Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Christianity and Slavery


Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 1 Peter 2:18 (New International Version)

For many centuries slavery was perfectly acceptable to Christians. Christians had no doubt that it was divinely sanctioned and they used a number of Old and New Testament quotations to prove their case. Looking at the relevant passages it is clear that the Bible does indeed endorse slavery. In the Old Testament God approved the practice and laid down rules for buyers and sellers (Exodus 21:1-6, Leviticus 25:44). Men are at liberty to sell their own daughters (Exodus 21:7). Slaves can be inherited (Leviticus 25:45-6). It is acceptable to beat slaves, since they are property (Exodus 21:20). A master who beats his slave to death is not to be punished as long as the slave stays alive for a day or two, as the loss of the master's property is punishment enough :

And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money. (Exodus 21:20-21)

If a slave is gored by a bull, it is the master, not the slave, who is to be compensated (Exodus 21:32). Time and time again the Old Testament confirms that slaves are property and their lives are of little consequence. To prove the strength of Job's faith, God sends Satan to test him by visiting disasters upon him. Amongst these disasters is the killing of Job's numerous slaves (Job 1). Neither God, nor Satan, nor the story's narrator finds it at all odd that people should be killed just to prove a point - they are only Job's property and their destruction is naturally bracketed with the loss of his livestock and vineyards.

The New Testament also regards slavery as acceptable. It instructs slaves to accept their position with humility (Ephesians 6:5-8), and to please their masters in everything (Titus 2:9, c/f Colossians 3:22). They are commanded to serve Christian slave owners better than other masters (1 Timothy 6:1-2) "so that the name of God and the teaching may not be defamed" . Even oppressive masters are to be obeyed according to 1 Peter 2:18. Jesus himself mentioned slavery more than once according to the New Testament, but never with the slightest hint of criticism of it. He even glorified the master-slave relationship as a model of the relationship between God and humankind (Matt 18:23 ff & 25:14 ff). Christians naturally interpreted this as not merely acceptance, but approval. If Jesus had opposed slavery he would, they claimed, surely have said so. Church Fathers instructed the faithful not to let slaves get above themselves, and the Church endorsed St Augustine's view that slavery was ordained by God as a punishment for sin . Augustine called on the free to give thanks because Christ and his Church did not make make slave free, but rather made bad slaves into good slaves .

In pre-Christian times and in non-Christian countries people`expressed doubts about slavery and sought to improve the lot of slaves - the Stoic philosophers provide a notable example. In pagan times slaves who escaped and sought sanctuary at a holy temple would not be returned to their masters if they had a justifiable complaint. When the empire became Christian, escaped slaves could seek refuge in a church, but they would always be returned to their masters, whether they had a justifiable complaint or not. When Christian slaves in the early Asian Church suggested that community funds might be used to purchase their freedom, they were soon disabused of their hopes, a line supported by one of the greatest Church Fathers (Ignatius of Antioch). He declared that their ambition should be to become better slaves, and they should not expect the Church to gain their liberty for them . His orthodox approach followed the words of St Paul: "Everyone should remain in the state in which he was called. Were you a slave when you were called? Never mind." (1 Cor 7:20).

Soon the Church would become the largest slave owner in the Roman Empire. Bishops themselves owned slaves and accepted the usual conventions. So did other churchmen. Slave collars dating from around AD 400 have been found in Sardinia, stamped with the sign of the cross and the name 'Felix the Archdeacon' . Pagan slaves who wanted to become Christians required permission from their masters. For many centuries, indeed right up to recent times, servile birth was a bar to ordination, and the Church confirmed the acceptability of slavery in many other ways. For example, the Church Council of Châlons in AD 813 decreed that slaves belonging to different owners could not marry without their owners' consent. . It had been common for pagan Greeks and Romans to emancipate their slaves but the emancipation of the Church's slaves was declared impossible - on the grounds that the slaveowners were not the clergy but God Himself, and only the slave owner could legally dispose of his goods. Church slaves were thus inalienable property (This principal would be enshrined in Cannon Law in respect of Monastic slaves under the Decretum gratiani c 1140) .

