White Southern Baptists, at least among the upper crust and including many common folk, were as ardent as any Southern whites in believing the Confederate States of America was God’s chosen nation tasked with forever preserving white supremacy and black slavery. After all, this was God’s will for the human race, for the Bible said so, literally.
To say they were wrong about God, the Bible and humanity is a colossal understatement. And ever since the Civil War, many white Baptists of the South, still clinging to a literal Bible, have been wrong on many other issues.
But back in the Civil War era, white Southern Baptists were in the process of transitioning from backwoods believers to, at least in some instances, respectable folk. Christian nationalism seemed to go hand in hand with public respectability. And for many Confederate Baptists, there was no greater hero than the former Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.
Killed in action in May 1863, Jackson became more legendary in death even than he had been in life. His body gone from this earth, he became the model Christian warrior and gentlemen, venerated as a saint.
During his wartime service, the Presbyterian Jackson (having attended a Baptist church in his youth) often spoke fondly and positively of Baptists, even contributing money to help distribute Baptist newspapers among his soldiers.
So it came as no surprise when Jackson’s first biographer in the spring of 1864 wrote of his reason for writing a book about the sainted general:
My prime object has been to portray and vindicate his Christian character, that his countrymen may possess it as a precious example, and may honor that God in it, whom he so delighted to honor.
Saint or not, Jackson’s papers contained his true views of Baptists. His biographer was warned not to publish what the general had said about Baptists, as it would be offensive, but did not heed the advice.
What did Stonewall Jackson really think about Baptists? Read the rest of the story here.