A Progressive Theo-Political Blog Bringing You The Best and Worst of Baptist Life.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Death of Saddam

Over the last 24+ hours, many in the blogosphere have rejoiced over the death of Saddam Hussein.

Not me.

To put it nicely, celebrating the death of one of God's Creations is just tacky.

When one takes the life of another, it is always a tragedy.

We did not create life and thus have no right to take it. Disaster is the result when people and governments claim the role of God.

The Vatican has condemned the execution of Saddam Hussein. Cardinal Renato Martino had urged Iraqi authorities not to carry out the death sentence. He stated:

"I hope a crime will not be compensated with another crime. The death penalty is not a natural death. And no one can give death, not even the State."

Last month, D.W. Congdon of Princeton Theological Seminary made a passionate plea to the church to denounce the execution of Saddam. He concludes...

The question to the church, to the United States, and to the world is clear: Will we stretch out our hand to Saddam Hussein? Even if he refuses to receive our embrace, will we refuse to offer it? Can we see Saddam as a person apart from his deeds, however barbarous? Can we dare to see him in the shadow of the cross as the one for whom Christ died?

The church that witnesses to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ must be a church that has a profound and perhaps unpopular “reverence for life,” as Schweitzer declared. We must be a church that demands true justice—not justice as the world understands it, but justice as defined by the triune God, who came to the world in Jesus Christ while we were still sinners to reconcile us to God. We must embody the mystery of divine love, that gives of itself and overflows even to the least of all people. We must have our vision shaped by the gospel of justification, which refuses to see people in terms of their good or bad deeds and instead sees people in terms of God’s eternal and insurmountable ‘YES’ to each person in Jesus Christ.

Saddam Hussein is one such person. No matter the extent of his crimes against humanity, he is still loved by God, for such is the inscrutable depths of God’s being—a being who loves unconditionally, gives unceasingly, forgives eternally, and redeems completely. This is why we confess that God is love. The question for the church is: Will we demonstrate this kind of love?

Will other Christian denominations and organizations join the Vatican in denouncing the execution of Saddam Hussein? I hope so.

For the perspective of a Southern Baptist, I commend to you Ben Cole's post entitled "To bear the sword in vain."

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

President Gerald Ford Addresses the SBC

As a tribute to President Gerald Ford, the man who gave us Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, I am posting the transcript from Ford's 1976 address to the Southern Baptist Convention. Check out Melissa Roger's post for an insightful analysis on Ford and his desire to have history judge his Presidency exclusively on his 1975 nomination of Stevens to the Supreme Court.

Thank you, Dr. Weber, Congressman Downing, Congressman Whitehurst, Congressman Daniel, Mayor Hill, members of the executive committee, ladies and gentlemen:

It's truly a great honor for me to be the first President of the United States to address this Southern Baptist Convention. I recall with great interest the last time I was introduced at an event sponsored by the Southern Baptists. It was a Brotherhood Commission prayer breakfast in Dallas almost exactly 2 years ago, when I was Vice President. The man introducing me was very considerate, very generous in his remarks, and very friendly. I was introduced as a man with "an open mind and a compassionate heart," and today, I would like to return that compliment to the gentleman who introduced me then-Governor Jimmy Carter.

The honor you have paid me with the invitation to speak at this convention is very special to me in a very personal way. Although our religious denominations are different, I have long admired the missionary spirit of Baptists and the fact that you strive to keep the Bible at the center of your lives. I also respect and appreciate your commitment to health care and educational advancement of your fellow citizens, as exemplified by the many hospitals, universities, and seminaries supported by Baptist churches. My oldest son, Mike, who is now a divinity student at Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Massachusetts, was graduated from the Baptist-affiliated Wake Forest University. And it was my pleasure 4 years ago to be the speaker at his graduation ceremony.

We meet today in a year of historic importance and national celebration-the Bicentennial Year of American independence. Even as your denomination has grown from fewer than 500 people in America, at the beginning of the 18th century, to almost 13 million today, Baptists have played a very fundamental part in the birth and growth of America.

An early champion of religious freedom--which the great Baptist minister, George Truett, once called "the supreme contribution of the New World to the Old"--was Roger Williams, founder of Providence, forerunner of Jefferson, and giant among Baptists. The principle of democracy itself was rooted deeply in the Baptist Church long before there was a United States of America. Thomas Jefferson so admired the Baptist form of church government that he called it "the purest democracy in the world."

