From American atheist (http://www.atheists.org)
Racist programming on television has become a reality in a number of American cities, as community-access cable television channels (1) spread across the country. In Columbus, Ohio, where I myself produce "American Atheist TV-Forum" for cable consumption, the cable-access community recently was rocked by the advent of the program "Race and Reason," a racist foray into the free-speech arena. Although many other cities have tried to suppress this program -- some even contemplating closing down cable-access television to avoid hearing racist propaganda -- Columbus decided that the sacrifice of free speech was too great a price to pay for the exclusion of repugnant programming. It allowed the program to be aired during the half-hour immediately preceding the Atheist Forum.
Prior to the broadcast, however, there was a great deal of hustle and bustle on the part of the cable access channel staff. A variety of religious and civic organizations were asked to contribute opposing programs to be aired during the evening hours preceding the racist broadcast. Even American Atheists was approached for this purpose. (Due to logistical problems, however, we were unable to broadcast our program until the following week.)
Predictably, B'nai B'rith produced a moving documentary on the evils of racism when practiced outside of Israel. Liberal Christians presented discussions of the subject. There was much clucking of tongues and pious moralizing. Predictable also was the fact that no one -- from the first antidotal program aired after supper up to the never-before-seen disclaimer ("The views expressed in the following program ...") flashed on the screen just before the 10:30 p.m. debut of "Race and Reason" -- mentioned the fact that racism has its roots deep in the murky depths of religious reflexology. To compensate for this deficiency, the American Atheist TV Forum program broadcast the following week was titled "Race and Religion."
The actual "Race and Reason" broadcast (2) must have been quite shocking to liberal Christian viewers: not because of hate-filled rhetoric in the program (there was none), but because the main protagonist of the presentation was a clergyman, Pastor Robert Miles, of the Mountain Church in Michigan. Reverend Miles espoused a variant of the "Anglo-Israelite" doctrine, holding that the Jews of today are not really Jews, being Ashkenazim deriving from the conversion of the Khazars. Precisely how the English, Bulgarians, Bosnians, and Scots have come to be descendants of the true Jews was not discussed on the program. (However, many persons holding similar views believe these peoples to be descended from the "ten lost tribes of Israel.") The central message of the program was that racism and religion are sweetly compatible. And of course, that message is largely true.
Religious Roots Of Racism
The roots of the relationship between racism and religion run far back into the evolutionary past. Racism is merely a special form of xenophobia. (3) If xenophobia involves fear of persons who are merely "foreign," a fortiori it will involve fear of persons of other races, who -- quite literally -- wear their foreignness upon their faces. In the present day, when it is desperately necessary that people of all sorts learn to live together on the delicate spacecraft that supports their odyssey through space and time, xenophobia is a trait they well can do without. In the remote past, however, xenophobia appears to have served an important evolutionary function. If the theorizing of sociobiologists be correct -- and an increasing amount of evidence appears to indicate it is largely so -- xenophobia helped to accelerate the course of evolution when our ancestors were still at the evolutionary stage where the largest social groups were clans and tribes.
To oversimplify only a bit, xenophobia helped to keep the gene pools of various small groups fairly isolated from each other. This allowed for "group selection" to occur. Instead of individuals surviving or perishing in the struggle for existence, groups of individuals survived or perished. This presumably accelerated the rate of genetic change in the species as a whole. It is not unreasonable to suppose, therefore, that there may be a genetic factor biasing us towards xenophobic behavior. (4) The function of xenophobia, basically, is to sharpen the distinction between in-group and out-groups ("us" and "them") and to intensify competition, motivating the elimination of out-group gene pools.
For success in the struggle for group survival, however, more than clear definition of group boundaries is necessary. In-group cohesion and cooperation also are essential, and that is where religion has come into the picture of human evolution. Religion, harnessing the forces of hypnosis and suggestion via the medium of rhythmic chanting and dancing, was just what was needed to fuse the individuals of a tribe into a kind of super-organism, a collective entity that could combine the singleness of purpose and efficiency of an individual with the power of a mob. The all-night war dances of certain Amerindian tribes are suggestive of the original function played by religion at the pre-civilized stage of human evolution. Once the religious shamans had gotten the warriors into a trance, they could be sent off to war as anxiety-free machines that could be counted on to do their utmost to wipe out the genetic competition. Thus, there is the possibility that there may be a genetic bias favoring religiosity (i.e., the ability to be hypnotized, brain-washed, and sent off to fight for the survival of the in-group) as well as a bias favoring xenophobia. While it is not yet certain that genes for xenophobia and religiosity exist, it is quite clear that religion and xenophobia have been partners since long before the appearance of written records.
