November 18, 2010

If not bigotry, then what is it?

In our early history, the “Curse of Ham” was used as the biblical justification for slavery in the United States. Most Americans are familiar with the tale of Noah and the flood, but many do not know that Noah’s story continues after the ark arrives on Mount Ararat. If we follow Genesis a bit further to chapter 9, verses 20-25, we learn that because of a faux pas by his son Ham, Noah cursed his own grandson, Ham's son Canaan, to become the “lowest of slaves.”

Thus the Bible authorizes slavery, and because America is a “Christian nation,” and Christian preachers were willing to rationalize slavery by using that “curse," the practice became palatable to a God-fearing nation. Hundreds of years of suffering ensued before this nation discovered it's conscience.

From the pre-revolutionary days of this nation, American Protestants preached that blacks were inferior, and that slavery was sanctioned by God; which white people swallowed hook, line and sinker. Those thoughts became part of the fabric of this nation and to this very day the practice of racism, although whispered, remains a part of American life. One wonders if we will ever outgrow the blatant bigotry.

Racial bigotry and segregation didn't succumb easily. It wasn't until 1998 when the state repealed its anti-miscegenation law that interracial marriage ceased being a crime in South Carolina. The repeal of the prohibition was supported by a majority of voters, but there were still almost 40 per cent of the voters in  opposition.

Although I think we can assume there was strong religious opposition, at the time the repeal was being debated the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention admirably stood with the majority, saying that "to wrap our prejudice in the Scripture is a sinful thing to do."

Three years earlier, in 1995, the SBC offered a public repentance for the role 150 years earlier that slavery played in the formation of that convention. The SBC's belated apology to black Americans for "condoning and/or perpetuating individual and system racism" came only 133 years after slavery was abolished.

I pick on the Baptists, but they were not the only Protestants preaching that slavery was sanctioned by God. Stephen Haynes, in his book Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, tells about a time in 1864 when the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America affirmed it was the church’s mission to conserve the institution of slavery, and to "make it a blessing both to master and slave."

In short, the Bible has been used throughout American history as a teaching tool for bigotry, and if the book is to be held with any esteem, the bigots are correct. There are no fewer than 29 biblical passages overtly justifying the practice of slavery, and many more indirectly sanctioning the practice.  Yet here in more enlightened times we seem to have come to our senses and now condemn the practice.

Since racial bigotry is no longer vogue, the modern religious bigot has dug into his bible to find something new to hate, and has centered his attention on a new target… homosexuals.

From what I can tell, there are maybe seven biblical passages that could arguably prohibit homosexuality. Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; and Romans 1:26-27. Romans 1:24-27 doesn't expressly condemn gays, telling us that God doesn’t create faggots… you have to sin first to become one.

So here is an interesting quandary. The bible thumpers will tell you that the Word of God is inerrant. 29 biblical passages tell us it is okay to keep slaves, yet we have condemned the practice with every civilized nation passing laws making it illegal. Every major Christian group and a majority of their adherents agree (overtly, at least) that the practice of slavery is an abomination.

29 passages permit slavery, yet only seven (maybe eight) call homosexuality a sin, and the bigots stick to that like glue because the Bible is inerrant. This causes my head to spin. Is the book inerrant or not?

A better question might be how long do you suppose it will take before we get past this hypocrisy du jour, and the bigots-by-nature wearing Xtian clothing find someone else to hate? 



Anonymous said...

And you notice that the bigots pick and choose which scriptures with which they're going to hit people over the head. They use the ones against homosexuality, but conveniently ignore the ones that could inconvenience themselves, such as not wearing wool and linen together, not eating shellfish, not cutting their hair or rounding their beards, covering their heads, etc., etc., etc.

I'm sorry, but the so-called 'Christians' who preach against homosexuality are, for the most part, nothing but hypocrites.

Old NFO said...

Excellent point MD... it's ALL about convienience... sigh...

Labrys said...

A certain sort of person always needs someone to hate. And that same sort likes to dress it as "religious" so it seems proper and righteous. The way the Pope is on a new exorcist kick, I expect the next fad will involve that poor little line about "not suffering a witch to live"....since neo-pagans would be easy to hate, too.

Anonymous said...

My Southern Baptist grandmother always claimed that black skin was the "mark of Cain", and told me it was "right there in the Bible", even though the Bible never actually says what the "mark" was supposed to be. I guess she missed out on the "Curse of Ham" memo.

I just never could buy into that particular line of bullsh*t, even when I was a kid. It makes even less sense to me as an adult. We all bleed the same color, that's all that counts!

Comrade Misfit said...

They'll just find some other group to despise.

It's what the good G-d-fearin' folk do.