Abraham Lincoln's mother, a devout Baptist, was perhaps the most important and enduring influence in the memorable life of her son, implanting in him a deep faith in God and always encouraging him to "be somebody." History gives us many, many more examples of profound Baptist influence on American life, a tradition still being enriched today.

Billy Graham came from your ranks to become one of today's most influential Christian evangelists and one of the most admired men of our time. Brooks Hays, twice the president of this convention, a former colleague of mine in the House of Representatives, and a very dear friend, has stood through his distinguished career as a man of courage and a man of conviction, a man of towering moral strength, a man who sets a good example for all of us in public or in private life.

These rich contributions of religious liberty, democratic principles, social equality, evangelistic fervor, and moral strength have reserved for your people an honored place in American society. You have always jealously guarded the separation of church and state, but you have always believed that private morality and public service can and must go hand in hand. The essential task of leadership in our modern age, as in ages past, is to inspire, to teach, to act with courage, to live with honor, and to show the way. The minister in the pulpit, the teacher in the classroom, the foreman on the dock, the executive in the boardroom, the commanders of armies and navies, the parents of children all share the burden and the satisfaction of leadership fully as much as those who served in government.

What is required of us all, if we are to lead successfully, is a strong moral foundation. We cannot stand very long on the shifting sands of situation ethics. History proves that power and prestige are slippery peaks from which the mighty have often fallen into disgrace. Jesus said, "[For] what has a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

We stand in danger today of losing the soul of America to the seductions of material gain and moral apathy, to a new code of conduct which reviles the basic truths and mocks the basic beliefs on which this Nation and much of religion were founded. Forgiving hearts and tolerant attitudes are among the greatest lessons of Christian teaching, but at some point we must take a stand and say, "This is right, this is wrong; there is a difference."

In this Bicentennial Year we celebrate our independence from a foreign power, but we reaffirm our dependence upon a higher power. We recognize, just as George Washington did in his first inaugural address, that no nation on Earth can owe more to providence than the United States of America. Our greatness is because of our goodness. Should we cease to be good, we would soon cease to be great.

Public officials have a special responsibility to set a good example for others to follow--in both their private and public conduct.

The American people, particularly our young people, cannot be expected to take pride or even to participate in a system of government that is defiled and dishonored, whether in the White House or in the halls of Congress. Jesus said, "[For] unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." Personal integrity' is not too much to ask of public servants. We should accept nothing less. The American people have seen too much abuse of the moral imperatives of honesty and of decency upon which religion and government and civilized society must rest. To remedy these abuses, we must look not only to the government but, more importantly, to the Bible, the church, the human heart. We must look to the family for the instruction in righteousness and for the stabilizing influence so important in a complex, confusing, and ever-changing world. We must look to the faith of our fathers. The laws of God were of very special importance to our Founding Fathers and to the Nation they created.

The early history of our country was written by men who valued the freedom of religion and who had in common a deep faith in God. I believe it is no accident of history, no coincidence that this Nation, which declared its dependence on God even while declaring its independence from foreign domination, has become the most richly blessed nation in the history of mankind and the world. For it is as true today as it was in the Old Testament times that "blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." I believe that very deeply, and so do you.

In my own life and throughout my career in public service, I have found in the pages of the Bible a steady compass and a source of great strength and peace. As each of my predecessors in the Presidency has done, I asked for God's guidance as I undertook the duties of this office. I have asked for that guidance many times since. Just as Roger Williams and his followers found refuge in Providence, more and more Americans today are turning for refuge to the safe harbor of religious faith--a fact borne out by your own rapidly increasing membership rolls.

This rekindling of religious conviction, this new appreciation for Biblical teaching we see in America today, is an encouraging development as we move into our third century as a nation. It means that we will resolve to make our society not only prosperous but noble, not only progressive but constructive. We may come to know peace not as the mere absence of war, but as a climate in which understanding can grow and human dignity can flourish.

While we are far from attaining heaven on Earth, we can make this Earth a better place to live. That must be our constant goal, whether we labor in government or in the kingdom of God.

The Southern Baptist Convention has sought throughout much of its history to overcome the enemies of the world--ignorance, disease, poverty, tyranny, injustice, greed, and war itself--even while setting your sights on the gates of heaven.

As America enters its third century still battling these enemies, still reaching for life on a higher plane, we could ask no better inspiration than those words of a favorite passage of mine from the Book of Proverbs: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." Thank you very, very much.

