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The PBS show Finding Your Roots gives scholar/host Henry Louis Gates, Jr. an opportunity to chat with celebrities about their ancestry.

In this week’s episode, he met with Pastor Rick Warren. As it turns out, one of Warren’s ancestors was a prominent slaveowner. That’s not particularly surprising, and it doesn’t say anything about Warren himself. The conversation surrounding it, though, is pretty interesting.

Rick Warren speaks beginning at the 32:47 mark, but the most interesting bit begins at the 33:40 mark:

Gates: Do you think there was a valid Christian justification of slavery before or during the civil war?

Warren: There is ZERO biblical justification for slavery.

Gates: (laughter)

Warren: ZERO. From the very beginning of time, God says, ‘I have created every man in my image’. And I’ve read those arguments, and they’re spurious. They are false exegesis.

Gates: Yeah.

Warren: They’re… isegesis, you’re reading INTO it instead of exegesis, reading OUT of it, what it actually says. And the Bible, like any other book, and people do it with the Constitution, make it mean what they want it to mean. I mean, the Supreme Court now finds all kinds of things in the constitution that isn’t there. But they try to create something out of it. And so everything that we look at, we read with our lenses, and if you were raised with a prejudicial lens you’re going to read Scripture wrong

Of course, Warren doesn’t have any problem opposing civil unions and marriage equality through his “lens”… and considering how many Christians don’t find opposition to love (even same-sex love) in the Bible, it’s amazing that Warren doesn’t notice his own hypocrisy in action.

By the way, there are plenty of references to slavery in the Bible. At no point in the Bible is slavery condemned. In the view of the Bible’s writers, slavery is perfectly acceptable.

On a side note, at the beginning of that segment, Gates talks (32:12) about the dark hours in our country “when we, as Americans, have failed to live up to our original Christian values of religious freedom and tolerance.”

Gates, what are you doing?! Those values aren’t strictly Christian. They’re human.

(Thanks to Richard for the link)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.