The Baptists’ Parallel Revolution



“Baptists are a diverse lot,” one historian once noted, “claiming common and contradictory beliefs and practices.”[i] It does not require a deep analysis to see this proposition played out in both modern times and in history. Even within the first few decades of existence, Baptists were able to distinguish amongst themselves as either being “General” or “Particular” Baptists, that is, even what some might call (nowadays at least) secondary or tertiary doctrines were points of division and irreconcilable.[ii] Indeed, acting on conviction was common among Baptists in history, and based on the nearly innumerable variety of Baptists in the twenty-first century, such a practice is still alive and well. In regards to American history, however, the Baptistic tendency to fight for one’s beliefs and values was not simply significant for ecclesiastical standards. Rather, history reveals that Baptists played a monumental role in what is familiarly known as the American Revolution.

The one unifying tenet that brought Baptists of many strands together, as this research will argue, was the goal of establishing religious freedom in America. But interestingly enough, and perhaps shocking to some, Baptists worked together with other evangelical and Protestant denominations, as well as liberal Christians and even deists for the prospect of securing religious disestablishment and instituting a separation of church and state.[iii] In order to better understand this historical phenomenon, first, several observations will be made regarding American Baptists prior to the Revolution. Secondly, the growing concerns of religious liberty among American Baptists in the eighteenth century will be evaluated. Thirdly, the actions committed by Baptists and their counterparts to buttress their cause of the securing of religious liberty will be considered. Overall, the Baptists’ responsibility in the American Revolution is one that must not be overlooked, especially when considering the important roles of both religion and individual freedom. Whereas many Americans participated in the American Revolution for some type of temporal and personal gain such as political or socio-economic ascendancy (and certainly Baptists would not be excluded from these motivations), Baptists were also taking part in a simultaneous, parallel revolution[iv]: one for the acquisition of religious liberty.[v]

American Baptists Before the Revolution

One of the most necessary measures for understanding how the Baptists participated in the American Revolution is to first consider the social, legal, and religious climates in the years leading up to the 1770s. As Thomas Kidd notes, “Protestants in colonial America normally did not believe in religious liberty.”[vi] However, one of the exceptions occurred in Rhode Island, which also happened to be the colony in which the first Baptist church was inaugurated. “The first congregation of Baptists in America was formed at Providence, Rhode Island in 1638 by Ezekiel Holliman, Roger Williams, and a handful of others,” writes Backney. “While he was convinced of certain Baptist principles, apparently the other tenets of the Providence congregation did not hold Williams, for he dissociated himself from the Baptists in Rhode Island and did not join with them in England in 1643-1644 and 1651-1654 or upon his return to Rhode Island from 1655 onward.”[vii] In the words of Williams, he believed “that the Spirit of God never intended to direct, or warrant, the magistrate to use his power in spiritual affairs and religious worship…”[viii] Another important Rhode Island, Baptist figure was the physician, Dr. John Clarke. Not long after the Providence establishment, “Clarke was instrumental in founding the Newport colony, organizing a Baptist church there, and securing a charter from the English crown in 1663.”[ix] Similar to Roger Williams’ sentiments, Clarke proposed, “[A]ll and every person…[should] freely and fully have and enjoy his own judgments and conscience in matters of religious concernments.”[x] These impassioned words might find complete agreement in many of today’s Americans, but as Baptists emerged in other colonies in New England and then the South, such ideals about freedom of religion were greatly opposed.

Pastor John Russell of Boston stated the accusation brought upon himself and his congregation in 1680: “We are charged to be enemies to Civil Government.” His response concluded in thus:

We know no reason why we should be charged with this, not in the least degree. (1) It is directly against our Principles,…(2) Our continual Prayers to God for them,…(3) Our constant subjection and obedience to all their laws, both actively (as far as we can with a good Conscience) and wherein we could not Actively, there we have been Passively obedient;…[xi]


