Furthermore, many historical sources have been unearthed showing that enslaved Japanese reached places such as Peru, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy and other regions. It has become clear that Jesuits, acting as intermediaries in the negotiation of Japanese servants, played an important role in the Japanese slave trade.
In sum, recent research has focused on the geographical spread of Japanese slaves and the trading structure of the Japanese slave trade. Past research has shown that, until the s, Jesuits had a positive attitude towards the Japanese slave trade, but their position changed with the Nagasaki meeting, when missionaries changed to a hard stance towards the activity.
But beyond that, the problem of how Jesuit missionaries justified the enslavement of Japanese has not been solved yet. By analyzing rules regarding servants used by Jesuits and the theological interpretation of Japanese enslavement, the present thesis resets the history of Japanese slavery as intellectual history. In other words, the main object here is to analyze the legal and theological arguments used by Jesuits to support the enslavement of Japanese people and how they discarded these by the end of the sixteenth century.
From past investigations, we know that Portuguese merchants purchased Chinese and Japanese in Kyushu in the s. Also, Jesuits were quick to intervene in the trade, enacting permits to allow Portuguese to procure slaves. Furthermore, upon learning about the trade, Toyotomi Hideyoshi forbade it in and, in , Jesuits condemned slave traders with an excommunication letter enacted by the Bishop. After that, missionaries tried pressuring the Portuguese crown to forbid the enslavement of Japanese, but the strategy failed because of opposition from the Portuguese in India. The present thesis shows that Japan Jesuits used theological arguments to defend the enslavement of Japanese.
Thus, it underlines the importance of justification for the history of Japanese slavery. This dissertation analyzes historical changes in the concept of early modern slavery and its legitimacy, showing how although the field gives great importance to the use of Just War Theory in the justification of slavery, the relation between JWT and slavery was not natural. The use of just war to justify slavery was the result of a historical process started in the thirteenth century, when prisoners were captured during clashes between European Christians with Muslims.
By the sixteenth century, the legitimacy of slavery was in the hands of theologians, and in Portugal and its territories Jesuits played a crucial role as those responsible for defining the justice of wars. Although we know Portuguese and Spanish words such as escravo and esclavo were used to indicate Japanese forms such as shoju, genin and nenki hokonin, it is unclear when this association started.
The present dissertation shows that since Europeans disembarked in Japan they started calling slaves unfree laborers in the country. Thus, the term Japanese slave was born when Europeans interpreted Japanese unfree labor relations based on their own ideas. Nevertheless, Jesuits were reluctant to the use of slavery as a concept in Japan.
Considering the period, it is possible this was because they intended to protect Japanese Christians from the stigma of slavery. During this time, the enslavement of Asians also began to be questioned. In , a missionary in Goa asked the founder of the Jesuits, Ignacio de Loyola, whether it was legitimate to enslave Asians. Loyola replied that those in India were better prepared to answer the issue. This attitude reflects the heavy influence of tutiorism on the way theologians addressed dubious issues such as this in this period. When there was a chance of infringing Christian dogmas, missionaries would resort to the safest option given by moral theology and casuistry manuals.
For that reason, this was the time when the favored solution for dubious cases of enslavement was to campaign for the manumission of the enslaved.
Adherents to Islam also faced restrictions on their ability to practise their religion openly. When Nonconformist missionaries stepped up attempts to evangelise Africans during the late 18th century, it was noted that African Muslims still held on to their tendency to pray with their arms open, as opposed to the Christian way with hands clasped. The Africans who embraced Christianity identified closely with the bible's take on freedom, equality and justice - especially in drawing parallels between their own situation and that of the Hebrew people in 'Exodus'.
Indeed, such was the potency of this Old Testament story that many clergymen were instructed to avoid it in their bible lessons. But for Africans it demonstrated that God was on the side of the oppressed and would send a Moses to free them. It was ironic that for Africans, the Americas and the US in particular represented the biblical Egypt or Babylon - a place from which to escape, while for persecuted European Christians it was seen as the Promised Land. It is no coincidence that in the African diaspora, leaders in the black community are invariably men and women of faith - a trait that is traceable to slavery.
