Baptists and the American Civil War: April 15, 1863

African SlaveryAs the war rages on, some Baptist congregations of the South faithfully hold monthly days of fasting and prayer, imploring God to put an end to the conflict and lead his chosen nation to victory. Other Baptist congregations avoid such meetings altogether, while still others are irregular in observance. Rev. E. Dodson of North Carolina wishes all churches of the South would express their loyalty to the Confederacy by holding monthly fast days.

I hear some churches have fast days every month. Considering the widows and orphans that will be made this year, ought not every church in the Southern Confederacy to observe the same rule? We need God’s help. If we humble ourselves, we shall get it.

While many white Baptists invoke God to bring a quick victory for their slaveholding nation, enslaved African Baptists are praying just as hard for a Union victory. While keeping their views to themselves on the plantations and in the big houses of their masters and being submissive in the integrated congregations where they attend church, they listen to the conversations of white folks. When the day’s labor is done and night falls, their true views are voiced in informal prayer meetings and worship services in their own quarters, out of earshot of white folk. These nightly events are becoming more frequent and evidencing more boldness in the face of news of Union advances.

Jesus is coming. Freedom is nigh. Patiently but with mounting anticipation they listen and watch and wait.

Sources: E. Dodson, “Fast Days,” Biblical Recorder, April 15, 1863 (link); see also Bruce Levine, The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution that Transformed the South, New York: Random House, 2013 (link)