Slavery Divides Baptists

In the Baptist Beacon, I found the following summary. “In 1785 the Baptist General Committee of Virginia pronounced slavery ‘contrary to the word of God.’ Two years later the Ketockton Association called it ‘a breach of divine law.’ In 1790 the General Committee of Virginia adopted a statement calling slavery ‘a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, and inconsistent with a republican government; and therefore (we) recommend it to our brethren to make use of every legal measure, to extirpate the horrid evil from the land.’ By 1840 Northern Baptists and Southern Baptists disagreed over the issue with the southerners supporting the institution of slavery. Virginia Baptists called Baptists of the south to a meeting in Georgia…. Since 1845 we were no longer just ‘Baptists’ but ‘Northern’ and ‘Southern Baptists’.”

Corporate views changed dramatically in the south during the first half of the 19th century. As Baptists in the south dealt with the issue of slavery, some no doubt wavered in their acceptance of the practice when confronted face to face with its reality. Can people be property? How would you have reacted to a socially accepted belief (some arguments for slavery can be found here) when your personal experience called it into question? The short story at “The Southern Baptists” addresses just such a personal dilemma.