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Sat Apr 6, 2013, 12:41 PM


Lessons from Douglass & Stanton (Part I) .. 'Where all is plain there is nothing to be argued.'

this got too long and general to post in reply to Rob H in backscatter712's 'Now we're bigoted against Muslims.' post.. consider this post a fork from here.. http://www.democraticunderground.com/123014541#post6

we've all seen the claims that in u.s. history, liberal christians should get the lion's share of credit for leading the way in various civil rights struggles.. MLK Jr. is oft-cited, but so is abolitionism, women's suffrage, and labor rights among others. this got me thinking back to frederick douglass' in radical speech, 'What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?', and the schisms that occurred along religious lines both within abolitionist movement and women's suffrage, and between these two civil rights movements.

there's so much in Fred's speech worth remembering that you've got reference to the conservatives of his era.. there is always a troll under the bridge to the future, ain't there? ..

Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change, (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor.

every era, every nation, even every coalition or tribe has them. regressives whose motto is 'one step backwards, two steps back'. but that wasn't why fred was there that day. he was speaking to his ostensible supporters and wondered openly what the fuck they were thinking when they invited him to speak on the 4th of July..

Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?

slavery was a hot-button issue for white christian abolitionists and they didn't want to let it go while they were winning elections. Fred knew this, and he understood the deeper reasons *why* his supposed allies were becoming a new obstacle.. does any of the following ring familiar? ..

“I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just. But I fancy I hear some one of my audience say, it is just in this circumstance that you and your brother abolitionists fail to make a favorable impression on the public mind. Would you argue more, and denounce less, would you persuade more, and rebuke less, your cause would be much more likely to succeed. But, I submit, where all is plain there is nothing to be argued.

so he went with what was NOT plain and after laying out his chief argument, in the end places significant responsibility on the hypocrisy of so-called 'religious liberty' and american christianity.

The fact that the church of our country, (with fractional exceptions), does not esteem “the Fugitive Slave Law” as a declaration of war against religious liberty, implies that that church regards religion simply as a form of worship, an empty ceremony, and not a vital principle, requiring active benevolence, justice, love and good will towards man.



But the church of this country is not only indifferent to the wrongs of the slave, it actually takes sides with the oppressors. It has made itself the bulwark of American slavery, and the shield of American slave-hunters. Many of its most eloquent Divines. who stand as the very lights of the church, have shamelessly given the sanction of religion and the Bible to the whole slave system. They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity.

For my part, I would say, welcome infidelity! welcome atheism! welcome anything! in preference to the gospel, as preached by those Divines! They convert the very name of religion into an engine of tyranny, and barbarous cruelty, and serve to confirm more infidels, in this age, than all the infidel writings of Thomas Paine, Voltaire, and Bolingbroke, put together, have done! These ministers make religion a cold and flinty-hearted thing, having neither principles of right action, nor bowels of compassion. They strip the love of God of its beauty, and leave the throng of religion a huge, horrible, repulsive form. It is a religion for oppressors, tyrants, man-stealers, and thugs. It is not that “pure and undefiled religion” which is from above, and which is “first pure, then peaceable, easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” But a religion which favors the rich against the poor; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, tyrants and slaves; which says to the man in chains, stay there; and to the oppressor, oppress on; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and enslavers of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies his fatherhood of the race, and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. All this we affirm to be true of the popular church, and the popular worship of our land and nation—a religion, a church, and a worship which, on the authority of inspired wisdom, we pronounce to be an abomination in the sight of God. In the language of Isaiah, the American church might be well addressed, “Bring no more vain ablations; incense is an abomination unto me: the new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth. They are a trouble to me; I am weary to bear them; and when ye spread forth your hands I will hide mine eyes from you. Yea! when ye make many prayers, I will not hear. YOUR HANDS ARE FULL OF BLOOD; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge for the fatherless; plead for the widow.”

The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold slavery; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in connection with its ability to abolish slavery. The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. Albert Barnes but uttered what the common sense of every man at all observant of the actual state of the case will receive as truth, when he declared that “There is no power out of the church that could sustain slavery an hour, if it were not sustained in it.”

Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday school, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against slavery and slave-holding; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds; and that they do not do this involves them in the most awful responsibility of which the mind can conceive.

In prosecuting the anti-slavery enterprise, we have been asked to spare the church, to spare the ministry; but how, we ask, could such a thing be done? We are met on the threshold of our efforts for the redemption of the slave, by the church and ministry of the country, in battle arrayed against us; and we are compelled to fight or flee. From what quarter, I beg to know, has proceeded a fire so deadly upon our ranks, during the last two years, as from the Northern pulpit? As the champions of oppressors, the chosen men of American theology have appeared-men, honored for their so-called piety, and their real learning. The LORDS of Buffalo, the SPRINGS of New York, the LATHROPS of Auburn, the COXES and SPENCERS of Brooklyn, the GANNETS and SHARPS of Boston, the DEWEYS of Washington, and other great religious lights of the land, have, in utter denial of the authority of Him, by whom the professed to he called to the ministry, deliberately taught us, against the example or the Hebrews and against the remonstrance of the Apostles, they teach “that we ought to obey man’s law before the law of God.”

My spirit wearies of such blasphemy; and how such men can be supported, as the “standing types and representatives of Jesus Christ,” is a mystery which I leave others to penetrate. In speaking of the American church, however, let it be distinctly understood that I mean the great mass of the religious organizations of our land. There are exceptions, and I thank God that there are. Noble men may be found, scattered all over these Northern States, of whom Henry Ward Beecher of Brooklyn, Samuel J. May of Syracuse, and my esteemed friend on the platform, are shining examples; and let me say further, that upon these men lies the duty to inspire our ranks with high religious faith and zeal, and to cheer us on in the great mission of the slave’s redemption from his chains.


yeah.. christians led the way. riiiiigggt.

they've always tried to take credit for other people's efforts. this is not new. we are on the tail end of a long phenomenon.

* Part II: Elizabeth Stanton and the adverse role of christianity on women's rights in the u.s.

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Reply Lessons from Douglass & Stanton (Part I) .. 'Where all is plain there is nothing to be argued.' (Original post)
Phillip McCleod Apr 2013 OP
dimbear Apr 2013 #1
Phillip McCleod Apr 2013 #2
dimbear Apr 2013 #3

Response to Phillip McCleod (Original post)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 05:39 PM

1. As long as the Christians continue to write history unchallenged, they'll be the sole heroes.

BTW, there was a similar hubbub between the loudmouth atheists and the pacific Christians within the abolitionist movement in the 1840s-1850s. The loudmouth atheists were shouted down, mostly, and muzzled.

Too mouthy.

Completely forgotten today.

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Response to dimbear (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 05:44 PM

2. i thought i had come across something to that effect along the way.


i must find some links for this thread.

it's just really got me thinking about the subtle power relations within progressivism historically, and how they are sad but real echos of the two-tiered power structure as it has propagated through history.

maybe marx and engles had a point? about the historical dialectic i mean?

i want to go into it more.. much more, but all i've got is my inner thoughts. didn't seem appropriate to expose outside this group.

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Response to Phillip McCleod (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 6, 2013, 06:02 PM

3. It is a lucky thing that history has minority reports. It's the separating out the right one that

can be hard.

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