The Importance of Religion to American Slaves Essay

The Importance of Religion to American Slaves Essay

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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’


... middle of paper ...

...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.

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