Does Go Tell It on the Mountain portray religion as evil?
People, in this novel, are good and evil. Religion is neither good nor evil but serves varying purposes depending on the characters we choose to look at. Religion is clearly a central element of the novel and has a great power over the family and community life depicted in the book.
Isolating or reducing the value of religion, however, down to a qualification of...
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Baldwin's relationship with religion was complicated. This is his most biographical novel, and arguably his most religiously themed. Baldwin never professed association with a denomination or congregation. That being said, religion was constant theme in his writing from beginning to end, and it is not completely negative. When friends would visit him in Harlem in his latter life, he would invite them to go with him to local storefront (pentecostal) churches. For Baldwin, religious experience was an important place of meaning, though it had clearly run off the rails in the case of his father. Despite Baldwin's longterm issues with father figures (he also scorned Richard Wright, who helped him to find funding for his Paris sojourn), his opposition to his father was not to religion per se but the way his father lived it. Later in his life Baldwin downplayed his conversion experience, but in his early and mid life he still gave the event signficance. Baldwin would share a strong moral consciousness, that can be argued is the strongest continuity from his religious heritage.
In short, "Go Tell It on the Mountain" is not a negative take on religion. Instead it offers various visions of religion, some very negative and some positive (in a qualified way). Most of all, it recognizes religion as a potent force of meaning in black and human life.