Clergy courageous in American Revolution, needed again

Meredith Flynn —  July 3, 2014
Lisa Sergent holds a musket used by a private who served under General George Washington. It is owned by history buff and pastor Dan Fisher (left).

Lisa Sergent holds a musket used by a private who served under General George Washington. It is owned by history buff and pastor Dan Fisher (left).

COMMENTARY | Lisa Sergent

There’s an old song that says, “Don’t know much about history.” What Dan Fisher knows has been largely ignored – or forgotten – in our time. Clergymen were heroes in the American Revolution, said Fisher, himself a Southern Baptist pastor and Oklahoma state representative.

Fisher, the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, Okla., travels the country presenting “Bringing Back the Black Robed Regiment.” A term coined by British sympathizers, the “regiment” were the pastors – Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist and Episcopalian – who helped lead the fight for liberty from the British. He shared his message to a gathering hosted by the Illinois Family Institute this spring.

Portraying Lutheran pastor Peter Muhlenberg, later a general in the Continental Army who rallied his congregation to fight, Fisher said, “If the church doesn’t speak out, then who will? We were the men of the book, we were the men of truth, we were the men of true liberty because we knew that ultimately true liberty can only come though an internal relationship with Christ. When you have true liberty, then you can defend external liberty.”

Fisher shared how many of these 18th century pastors gave their lives and livelihoods in the fight to defend liberty. He encouraged today’s pastors to stand boldly for religious liberty. “What price are you willing to pay?” he asked.

He applies this aspect of United States history, forgotten by many, to today’s cultural issues. “There comes a time when our liberty must be protected,” said Fisher. “Friends, if we lose our external liberty we lose our internal liberty to believe and preach.”

Urging Christians to take a stand, Fisher stated, “Some 50% of today’s evangelicals don’t even bother to vote. And out of those who do vote, 25% vote the opposite of what Christians believe. Not on political issues, but on moral issues…How do we justify that?”

Fisher repeated second U.S. President John Adams’ warning to America in 1798: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

Lisa Sergent is director of communications for the Illinois Baptist State Association and contributing editor of the Illinois Baptist.

Meredith Flynn

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Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.