In the novel, Narrative of The Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Douglass describes all of the dehumanizing effects of slavery. Slaves were treated like animals, stripped from their families, given minimal supplies, denied an education, and often murdered just to set an example to other slaves. All of these items listed stripped the slaves of their humanity because they were never viewed as human beings. Now Douglass uses his novel to not only show how slaves were affected but also how the slave owners or holders were dehumanized because they had to enforce the laws. Overtime, slave holders would lose sight of right and wrong because they abused Christianity, could no longer feel sympathy, and became predators that preyed on other human beings.
Slavery did not only dehumanize the slaves but the slave holders as well because they became sadistic religionists. They would get pleasure out of inflicting pain on the slaves but think they could get away with it since God would forgive them. Christians believe that God would forgive their sins as long as they followed his word which was given to them through the Bible. Now in the novel Douglass states, “[T]hat 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 117). Douglass says this because that is exactly what slave holders do. They abuse the religion because it is a cover up for their crimes against humanity: murder, theft, and adultery. The religionist would take the word of God and twist and turn it however they pleased until it fit what they were trying to do, whether that may be physically abusing the slaves or forcing them to believe that they are descendants from Ham.
The religionists did not follow all of the Commandments God gave them which is where they differ from Christians. God told them “Thou shall not commit adultery,” “Thou shall not steal,” and “Thou shall not kill.” These are just a few of the Commandments and slave owners break these rules every day. They believe they are allowed to break the rules as long as they repent. In the end of the novel, Douglass went out and got his own job which he would get paid for every day. He writes, “I was now getting, as I have said, one dollar and fifty cents per day. I contracted for it; I earned it; it was paid to me; it was rightfully my own; yet, upon each returning Saturday night, I was compelled to deliver every cent of that money to Master Hugh” (Douglass 135). Douglass would go out and work and have to give his money to his master at the end of the day. The master would steal his hard earned money just because he felt like he had control over every aspect of Douglass’s life. It was not fair to the boy to steal from him but it again shows how Master Hugh broke one of the Lord’s commandments, “Thou shall not steal,” making him a religionist. Religionists would sleep with slaves, murder slaves, and take their hard earned money because they thought they were worth more than any slave. They would break all the commandments and assume they could get away with it. Douglass hears a rumor that he may be the slave owner’s son since he does not know who is father is which would mean the slave owner cheated on his wife. He writes, “she is never better pleased than when she sees them under the lash, especially when she suspects her husband of showing his mulatto children favors which he withholds from his black slaves” (Douglass 49). The wife gets angry when the husband does not treat his bastard children with the same force and punishment the others receive. First, the husband is cheating on his wife and there is proof through the life of a child. Furthermore, the wife wants the child beaten when a good Christian should want to take care of