“God’s Vice-Regents”: Political Preachers and the Crisis Over Slavery
In the decade before the Civil War, the question of church-state separation intersected with the great controversy over slavery extension. When a group of northern clergy began attacking the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, the response was furious. White Southerners and their allies in the north attacked these so-called political preachers as fanatics who had overstepped the boundaries of their role. The controversy over political preaching showed that the argument for a distancing of religion and government could serve multiple functions. In this case, it served to silence abolitionist criticism and uphold white racial privilege.