The Importance of Religion to American Slaves

opinionated Essay
2129 words
2129 words

The Importance of Religion to American Slaves

Whether one notices or not, each person has the right to make choices concerning

his or her life. Being able to make these decisions is a God-given right that

vibrates in the heart of every human being who claims possession and mastery

over his or her own self. However, for slaves, this concept did not exist, and

they became the property of someone else with no place to call their own. For

this reason, many slaves turned to religion to comfort them in their darkest

hour, to help them gain the strength to continue in their struggles, and to hope

that a day would come when they would rise above their condition to a better

place. For slave-owners, the Bible became a place where the institution of

slavery was justified, but for the slaves, Christianity became a symbol of

redemption in which they envisioned a future free from bondage, and if earthly

escape was not possible, their faith would be rewarded in the afterlife,

securing them a home of their own in a free heaven.

While many white slave owners discouraged slaves from learning the Bible for

fear it would encourage slaves to seek freedom, slaves, nevertheless, felt the

Bible was their source for obtaining earthly freedom; thus "their persistent

hope for the future was tied to their faith in God." (Stammering Tongue, 57).

Their convictions gave them the ounce of hope they needed to believe that there

was a better life awaiting them. "The Spirit of the Lord allowed black slaves to

transcend the horizon of their immediate experiences and to hope for a future in

which they would be free." (Stammering Tongue, 60). In Frederick Douglass’


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...ome of his own in a free heaven.


Cut Loose Your Stammering Tongue: Black Theology in the Slave Narratives. Ed. D.

Hopkins and G. Cummings. New York: Orbis Books, 1991.

Douglass, Frederick. "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American

Slave." The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. 3rd ed.

Vol. 1. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1998. 1762-1813.

Escott, Paul D. Slavery Remembered. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina

Press, 1979.

Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Stowe, Harriet B. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Heath Anthology of American Literature.

Ed. Paul Lauter. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998.


Wilmore, Gayraud S. Black Religion and Black Radicalism. Garden City:

Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1972.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that being able to make these decisions is a god-given right.
  • Opines that the spirit of the lord allowed black slaves to live a better life.
  • Opines that his side helps secure the notion that the possibility of a future could be sought.
  • Opines that they are confined in bands of iron! o that i were free!
  • Describes the hottest hell of unending slavery. o god, save me!
  • Analyzes how he rebels against mr. covey in an attempt to loosen his chains.
  • Describes the resurrection as a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of jesus.
  • Describes the depths of the grave to the highest glory of heaven, with his faith restored.
  • Opines that god's path is always available even when they're not in his hands.
  • Opines that even as he is threatened with a torturous death, for "he felt strong in god to
  • Opines that death will only bring him closer to the afterlife.
  • Explains that tom depends on his faith in god to save his soul and the souls of others.
  • Analyzes how jesus continues to spread the word of jesus to sambo, who is on the verge of death.
  • Narrates how he saves a house from despair and attempts to save it.
  • Opines that he hasn't done me any real harm, but has opened the gate of kingdom for them.
  • Explains that tom's faith sustains him and arms him with the will.
  • Analyzes how tom gains his vigor because he feels god is next to him.
  • Opines that tom, too, believes this to be the case.
  • Opines that to many slaves, true freedom remained to be that which could be.
  • Opines that his spirit remains intact as his soul throbbed, and his home was in sight.
  • Describes god's glory, not death, but life, one that he could see and feel.
  • Analyzes how tom insists that he is connected with god, and that jesus has stood by him.
  • Opines that seeing visions or only believing he is seeing heaven does not change the fact that one sees heaven.
  • Explains that slaves became the property of someone else with no place to call their own.
  • Narrates how they hoped that one day they would rise above their condition to a better life.
  • Opines that the exciting vision of what was to come released the power of the future into those bound to slavery.
  • Describes tom's faith in god, which he believes will earn him freedom in heaven. he carries his bible which "seemed to him all of his life that remained, as well as the promise of a future one."
  • Explains that tom knows that god will save him, not in body, but in spirit. without something to believe in or to strive for, the prospect of a better life.
  • Narrates how the poor man's body vibrated to those words, as if touched by the finger of god. he felt the strength of a thousand souls in one.
  • Analyzes how tom's true test of faith is as he is dying, and his vision of heaven intensifies his commitment.
  • Analyzes how tom sacrifices his body in the same manner as his savior, and is going home to his new master.
  • Analyzes how kintuck's response to freedom is too late. the lord has bought him and is going to take him home, and he longs to go.
  • Describes the glory of the lord jesus to mas'r george.
  • Analyzes how tom's creed cannot be taken from him by any earthly act. in the end tom gets to make his own decision as to how he will meet the lord.
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