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The Religious Experiences of Enslaved People

Slavery, in one form or another and at one time or another, has existed in all parts of the world, and no race has been able to escape this appalling form of social development. In the late 19th century, slavery became an integral part of the American way of life. Slaves lived in an eerie atmosphere, which was exacerbated by the prohibition of communication, the constant risk of their lives for the sake of freedom, and the inadequate interpretation of the Bible.

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Slaves were deprived of the satisfaction of one of the primary human needs – communication. Barrow (2016) considered it essential to prevent any man from talking to his slaves since he feared that his slaves would influence the words of others. While Barrow (2016) believed that slaves needed to be comfortable so that they would not want to leave, and they needed to be well treated to prevent riots, communication was critical, according to the author. This would create a sense of independence for the slaves if they talked to people outside the plantation, which would cause them to get out of the control of the owners for a while. Thus, Barrow considered it harmful to allow his slaves to talk to any man, as it could affect the sense of independence of the slaves.

Moreover, slaves lived with constant dreams of freedom, on the basis of which they were forced to constantly risk their lives for the sake of gaining independence. Nat Turner wanted other slaves to join his rebellion to give people freedom, which was their common goal. His ideas became support for slaves in their quest to free themselves from slavery. Nat Turner (2016) urged that if everyone followed each other, it would rally the slaves and help organize a successful rebellion. It is noteworthy that he equally valued his life and the life of another person and was ready, at the cost of his life, to grant freedom to others. It was more worthy for him to die a free man than to continue living the life of a slave. Thus, the slaves sought to get rid of addiction and sacrificed their lives for this.

At all times, religion has played a significant role in the consciousness of society. The same applies to the period of widespread slavery in America in the late 19th century. According to DeBow’s Review (2016), defenders of slavery relied on the authority of specific Bible passages to bolster their confidence in biblical sanction. Slavery advocates studied the Bible, noting any places where the word “servant” was used, then somehow adapting those passages to suit their reasoning. In addition to the myriad positive sanctions of slavery, they also found negative sanctions in the Old Testament, in which they found no place where there was a text condemning or prohibiting slavery. The same kind of sanction, only in more rigid formulations, they found in the New Testament. Since Christ came to fulfill, not destroy, it means that He sanctioned those social institutions and relationships that existed at that time, including slavery, which He clearly did not condemn. Thus, white southerners considered it essential to show that the Bible sanctioned slavery, which further burdened the life of slaves since religion at all times was a kind of outlet for the human soul.

References

Barrow, B. H. (2016). Rules of Highland plantation (1838). In E. Foner (Ed.), Voices of freedom: A documentary history (pp. 215–217). W. W. Norton & Company.

DeBow’s Review. (2016). Slavery and the Bible (1850). In E. Foner (Ed.), Voices of freedom: A documentary history (pp. 217–219). W. W. Norton & Company.

The Confessions of Nat Turner. (2016). Confessions of Nat Turner (1831). In E. Foner (Ed.), Voices of freedom: A documentary history (pp. 221–226). W. W. Norton & Company.

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StudyCorgi. (2023, January 19). The Religious Experiences of Enslaved People. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-religious-experiences-of-enslaved-people/

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StudyCorgi. (2023) 'The Religious Experiences of Enslaved People'. 19 January.

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