It is a fact that the racial features of the gods and goddesses that people have invented (ignoring, of course, the deities modeled after animals) almost always have coincided with those of their creators. The African gods are black, often with their race-defining features being exaggerated. The deities of the Asians look oriental. It comes as no surprise that the gods of the Caucasoids are depicted as white: Jesus, Thor, Zeus, Mithra -- none of them could be confused with a resident of the Congo or Rangoon. In keeping with the notion that each religion is responsible for enhancing the social cohesion of a particular group of people, it is not surprising to learn that nearly every religion considers its own little group to be "god's chosen people."
If it be true that the original function of religion in the course of evolution was to enhance the selective advantage of the in-group at the expense of out-groups, we should expect that religions which have managed to survive from ancient tribal times up to the present would still show traces of their racist beginnings and would exhibit at least some degree of self-definition along racial lines. Unfortunately, almost all such religions went extinct long ago -- at least in the Near East, where written records survive in quantities great enough to allow some understanding of their nature. To my knowledge, the only modern Near-Eastern religions surviving from ancient tribal times are Judaism and Samaritanism. (5) Since Samaritanism is nearly extinct -- and thus not a very good example if one is studying religious strategies conferring a survival advantage upon a group! -- we are left with Judaism as the only suitable religion with which to test the hypothesis that religion promotes racism and xenophobia in general, and that racism and xenophobia in turn have been associated with increased survival rates. (6)
Bible & Jesus Myth
Daniel in the Debunker's Den
Did Jesus Exist?
Hang 'Em All
How Jesus Got A Life
Mary "Faker" Eddy
Of Bones and Boners
Origins of Mormonism
Race & Religion
The Real Bible
Rehnquist & Ten Taboos
The Twelve: Further Fictions
Spiritual Guide to Gracious Living
Where Jesus Never Walked
The Racist Dimensions Of Judaism
An illumination from a 1470 Jewish prayer book depicts Haman executed with his ten sons at the express request of Queen Esther, the Jewish wife of King Ahasuerus (Xerxes I, ca. 519-465 B.c.). The event is marked by the festival of Purim (Esther 9:13-14).
It is striking that the most common definition of what constitutes a Jew is biological, not theological: a Jew is a person born to a Jewish mother. It is a small step in "logic" from this genetic definition of Jewishness to the notion that the Jews constitute a special "race." Hitler and his crackpot eugenicists did not invent the idea of "the Jewish race"; they accepted the idea gratefully from the Jews themselves. To the extent that the Jews have succeeded in maintaining the "purity" of their "race," they have succeeded in isolating and preserving an in-group gene pool.
One of the ways the "purity" of the Jewish gene pool has been maintained has been through strong prohibition or discouragement of miscegenation -- intermarriage with gentiles. The entire ninth chapter of the book of Ezra is, in fact, aimed at maintaining the racial purity of the Jews. A few verses will suffice as examples: (7)
The people of Israel, the priests, and the Levites have not held themselves aloof from the peoples of the lands despite their abominations -- from the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites -- inasmuch as they and their sons have married some of their daughters, so that the holy race has become contaminated by the peoples of the lands ... [Ezra 9:1-2]
And now, O our God, what shall we say after this, for we have abandoned your commandments ... saying, "The land you are going to possess is a polluted land, polluted by the peoples of the lands and their abominations which have filled it with their uncleanness from one end to the other. So, now, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor marry their daughters to your sons and do not ever seek their peace or welfare, [emphasis added] that you may be strong, eat the good things of the land, and bequeath it to your sons forever." After all that has befallen us ... shall we again break your commandments by entering into marriage relationships with the people who commit these abominations? [Ezra 9: 10-14]
Although we do not yet know what particular genes are in the pool thus guarded by Ezra and Jewish tradition, it seems obvious that some of them have been very useful, as viewed from the perspective of more than three millennia of history. Although the Jews still survive -- indeed, flourish -- most of the ancient peoples with whom they contended are nowhere to be found today. The Midianites, the Jebusites, the Perizzites, the Hivites -- all are without descendants, and all are gone.
