We Believed It to Be Honorable Before God, Religion in Enslaved Communities, 1840-60
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The dehumanization of African people in the United States began with their capture and the exploitation of their labor and bodies, which white people justified through the conviction of their inherent superiority. Collective religious passion was an effective defensive measure, but it did not prevent slaveholders from exploiting black labor. This paper will use testimonies and narratives to argue that religion in the South from 1840 – 1865 offered a social sphere within enslaved communities that relieved experiences of dehumanization under slavery. Although enslaved people did not always intend to challenge the institution of slavery, their actions demonstrated resistance to the objectives of slavery, especially their own dehumanization.