Wisconsin Lawmaker Claims Civil War Was Fought to Further a Christian Lifestyle


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The Republican reliance on fake history was never more apparent when Wisconsin Rep. Glenn Grothman got together with Vicki McKenna of News/Talk 1130 WISN radio in Milwaukee. According to Grothman, the Supreme Court’s ruling was an insult to those who died in the Civil War because that war was “a strong religious war to further a Christian lifestyle by getting rid of slavery.”

Never mind that Christianity’s New Testament actually supports slavery rather than condemning it, and that the Bible was used to justify and to excuse the very black slavery the Union armies fought to end. Facts are never an impediment to Republican talking points, however:


“Our president during the Civil War was, of course, Abraham Lincoln, who was known as the most biblical of presidents, somebody who quoted the Bible a lot,” he said.

Not so fast, Mr. Grothman. Actually, Lincoln’s non-membership in a church was a big deal and made such Peter Cartwright, a Methodist clergyman, in 1846, when Lincoln ran against him for Congress. When Lincoln did finally join a church, he attended only occasionally.

According to William Herndon, who was Lincoln’s law partner,

Inasmuch as he was so often a candidate for public office Mr. Lincoln said as little about his religious code as possible, especially if he failed to coincide with the orthodox world. In illustration of his religious code I once heard him say that it was like that of an old man named Glenn, in Indiana, whom he heard speak at a church meeting, and who said: “When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion” (Herndon’s Lincoln, 1890)

No more than Thomas Jefferson, was Lincoln an Evangelical Christian.

When Lincoln began to speak about slavery after the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, he did so in terms relating to the Founding Fathers and their wishes for the future of this country, not in Biblical terms, that is was the intention of the Founding Fathers that slavery become extinct. He could hardly have made a biblically based argument without pretending the Bible opposed slavery, and Lincoln was far more honest apparently, than Grothman.

For Lincoln, slavery was a “monstrous injustice” and it allowed the world to call us hypocrites. Lincoln did not say “let us re-adopt the Bible” but rather, “Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it” (Speech at Peoria, October 16, 1854) Lincoln’s theme was the Declaration’s assertion that “all men are created equal,” not non-existent biblical assertions that slavery is evil.

Lincoln said, “I want every man to have the chance – and I believe a black man is entitled to it – in which he can better his position.” He said that, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong” (letter to Albert G. Hodges, April 4, 1864).

Contrast this with Paul writing in his letter to the Ephesians, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling…” (Ephesians 6:5-9). No, if Lincoln was arguing, as he was, that “all men every where could be free,” (letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862) he could hardly mount a biblical argument against slavery.

Grothman said,

“In the Civil War, some 600,000 people died in a country that was much less populated than that today. And it was a much more religious country and I think a lot of people who died fighting in that war felt they died fighting for a religious cause, you know, ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ and all that.

I think it would shock those people who died in that war to find out the constitutional amendment which was ratified kind of as a culmination of their great efforts and their great deaths would be 150 years later, a little less than 150 years later, used by these five robed, arrogant, robed people to take this constitutional amendment and say that that constitutional amendment that was drafted after the Civil War was in fact an amendment designed to say that same-sex marriage had to be legal.

Certainly Sullivan Ballou, whose letter to his wife Sarah was made famous by Ken Burns’ Civil War series on PBS, was not fighting for a religious cause: he was, he told her, fighting for “love of country,” for “American civilization,” and to “maintain this government,” the latter a very un-Republican thing today:

July the 14th, 1861
Washington DC

My very dear Sarah:

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days – perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.

Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure – and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine 0 God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing – perfectly willing – to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.

But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows – when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children – is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?


Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.

An ancestor of mine, fresh from Sweden, fought as a volunteer in a Minnesota regiment. He was not fighting to make America a Christian nation. We have his letters. We know this. He was fighting for his adopted country, and like Sullivan Ballou, to preserve the Union.

Without lies, Republicans would have no platform. That is a simple and incontrovertible truth, and as assured today as death and taxes. Glenn Grothman is a liar. We can’t know how Lincoln would have felt about Marriage Equality. He is not here to ask. But we do know that if Lincoln was religious, he was religious in his own way, and he was in no way orthodox in his views, and that Grothman’s own Bible, should he bother to peek inside, has some very bad things to say about bearing false witness.