During this era, a religious leader was deemed to be called by God and given wisdom and power to lead. Moreover, many slave insurrections such as the Tacky, Bussa and Christmas Rebellions, occurred during Christian religious festivals. There is little doubt that Africans took umbrage at the hypocrisy of those who claimed to be followers of a merciful God, yet forced his 'children' to work on holy days. Africans in Britain also used the so-called 'slave masters' tool' to destroy his house. The status of slavery in England remained ambiguous during the 18th century because of parliament's failure to address the issue directly in law.
English Common Law suggested that Christians could not be enslaved, and the subsequent ruling of by Lord Chief Justice William Mansfield held out the mistaken hope for many Africans that a baptised slave living in England was free. Africans took umbrage at the hypocrisy of those who claimed to be followers of a merciful God, yet forced his 'children' to work on holy days. England proved a magnet for want-away Africans, and many such as Equiano joined the campaign to end slavery. Once he had obtained his freedom, Equiano wrote his autobiography and worked with a group called the 'Sons of Africa for African Freedom'.
Equiano petitioned parliament and Queen Charlotte on the question of slavery, and was a regular writer for publications such as the Morning Chronicle, London Advertiser and Public Advertiser.
The Theologian Slave Trader by Christiana Oware Knudsen (Paperback, 2010)
He also exchanged theological arguments on slavery with the number one slave trade apologist for the Church - the Liverpool-based Clergyman, Rev Raymond Harris. Through their writing and speaking, these Africans dispelled notions of racial inferiority and black people's complacency towards slavery. Unlike their white counterparts, Africans had little option but to oppose slavery as they were always susceptible to enslavement by unscrupulous traders. Consequently, Africans such as Ottobah Cugoano, who published his 'Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species' demanded immediate, not gradual freedom for enslaved Africans in the late 18th century, at a time when his white counterparts were concentrating on the limited goal of ending the slave trade.
Some Christians see the bicentenary of the parliamentary act to end the slave trade as an opportunity to highlight faith-based activism at its best. For evangelicals, it is a chance to reclaim the social justice mantle that was handed over to the liberals by those who thought that such work was a distraction from preaching the gospel. Some are turning their attention to modern day slavery and suggesting that a new generation of abolitionists need to be as prophetic as their forebears in ending this new affront to human dignity.
But many in the Church see the bicentenary as an opportunity for it to examine its role during this era and make amends for past mistakes. Christian scriptures were used as part of the process to enslave and dehumanise Africans and, for these Christians, the Church must work to end the legacies of slavery and the racism that still blight Church and society. There is little doubt that the Church, like many in society, sees the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade as an opportunity to examine how the slave trade helped to shape Britain and are keen to ensure that they play a key role in marking this milestone.
Richard Reddie was born in Bradford, England to Jamaican parents. He is currently project director of 'set all free', a Churches Together in England initiative established to commemorate the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act in He has written for a number of Christian and secular publications, including Focus, Christianity, the Weekly Gleaner and the Voice. He has just written the book Abolition about the slave trade. Search term:. Read more. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled.
While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving. The Church: Enslaver or Liberator? By Richard Reddie Last updated On this page Condemn or condone?
Condemn or condone? Non-Israelite slaves could be enslaved indefinitely and were to be treated as inheritable property. Early Christians reputedly regarded slaves who converted to Christianity as spiritually free men, brothers in Christ, receiving the same portion of Christ's kingdom inheritance.
Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality. Slaves may have been encouraged by Paul in the first Corinthian Epistle to seek or purchase their freedom whenever possible. I Corinthians KJV. Avery Robert Dulles said that "Jesus, though he repeatedly denounced sin as a kind of moral slavery, said not a word against slavery as a social institution", and believes that the writers of the New Testament did not oppose slavery either. Giles notes that these circumstances were used by pro-slavery apologists in the 19th century to suggest that Jesus approved of slavery.
It is clear from all the New Testament material that slavery was a basic part of the social and economic environment. Many of the early Christians were slaves. In several Pauline epistles , and the First Epistle of Peter , slaves are admonished to obey their masters, as to the Lord, and not to men. The basic principle was "you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.
