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A Faith in the Ultimate Justice of Things This is Anti-Slavery. This is Christianity. (Sociology 159)

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Presentation on theme: "A Faith in the Ultimate Justice of Things This is Anti-Slavery. This is Christianity. (Sociology 159)"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Faith in the Ultimate Justice of Things This is Anti-Slavery. This is Christianity. (Sociology 159)

2 A Sermon to Maryland Slaves Rev. Francis Bacon, 1749 Maryland clergy Supported by a Poll Tax, in which every Slave, above Sixteen Years of Age is Rated as High, and pays as much as the master he or she belongs to, and consequently, have an equal Right to Instruction with their Owners. (75) Now, for carrying out his great and wonderful ends, God hath appointed several offices and degrees in his family, as they are dispersed and scattered all over the face of the earth. – Some tradesmen, some teachers, some kings, some masters some slaves (77) Most of the slaves had been baptized, and as many as call themselves Christians do profess to serve the Lord Christ:--and as many as have been baptized, have mad a solemn promise and vow,--That they will obediently keep Gods commandments, and walk in the same all the days of their life. – To achieve salvation and avoid hell by serving God (79) 2

3 Hath [God] not brought you out of a land of darkness and ignorance where your forefathers knew nothing of Him, to a country where you may come to the knowledge of the only true God, and learn a sure way to Heaven? (80) 3

4 Having thus shewn you the chief duties you owe to your great Master in Heaven, I now come to lay before you the duties you owe to your Masters and Mistresses here upon earth. – Do white people have a Master in Heaven? And for this, you have one general rule, that you ought always to carry in your minds;--and that is,--to do all service for THEM, as if you did it for GOD himself.Poor creatures! You little consider, when you are idle and neglectful of your masters business, [when you are lazy, or sullen, or stubborn, or wasteful and need to be whipped] – You do not consider, I say, what faults you are guilty of toward your Masters and Mistresses, are done against God himself, who hath set your Masters and Mistresses over you, in his own stead, and expects that you will do for them, just as you would do for him. – They are GODS OVERSEERS (83) 4

5 if any of your OWNERS should prove WICKED OVERSEERS, and use you, who are his under servants here, as they ought not to do;--though you must submit to it, and can have no remedy in this world, – yet, when God calls you and them face to face together before Him in the next world, He will do you strict justice, and punish those who have been bad stewards and overseers over you with greater severity, as they had more of this world entrusted to their care:--and that whatever you have suffered unjustly here, God will make you amends for it in heaven. (84) 5

6 The Christian Doctrine of Slavery: Gods Work in Gods Way George D. Armstrong, 1857 In the case of a race of men in slavery, the work which God has appointed his Churchas we learn it, both from the example and the precepts of inspired menis to labor to secure in them a Christian life on earth and meetness for his heavenly kingdom. – The slave may be degraded, but can still be saved In what way is this work to be done? We answer, By preaching the same Gospel of Gods grace alike to the master and the slave; and when there is credible evidence given that this Gospel has been received in faith, to admit them, master and slave, into the same Church – In this way must the Church labor to make good masters and good slaves, just as she labors to make good husbands, good wives, good parents, good children, good rulers, good subjects. (232) 6

7 If the ultimate effect be the perpetuation of slavery divested of its incidental evilsa slavery in which the master shall be required, by the laws of man as well as that of God, to give unto the slave that which is just and equal, and the slave to render to the master a cheerful obedience and hearty servicewe say, lets slavery continue. Would it be a kindness to emancipate? – How shall we, as God-fearing men, provide for the just rights and well-being of the emancipated slave? To leave the partially civilized slave race, in a state of freedom, in contact with a much more highly civilized race, as all history testifies, is inevitable destruction to the former. Their writ of enfranchisement is their death warrant. (232-33) 7

8 Dr. Barnes call for a Church attack on American slavery is... – Mistaken in singling out American slavery as distinct from other nations practice of it Why might Barnes do this? – Unscriptural Some letters of St. Paul advise the slave on how to behave – An unprecedented call for church intervention in political affairs (234-36) 8

9 Frederick Douglass ~ Born a slave – Escaped on 3 rd attempt, 1838 Abolitionist & supporter of womens suffrage Supported Irish home rule, but still popular in Britain Active in Reconstruction politics 9

10 1847 I like to gaze upon these two contending armies, for I believe it will hasten the dissolution of the present unholy Union, which has been justly stigmatized as a covenant with death, an agreement with hell. – I welcome the bolt, either from the North or the South, which will shatter this Union, for under this Union lie the prostrate forms of three millions with whom I am identified. In consideration of their wrongs, of their sufferings, of their groans, I welcome the bolt, either from the celestial or the infernal regions, which shall sever this Union in twain. Slaveholders are promoting itAbolitionists are doing so. Let it come, and when it does, or land will rise up from an incubus; her brightness shall reflect the sky, and shall become the beacon light of liberty in the Western world. She shall then, indeed, become the land of the free and the home of the brave. (224) 10

11 Northerners congratulate themselves on being free of slavery, but thinks nothing of visiting slave-owning relatives, or having sons who go off to be slave-drivers. – If the Gospel were truly preached here, you would as soon talk of having an uncle or brother a brothel keeper as a slaveholder; for I hold that every slaveholder, no matter how pure he may be, is a keeper of a house of ill-fame. Every kitchen is a brother, from that of Dr. Fullers to that of James K. Polks. I presume I am speaking to a virtuous audienceI presume I speak to virtuous femalesand I ask you to consider this one feature of Slavery. Think of a million females absolutely delivered up into the hands of tyrants, to do what they will with themto dispose of their persons in any way they see fit. – And so entirely are they at the disposal of their masters, that if they raise their hands against them, they may be put to death for daring to resist their infernal aggression. ( ) 11

