You would think we’d have learned our lesson

Before and during the Civil War, Christians from both sides were convinced God was supporting their political cause. Here are some stories and quotes:

1861, In a baptist Church in Madison, WI., filled to overflowing, one large section of the congregation was all in blue – soldiers. The service began with choir singing the Star-Spangled Banner. The pastor’s son, newly enlisted – preached in uniform. Someone slipped the preacher a false report that Rebels attacked a fort in Florida but failed. It was announced to congregation, who responded with three cheers. At the end of the service, the soldiers marched out to the sound of drums.

May 26, 1861 in a Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia. A large section of grey uniformed soldiers attending. The opening hymns were about parting from loved ones. The pastor preached a farewell sermon to the troops. A common sermon theme in those days;  “The evidences of God’s favor to the South as manifested during the revolution to the present.”

Northern volunteer general Robert McAllister, in letter to home; we must “put down this wicked rebellion and teach the Southerners with force what they would not learn in time of peace, that governments are not so easily broken up, and that God requires obedience to law and order.” The U.S would teach “rebellious spirits in all nations that government and their power come from God.”

Northern Congregational minister Horace Bushnell saw in the war God’s work to bring in the millennium. When the war began, he wrote “I thank God that I have been allowed to see this day.”

A citizen of Urbana, Ill, in a letter to his brother “For a few years I have thought the signs of the times indicate the approach of the great millennial day…but one obstacle stared me in the face. How the dark blot of human bondage was to be wiped off this Christian nation. Now the mystery is solved.” (referring to the assumed northern victory in war)

Popular rhyme often quoted by soldiers: “For right is right, as God is God, And right will surely win; To doubt would be disloyalty- To falter would be sin”

George Turner, 3rd Rhode Island, June 1862, “the worship services were conducted by some abolitionists who came from the state of Massachusetts and there was so much talk about the confounded n……s that I came out disgusted.”

Edward Watson, 9th Michigan Calvary, “Tomorrow will be Sunday…the program for the day will be inspection of arms and equipment at nine…After inspection, divine service when our fat chaplain will deal out politics to us.”

The South 30,000 copies printed of Benjamin Palmer’s (First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans) sermons exclaiming divine order of slavery and need for south to secede from north. Georgia politician Thomas Cobb “This revolution has been accomplished mainly by the Churches”

“Instead of sending forth the voice of prayer or song of thanksgiving,” the church buildings “were filled with shouts of excited men as they were harangued by some friend to revolution.” (A Texas soldier)

 “The parties in this conflict …are atheists, communists, red republicans…on one side, and friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground – Christianity and atheism the combatants; the progress of humanity at stake” (James Thornwell)

Methodist bishop George Bishop “The Confederacy is the last hope of Freedom and the last home of a pure Gospel.”

 Episcopal bishop Leonidas Polk – The Southern cause concerned “the preservation of the purity of religious truth…the cause of Heaven…”

Dr. George R.C Todd, brother-in-law to Abraham Lincoln, a southerner, stated in a lecture that the war was between “the children of the devil and the children of the Lord”

By spring of 1862, Methodist bishop Andrew complained of “too extensive influence of the war spirit among our preachers” leaving pulpits empty back home.

Warnings like the following from the Rome (Georgia) Courier were seldom heeded; “Pride has been the sin of our people from the first. Assuming that our cause is just…that the purity of religion depend on our success, that the interests of humanity depend on the culture of cotton…as would perforce command blessing of God upon us, and thus he would be committed to prosper us.”

(quotes from “While God is Marching On – The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers”  Steven Woodworth)

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3 Responses to You would think we’d have learned our lesson

  1. Zrim says:

    Edward Watson, 9th Michigan Calvary, “Tomorrow will be Sunday…the program for the day will be inspection of arms and equipment at nine…After inspection, divine service when our fat chaplain will deal out politics to us.”

    Sounds like a Monty Python line.

  2. John Yeazel says:

    Confusing the two-kingdoms is part of the American heritage- our psyche gets bombarded by revivalists not those into confessions of faith- although the quote by Thornwell surprised me.

    That was just my lead-in to stay on topic. What I really want to ask is if anyone has read the round-table discussion in the current issue of Modern Reformation? Horton showed great patience and tolerance with the imonk and the very reverend Dr. Donald Richmond (I wonder if that was an editorial addition at the end of the article?) It never ceases to amaze me how moral “reformers” refuse to see the importance of the 5 Sola’s of the reformation.

    I remember Zrim pointing out to me how the imonk reminded him of Erasmus. After reading that discussion I would heartily concur although it seemed that the imonk was more willing to reconsider his position than the very Reverend was.

    Moral reformers seem to put more emphasis on political involvement and concern than 2K advocates do. Could it be that they go hand in hand? See. I brought it back on topic.

    I would really appreciate hearing outhouse hitters response to the article I mentioned above.

  3. S Protsman says:

    . . . And to think, the FV wants to return to some earthly glory relived in the political south.

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