PBS Show Gets it Right with the Story of Peter Muhlenberg's Robe
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Aug 04, 2007 at 08:15:59 PM EST
As some of you probably already know, I haven't been able to do much writing about history lately because I've been splitting my time between my usual work and doing research for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Bruce Wilson, also on MRFF's research team, has already posted the latest MRFF news here and here, so I'm going to get back to some history with a story I've been looking into for the last few weeks.

With the beating PBS has been taking lately over its unfortunate decision to air the pseudo-documentary, "Wall of Separation," I wanted to write something about one of my favorite PBS programs, one that never fails to live up to the standards that we expect from PBS. In stark contrast to the perpetuation of the religious right's American history myths with its recent airing of"Wall of Separation," a recent episode of PBS's History Detectives included a segment disproving one of the most popular of these myths -- a myth that not only adorns the cover of one of David Barton's books and appears on a mousepad sold by WallBuilders, but is depicted in stone in the U.S. Capitol Building.

The myth is the story of Peter Muhlenberg, the Lutheran minister who, since the mid 1800s, is said to have stood before his congregation in January 1776, and, after delivering a stirring, patriotic farewell sermon, removed his clerical robe to reveal the uniform of a Revolutionary Army officer, enlisting three hundred soldiers for his "German Regiment" on the spot.

The Muhlenberg myth has been around for a long time, but, as seemingly harmless myths like this one often do when politically useful, it has recently become even more popular, being a dramatic example of an historical justification for exempting churches from the modern day 501(c)3 regulations prohibiting the preaching of politics from the pulpit.

For those unfamiliar with PBS's History Detectives, the program's team investigates stories sent in by viewers, usually in possession of some interesting or mysterious historical artifact. In this case, the artifact was a Revolutionary era clerical robe, donated by the Henkel family to the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, and said to be the robe removed by Muhlenberg in 1776 to reveal his uniform. The result of History Detective Elyse Luray's investigation? The robe in question did belong to Muhlenberg, but the legendary disrobing is almost certainly just a myth. A transcript of the entire segment can be downloaded here.

Occasionally, as in this case, I already know the answer to the mystery the History Detectives are trying to solve, so I wasn't surprised when the Muhlenberg expert visited by Elyse Luray, Gregg Roeber of Penn State University, dated the disrobing legend to 1849, attributing the story to Muhlenberg's grandnephew, Henry Augustus Muhlenberg.

Although Peter Muhlenberg appears in my book primarily because of a completely unrelated lie, I did include a brief mention of the disrobing myth. I didn't go much further than the story's 1849 origin, however, because I plan to write more about this one in my eventual third volume, much of which will focus on how and why so many of the myths and lies, still in use by today's religious right, were invented during the nineteenth century. But, after watching the History Detectives segment, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to dig out my notes on this one and look into it a bit more.

To begin with, here's the story as it first appeared in Henry Augustus Muhlenberg's 1849 book The Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army.

He [Peter Muhlenberg] was immediately commissioned, and proceeded to Dunmore to raise the regiment committed to his charge. Upon this occasion a well-authenticated anecdote is told of him, which gives us a deep insight into the character of the man, and the feelings which induced him to abandon the altar for the sword. It shows of what sterling metal the patriots of olden time were formed.

Upon his arrival at Woodstock, his different congregations, widely scattered along the frontier, were notified that upon the following Sabbath their beloved pastor would deliver his farewell sermon. Of this event numerous traditionary accounts are still preserved in the vicinity in which it took place, all coinciding with the written evidence. The fact itself merits a prominent place in this sketch, for in addition to the light it sheds upon the feelings which actuated the American people in the commencement of the revolutionary struggle, it also shows with what deep earnestness of purpose Mr. Muhlenberg entered upon his new career.

The appointed day came. The rude country church was filled to overflowing with the hardy mountaineers of the frontier counties, among whom were collected one or more of the independent companies to which the forethought of the Convention had given birth. So great was the assemblage, that the quiet burial-place was filled with crowds of stern, excited men, who had gathered together, believing that something, they knew not what, would be done in behalf of their suffering country. We may well imagine that the feelings which actuated the assembly were of no ordinary kind. The disturbances of the country, the gatherings of armed men, the universal feeling that liberty or slavery for themselves and their children hung upon the decision the Colonies then made, and the decided step taken by their pastor, all aroused the patriotic enthusiasm of the vast multitude, and rendered it a magazine of fiery passion, which needed but a spark to burst into an all-consuming flame.