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Most Admired Men and Women

According to a new Gallup poll, George W. Bush and Hillary Clinton rank as the two most admired people by Americans.

The top ten most admired men include:

1. George W. Bush - 13%
2. Bill Clinton - 5%
3. Jimmy Carter - 4%
4. Barack Obama - 3%
5. Billy Graham - 3%
6. Colin Powell - 2%
7. Pope Benedict XVI - 2%
8. Nelson Mandela - 1%
9. George H.W. Bush - 1%
10. Bill Gates - 1%

The most admired women include:

1. Hillary Clinton - 13%
2. Oprah Winfrey - 9%
3. Condoleeza Rice - 8%
4. Laura Bush - 4%
5. Margaret Thatcher - 2%
6. Angelina Jolie - 2%
7. Nancy Pelosi - 1%
8. Madeline Albright - 1%
9. Barbara Bush - 1%
10. Maya Angelou - 1%

Men who just missed making the list include Bono, John McCain, Dalai Lama, George Clooney, Mel Gibson, Al Gore, Tony Blair, Rudy Guliani, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Billy Graham has appeared in the top 10 every year the poll has been asked since 1963. Hillary's first place finish as the most admired woman is her 11th. She has finished first or second each year since 1993.

I'm a little surprised Bono and John McCain did not remain on the list this year. But, Mel Gibson almost made the list???

My list would definitely include Bono, Rick and Kay Warren, Greg Boyd, Senator John Edwards, and John Lewis.

What popular figures would be on your list?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Baptism Cannonball

Took a short swim after hours in a Baptismal Pool in Bluefield, West Virginia once. The no diving, no splashing rule kept me from attempting this feat though. Oh to be in Kindergarten again.

Parham of EthicsDaily.com on CNBC

The Baptist Center For Ethics and hundreds of Baptist ministers and leaders are continuing to call on Wal-Mart to become a Golden Rule company. See my previous post below for details.

Last Friday, Dr. Robert Parham, Executive Director of BCE, debated Wal-Mart spokesman Ira Combs on CNBC's "On The Money." Combs is the founder and pastor (Bishop) of the Greater Bible Way Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith in Jackson, Michigan. A Republican, Combs served on the National Exploratory Presidential Committee for Bush and served as a Steering Committee member of Bush's "Faith Based Initiative."

Read the story and watch the debate HERE.

I think you will agree - Parham got the best of the Suffragan Bishop.

I have noticed that all of the "Money" media hosts (CNBC, CNN, FOX) do not feel that it is appropriate to drag Christianity particularly the name of Jesus into an economic discussion. However, it is perfectly fine to inject the name of Jesus into tv conversations relating to abortion, stem-cell, birth control, and gay marriage.

Like Dr. Parham said, "Jesus speaks to every facet of human life and human society."

For more on why hosts like Neil Cavuto of Fox News and others do not want "to mix" what Jesus said and did in with the market place, read Parham's latest editorial.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Baptist Leaders Challenge Wal-Mart

Over 130 Baptist pastors and leaders have signed a letter calling on Wal-Mart to become a "Golden Rule" company.

The letter was written by Dr. Robert Parham of the Baptist Center for Ethics. Read more here.

Dear Mr. Scott,

We write you as moral theologians with grave concerns about Wal-Mart's corporate practices-practices that conflict with our commitment to pro-family values.

The Christian prophetic witness teaches that justice is the highest family value for any society-protection for the fatherless, security for the single mother, honesty in the marketplace, fairness for the weakest one in society, respect for the elderly.

The Hebrew prophet Micah said that God required justice (Micah 6:8). The prophet Amos said that God wanted justice to flood the land (Amos 5:24). The prophet Isaiah said that God wanted his people to seek justice (Isaiah 1:17). Jesus told community leaders that they were neglecting justice (Luke 11:42). The biblical witness also teaches responsibility-parents are responsible for children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and employers are responsible for fair wages for their employees (1 Timothy 5:18). Jesus said, "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded" (Luke 12:48). We believe that Wal-Mart has been given and entrusted with much wealth, power and influence.

We believe that much is required of and demanded from Wal-Mart in terms of its responsibility to working families. That responsibility necessitates that Wal-Mart treat well its employees with such things as:

  • fair-living wages, not poverty-level wages;
  • generous health care benefits, not eliminating low-deductible health care plans;
  • decent places to work that treat women with dignity and equality;
  • respectful schedules for children in school; and good benefits for sound retirements.

