Meeting this week, the Philadelphia Baptist Association – the nation’s oldest Baptist association – meets and issues a statement concerning the war:
The rebellion has unlawfully seized property and usurped constitutional powers and made war on the United States. It is necessary for Christians to avoid “complicity with traitors” and must work solely for the preservation of the National Government.
1). The US government was the first to give religious freedom to Baptists;
2). This is a war of defense, brought upon us by the sin of human slavery–and we pray for the last vestige of this to banished from our land.
Unanimously adopted and sent to the President of the United States.
The Philadelphia Association thus ties the Baptist heritage of religious liberty to the larger freedom of the human race, a pattern also reflected in some other northern Baptist associations.
Throughout the war, Baptists of the Philadelphia Association consistently advocate for the eradication of slavery and equality for African Americans.
Source: “Committee on the State of the Country,” Minutes, Philadelphia Baptist Association, 1861, p. 19