On the surface this may sound like a ridiculous question. How does serving an almighty, omniscient, omnipotent supreme-being make us slaves? Perhaps you’re one who subscribes to the idea of an energy force/source of some kind, a power greater than yourself or the belief that something or someone had to “create” all of this. Maybe your idea of a god is something you perceive as incomprehensible or that god exists within you and/or all living things. But does this make us slaves though? Within the majority of Christian sects is a personified, singular, masculine god who is a supreme master and authoritarian that one must worship in respect and humility. This god also demands submission and obedience and renders judgment and punishment to those that fail to abide by his laws. Sounds a lot like the master on the plantation doesn’t it? And what about the one who operated in the “form” of god, who “fulfilled the law” of god and the one we had to “go through” before we were judged by the master and sent (sold) to a worse or better plantation? In a Christian context that would be Jesus but on the plantation that would be the overseer.
When we carefully observe our beliefs and rituals, we might be mimicking plantation behavior we thought was buried in the 1800’s. Dan Barker, ex-evangelical preacher and now co-founder of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, stated that even the act of praying is a “slave humility unto the lord.” Barker went on to say that the posture of having our hands clasped in prayer symbolizes a shackling of the wrist.” Barker stated that, “In prayer, we’re hunched over or kneeling down with heads bowed in submission to a master of whom we’re trained to fear. It’s a posture that says, don’t hurt me, be good to me and please give me something to eat.” The bible has many scriptures that encourage us to fear God. One passage for instance is found in the book of Ecclesiastes 12:13 which states “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. St. Paul instructed slaves to obey their masters and St. John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople wrote: “The slave should be resigned to his lot— in obeying his master he is obeying God…”
Keep in mind that for hundreds of years while enslaved under the Black Codes, Blacks had become accustomed to being told what to do, where to live, what to wear and what to eat. As a consequence, it became a seamless transition to go from a plantation master whom we feared and who told us what to do and how to live our lives, to a heavenly master that essentially did the same thing. Maybe this is why Blacks are the most religiously enslaved group in America. Is there something within the Black psyche, stemming from years of conditioning, whereby Blacks continue to seek some form of a master and paradoxically find contentment in subservience? Many believers are proud to point out that they are “servants” of the lord.
But is it a contradiction to claim to be a servant of God while also claiming to have free will? How can a servant of anything or anyone have free will? In fact, the foundation of Christianity is based upon the principle that the power resided solely with the authority of a fearful god and not with the individual and that obedience and submission were valued far more that freedom and self-determination. So, if you consider yourself a servant of a god, perceive a god as your master, pray to a god in a humble, obeisant manner, submit to the will of a god and fear a god and his punishment for disobeying him, then perhaps you are thinking, acting and behaving in the capacity of a slave. What a restrictive and horrifying way to live.