In this spirit the people awaited the arrival of him whom they were now to hear for the last time. He came, and ascended the pulpit, his tall form arrayed in full uniform, over which his gown, the symbol of his holy calling, was thrown. He was a plain, straightforward speaker, whose native eloquence was well suited to the people among whom he laboured. At all times capable of commanding the deepest attention, we may well conceive that upon this great occasion, when high, stern thoughts were burning for utterance, the people who heard him hung upon his fiery words with all the intensity of their souls. Of the matter of the sermon various accounts remain. All concur, however, in attributing to it great potency in arousing the military ardour of the people, and unite in describing its conclusion. After recapitulating, in words that aroused the coldest, the story of their sufferings and their wrongs, and telling them of the sacred character of the struggle in which he had unsheathed his sword, and for which he had left the altar he had vowed to serve, he said "that, in the language of holy writ, there was a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times had passed away;" and in a voice that re-echoed through the church like a trumpet-blast, "that there was a time to fight, and that time had now come!"

The sermon finished, he pronounced the benediction. A breathless stillness brooded over the congregation. Deliberately putting off the gown, which had thus far covered his martial figure, he stood before them a girded warrior; and descending from the pulpit, ordered the drums at the church-door to beat for recruits. Then followed a scene to which even the American revolution, rich as it is in bright examples of the patriotic devotion of the people, affords no parallel. His audience, excited in the highest degree by the impassioned words which had fallen from his lips, flocked around him, eager to be ranked among his followers. Old men were seen bringing forward their children, wives their husbands, and widowed mothers their sons, sending them under his paternal care to fight the battles of their country. It must have been a noble sight, and the cause thus supported could not fail.

Nearly three hundred men of the frontier churches that day enlisted under his banner; and the gown then thrown off was worn for the last time. Henceforth his footsteps were destined for a new career.

This event occurred about the middle of January, 1776; and from that time until March, Colonel Muhlenberg seems to have been busily engaged in recruiting. After the great impulse already received, it is natural to suppose that his success was rapid; and such accordingly we find to be the fact. It was probably the first of the Virginia regiments ready for service, its ranks being full early in March. By the middle of that month he had already reported this fact to the Governor, and received orders to proceed with his command to Suffolk. On the 21st the regiment commenced its march for that place.(1)

Here's the paragraph about this from my book:

Muhlenberg is also the subject of a very popular myth that appears not only in religious right American history books, but a number of other books about the Revolutionary War. The story is that, on January 21, 1776, Muhlenberg preached his last sermon, at the end of which he dramatically ripped off his clerical robes, revealing an army uniform underneath, and issued a call to arms. Not a single contemporary source supports this story. It was created by Muhlenberg's grandnephew, Henry Augustus Muhlenberg, in his 1849 book The Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army, and is based on nothing more than a figurative statement in Samuel Kercheval's 1833 book A History of the Valley of Virginia, which said that Muhlenberg "laid off his gown and took up the sword." In spite of the fact that the story isn't true, there is a statue of Muhlenberg in the United States Capitol building, donated by the State of Pennsylvania in 1889, that depicts him taking off his clerical robes to reveal his uniform.

Henry Augustus Muhlenberg actually listed five sources in his notes for this story. The only one I included in the excerpt above, however, was Samuel Kercheval's 1833 book A History of the Valley of Virginia, mainly because Kercheval's book is the only one of H.A. Muhlenberg's five sources to even mention Peter Muhlenberg's clerical attire, albeit in a figurative manner.

This is the entire passage from Kercheval's book:

The reverend Mr. Peter Muhlenberg, a clergyman of the Lutheran profession, in the county of Shenandoah, laid off his gown and took up the sword. He was appointed a colonel, and, soon raised a regiment, called the 8th, consisting chiefly of young men of German extraction. Abraham Bowman was appointed to a majoralty in it, as was also Peter Helphinstine, of Winchester. It was frequently called the "German regiment." Muhlenberg was ordered to the south in 1776, and the unhealthiness of the climate proved fatal to many of his men.(2)

Before getting to H.A. Muhlenberg's other four sources, it needs to be explained why Samuel Kercheval is probably the most important of the five, and why the absence in Kercheval's book of anything indicating that an event as dramatic as that described by H.A. Muhlenberg took place is the best evidence that it didn't.

