I have never researched this, but is it true that the slaves were given bibles but not education to keep them enslaved?

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Comment by Edmond on December 13, 2010 at 11:22am

Sounds about right. Reading often leads to thinking for one's self and we all know that if slaves realized that their Jesus wasn't going to save them, they would have to save themselves.

Comment by Edmond on December 13, 2010 at 11:22am

Wait on Jesus and he'll save, in the meantime you remain a slave. 

Comment by Tammy on December 13, 2010 at 2:44pm

I've only read a few books like, Freehling, William. 1994. The Reintegration of American History: Slavery and the Civil War, Genovese, Eugene. 1974. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made, and Douglass, Frederick, 1817-1895. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.  Very good books to read if you ever have the chance.


Unfortunately religion has played it's role throughout history, all over the world as a means to maintain an obedient slave.  Slaves are taught that there is salvation for unbridled obedience.  The concept of salvation that centered on the renouncement of sin in return for the embrace of Christ in the afterlife.  For them sin could mean anything, disobedience, poor work, or being just simply being disrespectful.


As for the slave owners, especially the moor deeply religious I don't believe that they more or less needed the religion aspect to justify the means but that it was simply their God given right.   In the book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he mentioned that religious slave owners were always much more cruel than those that were not religious.  He spoke about how a slave owner would whip a slaves bare shoulder till they would bleed, then justify it with a passage.  “[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts.”


Throughout time, people have taken the Bible as they wanted it to be. Biblical Example:   The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it." "But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly.  Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given."  (Luke 12:47-48 NLT).  Given that how could a deeply religions slave owner ever feel bad about hurting a slave.


As for giving their slaves bibles, I am not to sure about that.  I haven't come across anything indicating that they were ever given any books at all to read.  There was to much fear that an educated slave would cause revolt.

Comment by GodMockingBitch on December 13, 2010 at 3:35pm

I have heard of the old "Negro" hymns and spirituals from slave days so I wondered How they even knew about jesus or praising a god. The bible says how to treat a slave so it would have fit right into their (the slaves) lifestyle. While giving them some sick sense of purpose I suppose.

Comment by Tammy on December 13, 2010 at 5:20pm

Not 100% sure but throughout the South slaves were not usually allowed to attend church services.  Those churches that did accept them would segregate them from white worshipers.  In the North it was more accepted of course and eventually white missionaries began to bringing the words to the slaves.   Yet despite the white teachings of Religion a lot of slaves often slipped away in the middle of the night where black preachers led them in songs and prayers of deliverance.  Creating a religion that believed in the merciful benevolence of a Savior that promised rest at the end of the day’s hard work or life. 


They took the teachings they were taught and did what people have done to Religion since the first Religious belief was created, changed it up to fit their most basic needs.  For slaves it was probably a very simple need at best, a purpose behind the sufferings of a man.  If such a term has any relevance at least it gave them something to hold onto.  

Comment by Jason on December 13, 2010 at 8:29pm


"Now, how did we end up with this particular religious system? Well, that’s simple: Slavery. One of the original justifications for slavery was to bring the “heathen” African into contact with Christianity. The earliest enslaved Africans were converted by force before even leaving the slave castles of western Africa. They were now Christian by virtue of the slave trader’s power.

As time passed, many slaveholders ceased to rely on this pre-textual justification for slavery. After all, if you do not free the enslaved once they have become Christians, then providing them salvation seems a flimsy rationale. Continuing to parrot the old justification of Christianizing the African would be too absurd even for a slaveholder. However, Christianity was still useful to them. Logically, the slaveholder continued to teach Christianity in a way beneficial to their more genuine economic motives. From Ephesians they likely taught “slaves obey your masters here on Earth…” From Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.” From Matthew 18:4 “[w]hoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The slaveholders’ true intention was not to save souls, but to create a docile workforce. Unfortunately, this strategic impartation of Christianity began to take root."

Comment by elaine kilshaw on December 14, 2010 at 8:26am

Any human being that thinks to enslave another person is the slightest bit justified is evil. Evil people hide behind teachings in Bibles to justify heir wrongdoings. 

 Slavery to me is so wrong, and just for the colour of your skin it is unthinkable to me. After all all our ancestors were dark skinned as we evolved from Africa.

A wonderful saying ...'There is a story..which is fairly well known, told about when missionaries came to Africa, that they had the Bible and we, the natives, had the land. And then they said 'let us pray, and we dutifully shut our eyes. And when we opened them, why, they now had the land and we had the Bible......Desmond Tutu.


Comment by Ava Wilson on December 14, 2010 at 10:54am

This is true. An educated slave was a disobedient slave. It was illegal for slaves to read books of any sort or obtain an education. The Bible condones slavery, if not flat out encourages it, so it was an okay book for them to hear passages from.

Comment by Michael Sizer-Watt on December 14, 2010 at 2:27pm

Sickening.  I and I find it disgraceful when people say "but that was normal back then".   Do onto others had been figured out long before the slave trade in America.

Comment by Reg The Fronkey Farmer on December 14, 2010 at 5:40pm

“I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the South is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes – a justifier of the most appalling barbarity, a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds, and a dark shelter under which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection. Where I to be again reduced to the chains of slavery, next to that enslavement, I should regard being the slave of a religious master the greatest calamity that could befall me. I hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”


Fredrick Douglass – escaped slave who also said:


“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs”


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