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"Conventional wisdom maintains that white Baptists in the Deep South strongly supported the Confederate cause. Bruce Gourley's nuanced examination of Middle Georgia instead maintains that class and local concerns consistently produced a spectrum of responses, from fervent loyalty to apathy. His conclusions will force a reassessment of the relationship between church and the Confederate state. Grounded in a close study of local and regional records, this is revisionist history of the best kind." Kenneth Noe, Draughon Professor of Southern History, Auburn University
"This provocative and comprehensive study not only offers much needed documentation of Baptist responses to slavery and the Civil War but also offers a case study in wider cultural and religious dynamics in one segment of the Confederacy.  A well written, well documented and insightful analysis of an important epoch."  Bill Leonard,   James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Church History and Baptist Studies, Wake Forest University
"[Diverging Loyalties] is a clearly focused study of the effects of the Civil War on Middle Georgia Baptists.... This book succeeds on every level... Diverging Loyalties will delight all those interested in Georgia, Baptists and the Civil War home front." John G. Crowley, Valdosta State University, in The Journal of Southern History, May 2013, Vol. LXXIX, No. 2, pp. 488-489.

"Many historians of religion and the Civil War have attempted to address evangelicals as a whole, but Gourley's detailed research on middle Georgia Baptists demonstrates how effective and informatively finely grained analysis can be .... exhaustively and meticulously researched .... the kind of detailed analysis that complicates previous answers to some very important questions." Lee L. Willis, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, in Historian, 2013, pp. 344-345.

"Diverging Loyalties is successful because Gourley develops his argument on a number of fronts, each demonstrating that Baptists rarely spoke with a single voice. This thesis becomes even more convincing as a result of the author’s lucid presentation, exhaustive research, and familiarity with the subject. Additionally, because this book operates at a sub-state level, Gourley opens a door for more studies of this sort, looking at different regions and even different denominations. Indeed, this is essential reading for scholars interested in religion and the Civil War, southern religious history, and Baptist history." Arthur Remillard, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Saint Francis University (Loretto, PA) and author of Southern Civil Religions: Imagining the Good Society in the Post–Reconstruction Era (University of Georgia Press, 2011) and the book review editor for the Journal of Southern Religion ( (Read the full review)

"Bruce T. Gourley’s Diverging Loyalties: Baptists in Middle Georgia During the Civil War is an engrossing, enlightening exploration of our nation’s greatest trauma, as seen through the eyes of a unique source: that is, the Baptist community of one southern state. The relationship between religion and the Civil War is not a new subject, yet in his work Gourley presents new evidence and provides a new argument for the impact of religion on the war, the institution of slavery, and for southern identity." From the Civil War Monitor (Read full review)

"Bruce Gourley’s analysis of Baptists in middle Georgia during the Civil War is a masterful balancing act. He places his historiographical interpretation in the context of virtually every other important interpreter, while “on the ground” he pays close attention to real Baptist voices in real Baptist church records. His ability to listen to the contemporary debate over the role of religion in the Civil War, while telling the stories of actual Baptists in Georgia who lived through it, will stimulate useful conversations among scholars and Civil War buffs alike." Andrew Manis, Associate Professor of History at Macon State College and author of Southern Civil Religions in Conflict: Civil Rights and the Culture Wars

"All of this material will provide good food for thought to those seeking a better understanding of the war’s total picture. Reenactors and others interested in pursuing the military side of the conflict can mine this book for the letters from men in particular units." Richard M. McMurry, Civil War historian (Read the full review)

"Bruce Gourley's Diverging Loyalties is an excellent treatment of attitudes toward the Civil War among Baptists in central Georgia." Chad Brand, Professor of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Bruce Gourley is available to speak about his book and wider Civil War and Religion research. Contact Bruce.