Samuel Kercheval was born in 1767 and grew up in Stone Bridge, Virginia, less than thirty miles from Woodstock, the site of the alleged disrobing. General John Smith, to whom Kercheval dedicated his book, settled in 1773 in Winchester, Virginia, also less than thirty miles from Woodstock. Kercheval wrote in his dedication that he had known General Smith for fifty years, and that it was Smith who provided him with much of the information for his book, something that is evident from the many notes throughout the book attributing various anecdotes to Smith. In addition to Kercheval's and Smith's close proximity to Woodstock at the time, Smith received his commission as a colonel on January 8, 1776, less than two weeks before Muhlenberg is said to have given his farewell sermon, and remained at Winchester as, among other things, a recruiting officer under, according to his pension records, Generals Morgan and Muhlenberg.

So, what are the chances that both Kercheval and Smith would have forgotten an event as memorable as Muhlenberg's dramatic sermon and disrobing? ...that Colonel Smith, a nearby army officer in this sparsely populated area, wouldn't have remembered that three hundred soldiers were recruited in a single day? ...that Samuel Kercheval would have omitted such a striking local story of patriotism in a book full of far less significant anecdotes?

The following are H.A. Muhlenberg's sources from the notes in his 1849 Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg. The list, of course, included Kercheval's book, despite the fact that it clearly does not support the story.

The facts stated in this account of General Muhlenberg's farewell sermon are abundantly established by all contemporaneous accounts. See particularly Thatcher's Military Journal, p. 184; Howe's Historical Collections of Virginia, p. 468; Kercheval's History of Valley of Virginia, p. 188; Rogers's Remembrancer of American Heroes, Statesmen, and Sages, p. 366; and Baird's Religion in America, p. 113.(3)

So, what about the other four sources?

Thacher's Military Journal, while written in 1778 by an army officer who did know Peter Muhlenberg, is not a good primary source for this story. All it shows is that Muhlenberg, by this time a brigadier general, seemed to be becoming a bit of a legend in his own time. James Thacher was a young army surgeon from Massachusetts, who, moving south as the war moved south, attached himself to the 1st Virginia Regiment until a Massachusetts regiment moved into the area. The following is the journal entry containing Thacher's second hand account of the story, heard two years after it allegedly occurred.

November 3d.-Having made a visit to Fishkill, I returned in company with Dr. Treat, our physician-general, and found a large number of gentlemen collecting to partake of an entertainment, by invitation of Brigadier-General Muhlenburg, who occupies a room in our hospital. The guests consisted of forty-one respectable officers, and our tables were furnished with fourteen different dishes, arranged in fashionable style. After dinner, Major-General Putnam was requested to preside, and he displayed no less urbanity at the head of the table than bravery at the head of his division. A number of toasts were pronounced, accompanied with humorous and merry songs. In the evening we were cheered with military music and dancing, which continued till a late hour in the night. General Muhlenburg was a minister of a parish in Virginia, but participating in the spirit of the times, exchanged his clerical profession for that of a soldier. Having In his pulpit inculcated the principles of liberty, and the cause of his country, he found no difficulty in enlisting a regiment of soldiers, and he was appointed their commander. He entered his pulpit with his sword and cockade, preached his farewell sermon, and the next day marched at the head of his regiment to join the army, and he does honor to the military profession.(4)

Even this account from Thacher differs significantly from H.A. Muhlenberg's 1849 story. There is no dramatic disrobing, and no mention at all of the content of Peter Muhlenberg's sermon. According to Thacher, Peter Muhlenberg entered the church in his uniform. Thacher also writes that Muhlenberg marched off with a regiment the very next day, while, even according to H.A. Muhlenberg's story, it was several months before the regiment was filled and began to march. In reality, neither H.A. Muhlenberg's nor Thacher's accounts are supported by the dates of each company's formation or the enlistment dates of the soldiers.

There are no surviving records of the Eighth Virginia Regiment from before 1777. Fortunately, however, most of the surviving 1777 muster rolls show the enlistment dates of the original soldiers who enlisted in the spring of 1776, including those who were killed or no longer with the company for other reasons. So, it is possible, using the rolls of these companies and a few other sources, such as statements from the pension applications of individual soldiers from the rest of the companies, to piece together enough information about the formation of this regiment to be certain that H.A. Muhlenberg's claim that 300 men enlisted on the day of Peter Muhlenberg's farewell sermon is impossible.

