Lost Cause Religion
The term Lost Cause is not a modern invention but was used by southerners immediately after the war.
The argument of the Lost Cause insists that the South fought nobly and against all odds not to preserve slavery but entirely for other reasons, such as the rights of states to govern themselves, and that southerners were forced to defend themselves against Northern aggression. When the idea of a Southern nation was defeated on the battlefield, the vision of a separate Southern people, with a distinct and noble cultural character, remained. The term culture religion refers to ideals that a given group of people desire to strengthen or restore, and Lost Cause religion sought to maintain the concept of a distinct, and superior, white southern culture against perceived attacks. Major components of religion include myth, symbol, and their expressions through rituals. The Lost Cause culture religion manifested all three.
When scholars of religion refer to myth, they do not mean to imply a falsehood. Rather, in the context of religious studies, a myth is a foundational or sacred story, a story that explains. Lost Cause
In a second component of Lost Cause dogma, the Civil War was recast as a defense of the South against aggressive, money-grubbing Northerners. In Lost Cause mythmaking, the "War of the Rebellion" (as the federal government called it) became the "War of Northern Aggression." While Southerners were a people of honor and purity, Northerners were invaders, a people consumed by lust for power.
Finally, Lost Cause proponents preached the message that adherence to the civility of the prewar South meant
Some of the major symbols of the Lost Cause are conveniently laid out in a Memorial Day address given in 1896 by Clement Evans, who, in addition to being a veteran, was also a Methodist minister and onetime commander of the United Confederate Veterans. Evans referred to "a deep and honorable respect for some things which we call our mementoes"; they are, he said, "sacred." Limiting himself to "only three, each of which deserves our perpetual commemorations," he listed the song "Dixie," the Confederate battle flag, and the gray uniform of the South.
To Evans's list may be added the living symbols of the Lost Cause, the Confederate soldiers themselves and their heroic leaders. Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson
In addition to Confederate Memorial Day, "the Sabbath of the South," additional rituals honored Confederate veterans, especially the erection of Confederate monuments, which served as reminders of the
Such, then, are the major components of Lost Cause myth, symbols, and rituals. The Old South of Lost Cause myth was represented by symbols such as the Confederate flag and recalled through rituals such as Memorial Day. The culture religion was reinforced by the efforts of Confederate veterans, women, and mainstream religious figures. Among the latter, the premier example is J. William Jones, a Baptist minister known as the "Evangelist of the Lost Cause." In a sermon given to a veteran group in 1900, Jone asked if "when the roll is called up yonder," those assembled would be prepared to "'cross over the river and rest under the shade of the trees' with Davis and Lee and Jackson and other Christian comrades who wait and watch for your coming?" In Jones's mind, to be a Confederate hero and pious was a guaranteed combination.
Fred Arthur Bailey, "Mildred Lewis Rutherford and the Patrician Cult of the Old South," Georgia Historical Quarterly 78 (fall 1994): 509-35.
Gaines M. Foster, Ghosts of the Confederacy: Defeat, the Lost Cause, and the Emergence of the New South (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987).
Lloyd A. Hunter, "The Immortal Confederacy: Another Look at Lost Cause Religion," in The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, ed. Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000).
Alan T. Nolan, "The Anatomy of the Myth," in The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History, ed. Gary W. Gallagher and Alan T. Nolan (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000).
David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia's Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1980).
David S. Williams, University of Georgia
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