During the period of slavery, the ‘invisible institution’ played a critical role in helping the African-Americans to be able to meet freely and share their ideas and ideals. Through these forums, the African Americans were able to use signals, passwords as well as messages to communicate; the messages that were communicated through these channels were mostly not discernible to the white people. The use of an ‘invisible institution’ entailed the development and application of a code of communication that was only discernible to the people who were using this form of communication. Most of the African–Americans used to serve as slaves and thus they needed to have a meeting place and a form of communication that was not easily discernible by the whites. The African American church was mostly related to the slaves who used to serve the whites by accomplishing their chores in their households, however, it is also very important to note that the African Americans in most of the situations used to seek solace from the Church and religion (Ruiz 2).
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There have been arguments that have been advanced by theorist to the effect that the practice of religion by the slaves gave them a sense of relief and contentment from the struggles that they endured in the course of their slavery duties. Amongst the black community, the African-American church was recognized as an important agency that contributes immensely to the control of the social aspects as well as the forms of organization among the black Americans in the society (Raboteau 48). The religion that is dominant amongst the African-Americans is Christianity; the contribution of the African American Church tot the cultural inclination of the African-Americans was immense; this was propelled by the ‘invisible institution’ which gave them a sense of identity as well as a forum through which they could be able to meet and communicate their ideas and share experiences.
The African-American religion was characterized by various religions which constituted the various cultural religions of the various slaves; these slaves had been brought into America from various parts of Africa and therefore they had a variety of religious beliefs and practices. The practice of Christianity may have been hampered by a few of the slaves who had origins from countries which practiced Catholicism; however the majority of the Slaves practiced Christianity and therefore this became the most dominant religion amongst the African-American slaves. The culture that was enforced by the white masters on the slaves was the western culture, the adoption of this culture would mean that the African Slaves would have to abandon their beliefs and practices that they had adopted from their native backgrounds back in Africa. To be able to either retain their culture or develop a distinct cultural identity to be associated with the African Americans, the African slaves had to find solace in a place whereby they could not be infiltrated by their white masters. In this regard the church provided the ideal place for the Africans to be able to practice their religious beliefs without being interfered with (Boles 38).
The mix of the different religions that were associated with the slaves in some of the circumstances ended up in the formation of new religions as well as cultural identities that were associated with these religions. With the abolition of slave trade in the United States, the there was a general rise in the African-American population and due to the experience of freedom that was previously non-existent, the religious practices that had been adopted were now adopted as part of what came to be referred as the identity for the African-American culture. It is also important to note that there was also a coincidence that the period of the ending of the slave trade occurred at the same period as the revival of the religious spirits and movement; during this time, the slaves converted their religious inclinations as well as their beliefs. The ideals that attracted the slaves to the issues of church and religion were mostly associated with the idea of equality of all the Christians in the site of God; this ideal provided hope for the slaves that they could be able to find hope amidst the suffering that they were undergoing (Raboteau 46).
The invisible institution played a critical role in the religious beliefs that were adopted by the African Americans; they enabled them to be able to develop channels of communication in regard to the practice of religion. Through the practice and application of the invisible institution, the African-Americans were able to practice and apply their religious inclinations without the interference of their white masters. In this regard, the religious backgrounds also enabled the African-Americans to be able to develop a distinct culture that came to be associated with the African-American race in the United States (Boles 40). The means of worship which were adopted and used in the African-American churches were associated with the worship patterns that were associated with the Africans; some of the worship patterns that are used in these churches include dancing, clapping and dancing styles that are very enthusiastic in nature.
The religious practices that were adopted by the African-Americans in their churches during the slavery period came to form an important component of the African-American culture. It is also very important to note that the spread of the religious practices that were adopted in the churches can also be attributed to the invisible institutions which enabled the African-Americans to develop channels of communication. These channels of communication were not discernable by the whites and thus they enabled the African-Americans to plane their religious activities without the knowledge of the whites.
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