Not counting commissioned officers, the surviving muster rolls, for six out of the regiment's ten companies, show 424 men who enlisted in the spring of 1776. Not a single one of these men enlisted on the day that Peter Muhlenberg is said to have given his farewell sermon. While there were some men who did enlist in the last week of January, the majority were recruited, in their individual counties, in February and March. A full Virginia regiment at this time consisted of about 680 men, so even if every single man in the other four companies was at Peter Muhlenberg's sermon and enlisted on the spot, it couldn't have amounted to the 300 claimed by H.A. Muhlenberg. Add to this that only one of these four remaining companies was raised in a county near enough to Woodstock for it to be realistic to think that the men might have attended Muhlenberg's church, and another didn't even begin forming until April, and there is just no way that H.A. Muhlenberg's story could be true.

Another problem with H.A. Muhlenberg's account is his placing the date of the sermon in the middle of January. Similar variations of the story, most of which date it to January 21, also have this problem. The problem is that Peter Muhlenberg wouldn't have been in Woodstock in the middle of January, or even on January 21. Although receiving his commission on January 12, which under other circumstances would make January 21 the likely date, he received it at the Virginia Convention in Williamsburg, at which he was also a delegate. The convention didn't adjourn until Saturday, January 20, and the records indicate that Muhlenberg stayed to the end. Obviously, he could not have reached Woodstock by the next day.

H.A. Muhlenberg's next two sources, "Howe's Historical Collections of Virginia" and "Rogers's Remembrancer of American Heroes, Statesmen, and Sages," simply copy verbatim from the last two sentences of the two years after the fact, second hand account in James Thacher's journal entry, so neither can be considered an independent source.

From Henry Howe's Historical Collections of Virginia:

Gen. Peter Muhlenburg was a native of Pennsylvania, and by profession a clergyman of the Lutheran order. At the breaking out of the revolution, he was a young man about thirty years of age, and pastor of a Lutheran church at Woodstock. In 1776, he received the commission of colonel, and was requested to raise a regiment among the Germans of the valley. Having in his pulpit inculcated the principles of liberty, he found no difficulty in enlisting a regiment. He entered his pulpit with his sword and cockade, preached his farewell sermon, and the next day marched at the head of his regiment to join the army.(5)

From Thomas Jones Rogers's A New American Biographical Dictionary: Or, Rememberancer of the Departed Heroes, Sages, and Statesmen of America:

MUHLENBERG, PETER, a brave and distinguished officer during the revolutionary war, was a native of Pennsylvania. In early life he yielded to the wishes of his venerable father, the patriarch of the German Lutheran church in Pennsylvania, by becoming a minister of the Episcopal church, and participating in the spirit of the times, exchanged his clerical profession for that of a soldier. Having in his pulpit inculcated the principles of liberty, and the cause of his country, he found no difficulty in enlisting a regiment of soldiers, and he was appointed their commander. He entered his pulpit with his sword and cockade, preached his farewell sermon, and the next day marched at the head of his regiment to join the army.(6)

H.A. Muhlenberg's last source, "Baird's Religion in America," is no better. Baird didn't copy Thacher word for word like Howe and Rogers, but cited Thacher's Military Journal in the following footnote.

In one instance, an Episcopal Clergyman of Virginia, the Rev. Mr. Muhlenburg, relinquished his charge, accepted a commission as colonel in the American army, raised a regiment among his own parishioners, served through the whole war, and retired from the service at its close with the rank of a brigadier-general. The last sermon that he ever preached to his people before he left for the camp, was delivered in military dress. -- Thatcher's "Military Journal," p. 152.(7)

So, why has this story remained so popular for so many years? Well, in part it's because of a poem. The poem, first published in 1862, was part of Thomas Buchanan Read's The Wagoner of the Alleghanies. A Poem of the Days of Seventy-six. While Read's story is set on the banks of the Skuylkill in Pennsylvania, and includes many references to the actual historical events that took place in that area, it also has some parts that are loosely based on stories from elsewhere. One of these is the Peter Muhlenberg story.

In Read's original poem, as it appeared in The Wagoner of the Alleghanies, the church was at Berkley Manor, the Pennsylvania setting of the rest of the story, and the minister was a man with "snowy locks," not a young man of thirty like Muhlenburg. The story appears in a section of Read's poem titled"The Brave at Home," about the women preparing to say goodbye to the men -- mothers to sons, wives to husbands, and girlfriends to boyfriends. In fact, part of Read's description of the scene inside the church focused on Esther and Edgar, a young couple who would be separated when Edgar went off to war.

