I am quoting from the autobiography of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), who as many readers will probably know escaped from slavery in Maryland in 1838, settled in Massachusetts and became an anti-slavery (and also women's rights) campaigner. In his 'Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass' he describes being owned, hired or lent to several different masters, and observing others.
'Of all the slaveholders with whom I have ever met, religious slaveholders are the worst. I have ever found them the meanest and bassest, and most cruel and cowardly, of all others.'
He gives various examples, such as the Rev. Daniel Weeden of the Reformed Methodist Church
'whose maxim was, Behave well or behave ill, it is the duty of a master occasionally to whip a slave, to remind him of his master's authority',
and a Rev. Rigby Hopkins of the same Church who was even worse:
'The peculiar feature of his government was that of whipping slaves in advance of deserving it. He always managed to have one or more of his slaves to whip every Monday morning. He did this to alarm their fears, and strike terror into those who escaped [punishment]. His plan was to whip for the smallest offences, to prevent the commission of large ones.'
The book gives several other examples of clergy, lay preachers and Christians known for their piety who were particularly harsh to their slaves, including a group of them who violently suppressed a Sunday School slaves had organized for themselves.
However, Douglass simply states in his book (a very interesting read, by the way) that he found that devout religious (by which he meant Christian) slave owners are the worst, but offers no explanation as to why this should be so.
Is there any evidence as to whether (as a generalization, obviously) he was right? If so, why would that be?