Diverging Loyalties: Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War

Diverging Loyalties

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This book is published by Mercer University Press but may be ordered through the BH&HS. Use the button above or email Jackie Riley or call 406-600-7433.


About Bruce T. Gourley’s Diverging Loyalties: Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War:

Baptists in the South, rapidly rising to challenge Methodists numerically, helped align Southern religion with the South’s black slave culture. The birth of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1845, formed in order to preserve God’s will for the African race, signaled the inevitability of war.

Baptists at the local church and associational level responded in a myriad of ways to the Confederacy. Patterns locally and associationally emerged and evolved as the war progressed, while differences between Southern and Primitive Baptists stood out.


Conventional wisdom maintains that white Baptists in the Deep South strongly supported the Confederate cause. Bruce Gourley’s nuanced examination of Middle Georgia instead maintains that class and local concerns consistently produced a spectrum of responses, from fervent loyalty to apathy. His conclusions will force a reassessment of the relationship between church and the Confederate state. Grounded in a close study of local and regional records, this is revisionist history of the best kind. Kenneth Noe, Draughon Professor of Southern History, Auburn University

This provocative and comprehensive study not only offers much needed documentation of Baptist responses to slavery and the Civil War but also offers a case study in wider cultural and religious dynamics in one segment of the Confederacy. A well written, well documented and insightful analysis of an important epoch. Bill Leonard, James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Church History and Baptist Studies, Wake Forest University

Bruce Gourley’s analysis of Baptists in middle Georgia during the Civil War is a masterful balancing act. He places his historiographical interpretation in the context of virtually every other important interpreter, while “on the ground” he pays close attention to real Baptist voices in real Baptist church records. His ability to listen to the contemporary debate over the role of religion in the Civil War, while telling the stories of actual Baptists in Georgia who lived through it, will stimulate useful conversations among scholars and Civil War buffs alike. – Andrew Manis, Associate Professor of History at Macon State College and author of Southern Civil Religions in Conflict: Civil Rights and the Culture Wars

Bruce Gourley’s Diverging Loyalties is an excellent treatment of attitudes toward the Civil War among Baptists in central Georgia. – Chad Brand, Professor of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary