Baptists and the American Civil War: November 17, 1864

bible02While black Baptists of the South joyfully celebrate their growing liberation from slavery and into freedom, many white Baptists pray all the harder for God to save the Southern regime of white supremacy and black enslavement.

Today in the Confederate capital of Richmond, Dr. Lansing Burrows, pastor of the city’s First Baptist Church, opens the Senate session in prayer, as he has often done during the war.

Lansing’s prayer comes one day after a nationwide day of prayer for the Confederacy, as requested by President Jefferson Davis and eagerly acquiesced to by the pastors of many Southern Baptist congregations. The extent to which church and state have been intertwined during the war is so seamless that few seemingly notice it anymore.

The Georgia Baptist Christian Index, long uncritical supporters of Davis and his demands upon the nation’s Christians, calls upon readers to pray all the harder in light of current events in the life of the young nation.

Christians, it may be that the fate of our country hangs upon your faithfulness in prayer. We beseech you consider your responsibility: Oh, why is it that you are so backward in seeking God’s favor? Do you not know that all things are subject to disposal, and that, for reasons known only to himself, in answer to fervent prayers he conveys great favors and blessings that otherwise he would not bestow. This he has ordained as his method. Oh, mock him not at the peril of our national destruction, by inattention to his regular method of providential dealings. Consider what appalling calamities threaten us, what fearful woes are brooding over our land, and, by the small sacrifice of time and trouble and neglect of worldly affairs that is required and which you seem so loth [loath] to make, avert these calamities and disperse these woes.

Beyond conceptualization of white Baptists of the South is the distinct likelihood that enslaved blacks of the South for decades have more fervently prayed for their freedom from bondage, than have white Baptists spent in prayer on all subjects altogether, especially regarding petitions to save white supremacy and preserve black slavery in the South.

Sources: “Confederate Congress,” Richmond Daily Dispatch, November 18, 1864 (link); “A Day of Prayer,” Christian Index, November 18, 1864