Archive | Baptists

Against the Current #2: The Question of Race

It is hardly surprising to find the Big Cedar Lick Baptist Church rejecting the dominant values of its belligerent and fiercely individualistic neighbors in Wilson County, Tennessee (previous post.)  The church was merely holding fast to the central values that had distinguished the Baptist faith since the beginning: humility, self-control, brotherly love, and reconciliation of […]

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When the Baptists Became Respectable

In mid-18th century Virginia, the Baptists were downright subversive.  The most subversive were the Separate Baptists, who welcomed slaves into their congregations as spiritual equals, who allowed slaves and even women to preach, and whose patterns of loud, emotional worship owed a great deal to the religious traditions of Africa.  In those early churches, most […]

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Seeds of Community, Seeds of Democracy

The frontier Baptist churches of the 18th and 19th centuries were self-governing democratic communities.  As each new church was founded, its founding members met to draw up a constitution, setting out the articles of belief to which they all subscribed; a covenant, setting out the ways they would treat each other; and a set of […]

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An Anglican Missionary Sees the Danger

Charles Woodmason, an itinerant Anglican minister whose travels took him across the Carolina backcountry in the years before the Revolution, saw the danger clearly.  The religious radicals, he said, had poisoned “the Minds of the People—Instilling  Democratical and Common Wealth Principles into their Minds…. And laying deep their fatal Republican Notions and Principals. Especially – […]

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Forgotten History: The Baptist Battle for Separation of Church and State

The year was 1784.  In the aftermath of the Revolution, as morality and public order appeared to be crumbling on all sides, the Virginia General Assembly proposed to shore them up with a new tax, designed to support the “teachers of religion.”  Any religion you want – the taxpayer got to choose. During the summer […]

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When the Quakers became Baptists

The Black Creek Baptist Church was established in Southampton County, Virginia, during or shortly after the Revolution, on the same small creek where a Quaker Meeting had been established several years before.  Like all other early Baptist churches, it had both white and black members.  The church records show that the members considered complaints by […]

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Forgotten History: The Radical Baptists

Until the 1770s, when the Quakers suddenly turned against slavery, Virginia’s Anglican elites had more or less made up their minds to tolerate them.  But the Separate Baptists sowed terror in Anglican souls. The Baptists arrived in Virginia in two streams, the Regular and the Separate Baptists, beginning in the mid-1750s.  All of them shared […]

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