34 Replies to “Wisconsin Lawmaker Claims Civil War Was Fought to Further a Christian Lifestyle”

  1. This era’s GOP so wants us to become a Theocracy. How else can it be explained their constant calls for the banishment of Church & State by saying that their “Christian” faith is under attack.

  2. Glenn Grothman is in a heated competition with Louie Gohmert for being the most ignorant person in Congress.

  3. And the astonishing thing? Many modern day Xtians- would agree on this assertion.

    Naturally these folks like to fall onto the winning side. Thus their desire to reinvent history.

    And yet the KKK and their Flaming Crosses- assert that the War of Northern Aggression was intended to destroy fine Southern Christian Traditions.

  4. The New Testament doesn’t justify slavery. What it does is tell people who are enslaved to retaliate against their slave masters. He sees their suffering, and will help them through it.

    In the Old Testament, he freed the Hebrews, who were also enslaved. If God endorsed slavery, who did Moses come along and free them. Slavery is an invention of man, not of God. It’s man being inhumane to man. God also didn’t invent titles, monarchies nor aristocrats, those are all man made, just like most religions are.

    You can justify anything in your head. You can also take scriptures, the Koran, Book of Mormon, and any other religious writing and interpret them to meet your beliefs, as oppose to what the text is actually meant to convey.

    Everybody knows that slavery not Christianity, was the reason the Civil War was fought. It’s a slap in the face to the slaves and their descent to say Christianity was the reason the Civil War was fought.

  5. So glad that the ‘liberal’ media calls these people out, and never invites them on their shows (snark). Is there not one Republican left with a lick of sense? Morals? Honesty? Someone who cares for the people he was elected to ‘serve,’ not preach to? We have a new crop here in MI too, and they think that the ‘victory’ over the EPA was just what the people wanted. Well, no, I would like to be able to breathe clean air and know that my water is safe to drink. Will Michigan and other states do that without mandates? Nope, they will cater to the frackers and oil barons every time, and the hell with the lungs of our kids and seniors. I’m tired of them. We need to get out and vote and make sure they get the message loud and clear. America is NOT a theocracy. It is NOT the Koch’s playground. It is NOT going to stand for the decimation of our lands and water and air for your profit. No more.

  6. However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)


  7. rep. grotham is either a damn fool or he’s playing the part of damned FOOL! where did this joker get his college degree from? LIBERTY UNIVERSITY “ONLINE”? HERES my opinion, SOME of the religious community in the NORTH wanted slavery to end! ALL of the SOUTH wanted it! they just used the bible to justify it! John Brown the famous abolitionist WASN’T a religious man but many northerners knew slavery was WRONG! John Brown just put his money were is mouth was! ANYWAY! this is just another reason why the GOP needs to be destroyed! grotham like 99.9% of republican politicians are bald face liars! and because 100% of the GOP BOBBLEHEADS are DUMBER than DUMB! how difficult is it for republicans to read a BOOK? or for CHRIST SAKE, use GOOGLE?! it’s amazing how slave owners didn’t want blacks to READ because they were supposedly ”TOO dumb” now fast forward to TODAYS LILY WHITE republican! who has ALWAYS had the RIGHT to READ but apparently THEY’RE too DUMB to handle it!

  8. I ran out of space to complete my thought. He must be suffering from Alzheimer, because according to the GOP, the Founding Fathers founded this country on Christianity, so why fight a Civil War to establish Christianity if that was done about 100 years or so earlier?

  9. And they will be sorry if they ever accomplish that. When you let the violent crazy rule, they will come after YOU when they go for even more “purity”

  10. “Men, in order to do evil, must first believe that what they are doing is good.”
    == Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    The Tea Party has flown their ideology cult too close to the sun and cannot turn back. They’ve lost; that’s why they are no longer able to hide behind their passive-aggressively Christian mystical mantras; their magical chants aren’t workin’! Their special brand of evil has no where to hide.

