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Not because of religion, but in spite of it

Gee, ever since the Christianists took over the Republican Party, seized power under the criminal Bush regime, shredded the Constitution, and turned us into a nation of torturers, then started lawyering up and claiming their Fifth Amendment rights, religion has been under attack.

I wonder why?

Anyhow, former Speechwriter to Royalty and Republican operative Michael Gerson is making good money from the desk in the Op-Ed department that Fred Hiatt graciously granted him, so what's he whinging about?

In many quarters, the role of religion in public life and foreign policy is under question as a source of hatred and extremism.

I really, really like "in many quarters." You can see where Bush picked up that "some say" riff from, eh?

But this year marks the 200th anniversary of history's strongest counterexample -- the strange, irrational end of the British slave trade.

If that's the strongest counterexample--to what, Gerson never says--then I'd say the atheists are in pretty good shape:

Because a child of six could take apart Gerson's logic. Just because B happens after A doesn't mean that B happens because of A.

In fact, fighting against slavery is something any secular humanist would be proud to do (and today, they often are. Especially in the world Gerson made).

So I'd say that the Brits who abolished slavery did it in spite of religion, not because of it.

And how could it be otherwise?

There is no God.

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Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

Religion had sweet fuck all to do with ending the slave trade, although its proponents will tell you very differently; what they won't tell you is that a short generation before the "discovery" of emancipation, the very same religions had been advocating slavery (for all the usual racist reasons like "giving the uncivilized heathen an exposure to the Gospel").

Profitability -- as in, the rapidly-rising lack thereof -- had a much bigger hand in the Abolitionist sentiment's mercurial ascendance. The margins of profit in the Golden Triangle Trade (Trade goods to West Africa, slaves to the Americas, sugar, rum and mahogany back to The British Empire and nearby Europe) were dolorously downbeat beginning about 1740 through about 1810.

"Amazing Grace" notwithstanding, the kind of "inhumane" conditions cargoes of slaves underwent flayed the consciences of the captains a hell of a lot less when every delivered live body brought at least 10 guineas than when only the most robust fetched 5 guineas. "Glut on the market" isn't new.

And by 1810, most US owners could buy slaves already inculcated in rudimentary English, and the role and behavior society expected / tolerated from them, as slaves.