For many in the North and the South, the Confederate Battle Flag is a conflicting issue. While it should be readily acknowledged that it can be offensive to our black neighbors, it is the symbol under which many of our ancestors fought and died. It has been used by the ignorant as a symbol of hate and terror, but also symbolized a struggle for Constitutional law. At least for me, when someone speaks of banning or removing the flag, I begin to both understand and become agitated. So, when I read Russell Moore’s comments, I was a little upset. Moore is the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty President.
In order to prop up this system, a system that benefited the Mammonism of wealthy planters, Southern religion had to carefully weave a counter-biblical theology that could justify it (the biblically ridiculous “curse of Ham” concept, for instance). In so doing, this form of southern folk religion was outside of the global and historic teachings of the Christian church. The abolitionists were right—and they were right not because they were on the right side of history but because they were on the right side of God.
Now, I want to make it perfectly clear that I do not support any view of slavery. Chattel slavery was, and is, sinful. However, we have to ask, where did he get this “counter-biblical theology?” Where can we find writings about this slave supporting theology? It must be noted that I do not think that the “curse of Ham” poppy-cock came about until the end of the nineteenth century. Next is the question of the abolitionists.
What was the assessment of the abolition movement by abolitionists?
Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner said:
“It was not Christianity which freed the slave: Christianity accepted slavery; Christian ministers defended it; Christian merchants trafficked in human flesh and blood, and drew their profits from the unspeakable horrors of the middle passage. Christian slaveholders treated their slaves as they did the cattle in their fields: they worked them, scourged them, mated them, parted them, and sold them at will. Abolition came with the decline in religious belief, and largely through the efforts of those who were denounced as heretics.”
We also have to recognize that many of the abolitionists were Christian in name only. With the sweep of Unitarian, Universalist, and Transcendentalist heresy in the North, it was they, and not the Southern churches, who were out of sync with historical Christianity. There is also the issue of the intent that Moore claims the Confederate States of America had for leaving the union.
The Confederate States of America was not simply about limited government and local autonomy; the Confederate States of America was constitutionally committed to the continuation, with protections of law, to a great evil. The moral enormity of the slavery question is one still viscerally felt today, especially by the descendants of those who were enslaved and persecuted.
But this very constitution he seeks to point to, without reading, contradicts his claim in Article 1, section 9, which reads
Sec. 9. (I) The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.
(2) Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.
I do not wish to seem on either side, but the side of truth. I hate the crimes and sins inflicted on all who were enslaved. I hate the thought of the slave trade today, but I also hate that we have many who have no real clue what the War Between the States was really about. I do not know whether or not the flag should come down. The one question I would ask, would they have the same sentiment if we were speaking of the Irish race and the Union Jack? Should the British remove their flag. Do they get, as a reward for not being conquered, the privilege of keeping their flag?
If we stop doing everything that might offend, what room will there be for the cross? Paul said it was offensive. All sinners are offended by the cross of Christ, will Moore have us take that down as well?