The pastor came; his snowy locks
Hallowed his brow of thought and care;
And, calmly as shepherds lead their flocks,
He led into the house of prayer.
Forgive the student Edgar there
If his enchanted eyes would roam,
And if his thoughts soared not beyond,
And if his heart glowed warmly fond
Beneath his hopes' terrestrial dome.
To him the maiden seemed to stand,
Veiled in the glory of the morn,
At the bar of the heavenly bourne,
A guide to the golden holy land.
When came the service' low response,
Hers seemed an angel's answering tongue;
When with the singing choir she sung,
O'er all the rest her sweet notes rung,
As if a silver bell were swung
Mid bells of iron and of bronze.

At times, perchance, -- oh, happy chance! --
Their lifting eyes together met,
Like violet to violet,
Casting a dewy greeting glance.
For once be Love, young Love, forgiven,
That here, in a bewildered trance,
He brought the blossoms of romance
And waved them at the gates of heaven.(8)

"The Brave at Home" and "The Rising," the section immediately preceding it in The Wagoner of the Alleghanies, were popularized in the 1860s by the actor James Edward Murdoch, who did poetry readings to raise money to care for the wounded soldiers during the Civil War.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Thomas Buchanan Read's poetry became very popular in elocution and reading books. Among the most often seen Read selections in these books were excerpts from the"The Rising" and "The Brave at Home," combined in various ways into one poem which began to appear under titles such as "The Rising in 1776" or "The Revolutionary Rising." In these condensed versions, sections like the one above were removed, which conveniently got rid of the description of the pastor having "snowy locks." Interestingly, every single one of the books I can find that contains a note that this was about the Muhlenberg disrobing story also just happens to use a version of the poem in which the "snowy locks" verse is omitted.

Typical of this are William Holmes McGuffey's readers, which included a few stanzas from "The Rising" about Lexington and Concord, and then jumped to the following, from "The Brave at Home," omitting the section containing the stanza above, which falls after the first verse.

 

5. Within its shade of elm and oak
The church of Berkley Manor stood:
There Sunday found the rural folk,
And some esteemed of gentle blood,
In vain their feet with loitering tread
Passed 'mid the graves where rank is naught:
All could not read the lesson taught
In that republic of the dead.

6. The pastor rose: the prayer was strong;
The psalm was warrior David's song;
The text, a few short words of might, --
"The Lord of hosts shall arm the right!"

7. He spoke of wrongs too long endured,
Of sacred rights to be secured;
Then from his patriot tongue of flame
The startling words for Freedom came.
The stirring sentences he spake
Compelled the heart to glow or quake,
And, rising on his theme's broad wing,
And grasping in his nervous hand
The imaginary battle brand,
In face of death he dared to fling
Defiance to a tyrant king.

8. Even as he spoke, his frame, renewed
In eloquence of attitude,
Rose, as it seemed, a shoulder higher;
Then swept his kindling glance of fire
From startled pew to breathless choir;
When suddenly his mantle wide
His hands impatient flung aside,
And, lo! he met their wondering eyes
Complete in all a warrior's guise.

9. A moment there was awful pause, --
When Berkley cried, "Cease, traitor! cease!
God's temple is the house of peace!"
The other shouted, "Nay, not so,
When God is with our righteous cause:
His holiest places then are ours,
His temples are our forts and towers
That frown upon the tyrant foe:
In this the dawn of Freedom's day
There is a time to fight and pray!"

10. And now before the open door --
The warrior priest had ordered so --
The enlisting trumpet's sudden soar
Rang through the chapel, o'er and o'er,
Its long reverberating blow,
So loud and clear, it seemed the ear
Of dusty death must wake and hear.
And there the startling drum and fife
Fired the living with fiercer life;
While overhead with wild increase,
Forgetting its ancient toll of peace,
The great bell swung as ne'er before:
It seemed as it would never cease;
And every word its ardor flung
From off its jubilant iron tongue
Was, "WAR! WAR! WAR!"

