第48章 CHURCH AND SCHOOL(1)
Reconstruction in the state was closely related to reconstruction in the churches and the schools.Here also were to be found the same hostile elements: Negro and white, Unionist and Confederate, victor and vanquished.
The church was at that time an important institution in the South, more so than in the North, and in both sections more important than it is today.It was inevitable, therefore, that ecclesiastical reconstruction should give rise to bitter feelings.
Something should be said of conditions in the churches when the Federal armies occupied the land.The Southern organizations had lost many ministers and many of their members, and frequently their buildings were used as hospitals or had been destroyed.Their administration was disorganized and their treasuries were empty.The Unionists, scattered here and there but numerous in the mountain districts, no longer wished to attend the Southern churches.
The military censorship in church matters, which continued for a year in some districts, was irritating, especially in the Border States and in the Union districts where Northern preachers installed by the army were endeavoring to remain against the will of the people.Mobs sometimes drove them out; others were left to preach to empty houses or to a few Unionists and officers, while the congregation withdrew to build a new church.The problems of Negro membership in the white churches and of the future relations of the Northern and Southern denominations were pressing for settlement.
All Northern organizations acted in 1865 upon the assumption that a reunion of the churches must take place and that the divisions existing before the war should not be continued, since slavery, the cause of the division, had been destroyed.But they insisted that the reunion must take place upon terms named by the "loyal" churches, that the Negroes must also come under "loyal"religious direction, and that tests must be applied to the Confederate sinners asking for admission, in order that the enormity of their crimes should be made plain to them.But this policy did not succeed.The Confederates objected to being treated as "rebels and traitors" and to "sitting upon stools of repentance" before they should be received again into the fold.
Only two denominations were reunited--the Methodist Protestant, the northern section of which came over to the southern, and the Protestant Episcopal, in which moderate counsels prevailed and into which Southerners were welcomed back.The Southern Baptists maintained their separate existence and reorganized the Southern Baptist Convention, to which came many of the Baptist associations in the Border States; the Catholics did not divide before 1861and therefore had no reconstruction problems to solve; and the smaller denominations maintained the organizations which they had before 1861.AUnionist preacher testified before the Joint Committee on Reconstruction that even the Southern Quakers "are about as decided in regard to the respectability of secession as any other class of people."Two other great Southern churches, the Presbyterian and the Methodist Episcopal, grew stronger after the Civil War.The tendency toward reunion of the Presbyterians was checked when one Northern branch declared as "a condition precedent to the admission of southern applicants that these confess as sinful all opinions before held in regard to slavery, nullification, rebellion and slavery, and stigmatize secession as a crime and the withdrawal of the southern churches as a schism." Another Northern group declared that southern ministers must be placed on probation and must either prove their loyalty or profess repentance for disloyalty and repudiate their former opinions.As a result several Presbyterian bodies in the South joined in a strong union, to which also adhered the synods of several Border States.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was confronted with conditions similar to those which prevented the reunion of the Presbyterians.The Northern church, according to the declaration of its authorities, also came down to divide the spoils and to "disintegrate and absorb" the "schismatic" Southern churches.Already many Southern pulpits were filled with Northern Methodist ministers placed there under military protection; and when they finally realized that reunion was not possible, these Methodist worthies resolved to occupy the late Confederacy as a mission field and to organize congregations of blacks and whites who were "not tainted with treason." Bishops and clergymen charged with this work carried it on vigorously for a few years in close connection with political reconstruction.
Walter Lynwood Fleming