    While in the midst of laying the ground work for their next generation of isolated, disenfranchised “Army of God” off-spring (laying eggs through the Quiverfull movement), the Duggars happened, that little sh*t shot up a black church in the south and the gay’s were given right to marry.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in Hell, ole’ Gunner McCarthy is trying to collect all the favors he can to keep this thing from exploding, but, Satan laughs and laughs and laugh.

    We are witnessing a spectacular cult super-nova; the louder they get the bigger the bang!

  11. Maxie, you must have a special copy of the Bible we don’t have access to, because it does justify slavery:

    Titus echoes these sentiments:

    Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive (Titus 2.9-10).


    “Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you – although if you can gain your freedom, do so” (1 Cor. 7.20-21)

    And from Early Christianity:

    Ignatius goes so far as to say that slaves should not be “puffed up” and not desire their freedom “at the Church’s expense…” (Ign. Pol. 4.3)

    Tertullian (Apology 27.5) said “rascal slaves…mingle insolence with fear.” He believed “resisting or rebelling slaves” were to be equated with demons.

  12. I don’t know that much about the US history, I grew up in the Church of England, and I am not overly religious now, but what kind of low life burns down churches?

    Also, I thought the war of independence was
    fought partly to free the people from the oppressive rule of the Church in England of that time, and the settlers wanted freedom of religion.

  13. The kind of lowlife who just ‘knows’ that he is ‘superior’ to everyone else.

    It must be said that religious groups, such as the Puritans, looking to escape from religious persecution in their home country arrived in the colonies and promptly established their own form of religious persecution. There was no religious freedom in the areas inhabited by the Puritans as they did not tolerate any other form of religion


    Yeah, they wanted freedom of religion- for themselves.

  14. Lemme guess — in Grothman’s revised history of the U.S., the pro-slavery states were controlled by … Muslims?

  15. Revisionist history is the Republicans way of covering their past evils and rationalizing their current ones.

  16. OMFG, I am getting so tired of the stupid that is running rampant in this country. Equally alarming is that said stupid keeps getting elected to public office. Maybe this is payback for some of the shitty things the country has done to its own people (native Americans, Japanese WWII camps)??????

    Karma’s a bitch sometimes.

  17. Ridicule, ridicule, ridicule !
    Yes, Grothman is as stupid as a mayonnaise sandwich. But just saying so accomplishes little. It is Grothman’s voters, along with the rest of the GOP asylum, that must be confronted that it is THEY that are thought as stupid and treated as fools by these cult leaders.

    I use this all the time with ordinary ‘R’s that repeat some nonsense ( Obama’s a muslim, e.g. ): Me, “Well, you know what that means ?”, them , “Uh, no. “. “It means that whoever told you that thinks that you’re an idiot.”.
    Works more often than not, though it usually takes some time.

  18. HH,

    As usual you hit it out of the park. We can only hope that the Rethugs’ seemingly endless parade of lies catches up to them on election day. I’d so love to see them lose Congress and the governorships as well as the Presidency, of course.

  19. It isn’t that they can’t read, they just don’t want to read anything that may challenge their worldview. I know conservatives who have Master’s degrees and PhDs and they still deny what they know to be true. These people have gone all through the education system and just outright rejected anything that disagreed with their beliefs. I went back to school at 35 and earned a Bachelor’s degree and for me it was an eye-opening experience.

    I asked my evangelical brother what he would do if it was proven that there was intelligent life elsewhere in the universe and he said he would rather not know about it, even if it were the irrefutable truth. When I asked him why, he said that if that were true it would mean that everything he bases his life on would be wrong and he wouldn’t want that. That is how strongly they cling to their beliefs. How do you deal with that?

  20. Glenn Grothmann thinks he is an expert on women’s health issues, but never married.
    He thinks he is an expert on children & education, yet doesn’t have any children.

    Now he thinks he can rewrite history.

    Historians agree that right after the Constitution was signed, 85% of the former colonists had no particular religious affiliation, & by the time of the civil war roughly (i think) 50% of Americans had no religious affiliation.

    Someone needs to smack Grothmann with a very large very dead carp.

  21. “…How do you deal with that?”

    Just let it go!

    In my experience evangelicals believe what they believe is the ONLY truth, even in the face of facts that prove otherwise.

    And as for you, keep learning and growing.


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