Textbook: Christianity 'strongest bulwark' of slavery

Students enrolled in USF’s “Culture and Society in Africa” course were asked to respond to the statement in a graded discussion.

A textbook assigned to students at the University of South Florida claims that organized Christianity was “the strongest bulwark of the slave system.”

The Christian Church was the greatest defender of slavery and is disparaging black lives.

Those sentiments are currently being taught to and discussed by students enrolled in an online class at the University of South Florida.

Students taking USF’s “Culture and Society in Africa” course were recently assigned a textbook that describes organized Christianity as the greatest purveyor of slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.

According to Introduction to African Civilization by John G. Jackson,  Quakers were the only Christian denomination to take “a firm stance against the slaveocracy.”

“Anyone who is familiar with the history of black slavery will note that the strongest bulwark of the slave system was organized Christianity; or in other words, the various denominations of the Christian Church,” states the textbook obtained by Campus Reform.

A first-year student enrolled in the three-credit summer course alerted Campus Reform to the textbook’s claims after excerpts were used by the class instructor to initiate a mandatory discussion among students.

“This is just so typical of what I’ve encountered in college so far and it’s not surprising that every day my faith is attacked,” the student—who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retribution—recently told Campus Reform.

According to that student, Dr. Linda Tavernier-Almada, an adjunct faculty-member at USF, instructed students to discuss the aforementioned material with their peers as one of their graded participation assignments.

Screenshots obtained by Campus Reform reveal a discussion dominated by unfavorable attitudes towards Christianity and factually inaccurate statements.

“All Christians were in favor of black slavery, because many of these slave workers have worked in mines and made them wealthy,” wrote one student.

Another student commented that the textbook “shows not only how Christianity defended slavery but how it brainwashed people to think less of black lives.”

According to one student, the textbook “obviously means that the Christian people were the ones who actually started slavery.”

“I would have never thought that Christians were the ones who started this whole thing,” another student responded, adding that “Aren’t Christians supposed to be the ones who keep stuff like this from happening?”

Towards the end of the discussion, one student expressed that the statement made her question her knowledge of slavery.

“I am left with so many questions as to why I did not know this,” the student wrote.

In a 2008 column for Townhall, conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza defended Christians' role in abolishing slavery.

“[S]lavery pre-dated Christianity by centuries and even millennia,” D’Souza wrote. “The anti-slavery movements led by Wilberforce in England and abolitionists in America were dominated by Christians. These believers reasoned that since we are all created equal in the eyes of God, no one has the right to rule another without consent. This is the moral basis not only of anti-slavery but also of democracy.”

A student who disagreed with the textbook’s accusations communicated similar beliefs.

“Abolitionists were often Christians organized in faith to help free the African Americans in America so the fact that this textbook and this course is suggesting otherwise… It’s frustrating,” the student told Campus Reform.

Tavernier-Almada told Campus Reform she "cannot comment on any of the quotes used in [her] course.”

“Knowing how I feel about a particular quote might later influence how a student who is in one of my classes responds to an assigned discussion question,” she said.

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