We know from the Hebrew scriptures just why it is that these out-group gene pools no longer exist. Just as Hitler did not have to invent the idea of a Jewish race, so too was it unnecessary for him to create the art of genocide: the Hebrew scriptures constitute a textbook on how to do it. In the 31st chapter of Numbers we read that
The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 'You are to exact vengeance for Israel on the Midianites ... So the men were called up from the clans of Israel, a thousand from each tribe ... with Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest, who was in charge of the holy vessels and of the trumpets to give the signal for the battle-cry. They made war on Midian as the Lord had commanded Moses, and slew all the men ... The Israelites took captive the Midianite women and their dependents, and carried off all their beasts, their flocks, and their property. They burnt all their cities ...
Moses and Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the community went to meet them outside the camp. Moses spoke angrily to the officers of the army ... 'Have you spared all the women?' he said. 'Remember, it was they who, on Balaam's departure, set about seducing the Israelites into disloyalty to the Lord that day at Peor, so that the plague struck the community of the Lord. Now kill every male dependent, and kill every woman who has had intercourse with a man, but spare for yourselves every woman among them who has not had intercourse. (8)
While this lovely exercise did not totally stamp out the Midianite gene pool, it greatly reduced it in size. At the same time, it allowed for an expansion of the Israelite gene pool. A more detailed recipe for genocidal elimination of genetic competitors can be found in the 20th chapter of Deuteronomy:
When you advance on a city to attack it, make an offer of peace. If the city accepts the offer and opens its gates to you, then all the people in it shall be put to forced labour and shall serve you. If it does not make peace with you but offers battle, you shall besiege it, and the Lord your God will deliver it into your hands. You shall put all its males to the sword, but you may take the women, the dependents, and the cattle for yourselves, and plunder everything else in the city. You may enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemies which the Lord your God gives you. That is what you shall do to cities at a great distance, as opposed to those which belong to nations near at hand. In the cities of these nations whose land the Lord your God is giving you as a patrimony, you shall not leave any creature alive. You shall annihilate them -- Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites -- as the Lord your God commanded you ...
Now it is not always possible or practical to practice genocide, and Judaism often has had to settle for something less thorough. Until the founding of the modern state of Israel made quasi-genocide possible once again, Judaism has had to content itself with the practice of intense discrimination against goyim (gentiles) coupled with strong favoritism of everyone born of a Jewish mother. Quite brazen examples of this practice can be found in both the Old Testament and the Mishnah. (9) In Deuteronomy, for example, we have a commandment which clearly discriminates against non-Jews:
You shall not eat anything that has died a natural death. You shall give it to the aliens who live in your settlements, and they may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a people holy to the Lord your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk. (10) [Deut. 14:21]
From a sociobiological point of view, this revealing verse appears to involve more than ordinary discrimination. Animals that die by themselves are likely to be diseased. In some cases, such diseases can be transmitted to humans. The Deuteronomic law thus will be protective of the Jewish gene pool and may actually help to reduce the size of the gentile gene pool. At a minimum, it serves to make gentile money available for the advancement of Jewish genes.
A similarly gene pool-related law can be found in the part of the Mishnah known as Abodah Zarah (Idolatry):
The daughter of an Israelite may not assist a gentile woman in childbirth since she would be assisting to bring to birth a child for idolatry, but a gentile woman may assist the daughter of an Israelite. The daughter of an Israelite may not suckle the child of a gentile woman, but a gentile woman may suckle the child of the daughter of an Israelite in this one's domain. (11)
Laws with less obviously genetic implications can be found throughout the Old Testament and Mishnah. For example, in Deuteronomy 15:1 we are commanded:
At the end of every seventh year you shall make a remission of debts ... Everyone who holds a pledge shall remit the pledge of anyone indebted to him. He shall not press a fellow-countryman for repayment, for the Lord's year of remission has been declared. You may press foreigners; but if it is a fellow-countryman that holds anything of yours, you must remit all claim upon it ... The Lord your God will bless you with great prosperity in the land which he is giving you to occupy as your patrimony ..."
This particular passage has the effect of increasing the survival potential of the Jewish gene pool, while making it just a bit harder on the genetic competition. It's message is reinforced by Baba Metzia 5:6 of the Mishnah, which forbids usury among Jews, but allows Jews to practice usury against gentiles. For good measure, the last part of the Deuteronomy verse creates the fiction that a certain piece of geography is eternally reserved for the support of that gene pool. This fiction is further reinforced by Gittin 4:9 of the Mishnah, which encourages Israelites not to sell land to gentiles.
