One of the first things that attracted the African American slaves to Christianity was a way of obtaining the salvation of theirs souls based on the Christian’s idea of a future reward in heaven or punishment in hell, which did not exist in their primary religion. The religious principles inherited from Africa sought purely physical salvation and excluded the salvation of the soul. However, they did believe in one supreme God, which made it easier for them to assimilate Christianity.
Many people believe that Christians played a great role in abolishing slavery. However, Douglass’ ideas about religion and its connection to slavery shine a light on the dark side of Christianity. Douglass’ account of his own life is a very eloquent first hand retelling of the suffering and cruelty that many slaves were going through. His account gives a detail of the ills that were committed against the slaves. The atrocities committed by the various different masters varied in intensity depending on the masters’ individual personality (Glancy 42). This first hand narrative gives us a glimpse in to the connection between religion (Christianity) and slavery.
Kelly Brown Douglas begins by posing a series of questions, including, “Who is the Black Christ?” and “Is the Black Christ Enough?” (6-7) For Douglas, the Black Christ, “…represents God’s urgent movement in human history to set Black captives free from the demons of White racism” (3). The question of “Who is the Black Christ?” is addressed in Chapter 3. The question of “Is the Black Christ enough?” is addressed in Chapters 4 and 5, as Douglas critically examines the relationship of the Black Christ to the Black community and ends with addressing what womanist theology is and why there is a need for it in understanding the Black Christ.
The first essay is about James Baldwin's personal perspective of being black in racist America. The second essay goes on to how religion and Christianity allowed the segregation and oppression of blacks to grow between both whites and blacks of the United States (Baldwin, 1963). Christianity in the United States can be easily be compared to the opiate of the masses. Religion controlled the lives of the whites and forced the blacks to live under the oppressive rule of the whites.
How did slavery continue to exist despite its inhumane practices? Many of these owners employed the ideas of dehumanizing slaves and religion in order to perpetuate their actions. Dehumanization demoted the societal status of slaves, therefore deeming blacks inferior to their white counterparts. Moreover, although directly opposing religious principles of kindness and avoidance of sin, plantation owners used Christianity as a mechanism to mask their inhumanity and encourage their cruelty toward slaves. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass develops themes of dehumanization and religion, which helps readers understand the techniques slave owners utilized to alleviate their guilt, condone malice toward slaves, and preserve supremacy over colored people in Southern society.
The author starts out by describing the harsh situation slaves were put in and how the black experience in America is a history of servitude and resistance, of survival in the land of death. The spirituals are the historical songs which tell us what the slaves did to hold themselves together and to fight back against their oppressors. In both Africa and America, music was directly related to daily life and was an expression of the community’s view of the world and its existence in it. The central theological concept, which is the prime religious factor, in the black spirituals is the divine liberation of the oppressed from slavery. Further, the theological assumption of black slave religion as expressed in the spirituals was that slavery contradicts God, and therefore, God will liberate black people. This factor came from the fact that many blacks believed in Jesus, and therefore, believed that He could save them from the oppression of slavery because of his death and resurrection. The fact that the theme of divine liberation was present in the slave songs is supported by three main assertions: the biblical literalism of the blacks forced them to accept the white viewpoints that implied God’s approval of slavery, the black songs were derived from white meeting songs and reflected the "white" meaning of divine liberation as freeing one from sin (not slavery), and that the spirituals do not contain "clear references to the desire for freedom". The extent of
African slaves were brought to America from many tribes and they brought with them a variety of beliefs and practices. In some ways, the religion that many West Africans practiced bears a striking resemble to the practices of Christianity and Judaism. There are however several differences that make it clear that it is its own separate faith. On the plantations in America slaves were taught a “modify” version of Christianity so that they would obey their masters, and often times slaves would hold their own services. Other slaves believed in and practice what was called “conjuration” along with Christianity.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church also known as the AME Church, represents a long history of people going from struggles to success, from embarrassment to pride, from slaves to free. It is my intention to prove that the name African Methodist Episcopal represents equality and freedom to worship God, no matter what color skin a person was blessed to be born with. The thesis is this: While both Whites and Africans believed in the worship of God, whites believed in the oppression of the Africans’ freedom to serve God in their own way, blacks defended their own right to worship by the development of their own church. According to Andrew White, a well- known author for the AME denomination, “The word African means that our church was
Author of “The Negro Family”, E. Franklin Frazier believed that the centrality of the Bible, structure of Black worship, and notion of God that evolved from the invisible institution to the Black Church was a confirmation of the power of white power. He contends that these developments were adaptive methods used by slaves to worship in a confined space. However, Frazier’s beliefs are undermined by Gayraud S. Wilmore’s description of Vodun in his book Black Religion and Black Radicalism. While admittedly Vodun’s organization was probably “infiltrated by Roman Catholicism” and exhibited some white influences, the ultimate goal of New World Africans in practicing Vodun was to adapt and
Through out the entire time period of slavery, religion remained a high priority and a way in which to label different social groups. The lack or complete non-existence of religion among Africans led to them being viewed as somewhat inferior. Later in the second chapter Jordan talks about how during the slave era religion distinguished whites from blacks. Also how classification changed once Africans began to enter the Christian church. He himself viewed this type of labeling somewhat ridiculous, in that many of the Africans were baptized before the came to the New World. Thus they in many circles would be identified as Christians. This important information helps show the reader how the justifications for slavery evolved. Jordan captures the utter and blatant hypocrisy that the colonies exuded with regards to the slave situation. Jordan also sees religious injustice within the treatment of Indians and Africans. The English made attempts to convert the Indians and had little desire or intention to do the same for Africans. This again shows to what lengths early Americans went in creating a subculture for the purpose of slavery.