11. "Who dares"--this was the patriot's cry,
As striding from the desk he came --
"Come out with me, in Freedom's name,
For her to live, for her to die?"
A hundred hands flung up reply,
A hundred voices answered "I!" (9)

The following is from McGuffey's note on the sixth verse:

6. The pastor. This was John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, who was at this time a minister at Woodstock, in Virginia. He was a leading spirit among those opposed to Great Britain, and in 1775 he was elected colonel of a Virginia regiment. The above poem describes his farewell sermon. At its close he threw off his ministerial gown, and appeared in full regimental dress. Almost every man in the congregation enlisted under him at the church door. ...(10)

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, the History Detectives did find the robe itself to be authentic. It was, in fact, owned by Peter Muhlenberg and given to Paul Henkel, a Lutheran minister in New Market, a town near Woodstock. According to one source, Muhlenberg was not well received in his former home upon his return from the war. The reason for this less than enthusiastic welcome is not clear, so I still have some more work to do on this story, but this does appear to be when Muhlenberg gave the robe to Henkel.

1. Henry A. Muhlenberg, The Life of Major-General Peter Muhlenberg of the Revolutionary Army, (Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1849), 50-54.
2. ibid., 337.
3. Samuel Kercheval, A History of the Valley of Virginia, (Woodstock, VA: John Gatewood, 1850), 124-125.
4. James Thacher, M.D., A Military Journal, During the American Revolutionary War from 1775 to 1783; Describing Interesting Events and Transactions of this Period; with Numerous Historical Facts and Anecdotes, from the Original Manuscript, (Boston: Cottons and Barnard, 1827), 151-152.
5. Henry Howe, Historical Collections of Virginia, (Charleston, SC: Babcock & Co., 1845), 468-469.6. 6. Thomas Jones Rogers, A New American Biographical Dictionary: Or, Rememberancer of the Departed Heroes, Sages, and Statesmen of America, (Easton, PA: Thomas J. Rogers, 1824), 366.
7. Robert Baird, Religion in America: Or an Account of the Origin, Relation to the State, and Present Condition of the Evangelical Churches in the united States, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1844), 113n.
8. Thomas Buchanan Read, The Wagoner of the Alleghanies. A Poem of the Days of Seventy-six, (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1866), 88-89.
9. McGuffey's Fifth Eclectic Reader, (New York: American Book Company, 1907), 201-203.
10. ibid., 203-204.




Display:

Mid-19th century seemed riddled with the most syrupy tales. Not a single Hemingway among them, was there?

That was heavy-wading for a realist like me. It was worth it, in the end, to find that the RaptureRight is still determined to wring bathos out everything that it can.

They seem stuck in the past. Most of the art that they revere is iconic of that hybrid: "great art" crossed with "religious fervor". Sex might sell now; but back then, only religious passion was allowed in the marketplace.



by Naomi on Sun Aug 05, 2007 at 09:13:55 PM EST

of ProgressiveHistorians, a community site dedicated to the intersection of history and politics, I would be honored if you would cross-post this excellent diary there.

by Nonpartisan on Mon Aug 06, 2007 at 07:10:02 PM EST

I wonder if the other work you did on Muhlenberg in your book to which you refer has anything to do with the following quotation reproduce in today's WND by our good friend Chaplain you know who.

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=57060

German Lutheran Rev. Henry Muhlenberg witnessed George Washington share his Christian faith (in uniform) with his troops: "I heard a fine example today, namely that His Excellency General Washington rode among his army yesterday and admonished each and every one to fear God, to put away wickedness that has set in and become so general, and to practice Christian virtues."


by Jonathan Rowe on Thu Aug 09, 2007 at 12:55:22 PM EST

I'll be getting to most of the Washington stuff like that in Volume 2.

Peter Muhlenberg comes up in my current volume because he is named in a list of eight clergymen that Mark Beliles lies about in the introduction to his version of the Jeferson Bible.  Beliles, in an attempt to support a claim that Jefferson was liked by almost all clergymen, and that their attacks against him in the campaign of 1800 were nothing more than a few isolated instances, claims that the eight clergymen he names were friends of Jefferson and ran as "overt Jeffersonians," some at the urging of Jefferson himself.  Beliles's claim is ridiculous because some of the eight didn't even know Jefferson, others never even ran for any public office, and two of those who did run for office did so before Jefferson himself was an "overt Jeffersonian," one before Jefferson even entered politics.


