The legacy of proslavery theology, still with us today

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Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce, professor, preacher, and author, writes about the legacy of proslavery theology, asserting that the lack of study and discussion of proslavery theology is a failure of contemporary Christianity, and that it still exists today.

From the essay, titled When Our Truths Are Ignored: Proslavery Theology’s Legacy:

We often fail to deconstruct how proslavery theology still influences American Christianity. But simply put: Theological arguments upheld the institution of slavery long after every other argument failed. American Christian theology was born in a cauldron of proslavery ideology, and one of the spectacular failures of the Christian church today is its inability to name, interrogate, confront, repent, and dismantle the cauldron which has shaped much of its theology. We are daily living with the remnants of a theological white supremacy, coupled with social and political power, which continues to uphold racist ideologies.

Pierce writes about the many ways that black voices needed to be presented in a ‘white envelope’, with traditional white authorities and institutions vouching for the speaker or writer. She notes that this is still the case today, where many Americans will only care about suffering when white institutions validate and verify it. Even though the majority of white people claim to oppose racism, white supremacy ignores the testimony and personal accounts of black experience, except when verified by white institutions or individuals. She ties this back to the theological argument that people from the African continent were lesser and needed to be kept enslaved to prevent them from abandoning Christianity, and demonstrates how this idea has survived.

You can read her entire essay, with extensive cites and references to statistics, on the Religion & Politics site.

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