Analyze the relationship Thomas Auld has between his religion and slavery.Explain how this relationship contributes to his sense of moral corruption.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Thomas Auld, Douglass is able to establish one of his fundamental premises about religion and slavery.  Auld represents the difference between "Christianity of Christ" and "Christianity of this land."  In this light, Douglass goes out to demonstrate that there is a "false Christianity" that allows slavery to exist in America.  Douglass' argument is that if individuals, such as Auld, believed in Christianity, there could be no way that slavery could continue.  When Auld recites passages from the Bible as he is whipping a young woman, Douglass fully understands this nature of "true" versus "false" Christianity.  In this light, Auld, and other slaveowners, have to be seen in one of two ways.  Either slavery has choked the spiritual life out of them that they cannot fully understand that what they are doing in being active participants in slavery is against Christianity.  The other side would be more insidious in suggesting that Christianity was a religion that slaveowners used to justify or to hide their immoral and evil practices.  When Douglass argues that the "church bell" is no different than the "slave auctioneer's," we have a good idea as to which side Douglass advocates.  Auld's corruption is aided by Christianity which he uses as a way to maintain control in the name of a higher power.  Auld's refusal to acknowledge the full nature of how Christianity would deem what he is doing as wrong is a stinging contradiction that Douglass uses to demand to the reader and to America, as a whole, to ensure that there is consistency between what is practiced and what is believed.

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