One Very Long Southern Baptist Continuum

From the June 18, 1923 edition of the Gainesville Sun

200 Hooded Klansmen Attend Services At Jacksonville Church

Jacksonville, June 17– (By Associated Press) — When 200 robed and hooded members of the the Ku Klux Klan filed into a tabernacle here tonight to hear the farewell sermon of Dr. W.A. Hobson, for 23 years pastor of the First Baptist Church, many of the approximately 2000 present mounted the benches to obtain a better view of the unexpected visitors: The klan members, who, it was said, attended as an endorsement of the speaker’s subject, “Americanism,” occupied benches in the rear. After Dr. Hobson had concluded, the Rev. A.C. Shuler, in a brief talk, expressed pleasure at the attendance of the klan members, declared the Ku Klux Klan was not anti-Catholic, anti-Jew or anti-anything, except hell and the devil. His remarks were greeted with bursts of applause.

From the Oct. 31, 2008 edition of The Ledger

A few days after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, the Rev. Jay Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, offered a resolution at the meeting of the Florida Baptist Convention that called on legislators and citizens to support “a statewide constitutional marriage amendment that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman…” It was unanimously adopted.

And…

Dennis has written a letter to his 8,700-member congregation urging them to vote yes and another letter to Polk County pastors, asking them to “promote Amendment 2 to the people you serve.”

Fred Thompson confers with Dr. Richard Land
Fred confers with Dr. Richard Land
From various reports quoting Richard Land, president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), the public policy entity of the Southern Baptist Convention:

“I take a back seat to no one when it comes to religious freedom and religious belief and the right to express that belief, even beliefs that I find abhorrent,” said Richard Land, president of SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, on his weekly radio program. “But what I don’t do is I don’t say that religious freedom means that you have the right to build a place of worship anywhere that you want to build them.” – TPM

And…

“I defend the right for Muslims to have places of worship in lower Manhattan, but not at Ground Zero. The right to religious freedom doesn’t include the right to have a religious worship place wherever you want it.” – TPM

And…

“There is a Japanese Shinto shrine, I am told, blocks from the USS Arizona,” Land said. “That isn’t appropriate even 60 years later. Three-thousand Americans died there and they died at the hands of people acitng on behalf of the Japanese Empire.” — TPM [There isn’t one, by the way.]

OK. If you’re scoring at home: Jews, Catholics, and Blacks? Check. Gays? Check. American Muslims? Check. Japanese? Check. If you feel left out, don’t worry, they’ll get around to you eventually, unless you’re a Christian Confederate. You’ll never hear any Southern Baptist raise a fuss about those monuments to white Christian terrorism in every town square in the South. Why might that be?

Seriously, I think it’s clear that the Southern Baptist Convention, as an institution, is incapable of shame. But I know many individual congregants who are extraordinarily decent and thoughtful people. I hope they’ll consider this record – and their role in it – and encourage Pastor Dennis to sermonize about it.

I won’t hold my breath, though.

Creative Commons License photo of Fred Thompson & Richard Land credit: freddthompson

66 thoughts on “One Very Long Southern Baptist Continuum

  1. And I can’t remember the last time I read a blog about religion that there wasn’t namecalling and insults. This is most pleasureable. Thank you.

  2. And I can’t remember the last time I read a blog about religion that there wasn’t namecalling and insults. This is most pleasureable. Thank you.

  3. Also, not all Southern Baptists confuse Christianity and Americanism. Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC doesn’t even do anything special on American holidays, such as the 4th of July. And while this isn’t the norm, it’s not like the church is considered some black sheep of the Convention. The preaching pastor, Mark Dever, is a trustee of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks at numerous conferences, has written books, and founded a ministry (9Marks) to help other churches.

    Here’s a post, by one of the other pastors at the church, giving a brief explanation for why they don’t celebrate the 4th of July in their church. “Scripture makes it clear that our unity is not to be based on nationality or culture.”
    http://www.9marks.org/blog/4th-july-church

  4. Also, not all Southern Baptists confuse Christianity and Americanism. Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington DC doesn’t even do anything special on American holidays, such as the 4th of July. And while this isn’t the norm, it’s not like the church is considered some black sheep of the Convention. The preaching pastor, Mark Dever, is a trustee of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaks at numerous conferences, has written books, and founded a ministry (9Marks) to help other churches.

