We have previously seen Rev. John Hagee and his rather twisted sense of the divine (here and here). Now it appears that he is turning to military history and explaining how prayer and fasting clearly ended the civil war. Hagee was introduced recently by Glenn Beck as “a prophet of our times” and sat enraptured as Hagee explained how Lincoln was able to bring an end to the civil war with a day of prayer and fasting.
Hagee told Beck’s viewers:
The thing that brought the Civil War, in my mind, to an end, was that Abraham Lincoln called for a day of fasting and prayer for the whole nation… and it was approved by the Senate and there was a specific day that he called all of the people of America to pray…
The nation was ripped apart by hatred as brother fought brother and father fought son but, when this man, this godly man, this man whose speeches are laced with bible verses, got down and asked our nation to pray, suddenly, things began to happen that brought the Union together and Robert E. Lee had the grace to surrender a battle that couldn’t be won, and the Union was preserved.
The problem is that the Day of Prayer was on March 30, 1863 and Lee did not surrender until April 9, 1865.
It is of course a bit unclear how the day of prayer March 30, 1863 ended the civil war . . . two years later.
There were a few events between March 30, 1863 and April 9, 1865 that might be relevant in ending the war. These include Gettysburg (July 1, 1863), Vicksburg (July 4, 1863), Battle of Chickamauga (September 19, 1863), Battle of the Wilderness (May 4, 1865), Battle of Spotsylvania (May 8, 1864), the Battle of Petersburg (Apr 2, 1865), Fall of Richmond (Apr 2, 1865), the Burning of Atlanta (Sep 2, 1864), Sherman’s March to the Sea (Nov 15, 1864), the Fall of Nashville (Dec 15, 1864), the fall of Savannah (Dec. 21, 1864), and the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery (Jan. 31, 1865). Those small events after the the day of prayer may have had a marginal impact on Lee’s decision ultimately surrender. By the way, just in case you thought Lee only had defeats after the day of prayer in 1863, Hagee might want to visit the battlefields at places like Chancellorsville (May 1, 1863).
Hagee’s theory reminds me of the scene in “Men Who Stare At Goats” when the character Larry Hooper gives Lyn Cassady the Dim Mak or death touch, which will kill him decades in the future.
It is fascinating to religious leaders like Hagee rewriting history to explain how the power of prayer — and indeed their own implied power — actually turning world events as if the confederates lacked the power of prayer or faith. It also ignores the disconnect in claiming the power of prayer to end the war but apparently not to influence Lee (a deeply religious man). It also suggests that God was just waiting for a sufficient number of prayers and a resolution approved by the United States Senate to set events in motion to end the war . . . years (and hundreds of thousands of deaths) later. Lee then “had the grace” to end the war two years later. Under this same logic, the opening prayer before FDR’s declaration of war in Congress on December 8, 1941 ultimately ended World War II on September 2, 1945.