The Church found new reasons to take people into slavery. The Third Synod of Toledo in AD 589 decreed that women found in the houses of a clergyman in suspicious circumstances should be sold into slavery by the clergyman's bishop . Another Synod of 655 declared that priest's children should be treated as slaves - an idea ratified in 1022 at Pavia and around 1140 by the Decretum gratiani. In attempting to enforce clerical celibacy popes revived the idea of taking the wives and concubines of churchmen into slavery . Urban II tried the idea against subdeacons' wives in 1089 . In 1095 wives of priests were sold into slavery as well. Urban's successor, Leo IX, had priest's wives taken into slavery for service at the Lateran Palace . Saints, Popes and Church Officials approved the practice of slavery for centuries. It's greatest scholastic authorities, such as Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus and Duns Scotus concurred - as the Angelic Doctor Aquinas explained, a slave was merely an "inspired tool of his master" and a "non-member of society", just like any other beast of burden. They were classified in inventories under "Church property".

Popes sentenced countless thousands to slavery, though the sentences could not always be carried out. Anyone who opposed the papacy was condemned to slavery at the Third Lateran Council in 1179. The citizens of Venice were condemned to it in 1309, 1482, and again in 1506. The same thing happened to the whole of England in 1508. Papal galleys went on slave hunting expeditions along the coast of Africa .

Slavery was a major trade in Christendom. Until the early tenth century the main Venetian export was slaves from central Europe. During the Crusades the whole Mediterranean slave trade was concentrated in Christian hands - the hands of the military monks and men like Pelegius, the papal legate. Later the Genoese developed another major Mediterranean slave trade . In Spain a single inquisitor, Torquemada, had 97,371 people condemned to slavery. In the New World Christians introduced the practice. Pope Nicholas V, in his bull Romanus pontifex of 1454 gave his blessing to the enslavement of conquered native peoples. Like other bishops, the popes themselves owned slaves - Pope Innocent VIII accepted the gift of numerous slaves from Malaga, given by the`exceptionally devout Queen Isabela of Castile in 1487. To clear up any doubt about who was entitled to own slaves Pope Paul III confirmed that all Christian men and all members of the clergy had the right to own slaves.

Slave owning continued for centuries despite criticism from rationalists and freethinkers. The Jesuit College in the Congo owned some 12,000 slaves in 1666. Popes continued to own slaves until they lost control of the Papal States at the end of the eighteenth century. Benedictine monks still owned slaves in Brazil as late as 1864 .- the same date that clergymen in the Southern States of the USA were obliged to give up their slaves.

The record of the Anglican Church was no better than that of the Roman Church. It was the universal opinion of churchmen that God had ordained slavery, and clergymen had no qualms about owning slaves themselves. Anglican slave traders were often extremely devout, and widely respected by their fellow Christians. It never occurred to them, or to their priests or ministers, that slave trading might be immoral. The most famous English slave trader, Sir John Hawkins, piously named his slave ships Angel, Jesus, and Grace of God.

Since they were merely property, there could be no objection to branding slaves just like any other animal. Neither was there any obligation to treat them more humanely than animals in other ways. Their prices depended on supply and demand like any other commodity. Female breeders would be sold at a premium prices after the importation of African slaves to North America and the Caribbean ceased. Sometimes slaves were hamstrung to stop them escaping. If they had escaped before, they could have a leg amputated to stop them doing so again. Once their working lives were over, they were put-down . Black slaves in the Caribbean and Americas received very little education, but what they were allowed was mainly religious. Preachers tended to concentrate on biblical passages, such as those already quoted that endorsed slavery and counselled passive acceptance of it. Amongst missionaries, the problem of preventing slaves from enjoying themselves on the Sabbath appears to have been more important than the question of slavery itself .

