From Slavery and Religion To Freedom
written by Van Stone and Baittank Lofton
Would the slave trade have been outlawed before 1880 if it had not been for what is known as the Haitian Revolution? Would the escaped slave Frederick Douglass, eventually assumed of his generation the most highly regarded of the Black male abolitionists, have been in the world wide publishing work before 1846 for what he felt was God’s Kingdom to Come on earth if there were no Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society?
What about the Black female conductors during the 1800's such as Harriet Tubman, who made dozens of trips into the South, carrying a gun with her and making contact with slaves who wanted to flee slavery? How many understand that Brown v. Board of Education, 1954 is the most famous school desegregation case, but lawful challenges calling for desegregation had been filed as early as 1849?
Parents and their school kids have to consider the importance of true history, even if it’s particularly about the Chapel, Black Americans, American Indians, Free Masons and Constitutional Law, before, during and after the civil war because as Americans, we the people are to be sovereign. And if we are to be sovereign, division in any form must be exposed and cut short so that diversity must stand. What we don’t quite understand about civil rights or the amendments of the 1800's will have direct affects on our public life.
Imagine the goal of children attending public schools in Philadelphia having the choice to learn new African-American History points discovering other American beliefs, tested and supported, as to how and why our country’s founders fought so hard to advise us to believe in the liberty of conscience and to accept immigrants and religious diversity. Shall we dare dream?
The most pertinent issues of African American History such as Politics, the Black Codes, 1865-66, Laws, the Supreme Court Decisions of judicial override, racial divisions as to who was not considered a federal citizen and who was thought to be a state citizen are not being taught. Teachers and students do not consider these issues to be of value to their daily lives.
Youth need to know about exciting people of the past so that they themselves can become heroes of our future. Perhaps they should learn about Spiritual minded people like Frederick Douglas, 1845, a Black man, a devout Christian leader slave who went on to write a book about his experiences, or John Brown, 1859, a white man, a devout Christian leader of a religious minority group, who believed he was chosen by God to end slavery, or Joseph Smith, 1823, a white man, a devout Mormon Christian leader of a faith group, who believed he was appointed by Jehovah God to preach door to door about a kingdom and a faithful and discreet class of anointed followers who desired a Zion paradise on earth and in heaven.
Or Charles Taze Russell, a white man, a devout Jehovah’s Witness Christian plagiarist leader, who used the thoughts of a group “the latter saints,” representing them as his own original work while creating a scandal due to his bigotry philosophy about Blacks, Jews, Indian people and all individuals who did not accept his views of his prophecy unfulfilled.
Youngsters who are trying to prepare themselves for public life, the chapel as well as what they desire to be when they grow up will continue to be confused about what role history played in setting the standard for pop culture today.
And what contribution or legacy, if any at all, will kids create now for our State based on what is true history about African Americans, White Americans, Native Americans or any other American?
Students need to find the truth to questions dealing with the ‘who was who’ in U.S. history. Straight-up, should the truth about American history be told to children by their parents that American history is Uncanny, Unbalanced or just plain Un-American? Did it really take diversity to help save African Americans or did they get it done all by themselves? Does God really bless those who help themselves as kids are told by chaplains? Or does history through the eyes of what occurred to Blacks show that going to the chapel on any given day of the week has very little to do with anyone being guided by the Power of Assistance?
Public school teachers are well equipped to instruct students about past Nations like the Black Seminoles. They were former Black runaways eventually bonding with Indian survivors of local wars. They created a new ethnic group. Black Indians, as their title, descends through their eldest fathers and mothers. Students may learn how this might apply to the United Nations today and their relationship with our own land.
As both students and parents are considering what is true American history they will discover what is true religious history as it relates to Black-History during the present and back to the past. Was there racism, cultism or over righteousness involving any religious community before, during or after the civil war? If so, how does this compare to religious tolerances today such as child sex abuse, prohibiting the free exercise of other’s religion?
As for faith-based groups like Catholicism, where the supreme head directs members to use scripture other than from the King James Version, the Baptist, spiritual leaders baptizing believers to a new start by immersing them in water, Methodists, a denomination that grew out of the teachings of John Wesley, the Presbyter, an elder in the early Christian church, and Jewish or Moslems, each having officers appointed by a government to further the interest of their own country based on the Torah and Koranic revelations, what was the issue with them during the civil war? Who cared and who did not? Today, students inquire whether faith-based groups were possibly portraying themselves as - teaching that faith is keeping oneself separate from the State government. Nevertheless in disguise, the church is also secretly being very alive in the State’s work. What a lesson, the truth right out of the history book, so that kids can become thinkers for themselves.
Or where else can students find out about the Bible Law government during the time of the early 1800's till our time? Who were the religious leaders and what were they doing to engage the importance of religious diversity then as it is important today? What religious groups, although minority, did not accept Blacks into their chapel at all based on the church supporting the “Jim Crow “system and the United States during the 1800's?
