Slavery Against Religion Essay, Research Paper
Slavery Against Religion
Slavery has been the stitch in American history and oddly enough religion has been used to justify the practice of slave owners. Slaveholders used the religious example of Ham, a son of Noah, who was supposed to be cursed and his ancestors cursed for seeing Noah naked. The southern peoples argued that Ham was the forefather of those people brought from Africa and that it was necessary for them to enslave these human beings for the purpose of abiding to God s will.
Frederick Douglass was a slave for a time and he lived in Maryland. After his escape, Douglass was a major abolitionist who tried to dispel and disprove all of the myths that were used to justify the horrible practice of enslaving people. Frederick used many examples of how the people who owned slaves were guilty of religious hypocrisy. Not only were slave owners cruel in their direct treatment of their slaves but they thanked and prayed to God for the things that the masters kept from the slaves to be granted to the masters themselves. One such example was on page 64 of Douglass first autobiography: A great many times have we poor creatures been nearly perishing with hunger, when food in abundance lay mouldering in the safe and smoke-house, and our pious mistress was aware of the fact; and yet that mistress and her husband would kneel every morning, and pray that God would bless them in basket and store! With this quote Douglass shows how people who were supposedly religious were being very hypocritical.
Not only did the slave owners starve their slaves but they also used inhumane methods of discipline to keep their workers in line. Not only was this cruel but the slave holders used Scripture as an excuse to have the ability to legally whip their slaves. An example of this in his same novel can be found on page 66 where a slave master actually quotes scripture while whipping one of his unfortunate slaves: I have seen him tie up a lame young woman, and whip her with a heavy cowskin upon her naked shoulders, causing the warm red blood to drip; and, in justification of the bloody deed, he would quote this passage of Scripture- He that knoweth his master s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes. This quote illustrates how the completely horrid action of slavery has been the corrupter of even the Word of God. Supposedly religious men have resorted to actually reading scripture while beating another human being.
Along with being enslaved, the slaves also were not allowed to read or write. As a result of this the slave holders were going against one of their own preachings that said people should be familiar with the Bible and what God would want of His people. Douglass gives his example of this hypocrisy: He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning how to read the name of the God who made me. (Douglass 119) Douglass makes a powerful point of how slaves were denied their rights to their own religion as well as to their humanity in the preceding quote.
Religion has been used to not only justify slavery bit also to justify such things as wars also. A very good example of this would be the Christian wars against the Muslims in the Crusades. During these three wars the reason for having them was to protect the religious lands and values of Christianity. Another example of religious war is still practiced today. Muslims still are ready for a jihad or Holy War. This is still practiced today and Muslims from all over the world must vow to volunteer their services should any need for a jihad present itself.
Frederick Douglass created a masterpiece of literature when he wrote his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass an American Slave Written by Himself. In this book many references were made to how the slave holders in the south used religion to justify their wretched actions toward people and in doing so also created a major dilemma contrasting with their practices on Sunday at their worship services. Douglass does a good job of pointing these practices out and in such a great number as to not be able to contain them all in this paper. Point by point Frederick makes a solid argument to dispel the myths of religion to excuse slavery and all its cruelties.