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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
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I find, since reading over the foregoing Narrative,
that I have, in several instances, spoken in such a
tone and manner, respecting religion, as may possi-
bly lead those unacquainted with my religious views
to suppose me an opponent of all religion. To re-
move the liability of such misapprehension, I deem
it proper to append the following brief explanation.
What I have said respecting and against religion, I
mean strictly to apply to the ~slaveholding religion~ of
this land, and with no possible reference to Christi-
anity proper; for, between the Christianity of this
land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the
widest possible difference—so wide, that to receive
the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to re-
ject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the
friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy
of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impar-
tial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the cor-
rupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plunder-
ing, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.
Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful
one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.
I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the
boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels.
Never was there a clearer case of "stealing the livery
of the court of heaven to serve the devil in." I am
filled with unutterable loathing when I contem-
plate the religious pomp and show, together with the
horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround
me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women-
whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for
church members. The man who wields the blood-
clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on
Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and
lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings
at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader
on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life,
and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister,
for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pi-
ous advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a re-
ligious duty to read the Bible denies me the right
of learning to read the name of the God who made
me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage
robs whole millions of its sacred influence, and leaves
them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The
warm defender of the sacredness of the family re-
lation is the same that scatters whole families,—sun-
dering husbands and wives, parents and children,
sisters and brothers,—leaving the hut vacant, and the
hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against
theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have
men sold to build churches, women sold to support
the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for
GOOD OF SOULS! The slave auctioneer's bell and the
church-going bell chime in with each other, and the
bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned
in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals
of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand
in hand together. The slave prison and the church
stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and
the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious
psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be
heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies
and souls of men erect their stand in the presence
of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other.
The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support
the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his in-
fernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here
we have religion and robbery the allies of each other
—devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting
the semblance of paradise.

"Just God! and these are they, Who minister at thine altar, God of right! Men who their hands, with prayer and blessing, lay On Israel's ark of light.

"What! preach, and kidnap men? Give thanks, and rob thy own afflicted poor? Talk of thy glorious liberty, and then Bolt hard the captive's door?

"What! servants of thy own Merciful Son, who came to seek and save The homeless and the outcast, fettering down The tasked and plundered slave!

"Pilate and Herod friends! Chief priests and rulers, as of old, combine! Just God and holy! is that church which lends Strength to the spoiler thine?"

The Christianity of America is a Christianity, of
whose votaries it may be as truly said, as it was of
the ancient scribes and Pharisees, "They bind heavy
burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on
men's shoulders, but they themselves will not move
them with one of their fingers. All their works they
do for to be seen of men.—They love the upper-
most rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the syna-
gogues, . . . . . . and to be called of men, Rabbi,
Rabbi.—But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven
against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither
suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Ye devour
widows' houses, and for a pretence make long
prayers; therefore ye shall receive the greater dam-
nation. Ye compass sea and land to make one prose-
lyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold
more the child of hell than yourselves.—Woe unto
you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay
tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin, and have omit-
ted the weightier matters of the law, judgment,
mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and
not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides!
which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe
unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye
make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter;
but within, they are full of extortion and excess.—
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for
ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed ap-
pear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead
men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also
outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within
ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."
Dark and terrible as is this picture, I hold it to be
strictly true of the overwhelming mass of professed
Christians in America. They strain at a gnat, and
swallow a camel. Could any thing be more true of
our churches? They would be shocked at the propo-
sition of fellowshipping a SHEEP-stealer; and at the
same time they hug to their communion a MAN-
stealer, and brand me with being an infidel, if I
find fault with them for it. They attend with Phari-
saical strictness to the outward forms of religion, and
at the same time neglect the weightier matters of
the law, judgment, mercy, and faith. They are al-
ways ready to sacrifice, but seldom to show mercy.
They are they who are represented as professing to
love God whom they have not seen, whilst they hate
their brother whom they have seen. They love the
heathen on the other side of the globe. They can
pray for him, pay money to have the Bible put into
his hand, and missionaries to instruct him; while
they despise and totally neglect the heathen at their
own doors.
Such is, very briefly, my view of the religion of
this land; and to avoid any misunderstanding, grow-
ing out of the use of general terms, I mean by the
religion of this land, that which is revealed in the
words, deeds, and actions, of those bodies, north and
south, calling themselves Christian churches, and yet
in union with slaveholders. It is against religion, as
presented by these bodies, that I have felt it my
duty to testify.
I conclude these remarks by copying the following
portrait of the religion of the south, (which is, by
communion and fellowship, the religion of the
north,) which I soberly affirm is "true to the life,"
and without caricature or the slightest exaggeration.
It is said to have been drawn, several years before
the present anti-slavery agitation began, by a north-
ern Methodist preacher, who, while residing at the
south, had an opportunity to see slaveholding mor-
als, manners, and piety, with his own eyes. "Shall
I not visit for these things? saith the Lord. Shall not
my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?"


"Come, saints and sinners, hear me tell How pious priests whip Jack and Nell, And women buy and children sell, And preach all sinners down to hell, And sing of heavenly union. "They'll bleat and baa, dona like goats, Gorge down black sheep, and strain at motes, Array their backs in fine black coats, Then seize their negroes by their throats, And choke, for heavenly union.

"They'll church you if you sip a dram, And damn you if you steal a lamb; Yet rob old Tony, Doll, and Sam, Of human rights, and bread and ham; Kidnapper's heavenly union.

"They'll loudly talk of Christ's reward, And bind his image with a cord, And scold, and swing the lash abhorred, And sell their brother in the Lord To handcuffed heavenly union.

"They'll read and sing a sacred song, And make a prayer both loud and long, And teach the right and do the wrong, Hailing the brother, sister throng, With words of heavenly union.

"We wonder how such saints can sing, Or praise the Lord upon the wing, Who roar, and scold, and whip, and sting, And to their slaves and mammon cling, In guilty conscience union.

"They'll raise tobacco, corn, and rye, And drive, and thieve, and cheat, and lie, And lay up treasures in the sky, By making switch and cowskin fly, In hope of heavenly union. "They'll crack old Tony on the skull, And preach and roar like Bashan bull, Or braying ass, of mischief full, Then seize old Jacob by the wool, And pull for heavenly union.

"A roaring, ranting, sleek man-thief, Who lived on mutton, veal, and beef, Yet never would afford relief To needy, sable sons of grief, Was big with heavenly union.

"'Love not the world,' the preacher said, And winked his eye, and shook his head; He seized on Tom, and Dick, and Ned, Cut short their meat, and clothes, and bread, Yet still loved heavenly union.

"Another preacher whining spoke Of One whose heart for sinners broke: He tied old Nanny to an oak, And drew the blood at every stroke, And prayed for heavenly union.

"Two others oped their iron jaws, And waved their children-stealing paws; There sat their children in gewgaws; By stinting negroes' backs and maws, They kept up heavenly union.

"All good from Jack another takes, And entertains their flirts and rakes, Who dress as sleek as glossy snakes, And cram their mouths with sweetened cakes; And this goes down for union."

Sincerely and earnestly hoping that this little book
may do something toward throwing light on the
American slave system, and hastening the glad day
of deliverance to the millions of my brethren in
bonds—faithfully relying upon the power of truth,
love, and justice, for success in my humble efforts
—and solemnly pledging my self anew to the sacred
cause,—I subscribe myself,
LYNN, ~Mass., April~ 28, 1845.


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