Baptists and the American Civil War: January 30, 1861

Samuel Boykin, Christian Index (Georgia) Editor

Georgia has seceded from the Union, and many white Baptist leaders in the state cheer the decision.

From the pages of the state Baptist newspaper The Christian Index, editor Samuel Boykin lends his supportĀ  – and solicits that of all other Southern Baptists in the state – to Georgia’s formal embracing of the growing Confederate movement:

After the most solemn and mature deliberation, was the step taken, not by a body swayed by prejudice or passion, but by one over which reason, conscience and religion ruled ….

We hope that all will cheerfully bow to the decision; that Georgia will unite in its support; and that the pulpit, the press, the purse, and if need be, the sword, will combine in sustaining the action of the convention.

We must pray … that whatever we do in this day of conflict, excitement and peril, may be sustained by the sanctions of the Bible …. We must also pray for our enemies – that they may be converted from the error of their ways … and especially that they may be saved from everlasting damnation ….

But this very principle of appeal to the Bible alone has been the parent of that other glorious badge of Baptists, individual responsibility and ‘soul-liberty’ ….”

In the coming months and years, Boykin would consistently insist that pulpit and pew support the Confederacy as God’s chosen nation, and Baptists’ commitment to separation of church and state would often fade away in the face of such nationalistic rhetoric.

Source: “The Crisis, and the Duty of Christians,” Christian Index, January 30, 1861, p. 2