Maggie A's Meanderings




 April 15, 2012

Life Among the Baptists:
One Outsider's Perspective

I was not surprised that the hatemongers of Westboro who go around protesting at the funerals of dead soldiers carrying signs that say "God Hates Fags" and "You're Going to Hell" are a Baptist Church. Or that the hatemongering Dennis Terry who thought it was appropriate to introduce Presidential candidate Rick Santorum (a man running to be the leader of all the people of the United States) with a sermon telling his fellow Americans to "GET OUT" of America is a pastor of Greenwell Springs Baptist Church.

Among the large, mainstream Christian denominations, it's been my experience that it's the Baptists (around here it's primarily Southern* Baptists) who have the most sanctimoniously self-righteous, the most intolerant and the most hypocritical Christians. It is the Baptists who are the furthest from Jesus' commands to "love one another, just as I love you" and to "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Instead of love, what too many Baptists are filled with when it comes to their fellow man (if that man is different or thinks differently from them) isn't love. It's hate.

Of course, there's Westboro, but when I think of the people in my acquaintance, I think of the woman who came back from her Bible study class at a local Baptist church telling me about how they'd discussed in class what a pity it was about Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie (two women well known for their humanitarian acts) ---- how Oprah and Angelina think they're doing good and helping people, but they're actually not helping anyone because Oprah and Angelina are not Christians. Only Christians are capable of doing good. What a subject to discuss in Bible study! I thought in their next class they should have studied the part of the Bible that was Jesus Christ's parable of the Good Samaritan. Though they may have had a hard time comprehending the meaning if they genuinely believed that only Christians can do good. If that's their theology, then, by their standards, the Good Samaritan hadn't done anything good because he wasn't a Christian.

It was this same woman who invited me to see her daughter perform in the church's Christmas play. After the play, we were treated to a sermon from the pastor about how no one who hasn't accepted Christ into his/her life can experience happiness. Without Christ, there can be no happiness.

So according to the Southern Baptists, most of the population of the planet, now and throughout history, has never had a single moment of happiness or done a single good deed since most of the population of the planet, now and throughout history, is not and was not Christian. Hence, are not capable of happiness or doing good.

While, of course, they, the Southern Baptists, are capable of both.

How's that for self-righteousness, arrogance and intolerance?

Southern Baptists make me want to quote to them Proverbs 16:18:
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall," because they are filled with both pride and a haughty spirit.

But it's the kind of arrogance I've come to expect from Southern Baptist theology as I've come to expect hypocrisy from its devout Baptist members.

The woman who invited me to see her daughter perform? Her daughter was cast as a toy in a play set in a toy store. Two little girls were cast as the same toy; that made sense to me as most toy stores carry more than one of an item. The woman had a fit. As far as she was concerned her daughter was supposed to be "the star" of the play and that another little girl was cast as the same toy caused her to bad mouth that little girl every time she brought the subject up. She couldn't say enough nasty things about the child's performance or the people in the church who were putting on the play. Now, the woman bad mouthing the little girl didn't surprise me as she bad mouthed pretty much every child who played with her daughter. She always had something nasty to say about other children. So, no, her bad mouthing a little girl at her church didn't surprise me ------ after all, she was a Southern Baptist.

The husband was also a bigot. I recall a discussion with him where he told me that he thought it was good that his little girl was learning about different religions. Well, I've always thought that learning about different religions is a good thing too. I knew this town has two Jewish temples and an Islamic mosque. So I asked if his daughter was going to be going to a temple or a mosque. A startled expression of disgust crossed his face and then with a snort and a dismissive wave of his hand he said, "Only real religions." When I replied those were real religions, he tried to lecture me on how they didn't worship God ---- a fact that both outraged and amused a Jewish friend when I discussed the conversation with her. As she said it, "Jews have been worshiping God since long before the Christians were."

Then there was the Southern Baptist man I worked with. He believed the earth was 5,000 years old (which sure didn't square with his talk of dinosaurs) and believed that every word of the Bible was the literal truth. He also didn't believe in drinking (though he drank). When I pointed out that in the Bible Jesus drank wine, he explained to me that that was a mistranslation. It wasn't wine. It was grape juice. So, to him, every word in the Bible was the literal truth, except wine..........that one word was actually grape juice!????

For a man that believed every word in the Bible was the literal truth (a belief held by many of the Southern Baptist Convention), I wondered how he could have married a divorced woman. Because, that's clearly not allowed in the Bible. (See sidebar.)

But Southern Baptists, who are so down on
homosexuality because of what the Bible says, are more than happy to overlook what the Bible has to say about remarriage after divorce: It's adultery. Possibly they're so happy to overlook it because, of the major Christian denominations, Baptists have the highest divorce rate. I've known Baptists that were on their third or fourth marriage and every one of their previous marriages had ended in divorce. If the Southern Baptist railed against divorced people remarrying the same way they railed against homosexuality, they'd lose a large chunk of their congregation.

