Some wicked people in this society have tried to implicate the Christian #Church in the vile enslavement of African people in the West Indies. The furore over these allegations has caused me to reflect on the ideas of motives, intentions and especially definitions.
Understanding definitions is a key to understanding perspective. Some people insist on seeing flaws where there are none, and misreading honorable motives. I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the Church is Good. Over the long history of the C hurch as an institution, it has done so many good things that to sully the Church sterling reputation by allegations of involvement in slavery is not only irreverent but dangerous. Did the Church not rid the West of the scourge of Paganism? After all, these religions performed ritualistic acts of human sacrifice and cannibalism, instead of drinking the Saviour’s blood and eating of his body like in the Holly Communion. They deserve to wiped out. Did the church not single-handedly eradicate heathen festivals and lewd fertility rites, and replaced them with solemn and holy celebrations of the murder of Christ and the Virgin Birth? How can so noble an institutuion be culpable in the horror that was slavery?
After all the Church is Good. Just a brief interlude through the history of the Church should be enough to convince the most jaded soul that for the past two thousand (2000) years the Church has only done good. The persecution of Gnostics was ultimately for the Glory of God. Any sect so stupid as to misunderstand the significance of the resurrection must surely be an abomination in His sight. The rooting out of the Donatist, Pelagian, and Manichean ‘heresies’ was a Good thing, never mind the small matter of several thousand off them being hung, crucified, or tortured to death. It is important that there is a universal conformity to inherited doctrine. Detractors must understand that the Church is about brotherly love, St. Augustine reminds us that the wounds of a friend are far better than the kisses of an enemy! Constantine was a another particularly fine examination of Goodness. Did he not murder his half-brother for the Glory of God? Rampaging and sacking, the fundamentals of his modus operandi are just some of the more obscure and innovative ways to serve God. Similarly, the witch hunts of which utterly destroyed many European traditional religions was the best course of action. Never mind that the Western herbal tradition was an unfortunate fatality, the wonderful Church has embraced and substituted prayer and science, which is not only Good, but much better.
The Crusades did decimate the populations of Asia and Africa, surely any sane person would agree that it was more desirable to lose a few thousand souls (who were not Christians anyway) than to have Jerusalem in the hands of the infidel. So what if unscrupulous Princes used them as an excuse to enrich themselves and rape hapless women? That was not the intention of the Church. So what if the Crusades were only commanded in times of turmoil, to distract warring sovereigns in Europe from each other’s throats? Merely a coincidence.
Sure the Church might have made minor, inconsequential mistakes now and then in the energetic pursuit of its sacred task. It may have failed to foresee the future with clarity and precision, but there can be no doubt that the intentions were good and pure. It is true that the Church may have been a trifle hasty in accepting that other people may be evil. For instance, the Inquisitors were firmly convinced that the heretics were Bad people. Every single heretic was Bad, and quite logically everyone bad was a heretic. The Church is so Good,and quite naturally, it became the sole judge of who was Evil and who was not. People may have been tortured for possessing Bibles and smiling at the mention of the Virgin Mary, they may have been convicted on the testimony of two-year-olds, but the resulting world without heretics is such a splendidly Good thing that the Church must be praised.
The age of adventure is another case in point. Yes the Church did arbitrarily divide the world between Spain and Portugal, but it was with the purest of motives. The consequent genocide of the aboriginal people was totally outside the ambition of the Church. The Pope never said to enslave those people. It was his overly ambitious underlings who wrote “…kill them and enslave them, just as Joshua enslaved the inhabitants of Canaan” and then proceeded to just that. Of course these underlings were Good as well, they were only carrying out Biblical Injunction on the orders of the Church, which was even more virtuous since it hadn’t the foggiest clue what the people in the West Indies were doing.
The Churchmen, like Antonio Vieirra and Las Casas were Pious Men. By advocating the enslavement of Black Africans, not only were they getting rid of excess population on the African continent, but giving Africans a chance to travel, work abroad and come up in the world. In addition, they were delivering the (by now extinct) natives from toll in the sun, and providing a surer supply of labour for the white man. See? Everyone wins?
Over eighty million (80, 000, 000) Africans died and several million more suffered under debilitating conditions during slavery, but you see, this was not so much against Africa as for Mankind. Anything done for Mankind is Good. With all this sincere goodness going around, I am sure that you can see that many people managed to die just to impugn the God name of the Church. It is clear that the Church could not have been part of any enslavement of African. That would be wicked. Some Churchmen were a little misguided, but the institution itself is innocent. It is a Good and Wonderful establishment withing which not one iota of wickedness can be found.
Note: Raquel Gilke’s tongue-in-cheek ‘defense’ of the Christian Church.