Baptists and the American Civil War: November 14, 1865

Alabama Map 1860sThe Alabama Baptist State Convention, meeting today in Marion, issues a Report on the State of Religion. With the war over and Alabama occupied by Union troops, a sense of despondency hovers in the background.

In the report delegates lament the frequent “absence of correspondence and statistical documents.” Some churches, however, have enjoyed “precious revival seasons.” Others “have been favored with visits of refreshing of the Holy Spirit.” The “mercy of the Lord,” the report notes, “is not gone altogether.”

“The dreadful scourge of desolating war, during more than four years, terminated not only in the immense waste of treasure and blood, but in the general demoralization of the people and the churches … it is painfully evident that the four years’ war has made a terrible retrograde in all that pertains to the elevation and improvement of society ; and many, very many years of incessant and sacrificing toil will be required to restore our educational and religious enterprises to tho position they occupied in 1860. Churches that wore supporting their pastors comfortably, and appropriating generously of their means to sustain institutions of learning and mission organizations, are now deprived of the ability to do either. Pastors and missionaries have been compelled, in many instances, to secularize themselves to obtain subsistence for their families.

Tho members of churches, in their eagerness to regain their lost fortunes, have neglected the culture of their own hearts and the interests of their church, The Providence that has taken away their wealth has not destroyed their love of gain.

Intemperance is a growing evil, and is sapping the very foundations of society. The oldest among us are carried back to scenes of our childhood and youth, when it was customary for most people to drink,  both old and young, male and female — people of the church and men of the world.

Pursuit of pleasure by church members, such as checks tho growth of piety and brings religion in great disrespect, if not into disrepute, is rapidly increasing the demoralization of professed christians. Indeed, the falling away is fearful. Will it be more so before the approach of  that great and notable day,” the coming of our Lord?”

Sources: “Minutes, Alabama Baptist State Convention, November 11-15, 1865” (link)