Churchmen owned slaves and were not particularly notable as good masters. Indeed some of the worst masters were clergymen. In the court of St Ann's in Jamaica in 1829 the Rev. G. W. Bridges was charged with maltreating a female slave. For a trivial mistake he had stripped her, tied her by the hands to the ceiling so that her toes hardly touched the ground, then flogged her with a bamboo rod until she was a "mass of lacerated flesh and gore" from her shoulders to her calves. As usual in such cases he was acquitted. Important questions for the Church were the extent of slave owners' rights to flog or burn their human property, to split up their families, and to demand sexual gratification from them . This last must have been a particular problem, since owners could point to several biblical passages which take it for granted that a slave girl is available for her master's sexual desires. This was clearly difficult to square with the knowledge that sex was sinful. The harm that was done to the slaves themselves was not considered, though its effect was so severe that its effects still live on. In the Americas it has left a legacy of bitterness, hatred and social disruption which is likely to endure well into the third millennium.

Slavery was not confined to selected races or to members of other religions: Christians routinely condemned their fellow believers to slavery. John Knox for example spent eighteen months as a galley-slave under French Catholics. In the late eighteenth century Popes still held slaves, as did Anglican clergymen. It was still beyond question that slavery was ordained by God, and therefore unimpeachable. In the second part of The Age of Reason published in the 1790's Thomas Paine noted that in the Book of Numbers Moses had given instructions as to how to treat Midianite captives. Essentially, everyone was to be executed except virgins, whom the victors were allowed to keep alive for themselves. God then gave instructions as to how the booty, including 32,000 virgins, should be divided up between the victors. Paine summarised the relevant passage: "Here is an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers, and debauch the daughters" . In response to this, Bishop Watson of Llandaff pointed out that the virgins had not been spared for any immoral purpose, as Paine had wickedly suggested. Rather, he said, they were spared so that they could be taken into slavery. Obviously, there could be no ethical objection to this, since slavery was divinely sanctioned. The bishop's rebuttal was perfectly acceptable to mainstream Christians, who found sex objectionable but slavery not at all objectionable. According to the Churches, slavery was not merely permitted, it was obligatory. Slavery was a God-given institution. To oppose what God had sanctioned was positively sinful.

In America opposition to slavery was first voiced by freethinkers such as Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Initially a Quaker, later a deist, Paine was widely condemned as an unbeliever. He wrote an influential article against slavery in 1775, and when he drafted the American Declaration of Independence the following year, he included a clause against slavery that was later struck out . Under Quaker influence, slavery was made illegal in the state of Pennsylvania in 1780. Other campaigners included the rationalist James Russell Lowell, the sceptical ex-preacher Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the freethinker Wendell Phillips .

While Thomas Paine opposed slavery in America, his fellow freethinkers opposed it in his native country. Granville Sharp, a humanitarian lawyer, sought to bring cases before the courts, arguing that throwing slaves overboard to drown was murder. (The prevailing Christian view was that a ship's captain was free to jettison them, just like any other property ). Within a few years, by 1787, a campaign to abolish the Atlantic slave trade was started by a group of Quakers. It was supported by non-believers. As it grew it was joined by various nonconformists groups and some evangelical Christians, but it was consistently opposed by all traditional Churches and mainstream Christian sects.

William Wilberforce is usually accredited with abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire, though he came many years after the first abolitionist campaigners. He too was an unbeliever when he espoused abolition. Later as an Evangelical he was able to sit in Parliament (which unbelievers were not). There he stood out amongst his fellow Christians as an exception. He noted that those who opposed slavery were non-conformists and godless reformers, and that Church people were indifferent to the cause of abolition, or else actively obstructed it. His support came from Quakers, Utilitarians, and assorted freethinkers. Like the freethinkers who had started the movement, he was condemned by the mainstream Churches as presuming to know better than the bible. His successor, Sir Thomas Buxton, was another maverick, an Evangelical with Quaker sympathies.

