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When I saw the movie Twelve Years A Slave yesterday, I re-learned something I already knew: Christian Conservatives have used the Bible/religious doctrine to justify their Godless acts for a long, long time.

In scene after scene in the film--which is truly magnificent--white slave owners and overseers quoted Biblical scripture as they treated black slaves like animals.  In a couple of scenes, the slave owner read from the Bible to his slaves in plantation church services. In essence, cherry picking scriptures that made the slaves believe God wants them to be obedient and subservient to their masters. Disgusting.

I was reminded of how Republicans in power today use the same "mind-control" technique to control the millions of misguided voters who often vote GOP against their own best interests and justify much of their hateful agenda against minorities, women, gays, science and the poor.

I'm a Christian and will continue to be one, but I'd be lying if I didn't say it sometimes weighs on me the way plantation Christianity was forced on my ancestors. Likewise, it weighs on me seeing how today's Republicans use religion to manipulate and control the willfully ignorant who make up a lot of their base. And those who use religion to manipulate their base includes black Republicans like Dr. Ben Carson.

On the way out of the theater after seeing Twelve Years A Slave, my 18-year-old son said to me: "White people who see that movie have got to feel very awkward."

I replied, "Can't see how they couldn't."  But I was thinking, "Awkward doesn't begin to express how they should feel about the horrors slavery."

To be fair, however, there were quite a few whites in the theater with us.  And frankly, as we were leaving, many of them were teary eyed and looking at us sheepishly, as though they felt guilty and wanted to reach out to us and say, "Sorry."

I highly recommend this powerful, highly-emotionally charged and factual film. But don't take young kids, there are scenes of graphic violence and rape...not to mention an abundance of foul language including the "N" word.

In my opinion, Twelve Years A Slave edges The Butler as Movie of the Year--but just barely. Both films are far more than just movies.  They are "educational events" that remind us of extremely painful periods in American history, but also remind us that progress has been made on the race issue, although not nearly as much as we'd like to believe.

Go see this movie and say a prayer for those who mistreat others and abuse their rights in the name of God.

Originally posted to Kwik on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 12:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  And the Bible was quoted by (18+ / 0-)

    Reverend Henry Ward Beecher, Reverend Theodore Parker and Rabbi David Einhorn to damn slavery and call for its abolition.  We progressives of faith cannot surrender the faith of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his friend Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel to those who are blinded to the oppression of their fellow human beings.

    I wrote a diary on slavery and the Bible here.

    "We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals, now we know that it is bad economics." Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Jan. 20, 1937

    by Navy Vet Terp on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 12:58:20 PM PST

  •  Thank you for this fine diary, Kwik. (10+ / 0-)

    I asked one of my history teachers once how Christians could justify slavery.

    The next day he brot me a bunch of Bible verses, and told me that the masters used to quote those verses to their slaves. That is the day that I stopped believing that the Bible was the Word of God.

    I don't believe that individual white people need to apologize for the institution of slavery, something that happened long before we were born. Some of us have family who died fighting in the civil war against slavery. That would include my family. And we know from letters home that slavery was a big part of why they volunteered. (My great great grandparents lost their 2 eldest sons to the civil war.) They were a family of militant abolitionist Methodists. But I can't take credit for that either, altho when I read those letters I was proud of them.

    But the Nation as a whole owes a huge apology for the Institution of Slavery. And that has never been done adequately.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 01:26:11 PM PST

  •  Bible seemingly accepts slavery as a fact of life (11+ / 0-)

    I agree with the basic point, that the Bible has been used as a means to keep people down, including, of course, Africans brought here as slaves, and their descendents - it is cited to this day as justification for female subjugation too. However, it is not as if people who use phrases from it to justify their own subjugation of others are not necessarily "misquoting" it or quoting it out of context. True, they are exploiting it to their own purposes; likewise champions of human rights can find passages to support their views as well. In other words, there is a lot of material in the Bible from which can justify a variety of positions. However, with specific regard to slavery, the Bible does not call for an end to it nor explicitly condemn it - it seems to accept it as a fact of life.

    Ginny Mayer, Ph.D. Democrat CA State Senate Candidate - SD-35 (Orange County)

    by Ginny Mayer on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 01:57:18 PM PST

  •  Religion is the Original Politics (8+ / 0-)

    It's easier to convince people to follow you when what you want just happens to also be "god's will."

  •  Don't let these fake Christians steal your (8+ / 0-)

    religion.  Slavery was a part of human culture for thousands of years but the Southerners wanted to bring this brutal institution into the modern world with scripture to dress it up in moral clothing.  You can be what you want to be in terms of religion without getting it mixed up with the need of bigots to keep on justifiying their moral backwardness.  This is an excellent post on this issue.

  •  St. Patrick was a slave. His families' lands (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Rix, bumbi, JayRaye

    (probably Wales) were attacked by Irish raiders and he was taken to Ireland to be a slave shepherd when he was about 16.  When he was 21 he escaped and made his way home.  His Christian family then sent him to Europe to train (as a priest?).  Then he went back to Ireland to convert the pagans, often at quite some danger to himself.

    It is likely that some of my forebear were enslaved in a similar manner.

    Not a Christian myself, but  I really like what that Jesus guy taught, I just do not care about whether he was the son of God or just a chill dude.

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 03:29:03 PM PST

  •  I think it is more accurate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DJ Rix, bumbi

    to say "un Christian" conservatives. Real Christians of any political stripe would not do that.

  •  We all grow up in a world we didn't make (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, koseighty

    I reflect that it took me several years after I graduated from college, to deconstruct my education and really begin to understand things.  Thus, I look around and start to see.

    Supposedly, on my father's side of the family, through my great grandmother, I am descended from Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Whether this is actually the case of not, I cling to that as a fact because I am proud that she was one of those in her day who stood out publicly against slavery.  I would rather claim that as a heritage than the probable alternative.

    The more you understand about the history of racial violence and hatred and its roots in the institution of slavery, the more you appreciate the enlightenment of people like Abraham Lincoln, who saw that slavery needed to end for America to reach its potential as a country.  

    I am still amazed at people who seem to boil over with racial hatred.  But they are there.  I try to be aware of what I can do to work for a better future in which they are not there.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 04:11:27 PM PST

  •  That struck me in the fill too (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye, Kingsmeg

    the way that scripture was used. Folks, see this film. It is not just compelling, it is a work of art. Several times I thought of Apocalypse Now and Aguirre. Yes I think it is that good. unlike those two films though, there is an emotional component; you care about the characters. The cast is simply outstanding, the soundtrack, cinematography, and recreation of plantation life are all topnotch. Every actor gives a top flight performance. Quite simply put, nothing else out there really compares. Some sequences are downright horrifying. Bring some tissues if you go.

  •  The only ancestor I had who was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in America at the time of the Civil War was a blacksmith who tended horses for the Union Army. The rest were in Ireland recovering from the starvation of the Famine and keeping body and soul together under British rule.

    One reason that Christians using the Bible to condone slavery is that the same tactics were used in Ireland, and some of the same comparisons were made for Irish Catholics by the Protestant Ascendancy.  The group changes but the attitude never does, and neither does using religion to justify oppression.,

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 09:15:49 PM PST

  •  Terrific film. Painful to watch - not because... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JayRaye is merely brutal - but because it depicts individual people victimized by systematic brutality.

    This, because the performances were outstanding.

    The scenes of the white master preaching to their slaves on Sunday were pretty despicable. But I don't think they did it as much to indoctrinate their labor force as to justify their brutality to themselves.

    “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing
    he was never reasoned into” - Jonathan Swift

    by jjohnjj on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 10:07:39 PM PST

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