by Chris Rodda on Thu Aug 09, 2007 at 03:34:01 PM EST
Parent




WWW Talk To Action


Four Stories
LGBTQ Nation   In my first bi-weekly column on religious liberty, I discuss how  "Religious liberty is a progressive and liberatory value, over which......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Christian Right Voter Mobilization -- The Season Finale
One of the secrets of the success of the Christian Right over the years has been that opponents have taken the movement with insufficient......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Sins Of Omission: When Religious Right Leaders Speak, The Whole Truth Is Often Left Behind
When an individual doesn't feel like being absolutely truthful, there are a couple of things he or she can do. One is to simply......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bishop Finn Under Vatican Investigation
Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has long been a symbol of the ongoing institutional intransigence in addressing......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
"The $1-Billion-a-Year [Religious] Right-Wing Conspiracy You Haven't Heard Of"
In honor of the 2014 incarnation of the event known as The Gathering, I've given an interview with Jay Michaelson, writing for the Daily......
By Bruce Wilson (5 comments)
(Un)Fantastic Five: A Remembrance Of Values Voter Summits Past
The Religious Right's annual "Values Voter Summit" (VVS) takes place this weekend. Americans United staffers Simon Brown, Sarah Jones and I will be there.......
By Rob Boston (7 comments)
The Christian Right's Voter Mobilization Strategy for 2014
My latest post at Political Research Associates is about how this weekend's Values Voter Summit fits into the Christian Right's wider electoral strategy for......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
NYT's David Brooks to Speak at Antigay Luncheon of Billionaires Who Fund Racist Preacher
Recently, government-encouraged outbreaks of mob violence against LGBT persons in countries from Uganda to Russia, and draconian new anti-gay legislation in those countries too,......
By Bruce Wilson (2 comments)
D'Souza's Downfall: Religious Right Favorite Sentenced For Campaign Donation Violations
Yesterday conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza was sentenced to five years of probation and a term of community service for violating federal campaign laws. He......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Short Takes -- Taking Action Edition
Banned Books Week is being celebrated this year from Sept. 21-27.  Yes its time for the annual celebration of the Freedom to Read, sponsored......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Archbishop Schnurr Throws Cold Water on the Ice Bucket Challenge
The Ice Bucket Challenge has been an outstanding success in raising both awareness and research money needed to find a cure for Amyotrophic lateral......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
The Secret Antigay U.S. Money Behind The WCF and the Global Evangelical War on LGBT Rights
[note to readers: this is an excerpt from my first installment in a Twocare.org/Center Against Religious Extremism series that will examine extensive ties -......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Race as Religion
Reading Edith Beer's book, The Nazi Officer's Wife, I ran across an interesting account of her fake marriage license.  She married a Nazi officer......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Dark Discussions on the Christian Right
The Neo-Confederate movement has been trying to jump start itself of late.  It has been an especially heady few months for the League of......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Oath Oaf: Religious Right Columnist Calls For Religious Tests In Military
Bryan Fischer, the director of issues analysis for the American Family Association (AFA) is like a demented, right-wing geyser: You can count on him......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)

Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (2 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (3 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (1 comment)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (0 comments)
Robert Knight: Running against evolution could potentially be a winner for the GOP
In one of the starkest instances yet of how far gone the religious right is, one of its leading activists thinks that he's found another potential wedge issue that could drive more people into......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
First Catholic official convicted in child sex abuse scandal has conviction overturned
Last year, Monsignor William Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's secretary for clergy, was convicted of reassigning a priest whom he knew had molested a young boy to a parish that had a school attached......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Quotes From Sarah Palin 'War on Christmas" Book v. Quotes From 1920s Anti-Jewish Propaganda
The point of this comparison is not to cast Sarah Palin as a Nazi. Rather, my intent is to underline uncomfortable similarities between contemporary "war on Christmas" talking points propagated by elements of the......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Francis sets up commission on how to deal with pedophile priests
Late yesterday Pope Francis announced--apparently after some prodding--that he will set up a panel to advise him on how to deal with child abuse by priests. The announcement was a forthright acknowledgment by the......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
John Hagee: Jews will make deal with Antichrist before End Times
When John Hagee opens his mouth, you expect to hear lunacy.  An appearance earlier this month on TBN was no different.  On Friday, People for the American Way stumbled on a special prophecy-focused edition......
Christian Dem in NC (0 comments)
Doug Phillips Resigns From Vision Forum over "Inappropriate Relationship"
Doug Phillips resigned as president of Vision Forum earlier this week, citing an "inappropriate relationship."   Phillips posted an announcement on the Vision Forum website, stating, There has been serious sin in my life......
Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.