A company with the wealth of Wal-Mart has the responsibility to advance the common good for a better society, not seek only personal gain. Wal-Mart's leaders need to recognize their moral obligations to be good stewards of what the corporation has been given and entrusted, not simply through acts of charity but with justice for working-family employees who have built but not necessarily benefited from Wal-Mart's vast earnings. When we celebrate Christmas, we mark the birth of the Messiah who gave the moral imperative of the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31; Matthew 7:12), a rule that encourages Christian consumers to consider where they shop and that guides corporate practices.

We challenge you this Christmas to make Wal-Mart a Golden Rule company, one that is mindful in reflecting the best of Christian values and one that seeks a higher standard for its employees and their families.

A similar letter was written by the Baptist Center for Ethics last year and signed by 13 moderate Baptist leaders.

Earlier this week on Chris Matthew's Hardball, former Senator John Edwards spoke out against Wal-Mart. He noted that almost half of Wal-Mart's employees children get their health care from medicaid.

According to WalmartFacts.com, Wal-Mart's health insurance only covers 43% of their employees. Wal-Mart has approximately 1.39 US employees. On average for 2005, large companies (200 or more workers) cover approximately 66% of their employees. If Wal-Mart was to reach the average coverage rate, they should be covering an additional 318,000 employees.

Wal-Mart's health care egilibility is extremely restrictive. Any employe below 34 hours a week must wait 1 year before they can enroll. Full-time hourly employees must wait 6 months before being able to enroll in Walmart's health insurance plan while Managers have no waiting period. Nationally, the average wait time for new employees to become eligible is 1.7 months. For the retail industry it is 3 months.

All of Wal-Mart's health plans are too costly for its workers to use. Since the average full-time Wal-Mart empoyee earned $17,114 in 2005, he or she would have to spend between 7 and 25 percent of his or her income just to cover the premiums and medical deductibles, if electing for single coverage. The average full-time employee electing for family coverage would have to spend between 22 and 40 percent of his or her income. These costs do not include other health-related expenses such as medical co-pays, prescription coverage, emergency room deductibles, and ambulance deductibles.

Wal-Mart covers less of the health care costs compared to its competitors. In 2003, Wal-Mart covered only 52% of total health care premium costs compared to K-Mart which covered 66%, Target which covered 68%, and Sears which covered 80%.

Wal-Mart's spending on health care for its employees falls well below industry and national employer averages. In 2002, Wal-Mart spent an average of $3,500 per employee. By comparison, the average spending per employee in the wholesale/retailing sector was $4,800. For U.S. employers in general, the average was $5,600 per employee.

Don't forget, one out of six Wal-Mart employees has no health care coverage at all.

These are staggering statistics. For more info check out Wake Up Walmart. While you're there, check out the latest ad featuring Baptist Pastor Joe Phelps of Louisville, Kentucky.

Support the Baptist Center for Ethics and their challenge to Wal-Mart to become a "Golden Rule" company. If you would like to add your signature to the letter, email info@ethicsdaily.com.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Tony Campolo on Private Prayer Language

Now that Christmas Break has begun, I decided to start reading my copy of Tony Campolo's latest, Letters To A Young Evangelical. In the chapter, Getting High On Jesus, Campolo touches on the Private Prayer Language debate. He writes...
While I'm not into praying in tongues myself, I fully believe in its validity. However, some other Evangelicals, especially Fundamentalists such as Southern Baptists, disagree with me and strongly oppose the practice. Anti-Pentecostal Fundamentalists believe that praying in tongues is something that was okay in the early church, but that such "gifts of the Holy Spirit" came to an end when the New Testament was completed. They quote I Corinthians 13, which reads, "where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears."

Claiming that the "perfection" referred to in this verse is the text of the New Testament, they say that anything have to do with praying or speaking in togues should have ceased after the church had these writings. Consequently, they say, "the gift of tongues" in these present days is, at best, nothing more than emotionalism - and at worst, a demonic means of diminishing the importance of the New Testament. Personally, I think that this judgment, which relies on a flimsy biblical basis, is stretching things a bit far. But Southern Baptist Fundamentalists will not tolerate anything having to do with tongues in their fellowship. One of the top executives in the Southern Baptist Convention has been severely attacked and has had his job threatened because he admitted to praying in tongues in private.

In the chapter, Why We Witness, Campolo tells a thought-provoking story about salvation....