Paul's Epistle to Philemon was an important text for both pro-slavery advocates and abolitionists. Paul entreats Philemon to regard Onesimus as a beloved brother in Christ. Seldom noted in the debate was the situation of Onesimus if he had not returned: an outlaw and a fugitive with limited options to support himself, and in constant fear of discovery and punishment.
Be that as it may, as T. David Curp observes, "Given that the Church received Philemon as inspired Scripture, Paul's ambiguity effectively blocked the early Fathers of the Church from denouncing slavery outright. Paul's instructions to slaves in the Epistle of Paul to Titus , as is the case in Ephesians, appear among a list of instructions for people in a range of life situations. The usefulness to the 19th century pro-slavery apologists of what Paul says here is obvious: "Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior.
Paul advises that "each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. Do not be concerned about it. But if you are able to gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. The First Epistle to Timothy —in some translations  —reveals a disdain for the slave trade, proclaiming it to be contrary to sound doctrine. Slavery was the bedrock of the Roman and world economy. Some estimate that the slave population in the 1st century constituted approximately one third of the total population.
Most slaves were employed in domestic service in households and likely had an easier life than slaves working the land, or in mines or on ships. Early Christian thought exhibited some signs of kindness towards slaves. Christianity recognised marriage of sorts among slaves,  freeing slaves was regarded as an act of charity,  and when slaves were buried in Christian cemeteries, the grave seldom included any indication that the person buried had been a slave. John Chrysostom c.
Though the Pentateuch gave protection to fugitive slaves,  the Roman church often condemned with anathema slaves who fled from their masters, and refused them Eucharistic communion. Since the Middle Ages, the Christian understanding of slavery has seen significant internal conflict and endured dramatic change.
One notable example where church mission activities in the Caribbean were directly supported by the proceeds of slave ownership was under the terms of a charitable bequest in to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. In the first decade of ownership, several hundred slaves at the plantation estates were branded on their chests, using the traditional red hot iron, with the word Society , to signify their ownership by the Christian organisation.
Slave ownership at the Codrington Plantations only finally came to an end in , when slavery in British Empire was abolished. The Church of England has since apologised for the "sinfulness of our predecessors" with the history of these plantation estates highlighted as example of the church's inconsistent approach to slavery. In the Synod of Gangra in Armenia condemned certain Manicheans for a list of twenty practices including forbidding marriage, not eating meat, urging that slaves should liberate themselves, abandoning their families, asceticism and reviling married priests.
Saint Augustine described slavery as being against God's intention and resulting from sin. John Chrysostom described slavery as 'the fruit of covetousness, of degradation, of savagery Moreover, quoting partly from Paul the Apostle, Chrysostom opposed unfair and unjust forms of slavery by giving these instructions to those who owned slaves: " 'And ye masters', he continues, 'do the same things unto them'. The same things. What are these? And this is the glory of a Master, that He should thus love His slaves Let us therefore be stricken with awe at this so great love of Christ.
Let us be inflamed with this love-potion. Though a man be low and mean, yet if we hear that he loves us, we are above all things warmed with love towards him, and honor him exceedingly. And do we then love? And when our Master loves us so much, we are not excited? By early 4th century, the manumission in the church, a form of emancipation, was added in the roman law.
Slaves could be freed by a ritual in a church, performed by a christian bishop or priest. It is not known if baptism was required before this ritual. Subsequent laws, as the Novella of Justinian, gave to the bishops the power to free slaves. Several early figures, while not openly advocating abolition, did make sacrifices to emancipate or free slaves seeing liberation of slaves as a worthy goal.
This measure opened the way to war-captives to be incorporated in the byzantine society, in both the public and private sector. In the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire, a shift in the view of slavery is noticed, which by the 10th century transformed gradually a slave-object into a slave-subject. Thus, the Christian perception of slavery weakened the submission of slave to his earthly master by strengthening the ties of man to his God.
During the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas taught that, although the subjection of one person to another servitus was not part of the primary intention of the natural law, it was appropriate and socially useful in a world impaired by original sin. He takes the patristic theme There should be no punishment without some crime, so slavery as a penalty is a matter of positive law. Bede Jarrett , O.
