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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: July 2007

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Why I will not sing the “Battle Hymn of The Republic.”

by Mark Schonbrun

It's one thing to sing this song out of ignorance, but once the TRUTH is known there is NO reason to sing this song what so ever. Consider also the words of the author of this song concerning Jesus Christ. This should remove any and all doubt about the spiritual and moral character of the author, Julia Ward Howe.

To Julia Ward Howe, the work of Christ was incomplete. It was up to men through civil government to bring about a utopian society. She was quoted in her biography, "Not until the Civil War did I officially join the Unitarian church and accept the fact the Christ was merely a great teacher with no higher claim to preeminence in wisdom, goodness, and power than any other man."

The Battle Hymn of the Republic occupies a prominent position not only within the program of nearly every nationalistic celebration, but also as part of many Christian services. Admittedly, the anthem sounds good, but it is far from being a 'hymn.' Many Christians understand its stirring words to provide an image of a victorious Church, but the connotations of a spiritual patriotism which have endeared it to many, result from a mistaken and cursory reading of the song.

Should this song be sung by a Christian congregation?

A hymn is a song incorporating theological truth into its text.

Wonderful examples of Christian hymns are A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Great Is Thy Faithfulness and How Firm a Foundation.

Despite its use of biblical phrasing, Battle Hymn of the Republic is not about Christ 'marching' against sin and the Church being 'victorious' over evil. The “theological truths” it expresses are anti-Christian and anti-biblical.

Battle Hymn of the Republic was written in the fall of 1861. While in Washington, D.C. with her husband, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe watched troops marching off to war singing John Brown's Body. She determined to write a more inspiring war song to what was a good melody. First published in the Atlantic Monthly, she received five dollars for her literary effort.

Born into a prominent New York City family, Julia Ward was raised in a conservative, Christian home. As a young woman she rebelled against her parents' strong Calvinism and ultimately married the Boston reformer, Dr. Samuel G. Howe. She adopted the tenants of Transcendentalism, then Unitarianism, and it was in that light that the 'Battle Hymn' was written.

The Transcendentalists became the core of the radical abolitionist movement.

Dr. Howe, as well as their Boston pastor, the Reverend Theodore Parker were two members of the 'Secret Six' who financed and armed the anti-slavery terrorist John Brown.

After his murderous rampage in Kansas and at Harper's Ferry, Mrs. Howe lamented, "John Brown's death will be holy and glorious. John Brown will glorify the gallows like Jesus glorified the cross."

Battle Hymn of the Republic can only be understood within the framework of the Transcendentalist-Unitarian creed. The first verse reads:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword.
His truth is marching on.

Mrs. Howe applied the apocalyptic judgment of the Revelation [14:17-20 & 19:15] to the Confederate nation. She pictured the Union army not only as that instrument which would cause Southern blood to flow out upon the earth, but also the Union army as the very expression of His Word itself [sword].

The Transcendentalist-Unitarians believed that the evil in man could be rooted out by governmental action. The South was evil and was thus deserving of judgment of the most extreme nature—its own Armageddon.

The second verse follows the same theme by presenting the Union army as the abode of their vengeful God.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps.
His day is marching on.

The third verse is so contrary of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that many hymnals leave it out altogether:

I have read the fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel.
As ye deal with My contempters, so with you My grace shall deal;
Let the hero born of woman crush the serpent with his heel.
Since God is marching on.

Mrs. Howe proclaimed a gospel of judgment pictured by rows of affixed bayonets. Taking God's promise of deliverance from Genesis 3:15, she applied it not to Christ, but to the Union soldier who would receive God's grace by killing Southerners.

This was certainly a different gospel; the kind of which the Apostle Paul said, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." [Galatians 1:8]

Verse four returns to the prose of the Apocalypse with trumpet and judgment seat imagery:

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never sound retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat.
O be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

The problem again is that civil warfare was the instrument being promoted for determining the hearts of men. A man's positive response to the call for enlistment in the Union army was the action which would reveal their standing before God.

The fifth and final verse gives the ultimate expression of the warped and anti-biblical theology which possessed the radical abolitionists.

In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me.
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

To Julia Ward Howe, the work of Christ was incomplete. It was up to men through civil government to bring about a utopian society.

