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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 5: Unique Theology and Management


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Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.(Leviticus 25: 42–43)

Protestantism in the United States aided Blacks in assimilating into Canadian society and the levelling effect of religion is illustrated in its socializing influence over the Blacks. An illustration is the moral conduct of slaves in Georgia. Their world comprised expectation for character and conduct which were entrenched in social institutions as religion and family.1 There was a considerable degree of assimilation as the slaves faked adherence to their teachings of the planter. During most of the nineteenth century in Chicago, Protestants adhered to certain virtues as diligence, self-control and temperance. The cultural dominance of Protestants led to formulation of a self-identity. This was the behaviour expected from immigrants and ex-slaves.2

The churches in the United States and Canada played a pivotal role in reinforcing religious mores in allowing a better chance of appreciating biracial education, handling demands of leadership and being better suited for assimilation. By producing Blacks who were morally and ethically upright, the process of assimilation would be easier as religion became the “opium of the masses.” By 1860, the AMA’s accounts provided evidence that the fugitives in ← 75 | 76 → Canada were industrious, enterprising and moral.3 The role of the church in assimilation was a paradoxical one...

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