Russell’s statements about religious liberty were at a time when Christendom was more prominent in America and Europe (pre-Enlightenment), thus, not much is mentioned about non-Christian religions or religious skepticism. However, Massachusetts did pass a charter to allow more freedom in 1692 for Protestants. “With this change, the age of exclusionary Puritanism had come to an end.”[xii] But not all religious freedom problems were resolved in Massachusetts. More legislation was passed in 1727, 1748, 1753, and 1757 that while not necessarily forbidding worship, they brought on added legalities, and perhaps more importantly, they invoked fear of potentially worse conditions.[xiii] It is significant to note that these latter concerns predated the American Revolution by less than twenty years. And while Congress made attempts to finalize religious liberty for all Christian denominations in 1774, it was never fully resolved until 1833.[xiv]

According to Backney, “Baptists in colonial America were not well organized and possessed virtually little unity among the various types…Baptist beginnings in America, then, must be understood as one of multiple origins.”[xv] It is not surprising, then, that Baptists were heavily autonomous, as the principle of worshipping according to one’s conscience was a major belief. Managing to maintain local church independence while finding fellowship with like-minded Baptists was no small task, and perhaps even paradoxical. Yet the Philadelphia Baptist Association made this move, which would prove immensely influential. Gerald Priest describes this movement, which was primarily initiated by Welsh Baptists in the Middle Colonies: “Perhaps the most significant legacy of the Welsh Baptists can be found in areas of local church ministry: congregational singing, fervent expositional preaching, Reformed doctrine, itinerant evangelism, and especially their organizational skills as reflected in the first and most influential of all Baptist associations in America—the Philadelphia Baptist Association (1707).”[xvi] The scope of impact was quite potent, to say the least: “The associational model that the Philadelphia Baptist Association forged became a paradigm of unity and mission cooperation for much of the rest of the Baptists in the United States, including churches in New York, New England, Kentucky, Virginia, and the Carolinas.”[xvii] “To their enormous credit,” claims Gerald Priest, “Welsh Baptists came to the sensible conclusion that what could not be proven as essential to Christian doctrine should not be the cause of irreparable schism of Christian brethren.”[xviii] This scandalous ideal of cooperating with others of differing and non-essential perspectives in the religious realm was arguably the precedent for Baptists to willingly work together with other Americans of even unorthodox theological beliefs in the secular realm, all while many maintaining their conservative doctrines and practices. Such an articulate standard was made possible via the historical understanding of “separation of church and state.” In fact, as Frank Lambert declares, “None were more insistent on keeping government out of religion than were the Baptists, whose experience in England and in the colonies had been that of persecution by states favoring an established church.”[xix]

While the Philadelphia Baptist Association’s influence was significant, probably an even greater movement for the nation’s religious history in general, and Baptist history in particular, was the Great Awakening. “Although the Great Awakening represented more a general upsurge of revivalistic piety than a distinct event, it was vastly important for both the churches and American society.”[xx] Not all Americans, therefore, looked favorably upon this movement. Reverend Charles Chauncy denounced the Awakening as being “contrary to all Reason as well as Scripture and subversive of all Order in the Churches.”[xxi] But for those who did align themselves with the revival party, they would become known as “New Lights,” whereas opponents were labeled “Old Lights.” Brackney informs, “The evangelical ministry of the mid-eighteenth century New Lights offered Americans new commitments in the political, moral, and ethical realms.”[xxii] Furthermore, Kidd suggests, ““The birth of American evangelical Christianity in the 1740s resulted in the first widespread popular uprising against established authority in the history of British colonial America, and it heavily influenced many of those who would fill the rank and file of the Patriot movement in the American Revolution.”[xxiii] Meanwhile, Lambert argues that the relationship between Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals (at least in socio-political realms) began soon after the Great Awakening. He states, “The vast majority of Americans transformed by the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment agreed on one thing: religious tyranny and priestcraft must be rooted out of church and state.”[xxiv] Baptists were part of the agreement as well.

