Does God care about Confederate History Month?

Every time politics and religion collide or collude, life gets interesting – and frequently dangerous.  I just returned from three days in Gettysburg, PA, immersed in history.  While the fighting only lasted three-days in the four years of Civil War (1861-1865), it represented a turning point in favor of the Union.  I have long avoided any extensive consideration of Gettysburg prior to now but with the Virginia governor declaring April “Confederate History Month,” I have been asking myself what about religion and the Civil War.

Like many prior wars, both sides thought they had God on their side.  The Confederate soldiers were all white, largely Protestant volunteers.  The Union army had ethnic and religious diversity and more professional soldiers, along with militia groups of temporary recruits.  Any reading of soldier or officer letters or dairies will include frequent and easy references to God.  Some thought fighting in this war was their duty to God and many prayed to God for victory, approval, support, survival, blessing – you name it.  And both sides had similar expressions.

If there is a personal God, I don’t think he/she cares about Confederate History Month, nor do I think God is taking sides in human wars.  An argument could be made for God having a preference regarding the underlying issues, like slavery, of course.  What I hope people of conscience – secular and religious – do care about is the willingness of a governor to celebrate a sad, gruesome and divisive part of this country’s history.  I guess Virginia is not for lovers but racists.  This takes us back to when Southern churches used their pulpits to defend slavery.

Somebody blog Governor Bob and remind him that no matter what the Virginia Confederate soldiers contributed to the Civil War, they still lost, and the majority of us are grateful.  It seems he is waxing sentimental about a dark part of this country’s history.   Even though his proclamation denounced slavery as evil and said that it deprived people of their “God-given inalienable rights,” I am not convinced of his sincerity.  Governor Bubba, do you really want to go backwards in time?

What do you think?  -J.B. Good

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  • Basil Rathbone  On April 18, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Didn’t we learn that the South entered the war over the issue of states’ rights, of which preserving the institution of slavery in order to continue their agrarian based society ranked high? The fact that Republican governor of Virginia, Robert McDonnell made no mention of including or recognizing the South’s support of slavery does speak volumes. It would be akin to Germany not acknowledging their country’s role in the Holocaust, or the Catholic Church’s problems in their refusing to discuss and deal with the issue of pedophiles in their midst.
    While the rest of our nation has come a long way in recognizing and admitting to the atrocities done by our forefathers regarding slavery, and our treatment of Native Americans, there are still too many both north of and below the Mason Dixon Line who have not.
    It seems to me as though there must be some redeeming qualities of Southern life that can be celebrated. The histories of the South and of our country’s confederacy are an important part of this nation’s history and culture, and need to be recognized and celebrated. Let us do so, but in an appropriate manner that remembers and acknowledge the complete story. A hundred and fifty years from now we certainly don’t want our descendants talking about celebrating the Fundamentalist fringes in our country today, and how they contributed in making America a better place without recognition of their attempts to impose their particular points of view.
    The notion of states’ rights is still, a very hot button in the country today. Confusing those rights with some factions’ notion or intent of imposing their religious and moral values on the nation as a whole has no place in our society. Let us celebrate and study our complete histories, lest we are doomed to repeat them.
    Congratulations on your new blog. I hope to read a lot more.

  • allthingsreligious  On April 20, 2010 at 12:38 am

    Basil-Thanks for reading and responding. I understand that state’s rights are compelling to some – then and now. The South may have great mint julips, but celebrating war dead needs to rest with Memorial Day and politicians need to stop tossing “God” around and masking racism in honoring war dead. -J.B.

  • Linda Maldonado  On April 24, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Jackie,I truly enjoy reading your writing!! Now that we have survived another semester, let me say how wonderful it was to have met you. This blog concept is brilliant as is your wiritng style.
    I, too,find it sad there exist people in office who can bring their racism to the table in ways their power allows.
    And yet, as Dorothy Heights, a powerful woman in the Civil Rights movement who just passed last week said, the “fight for freedom is my life’s work.”
    May we all use our God given strengths and talents to take up this work.

  • Beki Spurrier  On April 29, 2010 at 8:03 pm


    What a treat for me to sit down this afternoon and actually read some of your writing again! It made me miss you and all of our long talks about God and religion. I’ve put some of those issues down (for now), but I am happy to see you are still wrestling with it and trying to somehow make sense of it all (good luck with THAT, by the way).

    I have not been following the story about Confederate History Month, so I feel I cannot make an informed opinion about this topic. However, having just read a novel about slavery and the Civil War, and currently being in the middle of a novel about the near genocide of the Native Americans by the white people, I would have to say that I am truly sickened by much of the history of our nation. And in terms of religion, I think I am still of the opinion that it is at the root of most of the suffering and wars the world has seen — in the past, but also presently. Do we not, as a nation, think “God” is on OUR side and OUR way of life as we blunder through the Middle East? Of course we do. This is nothing new for any culture or in any war.

    Oh dear, I said I wasn’t going to state an opinion, but there it is. Keep on posting Jac. I’ll be reading.

    And one more thing — how great would it be if we could re-hash all of this in person? I think I’m going to work on that! It’s been too long.

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