The debating was over and the Declaration of Independence had been approved by the Continental
Congress meeting in Philadelphia on a hot July day. Questions abounded still and anxiety as to the future
was on the minds of men who had now affixed their signatures to a piece of paper destined to be the
greatest and most historic document in the history of the world.
At the bottom of the original Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress had ordered that when
printed and ready for distribution on July 4th the documents would be sent to parish clergy and ministers.
The importance of this is that the instructions did not direct this circulation to town clerks or newspapers,
but to preachers of the Gospel, men known as the “Black Regiment” thus named for the black robes they
The pulpit had already played and would play a more important role in American freedom. The black-robed
ministers would encourage activism and many would personally join in the fighting and serve as soldiers
and chaplains. As many as one hundred would leave the pulpit of the church for the “pulpit of the camp
The Declaration when it arrived in the hands of the clergy was “required to read the same to their
respective congregation, as soon as divine service ended, in the afternoon, on the first Lord’s Day after they
have received it.”
Church members would find it hard to have services without their ministers now gone to war and with
attendance dropping off for lack of clergy personnel on the home front. However, the war and home front
would be the same… every place where the British chose to camp and sought to destroy George
Washington’s “rag tag” army in the north and Nathanael Greene’s in the South.
Tempers flared in all corners of the land and debates were held between Loyalists and patriot members of
congregations. In Loudoun County, Virginia, at Ketoctin Baptist Church, a debate between Tory John
Osborn and Preacher John Marks was arranged. Heated tempers caused the debate to be called off and
John Marks joined General Washington’s Army as a Chaplain. John Osborn would not give up his support
of the King’s cause and in defiance would name a new son Tarleton after one of General Cornwallis’ most
cruel officers, Colonel BanastreTarleton. Tarleton is portrayed in Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot as
merciless and inhumane.
The Rev. Jonathan Boucher, Anglican Priest, would carry not just his sermon into the pulpit but also a
loaded pistol. His congregation was split and the danger of personal attacks was ever present.
The Rev. Peter Muhlenberg of Woodstock, Virginia, preached regularly for the cause of freedom for the
American colonists. He had a surprise for his congregation on the day of his final service in his Woodstock
church to drive home his point that the American Revolution must succeed. Following the final hymn, he
threw off his black robe as he recited Ecclesiastes 3:1 to reveal his uniform of a militia colonel. He then
recruited men of his congregation to join the fight for independence and they became known as the
“German Regiment.” He had been licensed as an Anglican priest and ministered to the German settlers of
the Shenandoah Valley. He served with honor as a Revolutionary War officer and rose to the rank of major
general. There is a statue of this black robed priest in the yard of the old courthouse in Woodstock honoring
the Rev. Major General John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, Priest, Patriot, Soldier and Hero.
The majority of Baptists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Puritans, Methodists, and most of the
denominations in the Colonies excepting the Quakers would join in preaching the insurrection. Anglican
priests were split because of their vows of allegiance to the King but still many would heed the call of
Independence. The torch of Independence was lit early with Anglican George Whitefield’s arrival in the
Colonies in 1740. He was known as the greatest preacher in the Colonies. He preached salvation through
Jesus Christ and gave warning to the people about the oppression of the King in his revivals and launched
the “Great Awakening.” He traveled from New England to Georgia setting attendance records and started
“field preaching” which Anglican John Wesley also used. The difference in the political points of view of
Whitfield and Wesley were commonly known. Wesley taught “obedience” to the Crown and Whitfield
spoke of “man’s right of freedom” from oppression, including the slaves.
We cannot avoid, ignore, or abandon our responsibilities in striving to preserve the heritage secured by our
Founders. Laity and the clergy must be vigilant and ever ready to fight for our Republic to ensure it is not
weakened by interlopers and left for scavengers who come to suckle from the breast of Liberty bought with
the blood of patriots. We must speak out against the mocking of our form of government and the eschewing
of our Constitution to satisfy alien purposes while abandoning individual freedoms we treasurer. Our
Founders knew and voiced the reality that moral values of Christianity are the “bedrock” foundation of our
Republic and it will crumble without them.
I invite clergy from the mountains to the plains, from sea to shining sea, from Alaska to the Keys, and from
Virginia to Hawaii to light the fires of that “old time religion” and preserve the freedoms won on the frozen
tundra of Valley Forge, in the icy Delaware River, on the dusty field at Guilford Courthouse, in the snake
filled swamps of South Carolina, and finally, on the sandy beaches at Yorktown.
Arise layman and clergyman whose heart is filled with concern for the future of our Country and become a
part of the New Black Robed Regiment and let us preach the true and honest Biblical Gospel of Jesus
Join me. Contact me. Give me your ideas and let us together shout in one voice, “There is NO king, but
+Larry Wilson Johnson of Virginia
Ministers wishing to be a part of the New Black Robed Regiment will simply support the founding
principles of our Country, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of
America. They must be willing to teach their congregations the history of the founding of the United States
of America and read the Declaration of Independence to the congregation from time to time. They will read
and teach the Constitution of the United States of America to their members and children and lastly, lead
their churches in prayer for our Nation and its leaders, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Advocate and
Savior. To join and to become a member of the New Black Robed Regiment just email +Larry W. Johnson
at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to receive the email Newsletter of the New Black Robed
Regiment. There are no dues and no organizational structure, just the communion of ministers joining in the
common cause of restoring and bringing our Nation and government back to the God of the Holy Trinity.
We pray that God will anoint our purposes, protect the ministers of the New Black Robed Regiment and
restore Him to his rightful place in our Nation. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen
July 2, 1776
Continental Congress calls upon the
|The Rev. Major General Peter Muhlenberg's statue to left depicts him bearing his Continental uniform. Above Bishop Johnson of Virginia visits Woodstock
court yard honoring the Revolution's Priest General. Woodstock, Virginia is twenty minutes from Bishop Johnson's home. Johnson wears his black robe in
support of the New Black Robed Regiment.
For an additional article on Black Regiment, "Who we are and what is our Mission" Click here to read. Email Bishop
To Join click here Bishop Johnson.
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