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A Controversial SpiritEvangelical Awakenings in the South$
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Philip N. Mulder

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195131635

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195131630.001.0001

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Contending for Liberty

Contending for Liberty

Chapter:
(p.89) 4 Contending for Liberty
Source:
A Controversial Spirit
Author(s):

Philip N. Mulder (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195131630.003.0005

The American Revolution heightened the differences between Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists as the dissenters addressed the political crisis through petitions and met the resultant disestablishment of the Church of England on their own terms. Presbyterians generally embraced the Revolutionary cause, but they maneuvered primarily to achieve their long‐sought goal of gaining parity with the Anglican, now Protestant Episcopal Church, allowing for multiple establishments when the plans included Presbyterians. Baptists faced the matters resolved to maintain their absolute principles, and they were pleasantly surprised when Virginia, prompted by Thomas Jefferson's Statute for Religious Freedom, seemed to embrace some Baptist truth by striking down establishment. Francis Asbury dreamed that Methodists could stay neutral, truly separating religion from unholy matters, but he suffered when John Wesley rebuked the patriots and when most Methodist leaders fled the troubled colonies. Methodism would recover, but only by transforming into an American denomination and joining the other evangelicals already in contention for their own particular notions of religious liberty.

Keywords:   American Revolution, Church of England, denominations, disestablishment, dissenters, petitions, Protestant Episcopal Church, religious establishment, religious liberty, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

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