This same man with the grape juice fixation who presented himself as such a devout Christian once laughed as he told me about the time he and his friend were out driving in college and hit some old woman then drove off without stopping. Nice Christian act, that. Funny too. I could see why he'd laugh about it. Not. On a more petty level, he liked to steal tips. Being work colleagues, we would go out to lunch on occasion. He never left a tip. Instead he would move someone else's tip close to his plate. But, damn, if he didn't think of himself as one true and devout Christian.

Baptists like that would do well to remember these words from their savior, Jesus Christ, in Matthew 7:
19 "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire."
21 "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
or what Jesus said in Matthew 15:
8 "These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."

Instead they go about so sure they've been "saved" and so certain they're going to heaven, the possibility that they are trees that do not bear good fruit, that they are people who only honor Jesus with their lips while their hearts are far from Him is a thought that would never occur to them.

Living in the South as long as I have, here in the middle of the Bible Belt, I'm surrounded by Baptists. Any time I meet someone and they're sanctimoniously self-righteous, very public in their Christianity........not just simply public about it, but almost to the point of arrogance, certainly to the point of superiority.........yet their actions aren't very Christian-like, when I inquire, that person has always turned out to be a Baptist. Now I'm not saying all Baptists are like that. I've met ones that are not. Individually, there are some perfectly nice Baptists. But it says something about the denomination that anytime I have met a person like that, that they've always been a Baptist.

Note -- Black Baptist churches are not usually Southern Baptist as the Southern Baptist Convention was founded on the issue of slavery. The Southern Baptists wanted slavery while the Northern Baptists did not, so the Southern Baptists split off. After the Civil War, Black Baptists formed their own churches.

Addendum 7-29-2012: When a church made headlines this week for refusing to marry a Black couple because they'd never had a Black wedding, I was sure it would turn out be a Baptist church and it was (First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi). The oh-so-Christian members threatened to fire the pastor if he performed the ceremony. Yet, as sure as I was that would be a Baptist church, I'm equally sure those members think that they are fine, upstanding examples of Christianity who are saved and going straight to heaven. If they make it there, I think Jesus Christ is going to have a few words to say to them about the hatred in their hearts.
What Jesus Christ Had to Say
Divorce & Remarriage

Jesus' Words on Divorce & Remarriage: 

Luke 16:18

Any man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery; and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Mark 10:2-12
2 Some Pharisees came to him and tried to trap him. Tell us, they asked, does our Law allow a man to divorce his wife?
3 Jesus answered with a question, What law did Moses give you?
4 Their answer was, Moses gave permission for a man to write a divorce notice and send his wife away.
5 Jesus said to them, Moses wrote this law for you because you are so hard to teach. 6 But in the beginning, at the time of creation, God made them male and female, as the scripture says. 7 And for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, 8 and the two will become one. So they are no longer two, but one. 9 No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.
10 When they went back into the house, the disciples asked Jesus about this matter.
11 He said to them, A man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against his wife. 12 In the same way, a woman who divorces her husband and marries another man commits adultery.

Matthew 5:31-32 (Sermon on the Mount)
31 It was also said, Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a written notice of divorce. 32 But now I tell you: if a man divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, then he is guilty of making her commit adultery if she marries again; and the man who marries her commits adultery also.

Matthew 19:3-12
3 Some Pharisees came to him and tried to trap him by asking, Does our Law allow a man to divorce his wife for whatever reason he wishes?
4 Jesus answered, Haven't you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female? 5 And God said, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one. 6 So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.
7 The Pharisees asked him, Why, then, did Moses give the law for a man to hand his wife a divorce notice and send her away?
8 Jesus answered, Moses gave you permission to divorce your wives because you are so hard to teach. But it was not like that at the time of creation. 9 I tell you, then, that any man who divorces his wife for any cause other than her unfaithfulness, commits adultery if he marries some other woman.
10 His disciples said to him, If this is how it is between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.
11 Jesus answered, This teaching does not apply to everyone, but only to those to whom God has given it. 12 For there are different reasons why men cannot marry: some, because they were born that way; others, because men made them that way; and others do not marry for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Let him who can accept this teaching do so.

Those verses are directly on point what Jesus had to say about remarriage after divorce.

(If you'd like to see every verse in the Bible that mentions divorce, click here.

Jesus' Words on Homosexuality:

Yes, that's intentionally blank. In the Bible, Jesus never says anything himself along the lines of not lying with a man as with a woman, etc.

(If you'd like to see every Bible verse on homosexuality, click here.)

So homosexuality, something that Jesus Christ never explicitly spoke on or condemned himself (though it is condemned elsewhere in the Bible), the Baptists rail against.

But remarriage after divorce, something that Jesus Christ did explicitly speak on and condemn himself, the Baptists are fine with.
I'd ask someone to explain that to me, but I've already heard enough of their self-rationalizing, self-justifying malarkey.

Baptist unofficial credo

If you want more about my religious experiences, read "Self-Proclaimed Antichrist."
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