African Passages, Lowcountry Adaptations
Nevertheless, for several decades spanning the late 15th and early 16th centuries, several popes explicitly endorsed the slavery of non-Christians. In response, the pope authorized King Alfonso V of Portugal to "attack, conquer, and subjugate Saracens , pagans and other enemies of Christ wherever they may be found Enrique IV of Castile threatened war and Afonso V appealed to the Pope to support monopolies on the part of any particular Christian state able to open trade with a particular, non-Christian region or countries.
In effect, the two bulls issued by Nicholas V conceded to subjects of Christian countries the religious authority to acquire as many slaves from non-Christians as they wished, by force or trade. During the Reconquista of the late 15th century, many Muslims and Jews were enslaved in Iberia especially after the Castilian-Aragonese victory in the Granada War of — In — after denunciations of slavery by Fr.
Falkowski, Sublimus Dei "had the effect of revoking" Inter Caetera , but left intact the "duty" of colonists , i. A series of bulls and encyclicals in , and from several popes condemned both slavery and the slave trade. Although some abolitionists opposed slavery for purely philosophical reasons, anti-slavery movements attracted strong religious elements. 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. Freedom of expression within the Western world also helped in enabling opportunity to express their position. Prominent among these abolitionists was Parliamentarian William Wilberforce in England, who wrote in his diary when he was 28 that, "God Almighty has set before me two great objects, the suppression of the Slave Trade and Reformation of Morals.
The famous English preacher Charles Spurgeon had some of his sermons burned in America due to his censure of slavery, calling it "the foulest blot" and which "may have to be washed out in blood.
Finney preached that slavery was a moral sin, and so supported its elimination. In my prayers and preaching, I so often alluded to slavery, and denounced it. Quakers in particular were early leaders in abolitionism. By British Quakers had expressed their official disapproval of the slave trade. In the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade was formed, with 9 of the 12 founder members being Quakers.
During the same year, William Wilberforce was persuaded to take up their cause; as an MP, Wilberforce was able to introduce a bill to abolish the slave trade. Wilberforce first attempted to abolish the trade in , but could only muster half the necessary votes; however, after transferring his support to the Whigs , it became an election issue. Abolitionist pressure had changed popular opinion, and in the election enough abolitionists entered parliament for Wilberforce to be able to see the passing of the Slave Trade Act The Royal Navy subsequently declared that the slave trade was equal to piracy, the West Africa Squadron choosing to seize ships involved in the transfer of slaves and liberate the slaves on board, effectively crippling the transatlantic 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.
Mob violence sometimes ensued. Wright - sent bundles of tracts and newspapers over , to prominent clerical, legal, and political figures throughout the whole country, and culminated in massive demonstrations throughout the North and South. Despite such determined opposition, many Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian members freed their slaves and sponsored black congregations, in which many black ministers encouraged slaves to believe that freedom could be gained during their lifetime.
After a great revival occurred in at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, American Methodists made anti-slavery sentiments a condition of church membership. Cheever,  used the Bible, logic and reason extensively in contending against the institution of slavery, and in particular the chattel form of it as seen in the South. Other Protestant missionaries of the Great Awakening initially opposed slavery in the South, but by the early decades of the 19th century, many Baptist and Methodist preachers in the South had come to an accommodation with it in order to evangelize the farmers and workers.
Disagreements between the newer way of thinking and the old often created schisms within denominations at the time. Differences in views toward slavery resulted in the Baptist and Methodist churches dividing into regional associations by the beginning of the Civil War. Roman Catholic statements also became increasingly vehement against slavery during this era. 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; .
Roman Catholic efforts extended to the Americas. With the black abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond , and the temperance priest Theobold Mathew , he organized a petition with 60, signatures urging the Irish of the United States to support abolition. O'Connell also spoke in the United States for abolition.
Preceding such, and while not explicitly expressing an abolitionist point of view, the Portuguese Dominican Gaspar da Cruz in strongly criticized the Portuguese traffic in Chinese slaves, explaining that any arguments by the slave traders that they "legally" purchased already-enslaved children were bogus.
