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Even Baptists Have Some Sense

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Bloggers on the left like The Daily Kos were all a-twitter last week about the latest outbreak of religious intolerance over the story that Rev. Chan Chandler of the East Waynesville Baptist Church in North Carolina had told nine members of his congregation who didn’t vote for President Bush in the last election to hit the road and go find a church where their abortion-loving, gay-marriaging asses were welcome.

The murmurs of outrage over this from pundits on the left were deafening, and although I didn’t cover it, I found it pretty objectionable myself. The role of the church may be to teach morality, but making membership contingent on particular political positions seems a bit extreme. But lo and behold, the moral of the story is something other than the usual ‘Baptists are intolerant religious nuts’, because this week the congregation told Rev. Chandler it was time for him and his pulpit politicking to hit the road instead and Chandler has resigned and hit the road. Members of the congregation commented that they agreed with Chandler on issues like abortion, but felt that it was still inappropriate for him to make politics part of his sermons and require particular political allegiances for church membership. Not only that, but the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina with which the congregation is affiliated also condemned Chandler’s actions as “highly irregular”.

A shocked silence seems to be the main reaction from the left at this point. Who would ever have expected an outbreak of common sense among Baptists? The truth is that just as most of us don’t want religion in our schools, most Christians are equally opposed to politics and government having any role in their churches. Separation of church and state cuts both ways, and the sensible people of East Waynesville have sent a clear message to the nation that regardless of your political or religious beliefs, everyone is happier when the two stay separate. This incident is also a very valuable reminder that the intolerance of one man, even in a position of power, cannot stand against the desire of a community of good people to do the right thing – a lesson we should all remember when we see our leaders doing things we don’t much like.

For more information on this topic see the coverage on CNN.

Dave

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Damn, where’s Steve S. I had expected him to pick up on this article by now since he made such a big deal of this situation when it first arose.

    Dave

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    So the pastor is a complete moron who completely misreads everything Jesus said, and that’s okay because once this became a nationwide media spectacle, his congregation asked him to resign?

    Um, no. Only someone foolish enough to think that every Christian in the world is an idiot is surprised by this story. Pastors are removed from congregationalist-style churches every week over issues far more mundane than this one. Given the delay in action, I consider it more likely that the media attention was the real cause for alarm here anyway.

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Dave, I read this post this a.m. but didn’t respond just yet.

    On my post cataloging the rise of intolerance, I said this about the incident:


    Further documentation for rise of religious based intolerance growing in America.

    Christian church excommunicates liberals, Democrats. (link to source)

    Reading through the updates at the bottom of the blog shows that the Church said if you voted for Kerry or voted Democrat, then you were against the Church and had to leave.

    That was it. Just cataloging it for reference. I do realize that the way I write can lead people to believe I am alarmed about everything under the sun. What I am alarmed about though – my big deal – isn’t over a single incident but a trend throughout the country which involves a rise in religious based intolerance, which is already having violent ramifications like the increase in hate crimes.

    Regardless, thanks for the update.

    And I do want to say thanks for your comments on the evolution thread yesterday. I did suspect that it was for my benefit. I’m glad that you spoke up against an extremist who said he represents all conservatives, and you told him that he did not represent you or conservatives in general. And I am glad that this congregation did the same thing.

    What is needed though, for me to not be alarmed, is the entire moderate conservative movement to stand up and say ‘hey, wait a minute, that is not what we are about’.

    So far, except for you and a small congregation somewhere, I haven’t seen that. If you do come across more instances like that, please let me know.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    The same is true in Islam – the mullahs of Iran are as much reactionary forces against progressives as are the mullahs of the West

    Highly irregular

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I should point out that these are Baptists, not congregationalists. And as a group, Baptists ARE religiously extreme and tend towards intolerance. That these particular Baptists were able to see sense and realize that politics belong out of the pulpit is a very positive sign. If Baptists can see that then those who belong to groups which by nature are more reasonable – which includes almost everyone – ought to be full of tolerance and good feeling towards everyone.

    Dave

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    Dave, church history is one of my things, Dave, and I assure you that Baptist churches are “congregationalist-style” just as I described them. No Bishops, the congregation votes to remove the pastor, it’s a congregationalist-style church.

    As a group, Baptists are normal people with tolerant views of most things. Despite strict anti-alcohol rules, for example, most Baptists I know drink occasionally. As the saying goes, whever you find four Baptists, you’ll find a fifth! I’ve known many Baptists in my life, and used to attend a Baptist college, and I don’t consider any one of the people I know to be religiously extreme or intolerant. The leadership, sure, they sometimes seem downright wacky.

