Black Robed Regiment
The Black Robed Regiment was a term of scorn that British troops gave to American clergy, especially Anglican clerics, who preached forceful sermons in direct support of American Revolutionary Patriots. A British general, probably William Howe in the Pennsylvania theater, first coined that name, and it stuck.
Peter Muhlenberg was the most memorable member of the Black Robed Regiment. On January 21, 1776, Muhlenberg stood up in his church in Woodstock, Virginia and preached a sermon from Ecclesiastes chapter 3. He quoted the text about “a time of war and a time of peace.” Then he said,
|“||In the language of the holy writ, there was a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time has now come!||”|
So saying, he stripped off his pastoral robe, and showed his congregants the uniform he wore as a general in the Continental Army. (His brother Frederick once objected to Peter Muhlenberg’s involvement in the war against the King. When British troops burned down his church in front of him, Frederick joined the Continental Army himself.)
Today, patriotic American clergy are once again forming organizations explicitly taking the name "Black Robed Regiment" to promote explicit addressing of political issues as the Bible warrants. One such organization recently held its charter meeting in New Jersey. Such organizations also exist in Virginia and California.