“Some day the Awakening will come, when the pent-up vigor of ten million souls shall sweep irresistibly toward the Goal, out of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where all that makes life worth living—Liberty, Justice, and Right—is marked ‘For White People Only’” (Du Bois155). The hardship experienced by African Americans refused to cease when the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863, it was at this point that it had only begun and the effects of double consciousness had already consumed the minds of many. Throughout this essay, the concept of double consciousness and its various counterparts will be explored through the historical era surrounding the very beginning of slavery and African American religion, all the way to the transformation of the Negro church
African firmly believes that there is a living communion or bond of life which makes for solidarity among members of the same family. Before Christianity, Africans did have their own system of salvation. In traditional religions, salvation can and does take the form of courage to face the reality of morality. The church was looked art as a place for political activity, a source of economic cooperation, an agency of social control, and a refuge in a hostile white world. Slaves worshiped with great enthusiasm. Religion, after all, provided a ready refuge from their daily miseries and kindled the hope that one day their sorrows might end. Planter's actually encouraged religious observances among their slaves hoping that exposure to Christian precepts might make their laborers more docile, less prone to run away, and more cooperative and efficient workers. But slaves turned biblical scriptures to their own purposes forging a theology that often emphasized the theme of liberation. It was easy for them to see, for example, in the figure of Moses a useful model for their own dreams; like the Israelites, they too were ready to cross a River Jordan into a promised land of freedom. The religious services held in the quarters provided slaves with so many positive experiences that, even as they were being exploited, they managed bravely, but perhaps not too surprisingly, to feel that they were free within themselves. In this way slaves began to achieve a degree of liberation well
To conclude, both writings share many similarities and many differences when describing the influences of religion on both slaves and owners. The differences compliment each other, while the similarities intensify the points they are intended to make. The heart wrenching stories they provide will surely affect everyone who reads these works and would have opened many Americans at that time’s eyes to the barbarity of slavery and religion’s varied influences on it.
This single fact could go far in explaining peoples’ aversion and later acceptance of the color black in modern society. Since the colonization of America, black was most often related to African Americans. The story of America’s institution of slavery need not be told here, however; it is important to look back to see the historical conations of black and aggression. Western cultures views of African Americans as a race, has transformed over the centuries. During the times of slavery African Americans were a submissive and controlled group. As the civil rights movement gained power, the group began to be viewed as “uppity”, troublemakers, and violent. Groups like the Black Panthers even lead to a militant view of African Americans. While African Americans have overcome much of the horrors of the past, racial discrimination is still present in
With a very telling title “Racism and Religion: partners in crime,” describes how the paths of religion and racism crossed. Catholicism did little to fight racism in the United States in 1942. Catholic Universities upheld bans to any students of color (Catholic University of America). Many seminaries, orders, and convents banned men and women of color and though people of color were not accepted openly into many religions there was no scripture, either Hebrew or Christian, stating that they could not be priest, pastors, or reverends. In fact in early Greek and Roman societies ‘non-whites’ were considered exotic. It was not until Christianity or Anglo-Saxon Protestantism in Europe that white was considered the only reasonable color. Anglo-Saxon Protestantism’s foundation benefits the KKK and white supremacies, discrediting Judaism, Catholicism, and anyone of color (Clarentian Publisher).