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Why Learning About Slavery Made Me an Atheist

                           ‘Memory for the Slaves’ (1998) by Clara Sörnäs

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear and sincerity of heart, just as you would show to Christ. — Ephesians 6:5

My relationship with religion has always been complicated. Being raised Christian, I believed in the many stories of the Bible, the power of God, and the might of Jesus like everyone else. Well, I did up until I was about 13. I enjoyed Sunday School and the entertaining theatrics of the church immensely growing up. I enjoyed being Christain. Having God as an answer to everything my little brain couldn’t explain was comforting. It wasn’t a Christopher Hitchens logic-fueled monologue or Richard Dawkins ‘owning’ theists in debates on YouTube that brought me to atheism- learning about the trans-Atlantic slave trade did.

Here’s a quick re-cap on God via Christianity for everyone that needs a refresher. God is described in the Bible as being omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. Omniscient meaning He knows everything that has happened, knows everything that is happening, and knows everything that will happen. Omnipotent meaning He can do absolutely anything. Omnipresent meaning He is everywhere, witnessing everything at all times.

The strength of my faith was at its highest when I began to learn about the details slavery and all of its horrors. Because of this, conversations I had with myself went as follows:

“So God knows everything that’s going to happen, yeah?”


“Soooo that means he knew slavery was going to happen?”


“And since he is always everywhere, seeing everything that means he was with every slave from birth to death?”


“But he can do anything…does that mean he could have stopped it and didn’t?!”


What hurt me the most was not the fact that God seemingly ignored all the suffering of my ancestors 200 years ago, but that so many of the descendants of those enslaved people worship the God that allowed it.

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