Dominion Theology in American Politics: The League of the South and Theological War Thesis of the American Civil War (Part 7)

Submitted by RWMaster on Sat, 11/26/2016 - 07:29
 
Steven Wilkins

Pastor and Author, J. Steven Wilkins

(Note: This is part 7 in an 8-part article series
: Read Part 1: Dominion Theology in American Politics: The Radical Right Wing Under Spotlight

Part 6: Dominion Theology in American Politics: The Right Wing Extremist League of the South in the 1990s

Steven Wilkins, clergy and League of South director, has emerged as a prominent voice of the League of the South in a series of articles in the Christian Reconstructionist Chalcedon Report (founded by Rousas Rushdoony). Wilkins's article publications in the Chalcedon Report facilitated increased collaboration and convergence of views between the neo-Confederates of the League of the South and the Christian Reconstructionists.

Wilkins argues that the direction of development of the North was towards rejection of the Christian foundations of Western civilization and the "visions of the founding fathers of the American nation," which he understands as being the establishment of a biblical Calvinist American state. Thus, according to Wilkins, the defeat of the Confederates in the Civil War signaled the beginning of a revolution in American culture and political life away from the Christian foundations of Western civilization. The final assault on what Wilkins considers the Christian foundations of Western Civilization in America was the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868), which created a Federal Government, and violated the rights of states by entrusting the Federal Government with the duty of protection of citizens' rights, after it had granted citizenship to freed slaves (the Fourteenth Amendment remains a sore-point in radical Right circles which Ronald Reagan exploited at the Neshoba County Fair in Mississippi, in 1980, when he said: "I am for states rights.")

In Wilkins's view "left-liberal" ideals of Civil Rights, feminism, gay and lesbian rights, and legalized abortion are fundamentally opposed to Christian Civilization. He argued in defense of slavery and the Reconstruction era "Black Codes," that were discriminatory against blacks, as biblically justified. He contrasts the old Southern way of biblical constitutionalism with the new way of "Humanistic centralism" (a reference to the secular federal constitution of the United States).

Wilkins called on Southern Christians to return to their Christian heritage and restore "true liberty in Christ to this nation and its institutions." He wrote optimistically of signs of hope that the "vision of the fathers of this nation" was still alive. And Indeed, there would seem to be a surge in the popularity of the neo-Confederate movement among conservative Protestants in the South. The growing enthusiasm for the Confederate Christian nationalist cause was indicated in the rather heated debate over the positioning of the Confederate flag which occurred in the late 1990s. An indication of the growing support for the neo-Confederates among conservative Christian groups was the prominent involvement of Protestant ministers in the debate:

At a South Carolina meeting of Protestant Southern ministers in December 1996, Baptist ministers ("Fifteen Ministers") proposed the South Carolina Capitol as position for theConfederate flag and published a widely distributed paper, The Moral Defense of theConfederate Flag: A Special Message for South Carolina Christians. The paper argued in support of the culture of the so-called Bible belt as being in direct historical relationship to the Christian Confederate Army of the Civil War. The "Fifteen Ministers" insisted that the Confederate battle flag was a Christian symbol (the Cross of St. Andrew) and argued that the American Civil War had been a war between Christians and "atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobists…" (note the ranting political verbiage from church ministers!). According to Sebesta and Hague in their The US Civil War as a Theological War: Confederate Christian Nationalism and the League of the South, the reference to the group of Protestant Ministers as "Fifteen Ministers," was intended to echo the ninety-six ministers' 1863 address stating their reasons for supporting the Confederate cause.

An account of the Civil War in the Holy War perspective was published in the Southern Partisan (a well distributed publication espousing the neo-Confederate cause) which asserted that the original theological conflict of the American Civil War remains, at the present, an ongoing war. The struggle against American "left liberals" constituted what was termed "Christendom's Last Stand," and according to Alister Anderson (Chaplain-in-Chief) of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in their publication Confederate Veteran, defending the Cross of St. Andrew, symbol of the Confederate battle flag, is equivalent to fighting the Devil. (Anderson's successor John Weaver attracted national attention when he argued that slavery was biblically justified.)

Read Part 8: Dominion Theology in American Politics: The Christian Right Agenda–Threat to Peace?

Further Reading:

1. Neo-Confederacy: A Critical Introduction

2. 2.Sebesta and Hague: The US Civil War as a Theological War: Confederate Christian Nationalism and the League of the South

JohnThomas Didymus is author of "Confessions of God: The Gospel According to St. JohnThomas Didymus" (Read a Free Three Chapters Excerpt)

 

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