Did the Bible Sanction Slavery?

How the Churches Used the Bible to Justify Slaveholding

Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

North Doyle Banquet Hall, Campion Student Center [Campus Map]

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

This presentation discusses how supporters of slavery in the United States and Europe used the Bible and other religious arguments to justify the enslavement of Africans and Native Americans in Europe and the Americas from the 1400s to the late 19th century. Yet, those who advocated the abolition of slavery also called upon the Bible to condemn it as immoral. The dispute demonstrates the complex place of the Bible in American society and jurisprudence.


Dr. Paul Finkelman is the President of Gratz College in Philadelphia and the author of Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (2014); Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court (2018) and Defending Slavery (2019). He has been cited in four decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs.  He has lectured on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights at the United Nations, throughout the United States, and in over a dozen other countries, including China, Germany, Israel, and Japan.  In 2014, he was ranked as the fifth most cited legal historian in American legal scholarship in Brian Leiter’s “Top Ten Law Faculty for Scholarly Impact, 2009-2013.”

Session 3 of the three-part fall 2019 series:

The Intersection of “Race” and “Religion” in the USA

African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Trauma

In this series, three outstanding speakers discuss the experiences of African Americans and Jewish Americans in the predominantly Protestant Christian ethos of the United States. The social constructs of “race” and “religion” and notions of “whiteness” and “blackness” have all interacted in complex ways in the lives of the two groups, which have both similarities and differences as minorities often either forcibly taken or forced to flee from the lands of their birth. You are invited to any or all of the presentations.