Baptists and the American Civil War: November 5, 1863

revivals_confederatesAmong Southern Baptists, the lament over the lack of Baptist chaplains in the Confederate Army continues unabated. Today the Virginia Baptist Religious Herald chimes in.

Attention has been called, several times of late, to the fact that a smaller proportion of the chaplains now in service belong to the Baptist than to other denominations. It is difficult to conceive why this state of things should exist. Perhaps one reason that partially explains it, is found in connection with the inadequate salary attaching to the position. In the extraordinary increase of price, with regard to every article of prime necessity, the pay of chaplains has become wholly insufficient for their support, especially if they are men of family. This, if they have no other means of making a living, compels them to resign the office, “at the inexorable domestic cry for bread.” To some extent–in some instance, at least, which the denominational papers have brought to our notice–other churches have generously eked out the defective salary, enabling the chaplain to retain his connection with the army. But, so far as our recollection serves us now, not one case of this kind has come to light as occurring around Baptists. Have there been any! If not, here is a potent cause operating to create a disparity between ourselves and churches around us, in the degree of ministerial representation in the camp and the hospital.

Now, we respectfully suggest to our brethren, whether under these circumstances, their contributions to the cause of God in the army should be exclusively restricted to the publication of tracts and the support of missionaries! Has not the time come when a fund should be created, to enable Baptist chaplains with families to weather the storm, which threatens to compel an abandonment of their post?

Strangely unsaid is the fact that other denominations accept government funding for their chaplains, while Baptists of the South almost uniformly reject government monies in order to uphold, at least in regards to this particular issue, their heritage of church state separation.

Sources: Religious Herald, November 5, 1863