She was quoted in her biography, "Not until the Civil War did I officially join the Unitarian church and accept the fact the Christ was merely a great teacher with no higher claim to preeminence in wisdom, goodness, and power than any other man."

The 'Battle Hymn' theme has nothing to do with Christianity or God. It is a political-patriotic song about the destruction of the South, written in religious terminology. It is a clever product. Howe deliberately created the idea that the North was doing God's work. It paints a picture of a vengeful God destroying His enemies—the South, and elevating the North's cause to that of a 'holy war.' In doing so, Howe portrayed the South and its people as evil and the enemy of God. Outrageous, but it worked.

As a Unitarian, Julia Ward Howe believed the Unitarian doctrine that man is characteristically good and he can redeem himself by his own merits without any help from a saviour.

She rejected basic biblical truths such as a literal hell — "I threw away, once and forever, the thought of the terrible hell which appears to me impossible."

Mrs. Howe also refuted the exclusive claim of Jesus, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." [John 14:6] by saying,

"Having rejected the exclusive doctrine that made Christianity and special forms of it the only way of spiritual redemption, I now accept the belief that not only Christians but all human beings, no matter what their religion, are capable of redemption. Christianity was but one of God's plans for bringing all of humanity to a state of ultimate perfection."

What Christian church would intentionally sing a song of praise to Satan's doctrines? Would any pastor or elder lead their flock into rebellion against true biblical doctrine?

Yet by ignorance, it has been done on a regular basis in the church in America. The 'Battle Hymn of the Republic' is apostasy. It promotes hatred and vengeful destruction. It has no place in a worship service.

Paul tells us in I Corinthians 14:15, to sing not only with the spirit, but with the understanding also.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Southern Educators Perpetuate Myths When They Should Know Better!

David Alan Black

Friday, July 27, 2007


The Southern Legal Resource Center has been asked to investigate heritage violation charges involving students at high schools in two Florida counties.

The mother of a student at Mitchell High School in New Port Richey (Pascoe County) reported that school officials ordered her daughter to change out of a t-shirt with a small Confederate flag on the front because, they said, the flag was “representative of racism.” The mother was told by the principal that the demand was made in order to insure “an appropriate school climate that is free from harassment or unrest” although there is no stated campus ban on Confederate symbols. The mother wrote to the principal asking for an explanation, but received no reply. On July 12 the SLRC wrote to the principal on the mother’s behalf, but so far has likewise received no response.

The SLRC is also investigating an ongoing situation at Eustis High School in Lake County. There another female student has apparently been the victim of a series of heritage violations. In May a school secretary demanded that the student remove and hand over some Confederate-themed jewelry she was wearing. Earlier, according to her mother, an art teacher had spray painted over a small Confederate flag the student had used to decorate a pair of jeans. In the same class a pottery cowboy boot the student had made, which was also decorated with a Confederate flag, was broken.

Southern Legal Resource Center


SLRC Chief Trial Counsel Kirk Lyons is expected to pay a visit to Ringgold, Georgia, early next week to confer with local SCV leaders and obtain further information about the removal of a Confederate Battle Flag from a display at the historic Ringgold Depot on the site of the Battle of Ringgold Gap, a Confederate victory in which Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne successfully repulsed an attack by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker on November 27, 1863.

In 2003 the town undertook to restore the depot and add a brick walkway, with some bricks bearing the names of about 750 Confederate soldiers who embarked from Ringgold Depot to fight in various theaters of the war. The local SCV camp purchased and contributed a Confederate fieldpiece as a centerpiece for the memorial area. Four flags, including the Confederate Battle Flag, were later installed on poles at the site; however, in February of 2005 local representatives of the NAACP told the Town Council that they objected to the Battle Flag’s presence at the depot, and in March of that year the Council voted to remove it and to substitute a replica of the Hardee-pattern unit flag – a white oval on a white-framed dark blue field – on grounds that the Hardee flag would have been carried by most of the units involved in the Ringgold action.

SCV members countered that the Battle Flag, as a soldiers’ and later a veterans’ flag, was the appropriate flag, as the display was intended to honor all Confederates who left for all theaters of the war from Ringgold Depot, and not just those involved in the action there.

Southern Legal Resource Center

Thursday, July 19, 2007

School district wins a round in rebel-flag purse case

Fort Worth Star Telegram
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