Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution”

Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution”

  • Submitted By: bluefirefly
  • Date Submitted: 04/29/2014 11:32 AM
  • Category: Religion
  • Words: 1384
  • Page: 6
  • Views: 3

(This paper was submitted via Moodle - if you plagiarize it you you be caught)

It is myopic to infer that the process of becoming a Christian was the same experience for privileged whites, or at least planters with means, as it was for enslaved blacks. Enslaved persons cultivated their own unique interpretation of Christianity as experienced through their subjugation to slavery. Moreover, slaves who became Christians had to overcome the steady hypocrisy many masters exhibited; this necessitated that slaves see Christianity beyond human actions and interactions with white slave-owners to appreciate to true essence of the Gospel. Slaves becoming Christian created conflict not just for their masters, but for the enslaved as well.
Christians kept vigilant survey of their fellow congregants which were in turn reported at regular meetings; members would report not only others but they confessed their own transgressions as well. This system of judgment treated all members equally, based on their deeds, not their race. This was in opposition to the institution of slavery which dictated that blacks be regarded differently from whites, even blacks who were liberated.

The issue of the maltreatment of slaves also generated troubles for planters. To allow a slave to indict an owner of abuse was not legal; however a slave could persuade a white church member to plead on his or her behalf to the disciplinary council. Masters accepted that there was a fine line between punishing a slave to instill obedience and true cruelty, but the fact that whites could be held accountable for their actions towards blacks was exceptionally problematic.

Slave marriage emerged as an additional challenging matter in reconciling the conflict between the Gospel and slavery. The feasibility of determining matrimonial standing required that male and female slaves were first acknowledged as being wed. This issue was critical because wed slaves were frequently separated from one...

Similar Essays