The Baptist Anti-Slavery

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The “Constitution of the Baptist Anti-Slavery Society,” formed on December 12, 1839, is a document that gives theological rationale for the organization of this Christian abolitionist society, and more generally for why Christians—particularly Baptists—need to be involved in the abolitionist movement to end slavery. The Constitution is composed of three central parts: 1) an opening statement on the urgent need for the immediate abolition of slavery; 2) nine articles that organizes the practices, structure, and officers of the Society; 3) an address to the Baptist churches of Providence that more fully explains the need and logic of the Society’s purpose. The Constitution opens by stating the stakes dramatically: “more than two and a half millions …show more content…
Notice here the Society’s absolute abolitionist intentions (the “immediate” and “entire” of slavery), but also its anti-racists aim of ending prejudice. Anti-racism, then, is part of the logic of abolition. The Baptist Anti-Slavery Society does not seek abolition for simply economic or political reasons, but primarily because slavery is a sin, a theological and immoral violation of people of color because of racist systems and beliefs. Thus article 3 claims that the society seeks “to elevate the character and condition of people of color” by affirming their moral and intellectual worth “on equality of civil and religious privileges” …show more content…
“We propose,” it reads, “to endeavor to remove this ignorance [of the true nature of Slavery] by the circulation of publications depicting its true character, and its appropriate remedy” (10). The Constitution therefore conceives the primarily problem of slavery as one of ignorance. At issue, then, is unveiling what slavery really is, which the Constitution assumes will make abolition appear as the only appropriate remedy. This assumption is worth dwelling on: what is entailed in viewing the persistence of slavery as primarily a problem of ignorance? How would the Society respond to charges that there are many, especially in the South in the heart of plantation slavery, who know slavery quite well, yet are anti-abolition? One answer, on the basis of the Constitution so far, is that those that maintain the tolerance or slavery, or, further, are politically committed to its maintenance, do so because of prejudice against people of color. Slavery is fundamentally related to the problem of racism. This more fundamental problem, according to the Constitution, could also be cast as a problem of ignorance. Racism, as a system and culture arranged by racial hierarchy, is about not knowing the truth about fellow human

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