FACTOID # 10: The total number of state executions in 2005 was 60: 19 in Texas and 41 elsewhere. The racial split was 19 Black and 41 White.
 
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Encyclopedia > Persecution of African religions

Religious Persecution of Africans Enslaved in America

Contrary to popular belief, the Africans enslaved to build the economic foundation of America were not Christians.1 During slavery, African-Americans were not even allowed to worship as Christians. 2 The builders of this great nation were practitioners of the various African Religions popularly known today as "Voodoo", Vodou Akan, Ifa, Orisha, La Reglas de Congo, and Mami Wata. A small percentage were even (African-styled) Muslims, incorporating ancestral veneration and family deities into their ritual practice. A large sequined Voodoo drapo or flag by the artist George Valris Voodoo doll redirects here. ... Akan may be: Akan people, an ethnic group from western Africa Akan States, any of several states organized in the 16th or 17th century by the Akan people Akan languages, a stock of dialects spoken by the Akan people Akan District, Hokkaido Akan, Hokkaido, a town in Akan District, Hokkaido... IFA may stand for: Institut für Fabrikanlagen und Logistik [1] an der Universität Hannover [2] Institute of Field Archaeologists (UK) Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (International Radio Exhibition), the German consumer show which is held annually in Berlin, Germany. ... This article is about a type of spirit. ... This poster of a Samoan snake charmer inspired the common image of Mami Wata in Africa. ... A Muslim is a believer in or follower of Islam. ...


These spiritual practices of the Africans enslaved in America, have their ancestral origins not from Haiti, Cuba, or the Americas, but directly from Dahomey Ewe [ev-way]), Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, the Congo, and other West African nations. Ewe is an ethnic group from West Africa, in Ghana, Benin and Togo. ...


The West Africans also arrived in America speaking their native mother tongues, and were forbidden to learn English, or to read, including the Bible. The Christian missionaries, (of whom the majority supported slavery), were not interested in actually teaching the tenets of Christianity to the enslaved Africans, but rather their primary focus was on civilizing them from their "idolatrous" ways, and making them compliant with their lamentable fate of chattel slavery. For other uses, see Bible (disambiguation). ...


On many southern plantations, it was even against the law for any enslaved African to pray to God. The slave owners greatly feared the spiritual powers that many enslaved African priests possessed. Those who were caught praying to God were often brutally penalized, as the following excerpt taken from Peter Randolph's 1893 narrative "Slave Cabin to the Pulpit" recounts:


In some places, if the slaves are caught praying to God, they are whipped more than if they had committed a great crime. The slaveholders will allow the slaves to dance, but do not want them to pray to God. Sometimes, when a slave, on being whipped, calls upon God, he is forbidden to do so, under threat of having his throat cut, or brains blown out. Oh, reader! this seems very hard- - that slaves cannot call on their Maker, when the case most needs it. Sometimes the poor slave takes courage to ask his master to let him pray, and is driven away, with the answer, that if discovered praying, his back will pay the bill.


an aggressive campaign was implemented to do away with African traditional religious practices once and for all. Heavy fines were often levied. Brutal forms of torture, severe beatings and even death was imposed on anyone caught practicing any from of the religion. Stringent laws were passed to prevent the Africans from speaking any African languages, building shrines, making ritual drums, or any musical instruments. Family members and neigbors were encouraged to "report" one another if caught practicing any form of the religion.


These draconian laws (which continued unabaited until well after Reconstruction), included prohibitions against organizing in public; and any other method by which the slave owners suspected they might be "working " their magic.


Many priests and priestess' were murdered, some escaped up North, and nearly all who refused to (later) "convert" to Christianity and could not escape, suffered intense spiritual alienation and anguish due to the neglect of their Ancestors and gods. Thousands resisted and continued their practices underground. Forcing a once historcially open and proud religio-culural tradition to develop the underserved reputation of being "dark, and sinister" in the West.


These medieval, and unconstitutional laws were so successful, that in less than one generation, the many priests and priestesses who were not murdered, were forced to practice underground, and the new generations of enslaved Afro-diaspora had developed a learned afro-hagiophobia: a pathological fear and irrational intimidation of African spiritual and esorteric science, ancestral veneration, and its ritual and cultural expressions.

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Refernces

  • The Religions of the Slaves Prof. Terry Matthews
  • [Religious Persecution of Slaves in America

 
 

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