Thursday, October 11, 2012

Squaring Off with the Southern Baptists

I hate Southern Baptists. 

Oh, not really.

I hate Southern Baptist preachers.

Well, that’s not exactly true either. 

I sort of hate a handful of Southern Baptist preachers and I have a solid reason for it. 

They’re a--holes.

I’m sorry to say it. I kept trying to think of a more polite word, but I just can’t find one. I’m even sorrier that it’s true that they’re a--holes. 

They may not be bad people, but they have some characteristics that lead them to do evil things, and that annoys me. 

Like the time my five-year-old son came home from one of their functions, afraid he’d go to hell if he weren’t baptized the proper way.  Before he told us, he spent several lying awake worrying that he would “die tonight, wondering if he would go to heaven.”

Before then, I used to try to let well enough alone, but I’ve had enough of the Southern Baptist organization coming after my people and telling them the same thing they told my child, that they were going to hell for being my church. So I don’t pull punches anymore.

In the place I live now, I squared off with the SB minister at the ministerial alliance meeting, and told him I didn’t want him trying to convert every graduating senior of the high school at the baccalaureate. I shook him up enough that he decided to put me on his church’s prayer chain. “We need to pray for the unity of our ministerial alliance, and then he mentioned my name.”    

A friend of mine and a prominent member of my church heard about it and she was pretty mad when she came to see me. “It’s being spread around town,” she said.

It made me laugh.  “It won’t hurt me,” I said. “It will make me look good. I’m a nice guy and everyone knows it, while he is an a--hole, and everyone knows that too.”

In fact, I got a couple of his die-hard members coming to my church because they couldn’t stand him anymore. By the way, soon after this incident, he suddenly left his church and moved out of town on a Sunday afternoon (it’s hard to believe he had problems getting along with his own beloved, exclusively saved flock)

When he quit, I realized my job was going to be more difficult because he wouldn’t be sending me any more of his members.  But it will be okay, I’m sure they’ll find a suitable replacement.

Okay, I’ll confess that I don’t really hate Southern Baptist’s at all. But they are sick and dysfunctional and it’s a contagious disease that they try to pass on to the entire community. 

They’re not the only churches like this, but they’re the biggest.

They intend to be of help. They feed hungry people, and have clothes closets, and will save the same person at least three times in his life. For a people who say they teach grace, they use a lot of fear and shame to motivate themselves and others. 

Most of the members are conscientious and trying to do right. But it also allows a place for more than a few a--holes to be their ministers. 


  1. "For a people who say they teach grace, they use a lot of fear and shame to motivate themselves and others. "

    Sad but often true.

  2. Where we live, there is a little church that formed in the 1950s. They are fundamentalists, and some of the nicest people I have ever known. I think they may be along the same vein of thought as the Southern Baptists you are discussing here.
    One of them told my daughter, now grown but then about 16, that she would go to hell if she held hands with a boy. It upset her terribly, and she is quick to tell the story although she is now nearly 28 and married. It was a defining moment for her, because she is an intelligent woman and was as a girl, and although it upset her, when she recovered from the fear and superstitious panic, it made her angry.
    She turned a cold and critical eye on our faith. I don't think it survived unscathed from her appraisal.

    I am not angry that the comment made her look at her faith. We should all examine why we believe and what we believe. A comfortable pew can be a bad place to sit. I am angry, and I expressed it to the lady who thought she was keeping my hand holding teenage daughter form the gates of hell, because that my beautiful child began that critical examination of her faith from a place of anger and fear. Rather than peeling back the layers of her Sunday School faith and seeing another, deeper more profound message that is waiting to be discovered by we seekers, she went looking like she was rating a movie and looking for inaccuracies.

    And yes, these folks from the fundamentalist church in town do a lot of good. A lot of good and a little irrational fear thrown in for effect.


  3. DM, your daughter reminds me of the Nathaniel in the Bible. When he was told of Jesus of Nazareth, he said, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"

    Jesus greeted him by saying, "Nathaniel, a man in whom there is no guile!"

    You're daughter was right to reject a woman's irrational superstitious belief. I hope that people like your daughter can eventually go on to embrace a much deeper spirituality.

    Thanks for writing in