Then there's the question of people who may know Jesus personally but do not know him by that name. While visiting a Buddhist monastery in China, a friend of mine noticed a monk seated peacefully in deep meditation. My friend felt a strong impulse to disturb the monk and share the Gospel with him. As my friend explained the story of Christ's sacrificial gift of salvation, he noticed that the monk was visibly moved. Then my friend asked the monk the simple question, "Will you surrender to Christ and invite him to be a living presence within you?"

The monk answered with dismay, "Invite him into my life? How can I accept him when he is already within me? I have known him for many years, but I did not know his name. Even as you were telling me about what he did for me, his spirit was prompting me from within to affirm what you told me. Thank you for giving his presence within me a name."

My friend was left with some disturbing questions. Did that monk have a saving relationship with Christ before he ever heard the Gospel story? How essential is it to know the name of Jesus? If experiencing Jesus without knowning him by name is enough, then how are we to take the verse, "for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12)?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bill Moyer's Message to West Point

Martin Marty passes on this LINK to his readers at the Christian Post.

Click the link and you will find excerpts from a speech Bill Moyers delivered as the Sol Feinstone Lecture on the Meaning of Freedom at the United States Military Academy on November 15.

Marty writes...

Moved, sometimes to tears and sometimes by the rage it inspires, I sent it on to many addresses on my list. Never have I had so many "thank you's" and "let everyone know's" as I did this week. That is why I am breaking precedent here and calling further attention to the speech.
In it, Mr. Moyers shows empathy, almost tender regard, for the consciences, assignments, and paradoxes that go with becoming a military officer during the Iraq war. Aware that any questioning of the prosecution of that war used to draw overwhelming public criticism of a sort which challenged the patriotism of the critic – and such questioning still draws some, even though most of the public has itself done such questioning – Moyers displays his love for the nation and its freedoms, which is the overall topic of the Feinstone lectures.
Part of what set Moyers off was the judgment by media mogul Rupert Murdoch that the casualties in Iraq were "minute" – a dismissal that inspires Moyers to provide some close-ups of people who have lost someone close to them, citizens who cannot live with the word "minute" as an R.I.P. wave of the hand.
The focus here is not on the men and women who have signed up to be cadets; Moyers makes clear that he is not a pacifist or a dissenter against all forms of military engagement. But, getting to his own field of specialization, he is disturbed that the present administration is not heeding warnings of ancients like James Madison and moderns like Dwight Eisenhower and others who feared the threat that comes from placing too much power of decision in the hands of the executive – meaning, in the end, chiefly in war-making.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Face of a Secular Fundamentalist

Introducing Sam Harris.

The Washington Post calls Sam Harris an Atheist Evangelist.

Others may call Sam Harris a cranky atheist.

While I do not believe in the secular humanist boogeyman, I believe Sam Harris is a Secular Fundamentalist.

The 39-year old Harris already has two New York Times bestsellers - The End of Faith and most recently Letter To A Christian Nation.

From the Washington Post article entitled Atheist Evangelist...

There are really just two possibilities for Sam Harris. Either he is right and millions of Christians, Muslims and Jews are wrong. Or Sam Harris is wrong and he is so going to hell.This seems obvious whenever Harris opens what he calls "my big mouth," and it is glaringly clear one recent evening at the New York Public Library, where he is debating a former priest before a packed auditorium. In less than an hour, Harris condemns the God of the Old Testament for a host of sins, including support for slavery. He drop-kicks the New Testament, likening the story of Jesus to a fairy tale. He savages the Koran, calling it "a manifesto for religious divisiveness." Sam Harris has written two books in which he says religion fosters divisiveness. Theologians dismiss his arguments as crude and oversimplified.

Nobody has ever accused the man of being subtle. Harris is straight out of the stun grenade school of public rhetoric, and his arguments are far more likely to offend the faithful than they are to coax them out of their faith. And he doesn't target just the devout. Religious moderates, Harris says in his patient and imperturbable style, have immunized religion from rational discussion by nurturing the idea that faith is so personal and private that it is beyond criticism, even when horrific crimes are committed in its name....

