Friday, February 27, 2015

Fea: "Boston 1775 Debunks the 'Black Robed Regiment'"

Check out John Fea's report here. A taste:
A group of Christian nationalist evangelical ministers known as "The Black Robed Regiment" has been in the news recently. Dan Fisher, the Oklahoma state representative who wants to ban the AP U.S. History course in the state, is a self-identified member of this "regiment."  The clergy in the "Black Robed Regiment" claim that they are modeling their movement on the eighteenth-century ministers who used their pulpits to promote the American Revolution.

Bell traces the phrase "Black Robed Regiment" to a conversation between Glenn Beck and David Barton on a 2010 episode of Beck's show.  His recent post shows that many of the stories of patriotic eighteenth-century ministers used by today's "Black Robed Regiment" are based on very weak evidence.  He has also found what appears to be a comment from a Barton researcher that was inadvertently left in a footnote on Barton's page devoted to the regiment.
And check out this post here.  A taste:
Oliver proceeded to name some ministers who he thought had been particularly useful to Otis and his allies: “Dr. Jonathan Mayhew, Dr. Charles Chauncy & Dr. Samuel Cooper.”
All three of them were, by the way, theological unitarians. And Chauncy was explicitly universalist (the other two might have been as well). Chauncy was a biblical Christian-unitarian-universalist (which differs from the UUs of today, though they trace their heritage to him and his).


Tom Van Dyke said...

I suppose there's a point to this but it seems like a left-winger going after right-winger David Barton over this essay

Was there a formal "Black Robed Regiment?" No. Does Barton claim there was? No.

That there were clergy "woven into the fabric" as it were of the Revolution is uncontroversial.

Ellis Sandoz, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols [1991]

Bell might have a point that they never thought of themselves as a "black regiment" of any sort, but that's a niggle that misses the larger point.

JMS said...

TVD - I think the "larger point" Bell makes is that while bias (left, right or otherwise) does not automatically mean a historical interpretation is worthless, for the sake of historical veracity it is crucial to identify obvious biases so you can weigh the credibility of what you read. And that is why Barton's interpretations are found wanting.