UAL747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 3505 times:
It has been a long while since I went to church, and I long while since I believed most of what they taught me as a child. I was raised a Southern Baptist, and since moving to the area I currently live, I have been wanting to visit a particular church, for a variety of reasons.
Sally Kern came onto the world stage last year with her comments in the following video:
Much of the world press climbed all over this story and it infuriated many people. Since then, I've often wondered where her deep seated religious beliefs came from and with little research, I discovered that her husband, Dr. Steve Kern, was the Pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, in Oklahoma City, OK, about a mile from my home. Being that her husband was a pastor of a Baptist Church, I started to get a sense of how her critical thinking skills were formed and shaped toward social policy, in particular, homosexuality.
Opting not to understand the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas for fear of my own life, I decided to dive into Sally's Sunday world for an hour and see exactly what they were preaching here and what the people who believed, or at least believed enough to stay in the church after her comments, looked like.
I got up this Sunday morning and went down to the doorman and tried to find the nearest Starbucks, which happened to be at St. Anthony's hospital, the hospital to the east of downtown Oklahoma City, and just north of the county jail. The setting sort of humorously made my feelings of being either killed or imprisoned for my social beliefs and sexuality, come to light. No, I don't think that any such thing would actually happen to me, but there's always something in the back of my mind that says, "Watch your back!"
I left Starbucks around 10:15 AM. It's a beautiful day in Oklahoma City, so I drove around a bit before church was scheduled to start, which was at 10:50 AM. I had second thoughts about going. I drove about 3 miles north of the church and my home thinking that I would just go to a huge church where I could me anonymous and just get a standard church message of being a good human, in a long and drawn out story, with many analogous characters and situations to the Bible. For some reason, while deep in thought, I wandered into the turning lane, and had to make a turn back south toward the church. I thought to myself that I needed to just go and see if I could possibly find some understanding with these people, or common ground, even if I knew I probably wouldn't. In all honesty, I was scared. Not in the sense that I thought I'd be harmed in any way, but in the sense that many religious people, especially those who are career religious leaders, can make you feel guilty in the most nonchalant ways. I'm not sure how they achieve this, but I suspect it has to do with me being brought up with this type of guilt all my life. I imagine that anyone in the Baptist church can be empathetic to these feelings I have, regardless of whether or not they agree with my religious or political convictions. No one can make you feel more guilty with as little effort as your Southern Baptist Mother or your Southern Baptist Preacher.
I pulled into the parking lot and watched several people go in. The building was built in 1910. It was your typical Oklahoma red bricked church with stained glass windows running up the sides. I hesitated before I walked up the front steps, but a man had already walked out the door and was welcoming me to the church.
I walked directly into a very small sanctuary by Southern Baptist standards. These days, we are used to having church in football stadiums or large compound-like buildings. It really reminded me of something out of a movie, like "Driving Miss Daisy," even though Miss Daisy was Jewish. It had a charm to it that you sort of miss from your childhood when things seemed much more simple. It had a warm and worn feeling, with a typical semi-circular pew arrangement and a balcony that ran from the back and up each side of the dimly lit sanctuary.
I was early, but people started to walk in. Immediately I was greeted, Baptist style, by two gentlemen who wanted to know if I was visiting, where I was from, the usual banter. I told them I was new to the area, and I was just visiting. Which really was the truth. Didn't really have much to say. Dr. Kern, Sally Kern's husband was making his rounds methodically up one side of the room greeting. He greeted me, and sort of looked a little puzzled as to why I was there, but didn't say much. He shook my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, "We are glad to have you." And went about greeting people as they sat down.
