Rejoice!

Radicals in the Revolution: The Persecution of Christians During the Revolutionary War

All credit goes to Kevan D. Keane for his wonderful paper on Christianity and the Revolutionary war. I was researching and randomly came across this PDF one day. Here is the PDF with my highlights. Here is where I found the PDF.

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they (the patriots) required all residents of Pennsylvania to take an oath of allegiance to the Colony.

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The Quakers and Anabaptists, because of their conscientious objection to the War and to swearing oaths, refused to do so. The revolutionaries, as a result, treated them as if they were the worst of traitors.

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The irony, however, is that religious freedom was one of the causes for which they fought.

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In the process of refusing to resist evil, these peace- loving Christians were met with severe persecution from their patriotic neighbors.

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For their unique views and refusal to conform, they were persecuted by Catholics and Protestants alike in some of the most violent forms of persecution in the history of Christianity.

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The Puritans did not tolerate Quakers, and expelled and/or punished them several times.

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Many of those wars saw professing Christians fighting and killing one another. These people wanted no part of killing anyone, but especially not their fellow Christians.

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The Great Awakening

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One Congregationalist minister opposed the conflict, and his congregation forced him to resign.

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They frequently used Scripture as a means to convince their fellow colonists that the revolution had God’s blessing, and that He was clearly on the side of the revolutionaries.

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In addition, the revolutionary government required an oath of allegiance from all residents of Pennsylvania,

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This directly went against the religious convictions of the Quakers and Anabaptists, who believed firmly that Jesus had forbade any and all swearing of oaths,

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So, also, in addition to nonresistance, they forsook all swearing of oaths. As Jesus said, their yes meant yes and their no meant no (see Matthew 5:33-37). No matter what happened, their word was so reliable, that an oath was simply unnecessary and should be treated as such. Yet still, as noted above, even if this new revolutionary government was insisting absolute loyalty to their cause against Great Britain, they saw no justifiable reason, for conscience’s sake in matters pertaining to their religion as well as loyalty to Britain, to take this oath. But the oath

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carried with it an even heavier punishment for refusal that proved devastating to conscientious Christians. As Wilbur Bender notes, this oath gave all residents of Pennsylvania a clear choice of life or death. “Those not taking the oath were declared incapable of serving on juries, sueing for debts, voting or holding office, buying or selling lands, tenements or hereditaments, and possessing arms. Every one travelling outside his own city or country without having taken the oath was to be clapped in jail till he took it.” The revolutionaries, who earlier claimed that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were the freedoms they fought for, were more than willing to take these freedoms away from those who refused to declare their utmost allegiance. Some of these freedoms were not ones that were of the character of the Anabaptists to take on (such as suing for debt), but others were freedoms they thoroughly enjoyed. But in addition to the principles on which the Anabaptists firmly stood, they also were unwilling to take the oath because of how closely it resembled the mark of the beast as described in the book of Revelation. They were not only unwilling to compromise about Jesus’s teachings, but they also did not want to seemingly sell their souls. The oath seemed to contradict everything they stood for.

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They had an agenda, and those who failed to comply were regarded as mortal enemies to the cause, despite never having taken up arms against anyone, friend or foe.

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Even Christians who were not opposed to war, but who were still loyal in some form to Great Britain, were targeted.

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Jesus clearly stated that “no man can serve two masters”

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These “Loyalists”, as they were called, who were not opposed to war for any sort of religious convictions, but saw no reason to go against George III, Parliament, etc., also were persecuted.

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Loyalty to one’s country led to everything else being secondary.

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“Hurt told the troops that ‘the love of your country’ should be ‘the governing principle of your soul’.”

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Hurt exhorts the troops to make their patriotism their first duty, even apart from loving God,

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they had to crush all Loyalist opposition.

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Refusing to sign the oath, as noted earlier, may as well have said that death would be the sentence. John L. Ruth notes that some people were executed for their stance, and this in spite of the fact that numerous residents appealed to their fellow Christians running the government to consider the implications of such actions.

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But what would prompt those who claimed to follow Jesus to execute innocent people? The answer lies in the mentality of the new government.

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if a person did not pledge absolute loyalty to the cause, that automatically made them suspect.

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They struggled from the dangers of both armies and the Native Americans of the wilderness

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As Christians who took literally Jesus’s teachings on nonresistance, these people naturally highly valued human life. This was so true that war could not decide for them whose life mattered.

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One might wonder how committed Christians could use the Bible as ammunition for weaponry. However, patriotism truly reached an extreme with the colonists’ desire to win the war.

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Other innocent Christians also lost their property, were thrown into prison, or even made exiles.49 In some of these noteworthy cases, little to no care was shown to those who would suffer starvation as a result of government confiscation of property.

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nonresistant Christians have suffered much throughout U.S. history, even death, for their convictions (usually at the hands of their fellow Christians).

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the choice was to obey Jesus’s teaching, no matter what suffering that would entail.

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Jesus came to preach the kingdom of God.

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as Christians, we are citizens of a different kingdom.

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When a critical issue such as the American Revolution does strike, how we respond will determine which master we have ultimately chosen, whether God or country.

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it shows Christians an example of what happens when one’s country comes first.

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Anything other than absolute loyalty to the cause of the Revolution meant retribution.