Some Baptists who were involved in the Great Awakening faced penalties for their actions, as many of them joined up with “Separate” churches. These latter individuals “could face fines and various punishments, especially for tax evasion if they refused to pay tithes that would support the established churches from which they had fled.”[xxv] At the same time, Baptists who were suspicious of the revivals, mostly in urban areas, were deemed “Regular” Baptists.[xxvi] Such distinctions between Regular and Separates were especially noticeable in the South, that is, once the Great Awakening spread there.[xxvii] Ultimately, while there was not a total consensus on the acceptability of the Awakening, Baptists inherited substantial benefits, including new leaders such as Isaac Backus and Hezekiah Smith.[xxviii] But not only did the Baptists become the beneficiaries of the Great Awakening, they also became the influencers of society. As McLoughlin writes, “The Baptists…were thoroughly egalitarian, and the thrust of their beliefs and practices from the Great Awakening onward worked for ‘the breakdown of the static, aristocratic, class-stratified, and carefully controlled social order of the old colonial society.’”[xxix] Therefore, Baptistic ideologies, particularly among the New Light and Separate Baptists, undoubtedly affected the way people thought about personal freedoms, especially religious liberty. To summarize the history of colonialist Baptists from Roger Williams up to the time of the American Revolution, Mark Noll’s words are perhaps most appropriate: “Williams argued early in the seventeenth century that the nature of the gospel was such that external coercion in religious matters inevitably compromised the freedom which true Christianity required. Although such thinking was as destructive of colonial religious establishments as of the Church of England, during the Revolutionary crisis it took on fresh implications for dissenters from the American establishments such as Isaac Backus.”[xxx] The concern for Baptists in the Revolution, or to be me more specific, in their parallel revolution, was not simply about liberty from England, but for liberty from religious compulsion.

American Baptists and Their Concerns With Religious Liberty

            Leading up to the time of the American Revolution, Baptists were not the only denomination to express concerns of religious liberty, though they were the most outspoken.[xxxi] After having many of their congregants convert to Anglicanism in the 1700s, “Congregationalists feared the Anglican Church’s incursions in America. They worried especially about possible attempts by the Church of England to foist an Anglican bishop on the colonies, which they viewed as the critical step in forcing an Anglican establishment on New England.”[xxxii] Furthermore, a growing issue revolved around the imposition of Anglican bishops, so that even Anglican laypeople had their fears of religious tyranny.[xxxiii] Meanwhile, Roman Catholics, who faced stringent religious discrimination in many of the colonies, could see the potential benefits of supporting the Revolutionary War against England, in that they could potentially secure religious liberty for themselves.[xxxiv] In this culture of fear and uncertainty, but also of hope for religious liberty, the American Revolution presented appealing opportunities for not only Baptists, but for Christians of other persuasions.

Amidst the conflicts in the socio-political realm between the colonists and the mother country, Baptists were not immediately persuaded that joining the revolutionary movement was of their best interests. “Viewing the situation in moral rather than political terms,” Noll states, “they considered maintaining neutrality in the political struggle.”[xxxv] In actuality, New England Baptists had received favor from the king in a quarrel with the Massachusetts assembly in 1771. It was during this time that Isaac Backus complained, “[M]any who are filling the nation with the cry of liberty and against oppressors are at the same time themselves violating the dearest of all rights, liberty of conscience.”[xxxvi] However, when the Intolerable Acts were instituted, which revoked the Massachusetts charters, Noll explains,

Baptists were now convinced that Parliament was even more perfidious than the Massachusetts assembly and that reliance on Parliament was like leaning upon a fragile reed…It was, however, only when the threat to civil, and hence religious, liberty seemed greater from the king and Parliament than from the colonial assemblies that most Baptists turned to the Patriot cause espoused by their Congregational neighbors.[xxxvii]


In the South, Baptists were especially encouraged by the American Revolution’s potential benefits. More than 160 Baptist preachers were persecuted for their illegal, itinerant ministries in the 1760s and 1770s.[xxxviii] But as Rhys Isaac records,

[A]lthough it must be understood as a revolt against the traditional system, [the Baptist response] was not primarily negative. Behind it can be discerned an impulse toward a tighter, more effective system of values to be established and maintained within the ranks of the common folk…Whether alarm at encroaching evil was expressed in the moralization of gentlemen patriots or in the thundering of Baptist preachers against sin, it was directed against those forms of conviviality that provided such an important medium for customary definition and assertion of the self.[xxxix]


Save the few exceptions of loyalists and pacifists, Baptists were strong proponents of the American Revolution ultimately because of a parallel revolution of obtaining religious liberty.[xl]

