Sunday, February 25, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History February 25

Texians Sign Declaration of Independence March 2, 1836

As Texian and Mexican armies clashed in San Antonio, delegates met in Washington on the Brazos to declare their independence. One article of the Declaration they produced dealt with religion

"It denies us the right of worshipping the Almighty according to the dictates of our own conscience, by the support of a national religion, calculated to promote the temporal interests of its human functionaries rather than the true and living God"

As with most such documents, there is some exaggeration of the actual state of affairs. While it is true that conversion to Roman Catholicism was a condition of obtaining land in Mexican Texas, the Mexican government paid little attention to the religious lives of the immigrants from the United States. Methodist preachers, including William Medford, Benjamin Babbit, James Scott, and John Wesley Kenney, all obtained Mexican land grants and continued to function as local preachers. William Smith, a Methodist Protestant, Presbyterians Peter Fulinwider and Sumner Bacon, and Baptist Danny Parker all operated in Texas with little governmental interference before the Revolution. Medford, for example, had a four point ciruit, and the the 1834 and 1835 Caney Creek Camp Meetings are well documented.

What about charges of Roman Catholic tyranny? Only one priest, the Irish-born Michael Muldoon, was ever appointed to the colonies, and he only for 1831-1832. Not much of an effort at tyranny. The main attitude of Mexican authorities toward religion, either Catholic or Protestant was indifference.

The success of the Revolution did open the floodgates for Methodist missionaries from the United States. In the 1850 U.S. Census, over 60 per cent of the men who listed their occupation as clergyman were Methodist.


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