    The leadership of some Baptist denominations, and certain prominent Baptists, are morons. This is true of the leadership of pretty much any group, in my view, religious or secular, left or right.

    I repeat, this is not a positive sign of anything; it is simply normality. That the pastor felt confident enough to make such a ridculous move to begin with is more notable, more unusable, and a very negative sign indeed.

    Steve, I don’t presume that the blowhards speaking for the Democratic Party represent all right-thinking liberals or progressives in this country, or that the blowhards speaking for the Republican Party represent all right-thinking conservatives in this country. Many people do one or the other, usually for the party they’re not in. Moderate liberals don’t tend to stand up and repudiate the insane ramblings on various liberal websites or from various liberal authors, and moderate conservatives don’t tend to do the same for conservativs, and I think that’s primarily because we simply don’t relate to the freaks.

    It would never occur to me to stand up and say that Baptist pastor doesn’t speak for me because (1) I’m not a Baptist, and (2) I don’t think of myself as a conservative anymore, though “moderate conservative” is probably roughly where I live, and (3) anybody who knows me well knows that I have nothing but a fart in the general direction of those who try to claim Jesus for some political movement.

    If it helps, though, this political nonsense — from the left or right — is not what Christianity is about.

  • http://georgepope28@hotmail.com Georgio

    Dave..great job on the way you presented this story on the Baptist church in N C..I am glad that there appears to be a favorable outcome with the Minister resigning..actually I was shocked…I agree with Steve that religions are preaching too much politics and I hope it backfires on them..I don’t know if you know this but each Baptist church makes it’s own rules ..they are not controlled like Catholics with the Pope..the Baptists tried to get me to attend their church and become a born again Christian..they came to my house every week for 4 yrs to read and teach the bible ..so the more I read it the more I became convinced that either the bible was full of crap or the God in the bible was a hateful God and not someone who I could love..when I pointed out that the bible was full of mistakes (Galileo pointed one out)..and the God in the bible kills innocent women and children (lots of stuff like that )..well the Minister told me that the people had it coming because they disobeyed him..so with that and the minister talking politics in church that was enough for me..they are a very intolerant religion and read the bible in the literal sense which I think is impossible to do..sorry if I got off track

  • http://darkeroticism.blogspot.com/2005/04/new-global-way.html swingingpuss

    We lived in Dallas for about a year and had Baptist neighbours. They were cultured, gentle people who did crack a few jokes about the arrival of christ and that a day would soon come when we all would worship under one roof but no one truely tried to ‘save’ us.

    My experiences in the Bible belt have been positive. Southeners might be religious in their make up but they arent gun totting hillbillies.

    Given a choice I’d run back to Texas and have tea with my old Baptist neighbour and talk about days gone by as the sun went down.

  • http://georgepope28@hotmail.com Georgio

    swingingpuss..I did not mean to make Baptists out to be bad people..I think they are gullible and ignorant but they will pray for your soul till the cows come home..or until the end times..couldn’t resist..

  • http://darkeroticism.blogspot.com/2005/04/new-global-way.html swingingpuss

    Georgio, I havent ever been pestered by Baptists but did know a die hard Jehovah witness who drove me over the bend back in college days so I understand your experience.

    As far as praying for my pagan soul by Baptists is concerned well atleast I will have someone to stand and plead my case before I descend into the eternal fires of hell ie if what they believe turns out to be true ;-)

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Philip Winn:

    >>Dave, church history is one of my things, Dave, and I assure you that Baptist churches are “congregationalist-style” just as I described them. No Bishops, the congregation votes to remove the pastor, it’s a congregationalist-style church. < <

    Yes, their churches are structured on a congregational model, but that's with a small 'c'. They are not the same as the big 'C' congregational churches of New England. A congregational structure is pretty typical for protestant groups that split from Catholicism early on, and the Baptists were one of the earliest to strike out on their own.

    >>As a group, Baptists are normal people with tolerant views of most things.< <

    You've clearly never been to Waco or paid much attention to the goings on at Baylor University.

    >> Despite strict anti-alcohol rules, for example, most Baptists I know drink occasionally. As the saying goes, whever you find four Baptists, you’ll find a fifth! < <

    Here in Texas where you find four Baptists you'll find a petition drive to ban liquor and make a dry county.