American Baptists and Their Quest for Revolution

            With a majority of Baptists in favor of the Revolutionary War, some even fighting in it, they were fighting in a physical realm for tangible and social liberties, but the underlying impetus centered on attaining spiritual liberties, namely, freedom of and disestablishment of religion. Upon securing victory against England in the Revolutionary War, there were certainly many unresolved matters for all Americans, best evidenced through the Federalist/Anti-Federalist controversy. And in the Baptist parallel revolution for religious liberty, there were also unsettled problems that would require more effort to fulfill their goals. As Americans diverged in opinions concerning political controversies, so too did Baptists disagree over the meaning of religious liberty.

In New England, there was less of a threat of Anglicanism to restrain Baptists’ rights than the powerful Congregational denomination. Mark Noll describes the efforts by Isaac Backus,

During the Revolution, which he supported, Backus asked Massachusetts and Connecticut why they maintained establishments of religion that forced Baptists and other non-Congregationalists to support forms of Christianity that they conscientiously opposed. If the colonists were fighting Britain for liberty, Backus asked, why did the new states themselves not grant religious liberty to their own residents?[xli]


Massachusetts’ state constitution in 1780 still maintained heavy governmental involvement in the religious choices of the state’s citizens, and there were even cases of violence towards Baptists.[xlii] Eventually, Baptists in Massachusetts did find their state’s laws acceptable, but such was not the case until 1833. After the Unitarians split away from the conservative Congregationalists in the 1820s, “[A] number of traditional Congregationalists, fearing that they themselves were becoming minorities in some areas, joined with the Baptists in 1833 to amend the state constitution and disestablish their church.”[xliii] Whereas Baptists in the North found Isaac Backus to be their main spokesman of religious liberty, the Middle Colonies continued to enjoy these freedoms. The South, however, is where the biggest gains were made.

Out of all states in the South, Virginia was by far the most important for the successes of religious liberty. Speaking of Baptist ministers James Ireland, John Leland, and John Waller, Jon Butler submits the following remarks that find strong congruence with this research’s thesis: “They fought for two revolutions in Virginia, one for political freedom and one for religious freedom.”[xliv] Kevin Phillips describes, in brief, the history of Virginia’s Separate Baptist origins: “Separate Baptist activity in the South first unfolded in the North Carolina Piedmont after the arrival in 1755 of New England missionary Shubal Stearns. He and his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshall, established a church at Sandy Creek, east of what is now Greensboro.”[xlv] Subsequently, Baptists migrated from the Sandy Creek affiliated churches into Virginia in the late 1750s.[xlvi] Baptist preachers such as Ireland, Leland, and Waller (along with dozens of others) provided challenges to the established Anglican Church, and while their efforts for a simultaneous revolution of religious liberty were exceptional, ultimately they could not succeed on their own. Even at the time of the Declaration of Independence being penned, “Support for some kind of religious establishment remained strong in Virginia.”[xlvii] The Virginia Baptists’ hope for securing religious liberty would be most profoundly found in an unorthodox, non-Baptistic Christian and a deist: James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

James Madison’s personal views of religion are a bit of a mystery, as he remained rather quiet about such matters throughout much of his life, but he did seem to favor unorthodox Christianity. Yet that does not mean Madison thought religion to be unimportant, particularly in matters of religious freedom. Noll helpfully summarizes Madison’s contribution to this important subject: “Madison’s first political activity on the eve of the Revolution showed his concern for religious matters: in the face of opposition from Virginia’s Anglican planter class, Madison went out of his way to support the granting of civil rights to Baptists. To the end of his days he was an ardent champion of religious liberty.”[xlviii] Early on in the Revolution, “Madison believed that Virginia’s civil authorities had trespassed from their proper jurisdiction by policing the private beliefs of the evangelicals [including Baptists].”[xlix] One of the better achievements by Madison was when he adopted Jefferson’s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, proposed in 1779, and managed to get it to pass in 1786.[l] For Baptists, one of the greatest concerns with the Constitution was that, in the words of John Leland, “Religious Liberty is not sufficiently secured.”[li] Madison’s accommodation to include the bill of rights on religious liberty was ensured by his own promise of watchfulness: “One thing I shall expect; that if religious Liberty is anywise threatened, that I shall receive the earliest intelligence.”[lii] Also in the words of the Father of the Constitution, stating them later on in his life, “We are teaching the world the great truth that Governments do better without Kings and Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government.”[liii] Madison, then, operated in both of Virginia’s “Revolutions,” advocating the Constitution’s ratification and helping to secure religious freedom.

