In last week’s column I argued that members of the Confederate States of America believed that they were a “Christian nation” because their Constitution acknowledged “Almighty God.” But this was not the only argument they made to justify their special standing as a nation that was favored by God. Slavery also had something to do with it.
How could the Confederacy claim to be a Christian nation and still keep four million slaves in bondage? The North asked this question relentlessly during the Civil War era, and in response the South developed an increasingly sophisticated answer. The political and religious leaders of the Confederacy had little problem reconciling slavery with their claim to a Christian civilization. The 19th-century South always understood itself to be a society informed by the teachings of the Bible. And nowhere in the New Testament, they claimed, did the Bible condemn slavery.
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