What role did religion play in helping enslaved peoples address the inhumanity of their captivity?

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Many slaves used stories from the Bible to understand their situation and to hope for freedom. For example, the story of the Israelites' enslavement by the Egyptians in the book of Exodus in the Bible became a part of slaves' spirituals and helped signify their hope for release from slavery...

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Many slaves used stories from the Bible to understand their situation and to hope for freedom. For example, the story of the Israelites' enslavement by the Egyptians in the book of Exodus in the Bible became a part of slaves' spirituals and helped signify their hope for release from slavery with God's help.

Over time, the abolitionist movement also used religion to further their cause. For example, Frederick Douglass, in his autobiography, made a distinction between the true Christianity practiced by abolitionists and slaves and the hypocritical, false Christianity practiced by slaveowners. He wrote that religious revivals in the slaveholding south made the masters and overseers even crueler because they felt falsely justified in holding and abusing slaves. He also documented the ways in which slave masters prevented slaves from attending Sunday school, showing that slave owners were obstructing rather than furthering Christianity and that the masters' religion was antithetical to true Christianity.

Many other abolitionists used religion to argue against slavery. For example, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, also believed that Christianity would result in the abolition of slavery, and her novel was an attempt to show the ways in which slavery was antithetical to Christianity. Though Stowe was white and was not enslaved, her argument—and that of Douglass, who became an abolitionist orator—used religion to argue against slavery and to convince white northerners to free the slaves. In addition, religion and its indictment of slavery helped slaves combat their situation and hope and fight for freedom.

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