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.
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