Tying past facts with what is happening today students can find in African American History subjects that while for over one hundred years the JWs organization Elders tell the Witnesses to regard the United Nations as “a most powerful Agent of Satan the Devil” named in the Book of Revelation-teaching its extreme opposition to the UN. JW had been secretly affiliated to the UN as a non-governmental organization from 1991 to 2001. The Watchtower sat on the UN’s website as one of 1,500 accredited Non-Government Organization’s.
What is interesting about this is in history students are taken aback examining the Jehovah’s Witnesses Christians, people and politics during the civil war. They’ll learn that understanding the ordinary democratic process being allowed to take its course, while both Frederick Douglass’s and President Abraham Lincoln’s early views on the civil war differed. The founder of the JWs, Charles Taze Russell, had no view at all on the civil war. How could he?
At the very height of leaders discussing the issue at hand, to save the Union or freeing any slave, or to save the nation, young Russell born 1852 was only but ten years old. Their young leader, like many others never met Douglass nor Lincoln to discuss or understand the issues of that 1800 to 1900 generation.
And unlike Jesus, according to the Gospel, who was but a teen himself when discussing the issues of his generation, slavery, law, people and events leading to the last days, the prophet who never left any doubt that his title descends through his eldest brothers, Russell appeared on the scene through no descendants of holiness. However, Russell highly claimed that he and those who must be followers of him during the late 1800's until present were basically to be compared equal with the Christ.
Many have died for the cause to stop evil and slavery, both white and Black alike. Students have heard of these persons and their greatness when they walked the earth until they past away. But few have heard of Russell. Regardless of this fact, Russell and other little known folks who were involved in some form or act of another during Black History should be learned about. If teachers are willing to include this as a part of African American history, regardless of the student’s ethnic background, school this year will be at least interesting. What student would want to cut this class?
Even the student who doesn’t seem to want to learn will find fascinating that in 1852, called by Lincoln “the little woman who started the Civil War,” Harriet Beecher Stowe, a white woman, contributed to the abolitionist movement to stop the violation of the sovereign peoples consciences and hence their religious liberty and freedom of mind - Russell was opposed to this kind of faith. Russell supported a no freedom of your own mind policy - to question anything he as Jehovah’s Prophet says, meant disfellowshipping. This is how it was while publishing his Zion’s Watchtower magazine in 1880. Contrary to coerced faith, by publishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Stowe’s Cabin was a denouncement of slavery. Stowe had long heard about the magazine, Zion’s Watchman, in the early 1830's, it being published long before Russell was even born. Fortunately for many Blacks today, she had faith in diversity.
True history reports tell us that in the blue and red States many people, more than we realize, believed that Black Americans were human beings with feelings just like any other human is. And slavery is an inhuman institution that can be easily practiced by those who desire others to follow their social or religious views. And dangerous folks demand that their view go unquestioned, untested and unsupported. To them, according to what they say is Biblical law or Constitutional law, their word is the law. And that is the end of that. Members are told to obey. Don’t object. However, school students can object.
There were many cults and groups during moments in Black History. True, everyone didn’t have the History Channel or Cable to find out about these types of things. But our students do have schools. The question is how many students are aware that 16 or more of our founding fathers, including George Washington himself, was a member of the Free Masons? What part did being a Free Mason play in leading to the end of slavery?
Still focusing on the 1800's to the 1900's students may not know that hateful people misused and deceived many others to believe that Blacks were meant to be slaves based on pure Bible law, as they interpreted the Word. And that Blacks were thought to be lesser than most on the face of the earth. This view was practiced as part of the many so-called one true religion on earth, where there was no room for religious diversity.
This teaching was a part of the “Ku Klux Klan Empire as well as other religious faith-based empires, such as Russell’s “International Bible Students”, Jehovah’s empire on earth, as JWs were formerly called in the 1800's. Although most knew that the first Black child baptized in English America was christened William in the church of England at Jamestown as early as 1624. At that time, by English law that child became free with the baptism. Few students today know that England was hot for freedom.
JWs individual members were taught then, in the late 1800's and still today that there is no room on this earth for any other religion but theirs. Diversity is not an option. All others will be destroyed during the Great Tribulation climaxed at Armageddon. Far more interesting is that this Armageddon is the basic word for word interpretation that was part of Joseph Smith, the Mormon’s act of revealing back in 1823, long before the Confederate States of America formed. As for this end itself, Blacks were not to be a part of the joyous ending even if Elijah Abel, a Black man, had been converted in 1832 as a Mormon.
Thus far though, what is missing from Black History and history in general is what was 9 year-old Russell and his fellow contestants doing then when many claimed that holy covenants were being made before, during and after the Civil War. This was the war, viewed most likely by many right down to those who survived it, as their Armageddon. Again, history asked, based on written similarity, could it be that Russell’s 1874 Armageddon is convenient to the Joseph Smith’s and his contemporary Brigham Young’s 1848 Armageddon? Students should feel free to find out if history of Blacks, slavery and the chapel repeats itself. How can people who aren’t contemporaries Awake to the same vision yet call the other a false act?
