On the Separation of Church and State– Lincoln Weighs In

Here is a fascinating article about the blurring of the lines of the separation of church and state during the Civil War (an excerpt of which you will find below). It is a story about a North Carolinian, Presbyterian minister named Samuel B. McPheeters (a graduate of UNC and Princeton Seminary), who ran into trouble in 1863 in St. Louis due to his neutrality on the war, and finally ended up in ‘my ole Kentucky home’. See what you think….


Here is a brief excerpt—-“he pursued a neutral course, believing that it accorded with the Gospel’s teachings on political matters, and that such neutrality would promote congregational unity among residents living in that divided city. Still, he took an oath of allegiance to the United States government, and from all appearances everyone seemed satisfied with his loyalty.

But some members of Pine Street Church wondered if their pastor’s silence was merely a pretext for hiding disloyal sentiments. After publicly articulating his apolitical views during the annual meeting of the Old School Presbyterian General Assembly in 1862, McPheeters returned to St. Louis to find a letter from 31 members of his church demanding that he divulge his personal sympathies or again publicly proclaim his loyalty. He refused, explaining that the church must stand above the political fray since its welfare was not linked to any particular administration or form of government but instead sought to advance the interests “of a Kingdom not of this world.”

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