Christian views on slavery - Wikipedia
In , the Roman Catholic Church's Canon Law was officially expanded to specify that "selling a human being into slavery or for any other evil purpose" is a crime. Pope Francis was one of the prominent religious leaders who came together in the Vatican, 2 December , with the aim of eliminating modern slavery and human trafficking. During a ceremony held in the seat of the Pontifical Academy for Sciences in the Vatican they signed a Declaration of Religious Leaders against Slavery.
In his address Pope Francis said:. Inspired by our confessions of faith, we are gathered here today for an historical initiative and to take concrete action: to declare that we will work together to eradicate the terrible scourge of modern slavery in all its forms. The physical, economic, sexual and psychological exploitation of men, women and children that is currently inflicted on tens of millions of people constitutes a form of dehumanization and humiliation. Every human being, man women, boy and girl, is made in God's image.
God is the love and freedom that is given in interpersonal relationships, and every human being is a free person destined to live for the good of others in equality and fraternity. Every person, and all people, are equal and must be accorded the same freedom and the same dignity. Any discriminatory relationship that does not respect the fundamental conviction that others are equal is a crime, and frequently an aberrant crime.
Therefore, we declare on each and every one of our creeds that modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labor and prostitution, and organ trafficking, is a crime against humanity Passages in the Bible on the use and regulation of slavery have been used throughout history as justification for the keeping of slaves, and for guidance in how it should be done. Therefore, when abolition was proposed, some Christians spoke vociferously against it, citing the Bible's acceptance of slavery as 'proof' that it was part of the normal condition.
George Whitefield , famed for his sparking of the Great Awakening of American evangelicalism, campaigned, in the Province of Georgia , for the legalisation of slavery,   joining the ranks of the slave owners that he had denounced in his earlier years, while contending they had souls and opposing mistreatment and owners who resisted his evangelism of slaves.
He bought enslaved Africans to work on his plantation and the orphanage he established in Georgia. Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon inherited these slaves and kept them in bondage. In both Europe and the United States some Christians went further, arguing that slavery was actually justified by the words and doctrines of the Bible. Historian Claude Clegg writes that at the time of the Second Great Awakening , there was a movement to create a narrative of a mutually beneficial relationship between slaves and masters.
This was increasingly tied to the doctrine of the Church as a means of justifying the system of slavery. In , southerners in the Presbyterian denomination joined forces with conservative northerners to drive the antislavery New School Presbyterians out of the denomination. In , the Methodist Episcopal Church split into northern and southern wings over the issue of slavery.
In , the Baptists in the South formed the Southern Baptist Convention due to disputes with Northern Baptists over slavery and missions. Some members of fringe Christian groups like the Christian Identity movement, the Ku Klux Klan an organization dedicated to the "empowerment of the white race" , and Aryan Nations still argue that slavery is justified by Christian doctrine today. The Christianisation of Europe in the Early Middle Ages saw the traditional slavery disappearing in Europe and being replaced with feudalism. In contrast to the British colonies, following , the Spanish government of Florida offered freedom to escaped slaves who made it into their territory and converted to Catholicism.
This offer was repeated multiple times. Civil Rights Movement in the 20th century was founded in part on the same religious ideas that had been used to justify slavery in the 19th century.
Slavery was by no means relegated to the continental United States, as in addition to vast numbers of Native Americans slaves, it is estimated that for every slave who went to North America, South America imported nearly twelve slaves, with the West Indies importing over ten. The introduction of Catholic Spanish colonies to the Americas resulted in, indentured servitude and even slavery to the indigenous peoples.
Some Portuguese and Spanish explorers were quick to enslave the indigenous peoples encountered in the New World. The Papacy was firmly against this practice. In Pope Eugene IV issued an attack against slavery in the papal bull Sicut Dudum that included the excommunication of all those who engage in the slave trade. Paul characterized enslavers as allies of the devil and declared attempts to justify such slavery "null and void.
The exalted God loved the human race so much that He created man in such a condition that he was not only a sharer in good as are other creatures, but also that he would be able to reach and see face to face the inaccessible and invisible Supreme Good