Thursday, November 14, 2013

Role of Organized Religion

  • Slave Aucton in the South, 1861

    Predominant Religions in European Countries Involved in the Atlantic Slave Trade
    • Portugal
      • Primarily Roman Catholic. In 1497, expelled the Jews and the few remaining Moors, or forced them to convert.
    • Spain
      • Primarily Roman Catholic. In 1492, expelled the Jews and the few remaining Moors, or forced them to convert. For five centuries, from the 8th to the 13th century, Spain was ruled by Muslims. Jews and Christians were free to practice their faith during this period.
    • Britain
      • Britain was a Catholic country until Henry the VIII split with the Roman Catholic church, after the church refused to agree with his divorce from his first wife. When Elizabeth I became Queen in 1558, Britain became a Protestant country by law with the Sovereign declared head of the Church of England.
    • Netherlands
      • Anti-Catholic riots spread across the country in 1566, leading to a revolt that culminated in the formation of the Union of Utrecht. In 1581 the Union of Utrecht proclaimed independence from Catholic Spain. Today, northern Holland is predominantly Protestant, and southern Holland is predominantly Catholic.
    • France
      • Primarily Roman Catholic. In the 16th century the Huguenots, strongly influenced by John Calvin, were growing in number and viewed as seditious by the government. The result was eight civil wars, and several massacres of the Huguenots. During the 17th century, persecution led many of the Huguenots to leave France. Many went to the Netherlands, and others settled in England, Ireland, America, Germany, Switzerland, and South Africa.
  • To What Extent Have Religious Leaders Apologized For 400 Years of Participation In The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery?
    • The Church of England
      • In February, 2006, the Church of England apologized for its involvement in the slave trade and benefits derived from it. (48)  Said the Guardian: "The Church of England last night said sorry for the role it played in the 18th century in benefiting from slave labour in the Caribbean. ... Speakers in the synod debate acknowledged that the church had played its part in justifying slavery during the long campaign by William Wilberforce and others ..." The Rt Rev Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, told the synod: "We know that bishops in the House of Lords with biblical authority voted against the abolition of the slave trade. We know that the church owned sugar plantations on the Codrington estates [where they also owned slaves. Codrington estates is in Barbados]." The Guardian also noted that "A recent book, Bury the Chains (51), by the American author Adam Hochschild, clearly influenced the debate. It says the church's missionary organisation, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, branded its slaves on the chest with the word SOCIETY to show who they belonged to."
    • The Catholic Church
      • As reported by the Evangelist in 2000, official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, "... Pope John Paul II has called on the Church to recognize and apologize for its failures during the first 2000 years of Christianity. Foremost among those failures, according to a panel of scholars, is repression of others in general and anti-Semitism in particular." (49) The scholars were asked:"What is the worst mistake the Church has committed over the past two millennia -- and how can the Church make up for it?" Among the responses was this one regarding slavery: "The Church's silence on or even implicit approval of slavery for almost 2000 years" was its worst mistake, said Rev. Robert Scully, SJ, assistant professor of history at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. "From the New Testament period on, the Church generally accepted slavery as a 'natural' part of socio-economic reality, or spoke of it as a necessary evil," he explained. "As a Jesuit, I am morally embarrassed by the fact that certain Jesuit provinces owned slaves into the 18th and even the 19th centuries. It is a classic -- and particularly chilling -- example of the fact that the Church has often not been at the forefront of moral crusades to end unjust social realities that were too often taken for granted, or not deeply questioned and challenged."
      • As reported in msn Encarta, "In 2000, a Holy Year in which the church reflected on its 2000-year history, John Paul asked forgiveness for sins committed by Roman Catholics. Although he mentioned no specific errors, several cardinals acknowledged past injustice and intolerance toward non-Catholics. These acknowledgements were understood to include the Crusades and the Inquisition and inaction during the Holocaust. The apology preceded a papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land and a visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Israel." (50)

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