The Church had enjoyed 1500 years during which it had had the power to ban slavery, but had failed to do so, or even to have expressed any desire to do so. Now that reform was in the air, the mainstream churches opposed it with all their power. They vilified reformers (including Wilberforce), and attacked them for daring to question the plain word of God. Anglican Clergymen still owned slaves and continued to oppose abolition well into the nineteenth century. One of their number was the most effective supporter of slavery during the 1820's abolitionist campaign in Jamaica . All mainstream Churches agreed with the traditional view that slavery was ordained by God. To practice slavery was therefore meritorious, and to try to stop the practice was sinful. With the exception of Quakers, all denominations agreed. In 1843 some 1,200 Methodist ministers owned slaves in the USA.

Under popular pressure generated by secular thinkers, all of the mainstream Churches (except the Baptists) performed a volte face during the nineteenth century. When enough of their members had moved over to the abolitionist cause, the Churches followed. God had always condoned, sanctioned and even demanded the practice of slavery, but slavery was no longer acceptable. God must have changed his mind. Priests, bishops and popes felt obliged to cease owning slaves. Slavery was criticised for the first time by a pope (Gregory XVI) in 1839, but it was not until the Berlin Conference of 1884 that Catholic countries fell into line with Protestant ones on the question of slavery, agreeing that it should be suppressed. The official U turn came in 1888 when Pope Leo XIII declared in In plurimis that the Church was now opposed to it.

In the USA the pattern was similar: slavery was advocated by nineteenth century Churchmen, though secular forces opposed it. It was a commonplace that "Slavery is of God". Christian ministers wrote almost half of all defences of slavery published in America. Such defences were routinely produced by the Churches. The South Carolina Baptist Association for example produced one for Baptists in 1822, and the Bishop of Charleston (John England) provided one for Roman Catholics in 1844. Along with these defences, Christian Churches circulated biblical texts on the subject of Negro inferiority, and the need for total unquestioning obedience. A civil war was fought before the Christian South was forced to abandon slavery in 1863. Yet the Southern Presbyterian Church could still resolve in 1864 that it was their peculiar mission to conserve the institution of slavery, and to make it a blessing to both master and slave. To hold that slavery was inherently evil was "one of the most pernicious heresies of modern times".

Black slaves were not permitted to learn to read or write, since education was seen as a threat to God's natural order. An American slave who adopted the name Frederick Douglas was exceptional in that he learned to read and write in secret. After he was granted his freedom he wrote this:

Were I to be again reduced to chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me…[I] hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-stripping, cradle plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land .

The Christianity he had in mind was not particularly American. Nor is it yet dead. There are still Christians prepared to uphold the traditional Christian line. In 1996 Charles Davidson, a devout Christian Senator from Alabama, said that slavery had been good for blacks, and pointed out that the practice had biblical approval, citing the traditional proof-texts such as Leviticus 25:44 and 1 Timothy 6:1 . As he well knew, he still held the traditional Christian line, while almost all other Christians had abandoned it and even largely forgotten about it.

The story now propagated by some Churches - that they were responsible for abolition - is simply false. The first country to abolish slavery, was France, under an anti-clerical revolutionary government in the 1790's . Abolition came in Britain in the early nineteenth century, in the teeth of fierce opposition from the Anglican Church, and it was achieved through the efforts of an alliance of unbelievers, freethinkers, Quakers and fringe Christians who galvanised public opinion. In the USA it came in the second half of the century, again in the face of intense opposition from the Churches.

The abolitionists won largely because slavery was no longer financially viable. The alliance of Church and slave owners lost the battle in one country after another because of monetary considerations. Following traditional teachings, and unrestrained by western economics or political correctness, Christians in Ethiopia were still making captured prisoners into slaves well into the twentieth century., and may have continued into the twenty first. The simple, if embarrassing, truth is that no Christian country has ever abolished slavery while the practice continued to be profitable.