In the Mishnah section called Makshirin ('Predisposers') we are told that "If he [an Israelite] found lost property in the city and most of the people were gentiles, he need not proclaim it; if most of them were Israelites he must proclaim it ..." (12) Again, the net result of this policy is that gentile wealth will more often be used to advance the Jewish gene pool than vice-versa.
Large parts of the Mishnah are as racist as anything Hitler ever wrote. It is shot through with the notion that gentiles are "unclean" and inferior to Jews. The Mishnah tells us that if a gentile enters a house, everything in it is rendered unclean [Tohoroth 7:6]. It claims that animals slaughtered by gentiles are to be considered carrion. [Hullin 1:1] It declares that "The temple mount is still more holy ... the rampart is still more holy, for no gentiles and none that have contracted uncleanness from a corpse may enter therein." [Kelim 1:8] Imagine the fuss that would be made if a Christian wrote that "meat prepared by a Negro butcher is unfit for consumption," or that "the sanctuary of our church is especially holy, because no Negro is allowed to set foot in it." For some reason, the equally racist material in the Mishnah ruffles no feathers and evokes no disavowals from the rabbis.
Other passages in the Mishnah simply serve to reinforce Jewish xenophobia, by suggesting that gentiles cannot be trusted and must be presumed to be evil. Thus, part of Abodah Zarah 2:1 states that "Cattle may not be left in the inns of the gentiles since they are suspected of bestiality; nor may a woman remain alone with them since they are suspected of lewdness; nor may a man remain alone with them since they are suspected of shedding blood."
The Jewish disdain of gentiles was carried over even into the Christian New Testament. In Matthew 10:5-8 it is alleged that "These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: 'Do not take the road to gentile lands, and do not enter any Samaritan town; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ... Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out devils ... " The original gospel stories, when it became necessary to curry favor with the Roman authorities, were all revised to make them rather anti-Semitic. However, it appears from this verse -- which somehow managed to elude the rewriters -- that the "benefits" of the Jewish proto-Christian religion originally were intended for Jews only. Only after the triumph of St. Paul's party over the Jerusalem Jewish-Christian party could the blessings of full-fledged Christianity be wreaked upon the gentiles.
Slavery And Religion
It is not necessary to carry out genocide to advance the cause of the gene pool of which one is a part. Slavery also is fine for the purpose. In slavery, one gene pool is used for the advancement of another. The breeding of slaves can be controlled, and it is possible to achieve a condition where benefits to the in-group gene pool can be maximized, and the size of the out-group (enslaved) gene pool can be kept to the minimum size adequate for that purpose. It should come as no surprise, then, to learn that the Hebrew scriptures accept slavery as an institution to be practiced by Jews.
Two of the Ten Commandments presuppose slavery. The Fourth Commandment forbids Jews to work their male or female slaves on the sabbath day. Nowhere are we told not to own slaves. Working slaves on a particular day is considered more heinous than owning them. The Tenth Commandment forbids us to covet our neighbor's slave or slave-girl. Coveting a slave is worse than owning one! (13)
Slavery is justified more explicitly in the ninth chapter of Genesis, where hereditary slavery (i.e., genetically defined slavery) is cursed into existence: "Cursed be Canaan, slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers ... Bless, o Lord, the tents of Shem; may Canaan be his slave. May God extend Japheth's bounds, let him dwell in the tents of Shem, may Canaan be their slave." To the writers of this passage, 'Canaan' (14) was considered to be the eponymous ancestor of the Canaanites, the peoples being displaced by the Hebrews. The curse of Canaan thus justified the enslavement of the Canaanites. 'Shem' was the eponym whose name can be seen in the word Semites -- the Jews, Arabs, Babylonians, and Syrians. 'Japheth' was the eponym of the Greeks and other gentiles to the north of the Hebrew sphere of interest.
