Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Politics
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RfC of possible interestEdit
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Discussion of interestEdit
Religion and the abolition pageEdit
The Abolition page takes one possible way of talking about abolitionism, a mere historical list that accounts when slavery was banned in various places. This avoids the difficulty of the argument of evangelicals vs deists/agnostics.
Crimes against humanity always promote weird split ideas. Europe mostly banned slavery within its borders by let's say 1500, and moreover a person, even a person of 'lesser race' could not be a slave in many European countries. Yet outside, the lesser races were 'blessed' by inclusion via slavery.
As to slaves offshore, there was a debate. For example, the Catholic Church was split as to whether these men had souls and whether they could be enslaved. Over the course of about 500 years, the Church rocked back and forth as liberals and conservatives succeeded one another in power. What actually happened historically was that the Barbary Slavers had taken about 2 million people from England, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Circassia to be slaves in the Middle East along with their burgeoning African trade. The English and others simply took up this trade when they developed naval might, because slaves were the goods that African Empires offered them.
In the period say 1730-1830 roughly, the Europeans learned that some lesser races -the Indians and Chinese, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists- had produced works of thought that greatly exceeded anything Europe had produced. There was acceptance, interest, rejection and reaction. (There still is. You find many, many Arts academics who know nothing of,and have no respect for, Eastern thought. The Guardian recently produced a list of 'the 100 greatest non-fiction books in history' that was just about all Europeans and Anglophones of 1700-2000 with barely anything outside Europe or not written in English. Even Classical civilizations got barely a nod. And the British say they are the greatest literary nation in history when they can't even come close to the Chinese.)
Anyway anyway. When slavery was abolished, every mainstream church except the German Lutherans were in favour of slavery (just a bit later in Australia, the German Lutherans were the only ones that did not accept and process aboriginal child abductees - slaves in all but name). I don't know if it affects it that these churches were all setting up lucrative child-kidnapping exercises in Europe at the time. The people that were against it were the Quakers and Evangelicals, and the people that didn't dare go public about their religious views, but were anti-Christian or anti-church. Abolitionism was greatly enhanced and empowered by people like Rousseau and Voltaire and Franklin. My point is that these Deists and such had huge power. The Evangelicals and Quakers were mostly powerless. Pitt, a Deist or Atheist, hived off the job of promoting abolitionism onto Wilberforce, a nobody. The actual power came from Pitt - and Fox, probably the most left-wing leader ever to sit in an English parliament. People had to be careful what they said. For example non-Christians were not allowed at Oxford or Cambridge until about 1870 or so. These men had to hide their beliefs.
A lot of these anti-church people hid behind the Evangs and Qs and abolitionism was basically about attacking church power, I believe. I can see that the churches were making a lot of money out of supporting slavery somehow. I can see how it would be channeled in the present day but I can't get my hands on it back then. Now it is the same. Churches have become right-wing, and their voices of skepticism about Climate Change are supported by massive money from people like the Koch brothers. It's the same process.
On the Wikipedia page about Christianity and anti-slavery there is or was the ridiculous statement that abolitionism was something that 'could only have come about within Christianity'. I pointed out to them that Jainism, the Han Court, Buddhism and the Upanishads had forbade slavery 2,300 years before. The great support of slavery was Islam and Christianity paid a large part too.
Christianity has somehow hijacked the debate and made out the dialogue as the exact opposite of what really happened. It is the same with Women, Children, and Human Rights, which the churches opposed with gritted teeth all the way while the anti-Christians pushed it. This shocks me. As a devout Buddhist, I expect Christian churches to be full of people of genuine spirituality. I know and like one bishop of Melbourne. The Anglican church has been most helpful with my projects. But then, the people I know mostly represent liberal tendencies that are being suppressed in a conservative Church.
So to sum up, my inclination is to rout out this whole page on Abolitionism and design a whole new one. We need to completely change the way this period is seen. The way it is being presented is wrong.
It is the same with Early Christianity. It was very cosmopolitan. Jerusalem was a bustling cosmopolitan city, probably as multicultural as it is now. Buddhist monks for example would have often passed through there and the Christian monks are undoubtedly based on them. Jerusalem was not the east of the west, it was the west of the east of the third most populated area in the world (after India and China).
Abolitionism requires a great deal more research, because I didn't know that slavery had been banned within so many European countries much earlier, and I have to find out what religious influence was on that. Five years ago I wold have dived right into it. But now I am old and so ill that the best I can do is make the suggestion. You who really understand European History will no doubt see that I am but a tyro in these matters.