Today was day three of student presentations in my “Religion and the American Founding” undergraduate seminar. Our presenters today were Thomas Williams, Courtney Weller, and Renae Paulson.
Thomas got things rolling with a presentation on the uses of “Pope’s Day in colonial New England. He did a great job of showing how the colonial version of “Guy Fawkes Day” played on the anti-Catholic fears of Puritans in Massachusetts.
Courtney gave a fascinating presentation on Peter Muhlenburg (pictured above), the patriotic son of American Lutheran pietist Henry Melchior Muhlenburg. Courtney showed how Muhlenburg, the “Fighting Parson,” was one of the few Lutheran ministers to take a strong patriotic position. A Lutheran herself, Courtney was especially good at connecting Lutheran “2 Kingdoms” doctrine to Lutheran political activity (or lack thereof).
Finally, Renae explored some revolutionary war-era sermons. She showed how a belief in providence, millennialism, and virtue influenced the thought of New England ministers during the period. We had some fruitful discussion about the ways in which many New England ministers tried to cast the blame for the Revolution on the King’s advisors, rather than on the George III himself.
Thursday’s final round of papers will deal with religion and the Constitution. Stay tuned.