Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Stark on Slavery: Christianity contrasted with Islam

Oddly enough some people want to blame the institution of slavery on Christianity. Anyone with this mistaken belief should read chapter four in Rodney Stark’s For the Glory of God ("God’s Justice: The Sin of Slavery").

Stark notes, on the contrary, that of all the world’s religions, "only in Christianity did the idea develop that slavery was sinful and must be abolished" (p. 291).

Further, Stark notes that when slavery was introduced in the New World by Europeans, its eventual abolition, "was initiated and achieved by Christian activists" (p. 291).

According to Stark, "the excesses of political correctness have all but erased awareness that slavery was once nearly universal to all societies that could afford it, and that only in the West did significant moral opposition ever arise and lead to abolition" (p. 291).

Stark attempts to "put the record straight" by sketching how "Christian theology was unique in eventually developing the abolitionist perspective" (p. 292).

For those enamoured with pre-Christian and pagan societies and religions, they should note the common practice of human slavery in the ancient world.

Those who see no differences in religions should compare the Christian view of slavery with that of Islam. Stark notes that slavery was not abolished in Saudi Arabia until 1962 and not in Mauritania until 1981 (p. 303)!

Stark also asks those who argue that slavery was less abusive in Islamic areas than in the New World to simply note "how few people of black ancestry one observes in Islamic nations, compared with the New World" (p. 304). Given that there were approximately the same number of African slaves who went to both destinations, Stark says that Islamic nations "ought to have very substantial black populations" (p. 303). Why don’t they? Stark says the answer is not infertility or castration "but because infanticide was routinely practiced on infants having black ancestry" in Islamic dominated areas (p. 304).

Why didn’t an abolition movement develop among the theologians of Islam? Stark notes that "the fundamental problem facing Muslim theologians vis-à-vis the morality of slavery is that Muhammed bought, sold, captured, and owned slaved" (p. 338).
Think of the light brought into the world by Christ, even to those who did not know him or acknowledge him as Lord!

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