The unifying factor that permitted many Baptists to cooperate with the deist, Thomas Jefferson, was the quest for the security of religious freedom. The Virginia State for Religious Freedom had national implications as the debates in Virginia formed the foundation for the First Amendment, and provided freedom in the public sphere for “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.”[liv] According to Jefferson, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”[lv] Appealing to the great levels of levels of freedom in New York and Pennsylvania, Jefferson stated, “[T]heir harmony is unparalleled, and can be ascribed to nothing but their unbounded tolerance, because there is no other circumstance in which they differ from every nation on earth. They have made the happy discovery, that the way to silence religious disputes, is to take no notice of them.”[lvi] Jefferson’s correspondence with Baptists was not only with the Southern and Middle Colonies, but in the North as well.[lvii] Most notably in the North was with Connecticut’s Danbury Baptist Association. On January 1, 1802, he wrote to these members, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God,” the First Amendment, which was affirmed by “the whole American people,” was for “building a wall of separation between church and State.”[lviii] Even though the religious beliefs between Jefferson and historic Baptist theology were completely antithetical, the common vision for America to provide religious liberty allowed the relationship to thrive. Beyond this relationship, nevertheless, Baptists still had another significant predicament to resolve, namely, the precise meaning of religious liberty.

Among Baptists, there appeared to have been at least three permissible views of the freedom of religion principle during the Revolutionary era: (1) Freedom for all Protestants to practice their faith without governmental interference. (2) Freedom for all Christians, Protestant or Catholic, to practice their faith without governmental interference. (3) Freedom for all people to practice the faith of any religion, or to not practice any religion. McLoughlin observes the following about Isaac Backus, one of the most prominent Baptists whose ministry reached to both the North and South: “Backus wanted friendly cooperation, not a rigid wall of separation between church and state, and he had a very fuzzy view of precisely where the civil enforcement of Christian morality ended and the religious freedom of Christ’s kingdom began.”[lix] Backus’s complaints focused more on matters of taxation, as he wrote, “Our real grievances are that we, as well as our fathers, have from time to time been taxed on religious accounts where we were not represented; and when we have sued for our rights, our causes have been tried by interested judges.”[lx] Much clearer and reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson’s generous view of religious liberty, John Leland wrote,

Government has no more to do with the religious opinions of men, than it has with the principles of mathematics. Let every man speak freely without fear, maintain the principles that he believes, worship according to his own faith, either one God, three Gods, no God, or twenty Gods; and let government protect him in doing so, i.e., see that he meets with no personal abuse, or loss of property, for his religious opinions.[lxi]


Caleb Blood took a somewhat stricter, but still moderate stance: “I am far from wishing to have America involved in the great error of blending the government of church and state together. But I heartily wish that all her rulers may be truly virtuous, and such as shall rule in the fear of God.”[lxii] Some Baptists advocated, as did Luther Martin and David Caldwell, for a required theological test among officeholders, with the fear that unorthodox and especially non-Christians would plague the government and the nation.[lxiii] True to their tendencies, Baptists once again found themselves in a disagreement with one another. But even in the midst of their contradictory theories, they were both benefactors and beneficiaries for much greater freedoms pertaining to religion in American society.


Despite the marketplace of opinions concerning whether or not America got the religious liberty issue right, the Baptists’ simultaneous, parallel revolution was essentially accomplished. The Congregationalists in the North, in time at least, would shrink considerably, leading to the disestablishment of religion there. The Middle Colonies were already tolerant. And the establishment of Anglicanism in the South could not withstand the powerful unity of Madison, Jefferson, and company. By 1804, Baptists tallied nearly 24,000 members from 312 churches, a truly amazing growth rate when considering the meager total of 25 congregations in 1740.[lxiv] Just as debates take place today between scholars regarding whom the main “winners” and “losers” of the American Revolution were, after considering the basic attainment of desired liberties and the stunning numerical growth, the evidence appears to be in heavy favor of declaring the Baptists to be the victors of their own simultaneous, parallel revolution for religious liberty. And some would even add that their victory was America’s victory as well.

