Reflections of a Civil War Historian: Essays on Leadership, Society, and the Art of War

By Herman Hattaway | Go to book overview

THE WAR INSIDE THE CHURCH

with Lloyd A. Hunter

The Reverend Lloyd Hunter was pastoring a church in the
Kansas City area when he earned a master's degree under my
direction. He subsequently received a Ph.D. from St. Louis
University and then landed a professorship at Franklin College,
in Indiana. Upon his invitation, I delivered the first version of
this paper as a lecture at a convocation on the Franklin campus.
We then together revised the piece and published it in the
January 1988 issue of Civil War Times Illustrated. It made rather a
hit with many scholars and was reprinted in several anthologies,
mainly for use as a collateral reading in survey courses. I contin-
ued my interest in, and work on, this topic, and the version here
is a revision of the one we published in 1988.

Decades before the first shots of the Civil War thundered over Fort Sumter, South Carolina, an equally ominous sound echoed through America. In churches across the land, hands hammered on pulpits, and impassioned preachers roared for the purification of God's favored nation. In the North, this fiery call seared the South for its sinful ways. In the South, it scathed the wayward North. Eventually, the call helped crack America's delicate Union in two.

This crack, this great schism between Christians of North and South, began during the 1830s and the 1840s. So bitter was the division that the Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches split into separate Northern and Southern denominations. Still other churches, most notably the Episcopalian, were on the verge of tearing apart at the Mason-Dixon Line. When Civil War did come, the Episcopalians divided in a de facto sense: the Confederates published and used a Southern-oriented version of The Book of Common Prayer.

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