12 We have been trying to make this thing appear sinful. We have not been able to do so yet. – Quotes Bacon – Having thus shewn you the chief duties you owe to your great Master in Heaven, I now come to lay before you the duties you owe to your Masters and Mistresses here upon earth. And for this, you have one general rule, that you ought always to carry in your minds;--and that is,--to do all service for THEM, as if you did it for GOD himself. (Due to a series of bad citations, Douglass believes himself to be quoting the pro-slavery Rev. Bishop Meade) I come now to evangelical flogging. There is nothing said about floggingthe word is not used. It is called correction; and that word as it is understood in the North, is some sort of medicine. Slavery has always sought to hide itself under different names. (225) 12

13 Now, when correction is given to you, you either deserve it or you do not deserve it. (laughter) – Suppose you are quite innocent; is it not possible you may have done some other bad thing which was never discovered, and Almighty God would not let you escape without punishment one time or another. Ought you not in such cases give glory to Him? (Glory!) (much laughter) I am glad you have got to the point that you can laugh at the religion of fellows such as this Doctor. There is nothing that will facilitate our cause more than getting people to laugh at that religion which brings its influence to support traffic in human flesh. It has deceived us so long that it has overawed us. – It was this religion that had been instilled in Douglass when still a slave(226) 13

14 I dwell mostly upon the religious aspects, because I believe it is the religious people who are to be relied upon in this Anti-Slavery movement. – Do not misunderstand my railingdo not class me with those who despise religiondo not identify me with the infidel. I love the religion of Christianitywhich cometh from abovewhich is a pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be entreated, full of good fruits, and without hypocrisy. I love that religion which sends its votaries to bind up the wounds of those who have fallen among thieves. By all the love I bear such a Christianity as this, I hate that of the Priest and the Levite, that with long-faced Phariseeism goes up to Jerusalem to worship and leaves the bruised and wounded to die. I despise that religion which can carry Bibles to the heathen on the other side of the globe and withhold them from the heathen on this sidewhich can talk about human rights yonder and traffic in human flesh here. (227) 14

15 There is another religion. It is that which takes off fetters instead of binding them onthat breaks every yokethat lifts up the bowed down. The Anti-Slavery platform is based on this kind of religion. – It spreads its table to the lame, the halt, and the blind. It goes down after a long-neglected race. It passes, link by link til it finds the lowest link in humanitys chainhumanitys most degraded form in the most degraded condition. It reaches down its arm and tells them to stand up. This is Anti-Slavery. This is Christianity. It is reviving gloriously among the various denominations. It is threatening to supersede those old forms of religion having all the love of God and none of man in it. (227) – Spirit vs. letter 15

16 Just as American hypocrisy is demonstrated by the fact that the fugitive slave is freer in Britain than in America, Christian hypocrisy is demonstrated by the practice of and toleration of slavery – For Douglass, this is a false Christianity I was then a slave: I had dreams, horrid dreams of freedom through a sea of blood. But when I heard of the Anti-Slavery movement, light broke in upon my dark mind. Bloody visions fled away, and I saw the start of liberty above the horizon. – Since the light of Gods truth beamed upon my mind, I have become a friend of that religion which teaches us to pray for our enemies which, instead of shooting balls into their hearts, loves them. I would not hurt a hair of a slave-holders head. I will tell you what else I would not do. I would not stand around the slave with my bayonet pointed at his breast, in order to keep him in the power of the slaveholder. (229) 16

17 Friends, slavery must be abolished, and that can only be done by enforcing the great principles of justice. – Vainly you talk about voting it down. When you have cast your millions of ballots, you have not reached the evil. It has fastened its root deep in the heart of the nation, and nothing but Gods truth and love can cleanse the land. We must change the moral sentiment. (230) 17

18 The Preachers In the immediate post-emancipation era, preachers enjoyed very high status in the newly freed African-American community Things had been different for preachers under slavery – Masters had final authority – Wealth, status, education, power closed off – Preachers could not improve the lot of their followers with better food, less harsh treatment, or easier work – Preachers interfaced between slaves & masters – Remained subservient to masters – Though illiterate, they were popular & influential w/plantation slaves Due less to relationship w/slavery power structure than spiritual power structure – Help people endure their lives as slaves (295) 18

19 The Preachers Qualifications for Preachers – 1. The Call – 2. Charisma – 3. Oratory The ability to connect w/an audience Just after emancipation, almost any interested candidate likely to be admitted – Moral uprightness a prerequisite, but biblical knowledge and education difficult to come by Demand for preachers very high – Preaching one of only a handful of professions open to free black Americans, and offered high status – Black Americans want preachers who look like them ( ) 19

20 The Preachers Preachers not only religious figures, but play a central role in their communities Not just salvation but practical living – Morals – Health – Business – Medicine, etc. High levels of power, but only so long as the congregation cosents – A dynamic interaction between elites and masses – Women almost entirely excluded from the ministry, but make up most of the congregation, & thus wield a degree of community power Despite all this, preachers often have to work second jobs – Preachers who rocked the boat were exposed to attacks from white majority ( ) 20

21 The Preachers But at the end of the 19 th century, status of the preacher had begun to decline A new generation of black Americans, born after emancipation, had a higher average level of education – Disliked the emotive, charismatic & ecstatic approach of old-style preachers – Demand a higher level of ethical behavior in ministry – Douglass, 1883: younger generation demands an educated chaste, and upright ministry.... These old-fashioned preachers minister to passion, decry the intellect, and induce contentment in ignorance and stupidity, and are hence an impediment to progress. But increasing standards of education for ministry sometimes took them out of sympathy with their congregations – The seeds of the civil rights movment 21

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