Apartheid and Racialism

Thank God I am black. White people will have a lot to answer for at the last judgement Desmond Tutu (1931- ), Archbishop of Capetown, South Africa.

The idea that racial or ethnic groups should be persecuted is very popular in the bible. God himself was keen on the extirpation of whole peoples, such as the Amalekites (I Samuel 15:3).

Believing that they had replaced the Jews as God's chosen people, Christians deduced that they were free to persecute and extirpate non-Christian peoples, and even that they were under a moral obligation to do so. When the Jews and Moors were expelled from Spain towards the end of the fifteenth century, racial legislation was passed to 'purify' the blood of the upper classes. Anyone with Jewish or Moorish blood was suspect and penalised. Under statutes of limpieza de sangre, the descendants of Jews and Moors, even though they were Christians, were debarred from universities, religious orders, military orders, and public office. In theory anyone who had any Jewish or Moorish ancester, however remote, was of "impure blood" and suffered accordingly. Such people were second class citizens. Moreover they were second class citizens for racial, not religious, reasons. There was no question about it: according to the rules even the most devout Christian should be punished for having even a single distant ancestor of the wrong race. In some places these second class citizens were obliged to intermarry well into the nineteenth century because the eclesiastical authorities refused licences for mixed mariages. Every candidate for the priesthood had to show purity of blood going back four generations. The last limpieza de sangre laws were repealed on 16th May 1865.

The prevailing Christian view by the end of the Middle Ages was that non-Europeans were inferior creatures. The Catholic Church debated for a long time whether newly discovered peoples around the world were even human. The problem was that there was no way of establishing whether or not they possessed souls. Indians in the Americas were a particular problem because they clearly had a high culture of their own, and the Catholic Church debated with itself for a long time over the nature and quality of these peoples. When a debate held in 1550 at Valladolid in Spain lead to the conclusion that American Indians were indeed fully human, it became difficult to justify keeping them in slavery. The short term solution was a system which was not called slavery, but which amounted to slavery (econmienda). The long term solution was to import slaves bought in Africa. No one in Christendom seems to have worried about the morality of enslaving Africans.

The Anglican Church was concerned about mental capacity, and was wary of trying to bring Christianity to people who might not be able to understand it. The most common view amongst Christians had been made explicit by the Barbados Assembly in 1681 when it stated of black slaves that "Savage Brutishness renders them wholly uncapable" of being converted . Most Christian slave owners had no doubt that the Assembly was right. There was however a lively debate, mainly among senior Anglicans, about the theological justification for converting slaves. It was commonly held that any drive towards conversion should be tailored towards the their greatly inferior mental capacities. Fed an appropriate diet of quiescent theology, blacks could, it was claimed, become perfect slaves: compliant, accommodating and socially calm. But this view was not universal amongst the slave masters, and few slaves were converted . One problem with converting slaves was the danger that some of them might win a place among the elect. As one slave owner asked "Is it possible that any of my slaves could go to Heaven, & I must see them there?" . It was generally believed that Heaven was reserved for European Christians. If for the occasional non-white were to qualify for Heaven, it was obvious to all that their sooty countenances would have to be transformed.

One reason why Christianity found it so difficult to make voluntary converts around the world was that it was so difficult for locals to become priests. They were usually denied the right to learn Latin or read the bible, and therefore could not hope for a career in the Church. The few who did could not hope to become bishops, largely because European priests were not prepared to serve under them. Such racism limited the spread of Christianity in many places, but most notably in India. In Africa the Churches changed their approaches in the twentieth century. East Africa saw its first black Catholic bishop in 1939, and its first black Anglican bishop in 1947.

The belief of European Christians that other races were inferior, led to colonisation and large scale abuse. The extirpation of native peoples in the Americas, in Australasia, and elsewhere around the world was of little consequence since these peoples were only pagans and might not even possess souls. They were slaves by nature. God had made them like that. Christian scholars and pseudo-scientists concurred. Sample non-Christians were kept in western zoos in the nineteenth century. There was an Australian aborigine in London Zoo. A Congolese pygmy named Ota Benga shared a cage with an orang-utan in the Bronx Zoo as late as 1906 .

