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Secular, Scarred and Sacred

Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada

Jerome Teelucksingh

Secular, Scarred and Sacred: Education and Religion Among the Black Community in Nineteenth-Century Canada focuses on the paternal yet exclusionary role of Protestant Whites and their churches among refugee slaves and free Blacks in nineteenth-century Upper Canada—many of whom had migrated to Canada to escape the dreaded system of slavery in the United States. This book contends that White Protestant churches provided organizational, social and theological models among Black communities in Canada. Author Jerome Teelucksingh further explores how Black migrants seized the educational opportunities offered by churches and schools to both advance academically and pursue an ideal of virtuous citizenship that equipped them for new social challenges.

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Chapter 2: Churches in the United States

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CHURCHES IN THE UNITED STATES

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. …And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there ­is favoritism with him. (Ephesians 6: 5–7, 9)

Pro-slavery ministers frequently cited Ephesians in the New Testament in their debate that slaves should be obedient to masters. The overwhelming majority of churches in the United States failed to be outspoken critics of slavery. The wavering and indecision on the issue of slavery’s abolition was indicative of racism and bigotry in Christianity during the nineteenth century in the United States. Some of the clergy selectively used biblical passages to justify slavery’s existence. Additionally, there was the identification of Blacks as the cursed descendants of Ham or Cain, two historical figures in the Old Testament. Other arguments were that the servitude enforced in the Old Testament was proof that slavery was legitimized in the Bible.

Among the hallmarks of Protestantism was its personal responsibility, encouragement of social and civil virtues, and emphasis on free enquiry. In the early 1830s, the clergy tended to avoid the hotly...

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