Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
by Harriet Jacobs
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Religion Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Chapter.Paragraph
Many of the slaves believe such stories, and think it is not worth while to exchange slavery for such a hard kind of freedom. It is difficult to persuade such that freedom could make them useful men, and enable them to protect their wives and children. If those heathen in our Christian land had as much teaching as some Hindoos, they would think otherwise. They would know that liberty is more valuable than life. They would begin to understand their own capabilities, and exert themselves to become men and women. (8.2)
If one goal of Christianity is to spread the word, then Christians are missing a huge opportunity in not educating their slaves. Of course, educated slaves might begin to value their lives and believe in their capabilities. Yep, that'd be a problem.
They seem to satisfy their consciences with the doctrine that God created the Africans to be slaves. What a libel upon the heavenly Father, who "made of one blood all nations of men!" (8.6)
At several points in the text, Jacobs shows how slaveholders manipulate the Bible and religion to their own ends. This has the extra effect of revealing Jacobs's intelligence and authority by doing the same thing.
The slaves begged the privilege of again meeting at their little church in the woods, with their burying ground around it. It was built by the colored people, and they had no higher happiness than to meet there and sing hymns together, and pour out their hearts in spontaneous prayer. Their request was denied, and the church was demolished. They were permitted to attend the white churches, a certain portion of the galleries being appropriated to their use. (12.14)
After the Nat Turner rebellion, the very practice of African-Americans gathering together started to look awfully suspicious. Black churches in particular were seen as potential birthplaces of rebellion.