Crucible of Faith & Freedom – By Bruce Gourley
Suspended precariously in the middle of this epic struggle is freedom itself. Yet only one God can prevail: either the creator of a new future envisioned by an enslaved people and their Northern allies, or the lord of a dark past to which white Southerners are fiercely devoted.
For Baptists, the dividing line runs right through the Bible. Southern biblical conservatism is firmly rooted in America’s racist past, while a future of racial equality hinges upon a newer understanding of scriptural interpretation unfettered by the chains of biblical literalism.
What do these persons have in common? Robert Smalls, Thomas Hill Watts, Basil Manly Sr., Gov. Joseph Brown, Gov. Sam Houston, Isaac Taylor Tichenor, Crawford H. Toy, and Frank and Jesse James. They are just a few of the many Baptists who had a role in the American Civil War. Most went on to great prominence in politics, religion or education. The latter two became known for behavior not learned in Sunday school.
So read — or read again — these firsthand accounts of how Baptists on both sides sought and claimed divine favor and righteousness. The lessons are as plentiful as the statues and markers that dot the many battlefields where the devastation has given way to peaceful fields and quiet woodlands.
Gourley is a public speaker, award-winning author of eight books and numerous journal articles, Managing Editor, Publications / Experiences Director of Good Faith Media, Wonderlust instructor at Montana State University, editor of Yellowstone History Journal (a publication of the Museum of the Yellowstone in West Yellowstone, Montana), owner of the Yellowstone.Net website, a public history consultant, and an award-winning photographer. Learn more about Gourley on his author page.