Discuss the role religion played in the lives of enslaved African American during the antebellum period. Include the origins of the religious ceremonies practiced and the focus of their teachings.
Enslaved African American during the antebellum period.
1. Discuss the role religion played in the lives of enslaved African American during the antebellum period. Include the origins of the religious ceremonies practiced and the focus of their teachings.
A. Slave Religion
1. By the early 1800s, many enslaved communities had embraced evangelical Christianity; they favored the emotional styles of worship permitted in Methodist and Baptist revival churches. However, most of their religious training occurred in the slave quarters. Blacks in rural areas often did not have access to churches, and slave owners did not always allow their slaves to attend church.
2. Slaves who worshipped alongside whites or received religious instruction from them did not trust Christianity; white ministers who stressed the obedience and humility expressed in scriptural passages such as “Servants be obedient to their masters” fueled black suspicion.
3. Blacks developed their own brand of Christian ideology and practice, which historians have termed the “invisible church.” Enslaved blacks gathered in secrecy and stressed biblical values like justice, freedom, love, and equality. They favored the Old Testament stories about Moses liberating the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
4. Slaves also gathered in their homes or in “hush harbors” in the woods to attend religious ceremonies that incorporated African religious practices officiated by slave elders; juju and voodoo rituals were an important part of some slave communities. The “ring shout” tradition, in which congregants moved counterclockwise in a circle while shuffling their feet, singing, and clapping, is evidence that West African traditions survived in America.