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Christianity During the Revolution

These historical items highlight the ways in which religion and politics were linked at the time of America's founding:

In July 1775, as tensions with the British rose, the Continental Congress called for a day of prayer and fasting. Most ministers used the occasion to preach for the colonial cause, but Anglican clergyman Jonathan Boucher spoke instead on the need to obey constituted authority. Concerned about his safety in proclaiming such an unpopular view, he carried into his pulpit not only his sermon manuscript but also a loaded pistol.

At the bottom of the original Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress ordered copies of the Declaration first be sent not to town clerks or newspapers but to parish ministers, who were "required to read the same to their respective congregations, as soon as divine service is ended, in the afternoon, on the first Lord's day after they have received it."

At the end of the war, after Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, George Washington "suggested" his troops thank God: "The General congratulates the army upon the glorious event of yesterday. Divine service is to be performed tomorrow in the several brigades and divisions. The commander in chief recommends that the troops not on duty should universally attend with that seriousness of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us."

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