Christian view of slavery

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Christians of the 18th century were divided on their opinions of slavery.

Many Christians thought that slavery was morally acceptable. Many also argued at this time that one of the benefits of slavery was that slaves learned to adopt Christianity and become more civilised.

Opposition

Christian emancipators (people who wanted slaves to be set free) feared the anger of God over the sin of slavery. They saw slavery as unjust and evil, and campaigned to have it abolished.

The video below describes the influence of religion on the abolitionist movement.

Christian groups opposed to slavery found various ways of showing their opposition:

  • Quakers were early leaders in abolitionism (the campaign to ban slavery). In June 1783 a petition protesting against the slave trade was signed by over 300 Quakers and presented to Parliament.
  • John Wesley denounced slavery as the sum of all villainies and detailed its abuses in a pamphlet published in 1774.
  • At a sermon held in Dundee's Steeple Church in 1832 the Anti-Slavery Society was set up.
  • The Catholic Church also became critical of slavery during this time. In 1741 Pope Benedict XIV condemned slavery.