PASTORS FORSAKEN AMERICA?
By Pastor Roger Anghis
February 24, 2013
It was because we had pastors that were strong in their belief of what God had declared in the Bible concerning the rights of man that we were able gain independence from Britain.
The strength of these men are unparallel today. Not their physical strength, but their willingness to stand for what is right. The following is an excerpt out of my book Defining America's Exceptionalism from the chapter on Pastors.
The tenacity of the pastors of the Founding era was so irritating to the British explains why they referred to them as the Black Regiment. Their strong leadership and strength within their communities caused them to be a target for the British soldiers. Historian Joel Headly describes it this way:
[T]here was a class of clergymen and chaplains in the Revolution whom the British, when they once laid hands on them, treated with the most barbarous severity. Dreading them for the influence they wielded and hating them for the obstinacy, courage, and enthusiasm they infused into the rebels, they violated all the usages of war among civilized nations in order to inflict punishment upon them.
Many of the pastors were openly tortured and purposely targeted sometimes in sadistic ways. One pastor, Reverend Naphtali Doggett, who was also President of Yale, resisted strongly to the British’s practice of destruction and desecration of private homes and property. He was eventually captured and over a period of several hours the British stabbed Doggett with their bayonets. His release was eventually secured but he never recovered from his wounds and was the cause of his death. Another pastor, Reverend James Caldwell of New Jersey resisted the British with the same tenacity and his church was burned and he and his family were murdered.
The treatment of the pastors by the British was criminal at best. They were imprisoned, abused and killed and most times suffered more than a regular soldier receiving harsher treatments and more severe penalties. The British went further in their want for revenge in targeting the churches of the captured pastors destroying over half of the churches in New York City. Most of the churches in Virginia were the targets of the British as well. The British followed this pattern throughout the Colonies.
These examples are not the exception but the rule concerning the role of the pastors in America’s development and founding. There was no fear in the pulpit about preaching for or against someone who was in public office or running for public office. Their election sermons were some of the most powerful sermons preached. Today, we are not allowed to name names as we should be able to, but they were able to and they exposed those who were unfit for political office and endorsed those who were fit, all according to the Bible. It was this freedom in the pulpit that laid the intellectual base for American Independence.
Simply put it was the Christian pastors that defined America’s political system, taught that system, defended that system and died for that system. They even went one step further and that was to operate in that system as United States Senators, United States Representatives, State legislators, and jurists.
These men worked to help draft our Constitution and then forty of them were elected as ratifying delegates selected to help in the ratification in their own states. The pastors of America were deeply involved in every aspect of America’s religious and civil liberties development, definition and securing. This was so evident that a newspaper in Washington, D.C. reported in 1789:
[O]ur truly patriotic clergy boldly and zealously stepped forth and bravely stood our distinguished sentinels to watch and warn us against approaching danger; they wisely saw that our religious and civil liberties were inseparably connected and therefore warmly excited and animated the people resolutely to oppose and repel every hostile invader. . . . [M]ay the virtue, zeal and patriotism of our clergy be ever particularly remembered.
Our pastors today, for the most part, are only a shadow of the pastors in the Founding era. They were not only heavily involved in the political arena but they were the nation's leaders in education as well. Pastors knew that only literate people with a good understanding of the Word of God could maintain a free society and control the government and keep it godly. They knew that it was the Christian principles that were so valuable to the religious and civil liberties that they gave all to acquire that would preserve the freedoms that so many fought so hard to keep.
All of our major colleges and universities were founded by pastors primarily as seminaries. It was a Puritan pastor that founded Harvard University, Reverend John Harvard. Ten Congregationalist pastors joined together to establish Yale. William and Mary College was established by Reverend James Blair an Episcopalian pastor. Another Congregationalist Pastor founded Dartmouth, Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, and Princeton was founded by three Presbyterian pastors, Reverends Ebenezer Pemberton, Jonathan Dickenson, and John Pierson.
