Reverent J.C. Postell in chapter four of the manual states that the slaves are brimming with all sin in their natural state, and their enslavement “revolutionizes them from such a state… where they may have the Gospel, and the privileges of Christians.” However, other slavery supporters, including Douglass’ masters the Ault family do not deem the slaves worthy of reading the Bible. Douglass reflects on Christianity positively when he discusses the Sabbath school, meant to teach slaves the Bible. The dismantling of the Sabbath school by religious leaders is an important turning point in Douglass’ faith journey and more importantly his self-concept. After beginning to teach Douglass to read, the Aults realize that an educated slave elevates in agency and is “of no value to his master.” (Douglass 1196). To Douglass, “he who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me” (Douglass 1236).
Christianity was used as a tool for keeping the slaves docile and obedient to their master. They were only taught passages that emphasized submissiveness and learned only their master’s words. Throughout their narratives both Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs expose the hypocrisy and moral contradictions between the religion slaveholders preach and true Christianity. We learn that having a religious master is one of the worst things as a slave because masters feel a certain entitlement to commit these horrible crimes and that God is behind them. Separating the Christianity of the South and true or Godly Christianity became essential in realizing that religion could be used as justification for freedom.
Christianity is all about doing a good deed and making the heavenly father proud, but slaveholders were doing the exact opposite. Someone once said that one of the worst sins you can commit is knowing what the rules say in the bible and still going against it. Douglass is trying to prove that just because you go to church and praise God does not mean you are a true Christian. Works Cited Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself.
This exemplifies the incompatibility between slavery and Christianity in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Every Christian in the society pushed and pushed for what they believed and what they thought was right, but nothing came out of it. Slaveholders pushd for their control and they got what they wanted. What they wanted did not satisfy everyone, so there were examples of people trying to get by with what little they had left deep in their hearts. Uncle Tom and Eva showed Christianity with everything they did behind the hypocrisy of slavery and died while trying.
His work to demolish slavery has been greatly known, detailing his life experience as a slave and expressing his theory on slavery. In “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass,” he demonstrates the way religion and its literature, the bible, had a negative influence and effect on slavery as well as the development of white Christianity. Douglass opens his narrative introducing himself stating his birthplace and age. However, he claims he cannot authenticate his introduction because he himself was a slave and was not given access to this information. Immediately he attempts to demonstrate the lack of knowledge slaves had because of their masters and slaveholders.
Quakers became involved in the Abolitionist movement because slavery violated their religious beliefs. Quakers believed that slavery was not only wrong, but it violated the morals of the slaves. They believed everyone had the right to be free no matter the race. Quakers assisted in the Abolitionist Movement in many ways, but the Underground Railroad was the most prominent. The Underground Railroad was a series of secret roads and houses used to help slaves escape captivity.
By attending church, slaves created a Christianity that emphasized salvation for every race, including slaves. To avoid over work slaves tried to work at their own pace and resist speedups. Some of the techniques they used to prevent work were to fake illness or pregnancy, break or misplace tools or fake ignorance. Unless slaves lived near free territory, or near a city where they could blend into a free black population, they knew that permanent escape was unlikely. Only rarely, did a large group of slaves attempt a mass escape and maintain an independent freedom for long periods of time.
Padre Antonio Vieira became a missionary priest and returned to Brazil in 1652, with very complex messages about slavery. His teachings could be interpreted as being against the Christian religion, but they raised a lot of questions about the slavery of the New World and whether or not the God's name was being used in vain. During his two sermons in Bahia and Sao Luis do Maranhao, he used his own beliefs of universal church to convert non-Christians to the faith. He uses the Bible, as his reference and his faith in God, as his guide to show that the settlers should treat the natives fairly and humanly. Vieira insisted on two main slaveries, that of the body and soul, and emphasizes that there is no forgiveness for selling your soul.
Religious Justifications of Slavery in the Caribbean The doctrine of Christianity grants eternal life to all persons who accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and choose to follow him. Such a statement leaves little room for interpretation of the scripture itself. Nevertheless, the nineteenth century Christian churches of the Caribbean Islands created a racial distinction between humans which determined who could and who could not be granted eternal life through the Christian faith. This concept of race was based on the belief that Africans were intellectually unable to make an educated decision regarding personal religion. Planters supported this discrimination against their workers because then they did not have to be cruel to fellow Christians.
As a religious group that focuses heavily on the rights of the individual, the Quakers were pronounced advocates of abolition. The Quakers were a prime example of what a different interpretation of the Bible could mean for the cause. Both Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs had similar experiences in regards to their owners getting more involved with religion, resulting in a change in the treatment of their slaves. Frederick Douglass’ slave-owner in 1832 was a man called “Captain Auld” by his slaves. Douglass describes him as a “slaveholder without the ability to hold slaves”.