Colonisation by European powers was seen as a God given opportunity for spreading the gospel to the heathen. It was a Christian duty, even when it led to the deaths of millions. God encouraged colonisation. He showed the way. He spoke to churchmen. He cleared the path for colonialists. His Churches were keen to convert or replace native heathen populations. Both Catholic and Protestant Churches encouraged colonialism. Typically, in Africa, missionaries would advance into new territories. Sooner or later they would sow discord, encouraging rebellion against unsympathetic local rulers. When bloodshed followed the Churches would appeal to European governments to intervene, and another territory would be annexed. This process seems to have accounted for more than half of the European colonies in Africa.

Churches were often guilty of complicity in massacres and atrocities resulting from colonial policy. For example King Leopold was granted control of the Congo in 1885 explicitly to bring Christianity to the benighted heathen. The atrocities perpetrated by his government in the Belgian Congo - the extensive use of slave labour and assorted murderous practices - were first concealed, then minimised by the Roman Church. The truth was published and international opinion mobilised by nineteenth century freethinkers. Indeed, almost the only criticism of colonisation and its evils came from freethinkers. The most notable critics were Thomas Paine in the eighteenth century and George Holyoake in the nineteenth, but their views were generally regarded as wicked, sinful, and contrary to God's will. Colonisation was regarded by almost all Christians as wholly good, divinely sanctioned and necessary, well into the twentieth century. European children were removed from their mothers and sent out to the colonies help stock these new lands. The children of single mothers in Britain for example were often entrusted to Church charities who told the children that they were orphans, and sent them to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other colonies. As the Archbishop of Perth pointed out in 1938 "If we do not supply from our own stock, we are leaving ourselves all the more exposed to the menace of the teaming millions of our neighbouring asian races" .

Long after public opinion had forced Christians to abandon the practice of slavery, the prevailing orthodoxy was that non-whites were inferior spiritually, morally, and mentally. Once again the bible was cited as proof. A favourite prooftext was "Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water…" (Joshua 9:21). All Churches maintained systems of racial discrimination and sustained them well into the twentieth century, including segregated churches and church-schools. Racial segregation was opposed largely by atheist intellectuals and other free thinkers. It was not bishops or clergymen, but unbelievers like Bertrand Russell who spread the idea that all should be treated equally.

In the USA where Christian values were strongest, millions of whites belonged to the Ku Klux Klan, an organisation extolled by all manner of churchmen. The Klan was so well accepted as a desirable part of Christian American life that it commonly featured in the media - both factual and fictional, and was enormously popular. The Rev. Thomas Dixon's novel The Clansman, for example was made into an influential film in 1915: D. W. Griffith's famous The Birth of a Nation, which explicitly glorifies the Klan. (The film is now rarely shown, and then only with heavy cuts).

Apartheid ("Segregation") remained longest where Christian belief was strongest. Black people were denied education, denied the vote, and denied civil rights. Segregation was the norm in health care, in church, on public transport, in places of entertainment, housing - almost every aspect of life. Inter-racial marriage was illegal in many states of the USA until the 1960's. The iniquity of such laws was brought to public attention by various black rights groups and white liberals. In the course of a few years public opinion shifted to such an extent that discrimination was made illegal. Once again the most strongly Christian states, like Alabama, fought a rearguard action in the name of God, and inter-racial marriage remained illegal in nineteen states until as late as 1967 .

