BRETHREN-L ArchivesArchiver > BRETHREN > 2006-10 > 1160853899
From: "Emmert F. Bittinger" <>
Subject: Re: [BRE] Brethren dress
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 2006 15:24:59 -0400
To Andy Doss,
Just an additional word about my statement (I am not a Confederate).
Historically, the Virginia Brethren officially opposed the Confederate
Cause and the rebellion. Being pacifists, they could not rebel or fight
against their government, and their stance squarely put them on the Unionist
side. For example, the Greenmount and other Brethren churches disciplined
their members that voted for secession.
It is fairly easy to understand why Brethren would oppose the Civil War:
they could not bring themselves to fight a war that would defend and
preserve the slave a policy of owning slaves. They among the religious
groups that had taken official position that slave owning was evil and to be
forbidden. Brethren actually forbade slave owning officially. Having note
that, we also recognize that in areas of the south, including Virginia, the
policy was not wanted and was sometimes not followed which brought
inconsistency between policy and practice.
In Rockingham County, Virginia, Brethren were persecuted and harrassed
in the extreme for taking the hated "Unionist" position. They were openly
threatened with loss of life and limb, confiscation of property and being
driven out of the state. Many did flee west.
In one mountain hollow east of Elkton, seven Unionists were called out
of their homes and shot dead by a group of radical rebels during the Civil
War, a fact which has not been widely known. It is not known yet whether
any of those killed were actually Brethren, because a good many non-Brethren
also opposed secession and the dividing of the union. It is more widely
known that Elder John Kline was murdered for his anti-confederate position.
Mennonites had a quite similar stance and opposed the Civil War. They
too had difficulty holding some of the Virginia churches to the policy,
even a few ministers saw their sons go into the confederacy, some with sons
on both sides of the war, brother fighting brother. Many Brethren and
Mennonite sons fought for the confederacy, but a large number fled over the
mountains to avoid fighting a war they did not believe.
Brethren and Mennonites were well known as "non-resistants" during the
war and were hated for it. Many attempts were made to forcefully take them
into the military, but those that were "faithful" were often put in
non-combatant position, and some were actually sent home because they would
not fight. There is a historic record of one detachment from the Conf. Army
or Milita going into the home of a "non-resistant" carrying him out,
putting him on his horse repeatedly only to see him "fall off on the other
side." In this instance, they tied him up and hauled him away in a wagon.
Many of them were sadly mistreated and abused.
It was not at all my intention to "cast a stigma" against those who
sincerely thought they were doing the right thing to join the Confederate
cause, but I only intended to recognize the reality and the actual
historical situation that existed then. It was a time of great pain and
suffering for all on both sides
----- Original Message -----
From: "Doss, Andy" <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 10, 2006 5:06 PM
Subject: Re: [BRE] Brethren dress
>I am not a member of the Church of the Brethren anymore, but I was for
> about 30 years, I was also very pro-active in the district youth
> cabinet, church camp, and Sunday school teaching. At my old church, Mt.
> Hermon COB, it is a very modernized congregation. However, there are a
> few women there who wear their prayer cap every Sunday. Personally, I
> always thought that was pretty cool. I consider it a pretty conservative
> congregation, but without the adherence to dress codes. They have a
> praise music band and everything.
> I am not sure what that previous remark meant about not being a
> confederate, I am a lifelong Virginian too, but I won't ever shy away
> from my confederate roots.
> My great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather, the well-known
> Brethren preachers William Elkanah "Cain" Lackey and Posey Lester Nolen,
> were both sons of Confederate soldiers.
> I am not a "confederate" per se, but comments like that (whether
> intentional or not) attach an unnecessary stigma to a part of a very
> real southern heritage.
> Andy S. Doss