    Here’s a post, by one of the other pastors at the church, giving a brief explanation for why they don’t celebrate the 4th of July in their church. “Scripture makes it clear that our unity is not to be based on nationality or culture.”
    http://www.9marks.org/blog/4th-july-church

  5. “Fair trials, habeas corpus, freedom of religion, and not being tortured are rights we can find in our Constitution. Gay marriage—or any government sanctioned marriage if we’re honest—isn’t a human right.”

    This is very intellectually honest and speaks well of you. I almost never see someone on the other side of this — and I’m not saying you are, but you’re being an effective devil’s advocate in this instance — acknowledge this. I agree that civil marriage and the bundle of secular benefits it confers does not flow out of the constitution as a right. However, the 14th amendment does make it clear, I think, that if you have marriage sanctioned by the civil authority, it has to be open to everyone who would benefit from loving monogamous relationships – that’s the ultimate purpose of marriage, to support loving monogamous relationships, I would say. And that’s what Jay Dennis waded into. The civil aspects.

    I’m fine with Baptists refusing their marriage sacrament to gays – in fact, more than fine. I insist on their right to do so. If they want to argue for the moral superiority of hetero marriage in the religious realm, fine. But I do think they are trying to exclude a type of person from a civil right that our society has decided to create in statute.

    And consider this, you wrote: “are generally OK with letting gays be gay, live gay lives, etc.” I don’t think you can say that. They went after all – all – civil recognition of gay relationships, not just marriage. Civil unions, too. They oppose domestic partnerships.

    We’ll let you live, thank us, is pretty weak gruel.

    In some ways, it’s very much like the twilight legal world that blacks lived in pre-Civil Rights. That’s why I think the comparison holds.

  6. “Fair trials, habeas corpus, freedom of religion, and not being tortured are rights we can find in our Constitution. Gay marriage—or any government sanctioned marriage if we’re honest—isn’t a human right.”

    This is very intellectually honest and speaks well of you. I almost never see someone on the other side of this — and I’m not saying you are, but you’re being an effective devil’s advocate in this instance — acknowledge this. I agree that civil marriage and the bundle of secular benefits it confers does not flow out of the constitution as a right. However, the 14th amendment does make it clear, I think, that if you have marriage sanctioned by the civil authority, it has to be open to everyone who would benefit from loving monogamous relationships – that’s the ultimate purpose of marriage, to support loving monogamous relationships, I would say. And that’s what Jay Dennis waded into. The civil aspects.

    I’m fine with Baptists refusing their marriage sacrament to gays – in fact, more than fine. I insist on their right to do so. If they want to argue for the moral superiority of hetero marriage in the religious realm, fine. But I do think they are trying to exclude a type of person from a civil right that our society has decided to create in statute.

    And consider this, you wrote: “are generally OK with letting gays be gay, live gay lives, etc.” I don’t think you can say that. They went after all – all – civil recognition of gay relationships, not just marriage. Civil unions, too. They oppose domestic partnerships.

    We’ll let you live, thank us, is pretty weak gruel.

    In some ways, it’s very much like the twilight legal world that blacks lived in pre-Civil Rights. That’s why I think the comparison holds.

  7. “The 14th amendment does make it clear, I think, that if you have marriage sanctioned by the civil authority, it has to be open to everyone who would benefit from loving monogamous relationships – that’s the ultimate purpose of marriage, to support loving monogamous relationships, I would say.”

    First, why do you say that’s the ultimate purpose of marriage? Aren’t you simply saying that you’re idea of marriage should be the law of the land?

    If civil marriage laws are intended primarily to support loving, monogamous relationships, would you then support: a) making adultery a crime, and b) ending “no-fault” divorce? Doesn’t allowing an adulterous spouse to end up divorced with half the assets, and maybe some alimony and child support, seems to run counter to supporting loving, monogamous relationships?

    If the 14th Amendment prohibits excluding gays from marriage, why doesn’t it prohibit excluding polygamy? This clearly ties into my first question. If you can’t provide a strong argument for requiring monogamy, then what’s the justification for a legal restriction to it?

  8. “The 14th amendment does make it clear, I think, that if you have marriage sanctioned by the civil authority, it has to be open to everyone who would benefit from loving monogamous relationships – that’s the ultimate purpose of marriage, to support loving monogamous relationships, I would say.”

