Which Religion Claims You: Slaveholder Faith or Christ?


In the daily gospel reading for August 26, Jesus says in Matthew:

“‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practised without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel! ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.'”–Matthew 23:23-26

Rejecting any interpretation of this passage that leads to Jew-hating, instead I suggest this is an analysis of unjust power — and all unjust power needs religious cover.

Art by Clifton W. Carter Jr.
Art by Clifton W. Carter Jr.
In today’s reading from “Slaveholding Religion and the Religion of Christ,” in the appendix to Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass (American Anti-Slavery Society: Boston, 1845), Douglass says:

“Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference.”

“I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”

“Dark and terrible as is this picture, I hold it to be strictly true of the overwhelming mass of professed Christians in America. They strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Could any thing be more true of our churches?”

“They attend with Pharisaical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and at the same time neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”–Frederick Douglass

Which religion has claimed you — the unjust power of the slaveholding religion or that of following Christ Jesus?

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