As many as two-thirds of all Virginians attended a Protestant church before the(1861–1865). These men and women witnessed intense conflict within their congregations and denominational councils before, during, and after the war. All Virginia churchgoers saw their congregations torn asunder at least once during the sectional conflict, whether in the process of dividing from Northern churches before the war, when they sent their sons to fight, or upon the secession of black members from biracial communities. On a more ideological level, even many Virginians who were not connected with a particular church interpreted the Civil War in religious terms. All Virginians who faced death in the field or on forced labor projects—or who experienced the deaths of loved ones—wondered why God permitted such extraordinary suffering. In addition, white Virginians found Union victory a disturbing challenge to their belief that God had favored both slavery and the Confederacy. Black Virginians, on the other hand, found Union victory a resounding affirmation that God had heard their prayers.