Read the first in a four-part series on the Civil War as a battle between two “Christian” nations.
One hundred fifty years ago on April 12 in 1861, Confederate artillery opened fire on Fort Sumter, a federal fort in Charleston Harbor. The American Civil War had begun.
The commemoration of this event marks the beginning of Civil War Sesquicentennial—four years of events to remember one of the most profound tragedies in the history of the American republic.
Many Christians, north and south, will participate in Sesquicentennial activities over the next several years. But as they trek across a battlefield or don their authentic military garb, they should remember that the Civil War was in many ways a battle over competing “Christian” visions of America. As Abraham Lincoln wrote in his second inaugural address, both sides “read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other.” The ways in which both the Union and the Confederacy used the name of God to justify armed conflict is, for Christians, perhaps the war’s greatest tragedy.
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