American Civil War And Religion Essay

1199 words - 5 pages

One of the important subjects during the civil war was Religion even though it received minor attention until recent years. Historians have considered civil war an important story of war; however, religion rose as an important factor with many publications. For example “Religion and the American Civil War” is a collection of essays and poems by various writers (Harry S. Stout, George Reagan Wilson, etc.1)
A survey of the civil war history from around 1970 to the present provides a very extensive context in terms of historical attention to the civil war and religion. These days, modern historians have taken the approach to this topic of religion and the civil war in many distinct categories and sub-categories, which follow, in the next order:
a) Religion during the Civil War (In general)
b) Religion among soldiers
c) Chaplains of the civil war
d) Women and religion during the Civil War

Religion of the protestant church was an important factor in the pre-war timeline culture. The Second great awakening, which occurred in the 19th century, greatly impacted American society. This new point of view in terms and matters of faith led northerners to cherish the theory of Christian perfection, a theory that in fact was applied to society in an attempt to eliminate social imperfection. On the other hand, southerners reacted by cherishing a faith of personal piety, which focused mainly on a reading of the Bible; however, it expressed very little concern in addressing society’s problems.1

According to Broken Churches, Broken Nation (1985) “Goen was among the first modern historians to place primacy upon the influence of religion as a significant factor of the Civil War1” Goen also examines these topics of unity and separation, concluding that Presbyterians, Methodists and Baptist divisions all along North and South around the timelines of 1837, 1844 and 1845, respectively, over the issue of slavery signaled and sealed the beginning of the war. According to Goen, the church breaks the bond of unity, established as a model for independence, alienation among sections via images, and elevating the level of moral outrage each section felt towards the other.
American churches’ overemphasized on individualism, inadequate social theory and rejecting ecclesiology. According to Goen, it failed to provide a proper leadership in the issue of slavery, as a result, it forced the nation to turn to politics in order to confront this slavery issue, which in fact also led to war.1

Richard J. Carwardine examines in more detail the actual relationship between religion and politics in “Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America” Carwardine makes the assumption that evangelical Protestants were among the shapers of American political culture in the years before the civil war began. According to Carwardine, the decrease in power of revivalists led the evangelical Protestants to ally with political parties to further their agendas. The political...

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