Black and white illustration of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass
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Why does Douglass think that it is terrible to expose slaves to faith?

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Frederick Douglass was an incredible skeptic and criticizer of Christianity, particularly the Christianity of whites and slave owners, and was also deeply spiritual. Douglass was not fundamentally opposed to faith and a belief in God, but was, instead, opposed to forcing Christianity onto enslaved black people who were told that the white man's christian god approved of their enslavement and suffering. Enslaved black people were encouraged by their Christian captors to accept their condition with a religious humbleness, and even gratitude. Frederick Douglass clearly understood how white slave owners used Christianity in an attempt to pacify enslaved black people, and to therefore prevent and eradicate any stirrings of rebellions against enslaved people. Douglass, therefore, powerfully spoke out against the idea that enslaved black people should accept their condition as slaves and that they should accept this Christian God who seemed to approve of their suffering. Instead, Douglass asserted that if there is a God of goodness, that this all-powerful being of love and kindness must not approve of slavery, and therefore enslaved black people who were exposed to faith must use their faith to further their struggle for liberation.

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