The Life of Olaudah Equiano

What role did Chiristianity play in The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano?


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The autobiography is very much an examination of Christianity, its many sects and the way it allows many worshipers to engage in the hypocrisy of slavery. Equiano distinguishes between the Christianity of white slaveholders and the "true" Christianity practiced by himself and his Methodist and Quaker friends. He even touts the simple faith of his African brethren as being more honest and legitimate, comparing them with the Jews. White Christians involved in the slave trade perverted their faith; they did not live up to the simplest tenets outlined in the Bible. They allowed greed, lust, pride, and anger to permeate their hearts in spite of their professed faith. They usurped God's authority by placing His creatures in bondage, and blindly defined their slaves as immoral, full of vice, and ignorant. They pretended to be pious by attending church, exulting in their public displays of religiosity while, in private, beating and cursing their slaves. They ignored the Ten Commandments and blasphemed the name of God. Equiano, on the other hand, exemplifies the true tenets of Christianity. He tries to control his pride, relies on God for all things, tries to live by the Commandments, and evinces the virtues of fortitude and patience. He eventually finds his greatest serenity in the Methodist church, for it values sincerity and prizes faith and humility as equally important to virtuous works (actions). Equiano continues to labor on behalf of his enslaved brethren, demonstrating thereby kindness and mercy on their behalf. He is chaste and charitable. Overall, Equiano is a far better example of a true Christian than those Europeans who twisted and manipulated the Scriptures to fit their lifestyle and enlarge their pocketbooks.