America’s pastors were so involved in the education of America that by 1860 91% of all college presidents were Christian pastors and more than a third of all faculty were pastors as well. (Emphasis added) Only seventeen of the 246 colleges and universities founded by the end of 1860 were not affiliated with a denomination. (Emphasis added) The “School Master of America,” Founding Father Noah Webster stated: "to them [the clergy] is popular education in this country more indebted than to any other class of men."
Without a strong moral guidance America would never have been established. But the pastors of that day were men of strong conviction, strong morals and would not allow to be pushed around by government as the majority of today's pastors are. Where are those pastors today? In a time when we so desperately need this kind of leadership, this kind of pastor is very hard to find. God has always judged the church on the condition of the nation. He is judging us now with men and women who are the most ungodly people to ever hold office in American history and the reason is because the pastors refuse to take a stand for what is right in God's eyes.
It can be done, we've done it before and it is time to do it again. Who will take that stand? Who will fight for the life of America? It would behoove us to take heed of the words of Reverend Charles Finney, the leader of the Second Great awakening, who stated: . , Reverend Charles Finney reminded the pastors of his day:
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"Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation. (Emphasis added)
America once again needs the type of courageous ministers.
© 2013 Roger Anghis - All Rights Reserved
J. T. Headley, The Chaplains
and Clergy of the Revolution
(New York: Charles Scribner, 1864), p. 58.
2. William Buell Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit: Trinitarian Congregation, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1857), p. 482
3. B.F. Morris, Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia: George W. Childs, 1864) p. 350.
4. Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States from the First Settlement Down to the Present Time (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1888), p. 265.
5. J. T. Headley, The Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution (New York: Charles Scribner, 1864), p. 58.
6. Daniel Dorchester, Christianity in the United States from the First Settlement Down to the Present Time (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1888), p. 266.
7. Clinton Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1953), p. 219.
8. Pastor Roger Anghis, Defining America's Exceptionalism, (WestBow Press 2012) p. 137
9. Gazette of the United States (Washington, D.C.: May 9, 1789), p. 1, quoting from "Extract from "American Essays: The Importance of the Protestant Religion Politically Considered."
10. Pastor Roger Anghis, Defining America's Exceptionalism, (WestBow Press 2012) p. 139
11. Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1888), s.v. "John Harvard."
12. Noah Webster, Letters to a Young Gentleman Commencing His Education (New Haven: Howe & Spalding, 1823), p. 237.
13. The History of the College of William and Mary, from its Foundation, 1660, to 1874 (Richmond, VA: J.W. Randolph & English, 1874), p. 95.
14. "Dartmouth History," Dartmouth University (accessed on October 1, 2010).
15. John Maclean, History of the College of New Jersey, from its Origin in 1746 to the Commencement of 1854 (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1877), Vol. I, p. 70.
16. Warren A. Nord, Religion & American Education (North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995), p. 84, quoting from James Tunstead Burtchaell, "The Decline and Fall of the Christian College I," First Things, May 1991, p. 24, and George Marsden, The Soul of the American University (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 11, and Charles B. Galloway, Christianity and the American Commonwealth (Nashville: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1898), p. 198.
17. E. P. Cubberley, Public Education in the United States (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Co., 1919), p. 204. See also Luther A. Weigle, The Pageant of America: American Idealism, Ralph Henry Gabriel, editor (Yale University Press, 1928), Vol. X, p. 315.
18. Noah Webster, A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects (New York: Webster and Clark, 1843), p. 293, from his "Reply to a Letter of David McClure on the Subject of the Proper Course of Study in the Girard College, Philadelphia. New Haven, October 25, 1836."
19. The Christian Treasury Containing Contributions from Ministers and Members of Various Evangelical Denominations (Edinburgh: Johnstone, Hunter and Co., 1877), p. 203.
Pastor Roger Anghis is the Founder of RestoreFreeSpeech.org, an organization designed to draw attention to the need of returning free speech rights to churches that was restricted in 1954.
President of The Damascus Project, TheDamascusProject.org, which has a stated purpose of teaching pastors and lay people the need of the churches involvement in the political arena and to teach the historical role of Christianity in the politics of the United States. Married-37 years, 3 children, three grandchildren.
Web site: RestoreFreeSpeech.org