The Role Of Religion In Harriet Beecher Stowe's Society

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Different types of religion have existed almost as long as mankind has. Many people believe in the institute of religion, but what constitutes religion is still highly debated today. This is largely due to the fact that religion continues to evolve based on cultural norms of the world. Each religion has a set of beliefs that go along with it, and often these beliefs differ from those of another religion. These differences often lead to heated debate and contention as to which religion will best allow people to lead virtuous lives. This confusion leads people to have distorted views about their faith and what it actually means to them. This debate even occurs within different subdivisions of a single religion. Harriet Beecher Stowe 's novel,…show more content…
Stowe’s character Miss Ophelia is the opinion of such Christians, as she believes that God will atone her sins solely because she is a Christian. Miss Ophelia uses religion in order to avoid addressing her bigoted opinion of African Americans: "I 've always had a prejudice against Negros […] and it 's a fact, I never could bear to have that child touch me; but, I didn 't think she knew it" (246) Miss Ophelia 's aversion toward African Americans shows that, like any human, she is flawed, but instead of trying to improve her flaw she assumes it will be forgiven. Ophelia’s beliefs enable these actions and allow her hate to grow as her only prerequisite for Heaven is for being a Christian rather than be a good Christian. Miss Ophelia is the embodiment of many white Americans of the period who believed that their maltreatment of African Americans was accepted by God, and easily forgiven without any change in their treatment of these…show more content…
In this time frame, many people believed that God would forgive their actions against African Americans and that no effort as necessary to change the system of slavery. Miss Ophelia assumes that God will forgive her for her bigotry even though she makes no effort to become a better person or change her opinions on race. Many also believed that African Americans were not their equals, and therefore saw no issue with their treatment of slaves. Despite this, many still feared an organized revolt of the slaves against them, so maintaining power over them was important. Simon Legree uses Christianity against his slaves in order to maintain control over them, hoping that punishment for practicing the Christian faith will prevent his slaves from developing ideas of freedom. On the other hand, religion also creates hope for many people during this period. Evangeline is portrayed as the perfect Christian, and shows how the Christian faith can create hope for people and inspire them to lead good Christian lives, setting an almost unreachable standard. Uncle Tom also portrays hope that can be gained from the Christian faith. As a Christ figure, Uncle Tom is able to inspire many others to become better Christians and hope for a better life in the future. Religion had a very large range of meaning to people
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