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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass

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Do Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs relay the same message about religion and how slavery affected their spirituality?

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Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs both mention religion in their works. Frederick Douglass considers himself to be a man of religion and ethics. Harriet Jacobs was exposed to Christianity by her mistress. However, Jacobs believes that her mistress cared for her and was nice enough to expose her to the Bible and its teachings.

She credits Christianity with giving her faith that helped her to get through her experience of slavery—she seems to see this exposure as a good thing. Douglass, on the other hands, discusses "false Christianity" versus "true Christianity." He believes that slavery and racism are against the values of Christianity and that anyone who supports slavery cannot be a true Christian. Additionally, he talks about how slave owners are cruel people: taking their slaves to church and exposing them to faith does not atone for the practice of slavery. He believes that in the South, Christianity was used as a way to justify what slave owners were doing to their slaves. This contrasts with Jacobs's belief that her mistress was helpful in exposing her to faith—Douglass argues that this is not true, broadly speaking.

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