African American Literature
29 January 2015
African American religion during the colonial period “When there is no vision, there is no hope.”- George Carver. African Americans embraced religion during the colonial period. Most African Americans were converted to Christianity through slavery. But religion for African Americas gave them a reason to live everyday through harsh enslavement. Blacks would hold secret church meetings at night while the master was sleeping. The first slaves struggled to keep their old beliefs and old religion. As slave rebellions became more often, slave owners became more concern so African religious and languages were replaced by their masters. Most slaves accepted Christianity, but still respected the religion that they came to America with. Slave masters took their drums but slaves still used their feet and their hands to embrace their religion. African American religion was dealt with in many various ways like Christianization, making no time for religion, and many slave rebellions.
To begin with, many African Americans were Christianization through slavery. African Americans played a major role in their own conversion to Christianity. By the new generation of slavery, slaves were born Christian. In the Southern colonies, where most American slaves lived, Anglican missionaries led the way. Their efforts were directed at both white and black populations, as preachers tried to bring all Americans to Christ. Slavery was an important feature of this religious task (Encyclopedia). They believed doing this would help the slaves become more American like. Before the American Revolution, fewer slaves were Christian. Shockley, some masters didn’t want their slaves to convert to Christianity because they feared it might give them a sense of equality and freedom. A famous African American poet named Phillis Wheatley talked about god in her famous poem “On Being Brought from Africa to America” by saying “Taught my benighted soul to understand, that there’s a god, that there’s a savior too” (Wheatley19). Wheatly talks about Christ in her poem and how it will save her. On the other hand, slave masters didn’t want their slaves to have time to preach any religion. Slaves were forbidden from doing African rituals. Drums were banned because overseers were afraid they use it to send messages. They were mainly concern about a slave uprising. Slaves faced severe punishment if caught attending secrete private prayer services. Many slaveholders granted their slaves permission to attend church, and some openly encouraged religious meetings among the slaves. Baptisms, marriages, and funerals were allowed to slaves on some plantations with whites observing and occasionally participating. Annual revival meetings were social occasions for blacks as well as for whites. Masters were known to enjoy the singing, praying, and preaching of their slaves. Nevertheless, at the core