    >>I’ve known many Baptists in my life, and used to attend a Baptist college, and I don’t consider any one of the people I know to be religiously extreme or intolerant. The leadership, sure, they sometimes seem downright wacky. < <

    I guess it varies from area to area, but the Baptists here in Texas - not every one, but enough to justify a generality - are extremely conservative. We're talking about Baptists where they get entire communities to ban dancing and such.

    >>I repeat, this is not a positive sign of anything; it is simply normality. That the pastor felt confident enough to make such a ridculous move to begin with is more notable, more unusable, and a very negative sign indeed.<<

    But normality IS a positive sign, because it shows that despite a trend among the most extreme elements to go overboard the general population isn’t buying it. That’s something we needed to be reminded of.

    Dave

  • http://adamantsun.blogspot.com Steve S

    Thanks all for the words. I suppose I should write a blog about my history, I think of the few that do read it (I know I tend to write lengthy), they might get a better understanding of what my concerns are.

    I have realized since I’ve come to this site, that when I talk about something, I understand how it relates to other things, but that those I talk to, being outside of my community/perspective, don’t automatically make a correlation and so it sounds like I’m freaking out.

    Take for example talking about hate crimes. I can mention that hate crimes against gays and lesbians are up x% and to many people that’s just a point of fact, but to an openly gay person it is much more significant, it means that we need to look over our shoulder when walking down the street but you may not have to. (most hate crimes occur against those who exhibit gay behavior i.e. displays of affection, in public)

    And take for example, Dawn’s excellent posts on what is currently happening to young girls in this country. One child killed, abused or harmed in any way is one child too many. Her blogs about these crimes get affirmations from everybody that this is tragic and must stop. I blog about a rise in hate crimes and I’m told ‘don’t worry about it, your just paranoid’. Yet there are thousands of victims of hate crimes (of all types not just orientation) in this country yearly. Perhaps if we were all young girls more people could relate to what I am saying, I don’t know. I do know that only some people will be able to relate to what I’m saying, and that’s okay.

    Steve, I don’t presume that the blowhards speaking for the Democratic Party represent all right-thinking liberals or progressives in this country, or that the blowhards speaking for the Republican Party represent all right-thinking conservatives in this country.

    this sentiment, which has been addressed to me several times, I understand and agree with. I’m just not choosing the right words then.

    I know that the extremists do not speak on behalf of the moderates. I know people that identify as conservative do not support the rise in religious extremism in the political field either. Let me see if I can put this another way.

    Religious extremists, including ‘spokesmen’ like Dobson, etc. SAY they represent the whole conservative movement and then step forward with political shenanigans that harm my community and nobody steps up to say, ‘hey, that’s not done on MY behalf’.

    Picture me, Dobson and you (any conservative here) in a room. Dobson stands up and says he’s going to strip away my rights on behalf of YOU and him, and you say nothing. What am I supposed to do? Maybe he’d be less likely to cause my community harm if you stood up and told him ‘no’.

    I don’t know how to word it. I think the problem could be solved though, if people quit telling me that the likes of him doesn’t represent you all, and told HIM that instead.

    I can handle a lot of shit. I’ve dealt with a lot of intolerance and violence from the religious community in my life. It’s at an all time high right now, we are being attacked in schools, in legislation, our countries historical documents are being attacked, our judicial system is being attacked because of this, it’s at an all time high. And it’s at an all time high BECAUSE the fundies think they are acting on your behalf, are emboldened and encouraged by it and nobody but me is telling them they aren’t.

    I don’t know why sometimes I still turn to others to seek help. You’d think after 40 years, you’d just learn, huh?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Thanks for each and every word of that. It is indeed hard to be part of a world where one’s suffering, one’s pain, and the abuse done by one’s own government, citizenry, church, family, etc. means NOTHING to the majority. “Stop whining.” “Get over it.” “Be grateful for what you *do* have even if all you have is the post-slap hand on your face.” Until more moderate people actually stand up against the Dobsons of the world and defend true justice for all, they can’t expect us to view them any differently than we view conservative fundies. Someone saying on some chat board that they personally don’t have any problem with gay equality is meaningless if they are not saying the same thing to their legislators and supposed religious representatives.

  • gonzo marx

    all in all some good stuff here

    maybe, just maybe..more and more centrist folks will tell the extremest du jour to shut the fuck up and sit down

    then mebbe we could actually make some progress in improving our Society for everyone and not just those that are “saved” or rich, or socialists or plaid

    one thing i must speak out on here tho..

    Steve S sez..
    *I don’t know why sometimes I still turn to others to seek help.*

    shout..anytime..if i can help.i will

    nuff said?

    Excelsior!