The declaration of the divinely ordained superiority of the Jewish gene pool and its ascendancy over the genetic competition soars to poetic heights in the 49th and 61st chapters of the book of Isaiah:
Foreigners shall serve as shepherds of your flocks, and aliens shall till your land and tend your vines; but you shall be called priests of the Lord and be named ministers of our God; you shall enjoy the wealth of other nations and be furnished with their riches. [Isaiah 61:5-6]
I will beckon to the nations and hoist a signal to the peoples and they shall bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders; kings shall be your foster-fathers and their princesses shall be your nurses. They shall bow to the earth before you and lick the dust from your feet ... I will contend with all who contend against you and save your children from them. I will force your oppressors to feed on their own flesh and make them drunk with their own blood as if with fresh wine, and all mankind shall know that it is I, the Lord, who save you ... [Isaiah 49:22-26]
Like their ancient Jewish predecessors, the good Christian slave-holders of America could find an even better biblical justification for their practice. Leviticus 25:39-46 gave them a clear go-ahead to make and hold slaves -- provided the slaves are part of a different gene pool:
When your brother is reduced to poverty and sells himself to you, you shall not use him to work for you as a slave. His status shall be that of a hired man or a stranger lodging with you; he shall work for you until the year of jubilee. He shall then leave your service, with his children, and go back to his family and to his ancestral property: because they are my slaves whom I brought out of Egypt, they shall not be sold as slaves are sold. You shall not drive him with ruthless severity, but you shall fear your God. Such slaves as you have, male or female, shall come from the nations round about you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy the children of those who have settled and lodge with you and such of their family as are born in the land. These may become your property, and you may leave them to your sons after you; you may use them as slaves permanently. But your fellow-Israelites you shall not drive with ruthless severity.
It is not surprising that highly religious people were the major defenders of slavery at the time of the American civil war. Nor is it surprising that the majority of the antislavery thinkers were either out-and-out infidels, such as Benjamin Franklin, John Stuart Mill, Robert Owen, Frances Wright, (15) and Abraham Lincoln, (16) or members of highly demythologized, liberal religions such as the Universalists, Unitarians, and Quakers.
Racism In Christianity
Although we have devoted considerable space to the racist dimensions of Judaism, we should not forget that the most thorough-going practice of racism in the West during the last thousand years or so has involved Christians. Although Christianity developed long after tribalism had disappeared from the Palestinian region, it became the emblem of the supertribalism known as nationalism after the break-up of the Roman empire. On the basis of the sociobiological theory of the evolutionary function of religion, it was quite predictable that the Catholic Hitler and the Anglican Churchill would invoke the same god to rally their people behind them. In both German and English, people read and then obeyed the injunction in Romans chapter 13:
Every person must submit to the supreme authorities. There is no authority but by act of God, and the existing authorities are instituted by him; consequently anyone who rebels against authority is resisting a divine institution, and those who so resist have themselves to thank for the punishment they will receive ... the authorities ... are God's agents working for your good."
The most virulent forms of racism in America today all involve religious organizations. (17) In addition to the "Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan," there is the so-called Christian Identity movement, which preaches hatred of blacks and Jews, an imminent apocalypse, and the propriety of using armed violence to achieve its goals. The movement includes individual organizations with names such as "Church of Jesus Christ Christian" (run by Richard G. Butler, of Hayden Lake, Idaho), "Aryan Nations," "The Order," "The Covenant," "the Sword and the Arm of the Lord," etc. Even though civilization is now nearly five thousand years old, many of the world's religions dangerously continue to reinforce archaic reflexes developed during the Paleolithic Era.
If the human species is to survive, it is clear that religious reflexes and religious modes of thought must be inhibited. We should not deceive ourselves, however, into thinking that all will be well if we can but eliminate religion. If the theories of sociobiology be correct, we will still have to fight against the bias built into our genes -- the bias that makes it easier to respond negatively to people who differ from us, the bias that makes it easier to follow a leader than to think for ourselves. Fortunately, the genetic bias -- if it exists -- most certainly can be overridden by education and psychotherapies of various sorts.
The time is past when we could judge people on the basis of race. We are all members of the same endangered species, the human race, and we must all make accommodation for each other in various ways. The inherent inequality of people will continue to be a problem for us. Good and bad, bright and dull, beautiful and ugly -- except for identical twins, no two people are "equal," and daily we will be forced to pass judgment on our fellow planet-mates. But we must judge people as individuals, not as members of one or another race.
The world today is much different from the world in which our reflexes evolved, the world in which religion first crept into our bones. We must change. We must adapt. We must mute the inner murmurings of primal religiosity, or our kind shall vanish from the earth, a victim of its own violence.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1 In many cities serviced by cable television companies, a part of the revenue received from cable rentals is allocated for a special studio facility used to produce television programming created by ordinary members of the community. Although such programs can run the gamut of subjects from astrology to gay rights and Cajun cooking, the vast majority of the programs are religious. Many are little more than video recordings of local Holy-Roller meetings.
