2007 marks the bicentenary of the passing of the Act to Abolish the Slave Trade in British Parliament in March 1807. This event is being commemorated in several ways by different organisations, churches and groups across the country.
At Living out Faith, concerned with the inclusion of the experiences, histories and cultures of Black communities into the exploration of Christian faith, our resource looks at the role of Christianity within slavery from two particular perspectives:
- The ways in which those that bought and sold their fellow human beings used Christianity and scripture to justify their actions
- The consequences of the encounter between the enslaved Africans and the Christian faith.
Here, we see Christianity used both as an instrument of oppression and cruelty and at the same time as a source of hope and liberation
These perspectives offer the opportunity to look at the sometimes problematic nature of religious belief and how it is interpreted and lived out in communities and society as a whole.
Though the Act to abolish the Slave Trade was passed in 1807, this was by no means the end of the slavery system. This only meant that Africans could not legally be traded and brought into British colonies; slavery continued until the Bill abolishing Slavery in the British Empire, passed in 1833, came into effect in 1834.
Even at this point, a system of ‘apprenticeship’ was introduced that was not much better than the regime it had replaced. Here, former slaves were expected to work for forty and a half hours per week without pay for a further four to six years, still subject to the exploitation of their former masters.
It wasn’t until 1838 that slavery in the British Empire was officially ended (1865 in the territories of the United States)
Despite an end to this era of slavery, the effects of it on the African Diaspora and the underlying attitudes towards people of African descent that helped to perpetuate it, survive.
The resource is presented in the following way:
Christianity and the Slave Owners
This section looks at the way slavery was justified by the slave owners using both ideas about Africans and Christianity itself. The section is divided into a series of articles, each ending with at least one question for reflection and discussion, which can also be used as a basis for written work
Christianity and the Slaves
This section looks at the encounter between Christianity and the enslaved Africans. Again, it is divided into articles, each ending with at least one question for reflection and discussion, which can also be used as a basis for written work
This section offers an introduction to some of the writing of African people that had experienced slavery first-hand, and includes some reflection on their work
Changing Hearts and Minds or Just the Law?
This looks at one aspect of the impact of the Transatlantic Slave Trade on Black communities in more recent times. This section also includes questions for reflection, discussion or written work
This lists sources used in the creation of this resource
This lists sites referred to within the resource and other useful websites
(copyright - C.Troupe 2007)