    First, why do you say that’s the ultimate purpose of marriage? Aren’t you simply saying that you’re idea of marriage should be the law of the land?

    If civil marriage laws are intended primarily to support loving, monogamous relationships, would you then support: a) making adultery a crime, and b) ending “no-fault” divorce? Doesn’t allowing an adulterous spouse to end up divorced with half the assets, and maybe some alimony and child support, seems to run counter to supporting loving, monogamous relationships?

    If the 14th Amendment prohibits excluding gays from marriage, why doesn’t it prohibit excluding polygamy? This clearly ties into my first question. If you can’t provide a strong argument for requiring monogamy, then what’s the justification for a legal restriction to it?

  9. “It has to be open to everyone who would benefit from loving monogamous relationships.”

    What is the actual loss gays suffer? Plessy clearly set up a separate and unequal system where minorities were denied many tangible benefits, such as quality education. What is the tangible benefit of gay marriage?

  10. From a previous post by you: “I think Dennis’ actions said gay relationships carry no civil rights that any heterosexual is bound to respect”

    Again, I ask what tangible benefits are denied? How do marriage laws interfere with them having loving, monogamous relationships? Gays are free to buy property together, name each other in living wills and final wills, etc. Many employers are offering domestic partner benefits regardless of marriage laws. It seems to me that you’re mostly looking for social approval of loving, monogamous gay relationships.

    You say that the purpose of marriage is to support those relationships. And then you criticize Dennis and many other Southern Baptists for saying they don’t support those relationships. But, you also say that the US would never require churches to perform gay marriages. How can you demand Jay Dennis vote in favor of gay marriage and then say that he’d be perfectly free to not perform those weddings?

  11. “It has to be open to everyone who would benefit from loving monogamous relationships.”

    What is the actual loss gays suffer? Plessy clearly set up a separate and unequal system where minorities were denied many tangible benefits, such as quality education. What is the tangible benefit of gay marriage?

  12. From a previous post by you: “I think Dennis’ actions said gay relationships carry no civil rights that any heterosexual is bound to respect”

    Again, I ask what tangible benefits are denied? How do marriage laws interfere with them having loving, monogamous relationships? Gays are free to buy property together, name each other in living wills and final wills, etc. Many employers are offering domestic partner benefits regardless of marriage laws. It seems to me that you’re mostly looking for social approval of loving, monogamous gay relationships.

    You say that the purpose of marriage is to support those relationships. And then you criticize Dennis and many other Southern Baptists for saying they don’t support those relationships. But, you also say that the US would never require churches to perform gay marriages. How can you demand Jay Dennis vote in favor of gay marriage and then say that he’d be perfectly free to not perform those weddings?

  13. “We’ll let you live, thank us, is pretty weak gruel.”

    Isn’t the Constitution framed around the concept of leaving people alone? The entire Bill of Rights only lists what the federal government cannot do to the People or the States. The only two Amendments that ever restricted an individual’s actions were the Amendments creating prohibition (repealed) and ending slavery (saying what you cannot force upon someone else). With that in mind, what does not allowing gay marriage tell gays they cannot do? Require everyone else’s support for their relationships?

    And there’s never a thought that anyone, other than God*, should be thanked for human rights. The government does not grant rights; the government merely protects them.

    *The Declaration of Independence begins and ends with reference to God.

  14. “We’ll let you live, thank us, is pretty weak gruel.”

    Isn’t the Constitution framed around the concept of leaving people alone? The entire Bill of Rights only lists what the federal government cannot do to the People or the States. The only two Amendments that ever restricted an individual’s actions were the Amendments creating prohibition (repealed) and ending slavery (saying what you cannot force upon someone else). With that in mind, what does not allowing gay marriage tell gays they cannot do? Require everyone else’s support for their relationships?

    And there’s never a thought that anyone, other than God*, should be thanked for human rights. The government does not grant rights; the government merely protects them.

    *The Declaration of Independence begins and ends with reference to God.

  15. “not all Southern Baptists confuse Christianity and Americanism”

    Can you name one in recent election cycles that hasn’t distributed brochures with each candidate’s name and hand picked questions and self interpreted positions for each of those candidates?

  16. “not all Southern Baptists confuse Christianity and Americanism”

    Can you name one in recent election cycles that hasn’t distributed brochures with each candidate’s name and hand picked questions and self interpreted positions for each of those candidates?

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