Baptists and the American Civil War: February 18, 1862

Samuel Boykin

Samuel Boykin, Editor, Christian Index

Christianity and Confederacy are partners in the work of God’s kingdom. So declares Samuel Boykin, editorializing in today’s Christian Index:

A free people, governing themselves and establishing institutions comporting with their ideas of popular sovereignty, independence and prosperity, must, if they desire their institution to flourish, and their freedom to result in general happiness and well-being, be guided by the the principles of christianity.

Naught but christianity can so elevate and refine human nature, and so induce a general regard to education, as to prepare and enable a free people to restrain vice, subdue corruption, remain subservient to law and order, and thus, correcting evils that occur, advance from one degree of prosperity to another, till national purity, felicity, intelligence and stability are the result.

The Gospel is the grand conservator of national happiness and prosperity; for it is the foundation from whence flew virtue, intelligence and enlightened and benevolent energy. The Gospel, therefore, must be disseminated among our people, if we would be truly free, genuine prosperous and really happy.

To disseminate the truths of the Gospel is the office of the Pulpit and the Press, and to sustain these instruments is the duty of the people; but professors of religion are under special obligations, by a vigorous christianity, to make religion so seen and felt that its fullest influence may be exerted. Let them, then, in these dark hours of apathy and worldly absorption, put on the whole armor of God; let them, by every means resist the demoralizing influences of camp life; let them sedulously nurture the virtues and improve the talents of our young; let them discountenance political corruption and intrigue; and let them, on all occasions, insist upon a due regard to the divine mandates, and our nation, but now emerging into the glorious light of genuine liberty, will surely bask in the smiles of a benignant Providence, and instead of running riot with licentious freedom or rotting with demagoguical pollution, will lift its head proudly and gloriously among the nations of the earth.

Christian nationalism is a concept that yet ill-fits Baptists. Yet the righteous crusade to preserve the South’s slave-based culture – and ensure prosperity for elite whites – drives Boykin to tread paths strange to Baptists of old.

Source: “Vigorous Christianity,” Christian Index, January 18, 1862