It had become clear by the mid 1960s that world opinion was moving away from the traditional Christian acceptance of discrimination. In the future racist views were going to be politically and socially unacceptable. If the Churches continued to hold to traditional views they were likely to be left out on a limb. Suddenly most world Churches became aware of a new duty in the field of race relations. Now that the tide of battle had turned, they declared their opposition to all kinds of racism. To prove how deeply they held their new beliefs they joined in the badgering of those who stayed constant to the beliefs that they themselves had just abandoned. Ten years earlier many had shared with Mormons the view that black people were descended from Cain. He and his descendants had been cursed by the Lord with a black skin and prohibited from the priesthood . This sort of belief had been commonplace among white Christians - Catholics, Protestants, Baptists and other non-conformists alike. Now it was no longer acceptable to say such things openly. Mormons were pressed to fall into line with the new orthodoxy. They held out for as long as they could. Then God stepped in (as he had previously done over polygamy) to announce a politically astute change of policy. In June 1978 the church presidentannounced a divine revelation which reversed the Church's position. Black people could now become full members of the Church.

Attention next turned to the last bastion of Christian racism, South Africa. Through the 1960s the Dutch Reformed Church claimed biblical authority for the practise of apartheid, and no other Church had seriously opposed it. As Dr Verwoerd, the Prime Minister of South Africa had said "We did what God wanted us to do" . In the 1970s this line was no longer tenable. All other world Churches had performed a volte face, and were now aligned against their erstwhile ally. For a while the Dutch Reformed Church held out on its own against its fellow Christian denominations, still advocating the traditional Christian line. But the pressure became stronger as the chorus against it became louder. Eventually the Church gave way. By the 1980's the Dutch Reformed Church was assuring us that God did not approve of apartheid after all: in fact he disapproved of it. Within a generation the Church went from supporting apartheid to condemning it as "the Antichrist", just as other Churches had done a few years earlier. Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches even withdrew their full-time chaplains from the South African armed forces .

By the end of the 1960's the only remaining avowed white supremacists in the world were Christians. The hard-core of white supremacists in South Africa are still strong Christians, as are those in other countries. In America, Christians with traditional views keep alive the Ku Klux Klan. The well-known cowls and robes worn by members are the traditional garb of Christian penitents and pilgrims. The Christian cross plays an important rôle in their activities. They proudly wear the emblem on their robes, and use burning crosses to encourage a fear of God. They are, they say, conducting a Christian Crusade. This crusade has involved dozens of bombings and arson attacks on black churches, up to the 1990's. The Macedonia Baptist Church of South Carolina sued the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1996 after members had been arrested in connection with such arson attacks .

In many places throughout the world whites still go to one church, and blacks to a different one on the other side of town. Christians of one colour who try to attend Christian Churches of another are sent on their way, sometimes with a discrete word, sometimes with a less discrete word. This practice is very largely responsible for the growth of separate black Churches. So it is that all 14 million members of the Southern Baptist Convention in the USA happen to be white, although there are roughly as many black Baptists in the country . Black Churchgoers usually belong to all-black denominations . Black Catholics in the USA want a distinctive black American rite, and periodically threatened to set one up, with or without backing from the Vatican .

Anti-Semitism was also characteristically Christian. Hatred of the Jews had been fostered by the Church for centuries, and was opposed by freethinkers. As we will also see (page 351) traditional Christian teachings have been anti-Semitic. Jews were persecuted for centuries by the mainstream Churches using exactly the same arguments, and drawing exactly the same conclusions, as the Nazis did later. Many anti-Semitic racist groups still seem to flourish on a diet of Christianity .

Effects of traditional Christian teachings still continue today, not only in organisations like the Ku Klux Klan, but among the mass of Christian believers. Traditional Christian attitudes cannot be obliterated in a single generation. Sociological studies in Britain and the USA have demonstrated that Christians still tend to be more racially prejudiced than non-Christians. In a book comparing the results of studies concerning prejudice the authors state that "The basic finding that church members are more prejudiced than non-members has been widely confirmed in American studies" . According to these studies Roman Catholics were the most prejudiced major denomination in the US. Similar studies showed that Anglicans were the most prejudiced in Britain . In another study religious orthodoxy was found to be positively correlated with belief in racial segregation .