J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

“Fisher is pushing for Christian-based governance”

The Oklahoma legislator who introduced the bill I quoted at such length yesterday is the Rev. Dan Fisher, pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in the city of Yukon.

The Tulsa World newspaper provided more background on how Fisher views the intersection of politics and religion:

As a member of the Black Robe Regiment, Fisher is pushing for Christian-based governance and challenging religious leaders to get political in the pulpit. The group also promotes Christian themes in education, including in history, civics and economics classes.

For years, Fisher has been giving public presentations in costume with his version of American history, which centers on the role ministers played in American independence. He wears an 18th century pastor’s black robe, then takes it off to finish the speech wearing an American Revolution military uniform. A musket and pistols are used as props.
That bit of business appears to be based on a legend of the Rev. Peter Muhlenberg first published in 1849—a literalization of how Muhlenberg left his pulpit to lead a Virginia regiment. After the war, he served in political and governmental offices.

The newspaper continues:
In a 35-minute presentation found online, Fisher uses quotes from preachers of the time to argue that America’s founding was based on Judeo-Christian principles.

On Fisher’s website — called “Bringing Back the Black Robed Regiment” — he argues that “without a resurgence of biblical patriotism in the pulpit, America cannot survive much longer.” . . .

In Fisher’s online presentation, he recommends “The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution” by Frank Moore, published in 1862, and the 1860 book “The Pulpit of the American Revolution” by John Wingate Thornton.

“If you really want to read about the true history of America, you generally can’t read modern books,” he says on the video. “You have to go back many years.”
On that last point I agree, but Fisher stops nearly a century after the Revolution with books that focus on only one side of that conflict. Reading more widely and deeply reveals how ministers preached on both sides of the political and military divide.

Fisher’s website also includes a page titled “Black Robed Regiment Museum.” It’s full of weaponry. Among the few documents is a pamphlet from Boston labeled “Sermon by Thomas Powell October 16th, 1759,” though, as its title page clearly states, it was preached before Gov. Pownall by the Rev. Samuel Cooper. Why does that look like a metaphor for the overeager mix-up of politics and religion?

TOMORROW: The roots of the “Black Robe(d) Regiment.”


Xathos said...

I like how the Black Robe Regiment conveniently forgets how many preachers opposed the Revolution and sided with the British during the Revolution. That right there shows the extremely erroneous and very narrow minded interpretation they have of American History.

I also do not seem to recall reading primary sources indicating that Samuel Adams was a preacher. I believe he was using a tavern or two for meetings. In addition, I seem to also recall that politics were discussed in taverns in the colonies a great deal.

Basically I think the Black Robed Regiment writes history to suit its desires to achieve political power, something which multiple Founders disagreed with.

Chaucerian said...

1849. Hmmm.

J. L. Bell said...

The website I described in this posting no longer exists.