Many people claim that knowledge is power. However, in the 1800’s knowledge was denied to African Americans, and to deny them knowledge was to deny them power. During the 1800’s, those of a darker complexion were prohibited from reading and writing. If a “slave” was to have the “audacity” to try and educate themselves, they would be severely whipped or killed. In Frederick Douglass’ autobiographical text, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, he demonstrated how “slaveholding was a perversion of Christianity” by manipulated Bible scriptures, spreading propaganda and having bible study classes in order to keep the slaves in bondage and white people in power.
One of the ways Douglass showed how “slaveholding was a perversion of Christianity” is Captain Thomas Auld. Captain Thomas is Lucretia’s husband. Although he is a churchgoing person, his conversion to Christianity only makes him more confident of his “right” to treat his slaves with great cruelty. Captain Thomas Auld shows that the church inforeces the cruelty on human being of darker color. “I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes,–a justifier of the most appalling barbarity,–a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds,–and a dark shelter under, which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection”(Douglass 99). Douglass was met with controversy for attacking the hypocrisy of Christians in the South. Furthermore, he never backed away from the attack. But since many of his friends whom had involvement in the abolitionist movement were Christians, some of them thought he was attacking them instead of the religious imposters.
Another way Douglass exploits the cruel system is by sharing his memories with the readers. I have stated that my master found religious sanction for his cruelty. Thomas has used his position of power and abused it on his slaves. “I have seen him tie up a lame young woman, and whip her with a heavy cowskin upon her naked shoulders, causing the warm red blood to drip; and, in justification of the bloody deed, he would quote this passage of Scripture–‘He that knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.’(Douglass 72). Frederick thoroughly explains a behavior shown by many slave owners when it came to “punishing” their slaves; the thought that they are doing God’s work.
Frederick Douglass also sheds light on the hypocritical institution of bondage in the novel.Thomas’s house was as a house of prayer. Thomas is a very religious man. He prayed morning, noon and night,Thomas was soon a very distinguished man among his brethren. Thomas would invite the “christians” to his house for congregation, prayer meetings and etc “His home was the preacher’s home. They take great pleasure in coming there to put up; for while he starved us the stuffed them.” (Douglass 70). Since the church teaches christian to mistreat slaves. Thomas feels like he needs to impress them because of his conversion. So Thomas need to be the the top man the most religious man, which means he treats them cruely.
All things considered, the institution of slavery plagued this country. Human beings were treated lesser than animals, having no rights whatsoever, not even the common knowledge of age, their parents or their ethnic names. For the system to work, slaves had to be denied knowledge to be dented power. Douglass demonstrated how “slaveholding was a perversion of Christianity” by manipulated Bible scriptures, spreading propaganda and having bible study classes in order to keep the slaves in bondage and white people in power. Many people experienced it, on the other hand, fewer had the guts to take a stand against the hypocritical system.