[i] Bill J. Leonard, Baptists in America (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2005), 2.


[ii] The exact origins of Baptist beginnings are debated, though the view of “The outgrowth of English Separatism” in the early 1600s is probably the most feasible. With this in mind, while the influence of the 16th century Anabaptists was probably significant, the movement begun by John Smyth and Thomas Helwys (General Baptists) preceded the Particular Baptists by no more than twenty years. See H. Leon McBeth, The Baptist Heritage (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1987), 32-44; 49-63.

[iii] Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2010), 24.


[iv] The term “revolution,” in the eighteenth century, was understood in the sense of “revolving from one point of reference back to it,” just as Kepler viewed the “elliptical movement of celestial bodies around the sun.” Taking Patrick Griffin’s understanding of revolution centering on the importance of sovereignty, Baptists considered religious freedom as a sovereignty issue worth fighting for, or at least an issue pertaining to the freedom of conscience. Patrick Griffin, America’s Revolution (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013), xiii.


[v] Note especially Mark Noll’s comments on the distinction between Whig and Baptist values: “It is evident, however, that the controlling ideas with which Backus and many Baptists approached the American Revolution were not those of the Christian Whigs. For the Baptists, ‘liberty of conscience’ had very little to do with the fear of economic or political slavery. It had, on the other hand, very much to do with religious, moral, and spiritual freedom. The ideology which governed the participation of Isaac Backus and the Baptists in the Revolutionary era was one that could not be assimilated into the patterns of Whig Christianity. Even after they had become open Patriots, most Baptists continued to be concerned for spiritual affairs. Through their spokesman, Isaac Backus, they continued to distinguish religious from civil goals and to preserve the distinction between Patriotism and Christianity.” Mark A. Noll, Christians in the American Revolution. 2nd edition (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2006), 87.


[vi] Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty, 40.


[vii] William H. Backney, Baptists in North America (Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006), 12-13.


[viii] Roger Williams, The Bloudy Tennent of Persecution in H. Leon McBeth, ed., A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 90.


[ix] Bill J. Leonard, Baptists in America, 14.


[x] Quoted in Ibid., 159.


[xi] John Russell, A Brief Narrative [1680] in H. Leon McBeth, ed., A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 100.


[xii] Kidd, God of Liberty, 44.


[xiii] Backney, Baptists in North America, 40.


[xiv] Ibid., 41.


[xv] Ibid., 18-19.


[xvi] Gerald L. Priest, “The Abel Morgans’s Contribution to Baptist Ecclesiology in Colonial America” Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary Journal 8:1 (Fall 2003), 49.


[xvii] Backney, Baptists in North America, 20.


[xviii] Gerald L. Priest, “The Abel Morgans’s Contribution to Baptist Ecclesiology in Colonial America” Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary Journal 8:1 (Fall 2003), 67.


[xix] Frank Lambert, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003), 5.


[xx] Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 91.


[xxi] Charles Chauncy, “Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion.” Cited in [accessed December 16, 2014].

[xxii] Backney, Baptists in North America, 28.


[xxiii] Kidd, God of Liberty, 23.


[xxiv] Lambert, The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America, 180.


[xxv] Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty, 24.


[xxvi] McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 204.


[xxvii] Ibid., 205-206.


[xxviii] McBeth, The Baptist Heritage, 206-208; Noll, Christians in the American Revolution, 43.


[xxix] William G. McLoughlin, Isaac Backus and the American Pietistic Tradition (Boston, MA: Little & Brown, 1967), 231.


[xxx] Noll, Christians in the American Revolution, 56.


[xxxi] Leonard, Baptists in America, 157.


[xxxii] Thomas S. Kidd, God of Liberty (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2010), 60.


[xxxiii] Ibid., 62.


[xxxiv] Ibid., 18.


[xxxv] Noll, Christians in the American Revolution, 85.


