Thursday, April 20, 2006
In his nice overview of the Civil War in Appalachian Virginia and Kentucky, Contested Borderland, Brian McKnight made an interesting observation about the role of religious doctrine in rallying support for the Confederate cause. Specifically, he talked a bit about the Primitive Baptist sect ('primitive' as in clinging to strict interpretations of older doctrines such as Predestination). McKnight argued that the worshippers's strict interpretation of Predestination fostered a firm attachment to the new Confederate cause--after all, it was preordained. He didn't mention if he also believed it eased the transition toward defeat and Reconstruction. Mark Wetherington also wrote about the Primitive Baptists among Georgia's wiregrass population in Plain Folk's Fight, but did not explicitly make the interpretive leap that McKnight made.
(P.S. It made me wonder if this particular sect has much influence today. With the help of Google, I browsed a few sites. Acknowledging the difficulty of estimating this group's current membership size, this site estimated that only around 8,500 adult Primitive Baptists remain as Strict Predestinarians.)