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It is commonly argued that mid-19th-century American Presbyterians could be easily divided into two distinct groups. The first group consisted of Presbyterians who were Southern, pro-slavery, and defended the doctrine of the spirituality of the church. The second group consisted of Presbyterians who were Northern, anti-slavery, and dismissed the doctrine of the spirituality of the church. However, many Presbyterians did not fall neatly into one of these two categories, and the issues involved were complex. I will take a closer look at the split between Northern and Southern Presbyterians and show that the split itself and how it was remembered are tied to the way Americans in general viewed the causes of the war. I will show parallels between the struggles of Presbyterians during the American Civil War and the struggles of Atla membership as we consider when, how, and even whether our organization should be involved with issues of social justice and politics.
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