[xxxvi] Quoted in Mark A. Noll, America’s God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002), 82.


[xxxvii] Noll, Christians in the American Revolution, 85.


[xxxviii] Jon Butler, “James Ireland, John Leland, John ‘Swearing Jack’ Waller, and the Baptist Campaign for Religious Freedom in Revolutionary Virginia,” in Alfred F. Young, Gary B. Nash, and Ray Raphael, eds., Revolutionary Founders (New York, NY: Knopf, 2011), 172.


[xxxix] Rhys Isaac, The Transformation of Virginia: 1740-1790 (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 168-169.


[xl] For examples of loyalism, Noll specifies a couple of instances: “In New England a few Baptists joined the British forces under Burgoyne at the battle of Bennington in April, 1777. The sons of Baptist elder Clark Rogers of Hancock, Massachusetts, sided with the Tories, and two Baptist elders in Newport, Rhode Island, refused to sign a loyalty oath to the independent colony in July, 1776.” Likewise Backney notes, “In Philadelphia, the most illustrious Baptist to declare Loyalist sympathies was Morgan Edwards…In 1775 he was forced by peers to recant.” Additionally, in regards to pacificism, “A very few New England Baptists, including elder Peleg Burroughs of Tiverton, Massachusetts, saw all war as sinful and denounced the Revolution.” Noll, Christians in the American Revolution, 118, 146; Backney, Baptists in North America, 30.


[xli] Mark A. Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, 144-145.


[xlii] Kidd, God of Liberty, 171-172.


[xliii] Ibid., 171-172, 174-175.


[xliv] Jon Butler, “James Ireland, John Leland, John ‘Swearing Jack’ Waller, and the Baptist Campaign for Religious Freedom in Revolutionary Virginia,” in Alfred F. Young, Gary B. Nash, and Ray Raphael, eds., Revolutionary Founders (New York, NY: Knopf, 2011), 169.


[xlv] Kevin Phillips, 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (New York, NY: Viking, 2012), 188.


[xlvi] Kidd, God of Liberty, 52.


[xlvii] Ibid., 54.


[xlviii] Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, 134.


[xlix] Kidd, God of Liberty, 38.


[l] Ibid., 184-185. Kidd also notes, “The 1786 State for Establishing Religious Freedom did not end the controversy over church-state relations in Virginia. Baptists and others continued to push for Episcopalians to lose the benefits of their previously established status, especially their glebes…In an effort led once again by Madison, the state authorized the seizure and sale of the Episcopal glebes in 1802.”


[li] Quoted in Butler, “James Ireland, John Leland, John ‘Swearing Jack’ Waller, and the Baptist Campaign for Religious Freedom in Revolutionary Virginia,” 182.


[lii] Quoted in Ibid.


[liii] Quoted in Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada, 135.


[liv] Quoted in Ibid., 146-147.


[lv] “Query XVII.” Cited in Thomas Jefferson, Writings (New York, NY: The Library of America, 1984), 285.


[lvi] “Query XVII.” Cited in Ibid., 286-287.


[lvii] Kidd describes Jefferson’s interaction with Baltimore Baptists: “In a letter to the Baltimore Baptist Association written while he was president, he cited their common commitment to religious liberty and returned their payers for him with ‘supplications to the same almighty being for your future welfare and that of our beloved country.’” Kidd, God of Liberty, 241.


[lviii] “To Messrs. Nehemiah Dodge and Others, a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, in the State of Connecticut,” in Jefferson, Writings, 510.


[lix] William McLoughlin, Soul Liberty: The Baptists’ Struggle in New England, 1630-1833 (Hanover, NH: Brown University Press, 1991), 245-246.


[lx] Isaac Backus, “Isaac Backus: Civil Government and Religious Taxes” in The Annals of America: Volume 2, 1775-1783 (Chicago, IL: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1968), 366.


[lxi] John Leland, The Writings of the Late Elder John Leland, ed. L.F. Greene (New York, NY: G.W. Wood, 1845), 184.


[lxii] Quoted in Kidd, God of Liberty, 179.


[lxiii] Ibid., 214, 217.


[lxiv] Noll, America’s God, 149.








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