blacks, you had to have a special license from the government — and you had to agree only to preach obedience.
So slave owners were eager to “give the slave religion” because the only religion slaves could legally hear about was for total and absolute obedience — even to the violent, sadistic, and sexually perverse slave owners.
When you hear of Lee or Jackson giving their slaves “religious education” — as if it were out of the goodness of the master’s heart — this is what they were teaching.
So the power of religion was only used one way — to enforce slavery. It was not legal or possible for it to be used to oppose slavery.
Most of us in the 21st century assume that our ancestors had freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press in the South. Not so. From 1820 on, slave owners enacted very strong laws against free speech and free religion. See the book The Other South by Carl Degler.
Lee thought God would never have allowed slavery to prosper if it was not the will of God. Therefore, because it exists, and because slave owners were the wealthy class, it must be of God. That is all he was taught, from childhood on. What else could he believe?
To Southern leaders, the proof of God’s wish for slavery was not only in the Bible, it was also in their own wealth — and in the rapid increase of slaves. As the governor of Florida wrote, the slaves’ “rapid increase in numbers is the highest testimony of the humanity of the owners.”
If you were against slavery, you were “against God and civilization” — said the Texas Declaration of Causes.
Lee said God intended slavery to be painful and cruel to slaves — that is how you teach slaves, Lee wrote. Pain was “necessary for their instruction as a race,” wrote Lee.
Davis said slavery was a “Divine Gift of God” and that “God delivered the Negro unto us.”
Slavery was “sealed by the blood of Christ.” The “great moral truth” that “God ordained slavery” was the very basis of the the Confederacy said its vice president, Stephens.
…The Confederacy was essentially a government by the religious leaders, for the religious leaders. There was no distinction between the government and God — very much like radical Islam. Robert E. Lee accused those who spoke against slavery of “trying to bring down the American Church.”…Yet for all this religious emphasis, virtually none of this is taught in our schools. Why?
AFTER THE ASS KICKING — A DIFFERENT GOD
Notice, however, that once Lincoln, Sherman, Grant, and the Union Army won — not one Southern leader ever said such nonsense again.
Not Lee; not Davis; not Bedford Forrest. Not Debow. Not any preacher; not any civil war veteran.
Not the most extreme; not the most timid. In fact, even private citizens, Southern newspapers, Southern books, thereafter never said God told them to enslave Blacks or anyone else.
One day their entire lives, their status, their reason for doing everything — was God telling them to enslave Blacks. But then Lee surrenders — and they never mention that God again.
Even in their private letters, there was a drastic change. No more mention of this God that ordained slavery. No more insistence that they were doing the work of the Lord to spread slavery. Yet this idea filled their private correspondence before the war.
No one said they had to give up their God of Slavery. The only condition to end the war was for the South to stop fighting it, and recognize the government in Washington.
But Southerners en masse, without communication, dumped this God of Slavery. Totally, instantly, and forever.
It’s as if a light switch was flipped, and suddenly, no more God of slavery. What they screamed from the rooftops one day, they did not even whisper in private the next.
LINCOLN’S LASTING IMPACT
Lincoln’s lasting effect is not just the 13th Amendment… his most lasting effect was forever exposing the God of Slavery as a fake…. It’s unthinkable that anyone anywhere will again use the Christian faith to justify slavery….
All other things may change — we may see the U.S. fall into disunion, we may see all kinds of havoc and discord. Lincoln’s efforts to keep the U.S. together may only last 200 years or less.
But his efforts to discredit the God of slavery will very likely be enduring.