Instead, it has landed him on the bestseller list. His first book, "The End of Faith," won the 2005 PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction and sold more than 270,000 copies, making Harris a very high-profile voice of the godless. Now there is a follow-up, "Letter to a Christian Nation," a 96-page shiv inspired by the reaction to his first book, which apparently included a heap of hate mail."Letter," which is No. 11 on the New York Times bestseller list, doesn't drill many new theological wells. Harris is the first, though, to retrofit the case against "Old Book" religions in readable form for the post-Sept. 11 world. He is also among the first to indict religious liberals, and he might be the first man to be anointed "Hot Atheist" in Rolling Stone magazine.

The un-gospel according to Sam has found a huge audience, but every bit as striking is the counter-reaction to Harris among religious scholars. Mention his name to academics of just about every religious persuasion and you can almost see their eyes roll. Oh, that guy.Harris has grossly oversimplified scripture, they say. He has drawn far-reaching conclusions based on the beliefs of radicals. As bad, his stand against organized religion is so unconditional that it's akin to the intolerance he claims he is fighting.

If there is such a thing as a secular fundamentalist, they contend, Harris is it. Even some who agree with his conclusions about the dangers of fanaticism find his argument ham-handed....

"The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation" contain plenty to outrage just about everyone. Harris assails political correctness, evangelicals, liberals, right-wingers and even Judaism, which often gets a pass in such debates. (Harris charges that Jews have been complicit in their centuries-long persecution because they have insisted on setting themselves apart from the rest of the world.) The one constant in these books is Harris's absolutism about reason. If an idea can't survive rigorous testing and scrutiny, he thinks it ought to be tossed....

...Behind him is Louis Perry, a 61-year-old with a Southern drawl. As he hands Harris a copy of "Letter to a Christian Nation," Perry gushes about how the book changed his life. In a brief chat on his way out the door, Perry explains why.

Thanks to Sam Harris, he had a religious epiphany in reverse. He was raised a Southern Baptist but never really connected to any of the doctrine. Everyone around felt a deep spiritual nourishment from church services, and Perry always left feeling as though he'd missed the point.

"For years, I thought there was something wrong with me," he says. "I was always asking 'Why don't I get this? Why don't I get this?' And then last year I read 'The End of Faith,' and Sam basically explained it to me -- there is nothing to get."

The entire article is worth reading.

Sam Harris is also a contributor to the Washington Post/Newsweek sponsored "On Faith" project. Other contributors include Al Mohler, Richard Land, Desmond Tutu, Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Marcus Borg, and many many more. Harris writes regularly for the Huffington Post and has quite the following. Unfortunately, Harris is not the only "cranky atheist" on the Left.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Real World's Gay Southern Baptist

Flipping through the channels last night, I caught a couple episodes of MTV's new season of Real World.

Real World is a long running series on MTV in which seven young adults who don’t know each other are placed together in a house and video-taped 24 hours per day. The more dramatic moments are edited into a one-hour broadcast. MTV tries to match people who have differing backgrounds to heighten the drama and have a formula that generally includes at least one gay person.
The token gay guy this season happens to be a Southern Baptist fella from Marietta, Georgia. In an interview, Davis talks about his faith and background...
I'm from a really strong Baptist family. My grandfather is a pastor. My dad and my mom met as youth group leaders. And my parents are both Sunday school teachers on the weekends. I used to work at a Christian bookstore in high school, as well as I went on choir tours and mission tours for spring break.

When he came out a year ago at his small Baptist college in Florida (don't know which one) he was warmly accepted by his classmates, fraternity brothers, and friends back home. He continues..

And I got really great feedback from my Christian friends. The next thing you know, it was like, Wow, my Christian friends aren't really responding the same way I thought they would. They were like, “I love you, Davis. This is an issue I’m starting to change my mind about, and maybe I don’t think that it’s a choice. Maybe I don’t think it’s condemnable to hell”.

While his friends at the Baptist college welcomed Davis, his mother was not accepting of his orientation. In episode one, Davis reveals that in the 6th grade he told his mother that he thought he was gay. She responded by sending him to Christian counseling. Years of ex-gay therapy did not work. He states that his once extremely close relationship with his mother has become "tumultuous" since he came out. His mother reminds him often that he's going to hell.

Also in episode one, Davis shares his faith with his roommate, Steven. Steven is an African-American attending Howard University. He is also a Baptist and not the least bit happy to discover that his roommate is gay. He is befuddled by the idea that a person can be both gay and a Christian. During a heated argument, Steven tells Davis that "there is no room for homosexuals in the Church."

Steven's statement should sadden all Christians.

Unfortunately, there are too many folks with the same attitude as Steven in Baptist Churches throughout America....

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