Today, the affects of the child sex scandal that engulfed majority religious groups has not bypassed the Jehovah’s Witnesses no matter what we know about its relation to Black history. JWs and child sex abuse too is an international lewd problem amongst the church’s anointed and appointed class.
While the title Elder and the JWs can be traced as far back in Black History to the Mormons chapel or even the church of England, the title Elder has never been divinely exclusive to One divine organization as many try to claim. It is no wonder that eventually the State had to step in during the 1800's and use supreme might to expose loose conduct of leaders, claimers of prophetic inspiration, predicting future events of mass slaughter. Leaders used their own writings in addition to the biblical law as their ax to grind members. Today cult leaders pop-up again copy-catting off of other’s past scheme to be successful. Acts of abusing children and getting away with it in the name of the Lord persist. History will tell on them.
Some people belonging to the church show that certain things will never change. Amazingly historical records were kept of whomever did the horrible acts of child abuse right in their chapel. Methods of protecting abuse by not reporting the persons who were pedophiles was the norm. In the 1800's Clergy heads were making threats, and punishing all Blacks who even thought about testifying against whites as witnesses for the victim. This was a warning to whites or Blacks who might speak out, tell police or question the Clergy’s opinion that keeping confession of the child abuser is the Holy God’s instruction. The scriptural decision was directly from the One they looked to as God Almighty. Many victims died.
It was once illegal for Blacks to go to court against a white person for any reason in the 1800's. So majority religions today, including JWs, will punish both Its’ white and Black members if they question why its’ leaders refuse to allow the sovereign people of the State to examine records of child molesters who are in their mist. Child molestation confession is taught as holy confidential talk to Elders. The power to not tell is theirs, the Elders, and theirs alone. The victims and their families must suffer. Wait on Jah, they say to the victims. The Elders are the wrongdoers. As for their sex acts, Jah who will bring it out- Not the church.
Any church who operates like the church of the past in this way are very successful at covering up child sex abuse. Based on what happened during the Black History struggles of the 1800's, organized religion got recognized with the federal government for their own leadership purposes, not to teach.
In those times the religion that secretly supported a fundamental concept of American constitutional law, separation between church and State and the U.S. should remove Indians from their land, as well that Blacks should pay a fee for their freedom- could openly proceed in crime.
Today, because of history Secular courts have set themselves up to be basically defenseless against organized religion no matter what faith they call themselves. Anointed or appointed leaders of the church are aware that even the Supreme Court has no power to review church decisions nor church records.
Frightfully, this is how victims in the 1800's attempted to take the law into their own hands to stop the abuse of other’s rights. Yes, white, Indian or Black some even fought with their lives, if they had to, against the governmental authorities and lost. This was the case during John Brown’s time. Today students can understand why Brown, a white man, with fewer than fifty men, attacked the U.S. arsenal in Harpers Ferry launching an attack on Virginia slave-holders. The Supreme Court was for slavery.
Brown found that the Supreme Court stood by and did nothing to assist the Black or white abuse victims when the matter involved children and the church. Brown felt that churches supporting murder and mayhem and molestation had gotten themselves recognized with the federal government. The prophets could promote their hatred of diversity. Brown taught that the North and South federal government was unbalanced.
Nevertheless, it was Brown who was sentenced to death by hanging while the abusive chapel leaders roamed free to attend the church. Many church leaders called ministers were transferred to another church site only to be in a position to abuse again and again. Blood of white and Black freedom fighters spilled.
Not only is it a fact that Black History explores a host of majority religious groups and the JWs years of secretly bonding with the federal government to kill, more shocking is evidence found that the International Bible Society and its presidents supported the aims of most bigot military States.
History repeated if self again in the early 1900's when majority Christian groups, such as the JWs 2nd and 3rd presidents supported the aims of the Third Reich. This was by far Un-American.
“There is evidence of the Watchtower JWs letter to Hitler sent on or in the following June 25, 1933, and public statements made about anti-Semitism and bigotry against Black Americans in articles of the 1934 Watchtower and in the 1934 Year Book of Jehovah’s Witnesses” during moments in Black History as an official statement of the Watch Tower Society. Yet, very young Blacks and whites stood against Hitler.
Learning detailed information about African American History and not just an overview in the public school will help students and their parents to find that sharing remorse of other’s sufferings is a must if we desire to end acts of hate. Today the moral urgency is to assist our neighbors. Who will learn to understand cultural and religious way of life differentiate truthfully unless teachers are using the tools of history as their guide. Students need to know that uncanny individuals are a part of American history.
When students are given the full version of history and are allowed to use their own minds to question all documentary history of Black Americans, religions and freedom their future will be a true future of diversity. Every student each year should look forward to having history as a course if the above facts in history and many more facts that are not mentioned here about history is taught during their school year.
Van Stone Downing
Senior, Child, Chapel Safety, Community Organization
Van Stone Productions Foundation (VSP)
5037 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104