2 The program aired only once, although it was clearly intended to be a series. I have been unable to learn why no further programs were aired.
3 Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary defines 'xenophobia' as "fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign." The word derives from the Greek xenos, 'strange.' I prefer to define the term somewhat more broadly, as "fear and hatred of anyone who differs noticeably from the norm of one's in-group."
4 This bias is, of course, not absolute and can be overridden by conditioning. In the absence of conditioning, however, we will more likely than not respond xenophobically when opportunities present themselves -- if this sociobiological hypothesis be true.
5 Islam, of course, also is a religion created in a tribal environment. However, the lateness of its creation and the fact that it incorporated material from Judaism and Christianity long after they had become the religions of civilized (i.e., non-tribal) peoples makes it unclear to me how much can be learned from a study of Islam. It is interesting, however, that Islam distinguishes between "People of the Book" and heathens. At the time of Mohammed, the "People of the Book" were largely Semites like the Arabs. The term included the Jews and the Christians. Although by the time of Mohammed Christianity had infected a wide variety of different peoples throughout the territory of the Roman Empire, it is likely that the Christians known to Mohammed were of Semitic derivation. Hence, the distinction between in-group (People of the Book) and out-group (heathens) was essentially the distinction between Semites and non-Semites. Although the subject of racism in Islam requires much more study, cursory examination seems to indicate that Islam, like Judaism, originally functioned to enlarge a small gene pool (e.g., a small assemblage of Semitic tribes), and thus was essentially racist in nature.
6 It is important that we not fall into the fallacious Catholic principle of "natural law," the notion that what is natural is "right" and that what is unnatural is "wrong." While it may very well be true that we are here today because of the xenophobic behavior of our remote ancestors, it certainly does not follow that we should behave that way!
7 Ezra verses are from The Anchor Bible. Ezra-Nehemiah, by Jacob M. Myers, Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1965, pp. 73-4.
8 Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations from the Bible are from the New English Bible version.
9 The Mishnah is a compilation of the Jewish oral laws which was made at the close of the second century C.E.
10 The injunction against boiling a kid in its mother's milk has no logical connection with the rest of the verse, but it is nevertheless a part of it. There is evidence to show that this prohibition actually was the original form of the "Tenth Commandment," as recorded in the 34th chapter of Exodus. Although not one of the ten commandments given in Exodus 34 has any ethical significance whatsoever, Exodus 34:27-29 tells us that it is the real set of Ten Taboos that Yahweh gave to Moses.
11 The Mishnah, translated by Herbert Danby, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 438.
12 Ibid., p. 760.
13 There is some evidence that the term translated as 'covet' actually referred to the "curse of the evil eye." If that be true, this otherwise trivial commandment becomes the equivalent of "Don't harm your neighbor's property."
14 For reasons I have never been able to discover, many of the Christian defenders of slavery in the Nineteenth Century considered Canaan, the son of Ham, to be the ancestor of the black race. According to their opinion, Blacks were consigned to slavery shortly after the grounding of Noah's ark! According to A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Vol. I, published in 1872 by the Reverends Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown [Hartford, Conn., S.S. Scranton & Co., p. 23] "this doom [i.e., the curse of Canaan] has been fulfilled in the destruction of the Canaanites -- in the degradation of Egypt, and the slavery of the Africans, the descendants of Ham."
15 Frances (Fanny) Wright (b. Dundee, Scotland, Sept. 6, 1795, d. Cincinnati, Ohio, Dec. 13, 1852) published a Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery in 1825. It had the support of both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Her free-thought treatise, Course of Popular Lectures on Free Inquiry, Religion, Morals, Opinions, etc. appeared in 1829.
16 Known as "the infidel Lincoln," when he ran for president 20 out of 23 ministers of his home district voted against him on account of his heterodox opinions.
17 Until the 1960's, the Mormon Church would also have been listed here, due to its refusal to allow blacks to hold the "priesthood," and for its pervasive racist attitudes. Just in time, however, when there was danger of loosing funding from a newly "equal-opportunity" Federal Government, the "Chief Seer and Revelator" of the church got the word from god that blacks could now hold the priesthood. Mormon fundamentalists are still quite racist, however