The congregation was mainly composed of people over 60 years of age. Many of them much older. There were a few younger people scattered about, but very sparsely. I had my eye out for Sally Kern to come in, and it was getting close to worship time. I had forgotten about the choir and I figured she must be in it, and of course, the choir came out, and she was the first one to come into the room leading the choir of older ladies and gentlemen behind her. I sort of stopped in my train of thought and looked at her. She was a small woman, not very tall, looked rather nice. It was hard to believe that she was the one who used all of that negative anti-gay rhetoric in such a public office and who had been the focus of such national and even worldwide attention. It was odd to be in such an intimate setting with her. You wouldn't peg her for a politician. Teacher, yes. I kind of wondered how she could sit up there and not have reservations, and at some point, I started to feel sorry for her because of what she must have been through with all of the protesters, and threats made against her. She looked worn. I had some sort of pity for her, and I can't explain why.
The congregation consisted of about fifty people, sixty years or older and I realized that I stood out like a sore thumb.
The worship service started with the singing of "We Will Glorify," "At the Cross," and "Without Him," followed by a prayer. Announcements were made by the associate pastor that everyone should attend the upcoming "Tea Party" and reminded everyone to get out to the capitol and sign the "Oklahoman's Proclamation of Morality," which is authored by Kern. The document denounces homosexuality, and the President for showing support for it.
The sermon today, given by Dr. Kern, was to be about Fearing God and Keeping His Commandments. Dr. Kern started out, as most pastors do, by quoting a Bible verse, and then relating it to some short story, and going on to make more analogies so the modern man or woman can understand. It's a way of translation I suppose. He started out about a story of a dog on a leash, and how this dog pulled away from the leash, and ran out into a street and was killed. He exclaimed that we should all be on God's leash. He compares how a dog must fear his owner and stay on it's leash to humans fearing God and staying on His leash. I'm assuming that if we don't we will end up like the dog.
The sermon had a few more analogies to prelude an overture about Obama and the government. When his voice said, "Now, a lot of you know about this pledge to Obama that has been going around...," Dr. Kern stated that "..the pledge to Obama is immoral because we never, as Christians, pledge to anyone but God himself. The only reason we say the pledge of allegiance is because this country was founded on the principles of the Bible and it is one nation under God. That, and that alone is the only reason we do so." He also made references to how we should never worship kings, and that even kings should be bound by the laws of God, then made another attempt to put Obama's name in a sentence following that statement.
Dr. Kern made it clear that we should fear God himself, because fearing God leads to loving God. Just as Dr. Kern had put the fear of their father into his sons, his sons came to later know that by fearing Dr. Kern, it kept them safe and it was all part of love. Dr. Kern stated that,
"When we love God, we will not fear anything else. God and God alone is our caretaker, not our government. The fear of God is the opposite of fearing man. If you fear god, you won't fear Satan, the government, death, or judgement. Keep it simple stupid. Satan is the author of confusion. Say to yourself, the Lord is for me. When I have the creator of the Universe by my side, what can anyone else do to me?"
I pondered on this and was wondering why he alluded to government and Satan in the same sentence, and perhaps flat out anarchy as well. Okay, perhaps the anarchy part is a stretch, but I sat there wondering that if people felt their were divinely inspired to go against their government, and they shouldn't fear repercussions, only God himself, would people be more apt to be anarchists? There were many "Amens" said after this statement and I had to wonder if people were taking this literally, metaphorically, or just didn't understand. Where they feeling the undertones of the message and it's context as I was? When I sit in a church and notice how everything from the pews, to the people, the the architecture itself point directly to the pastor, so that all attention is on him. To me, this gives the impression that the pastor is the one closest to God at that point in time, and indeed does place him in a divinely framed portrait for one hour. If his statements are divinely inspired, and the context is muddled, left up for some guided self-interpretation, couldn't there be speculation that indeed the church is fueling some of the current controversy?
There was a pause, and the sermon switched from fearing God, to obeying his commandments. Dr. Kern slapped his bible down on the pulpit and gruffly said,
"To keep Gods commandments, we must follow NATURAL ORDER!. Only one man and one woman in marriage. We must protect life. We must protect property, and not let government or other people take it from us. We must tell the truth. We must keep our word. And we should worship God and not God's creation."
There was another pause, and I wondered where he was going with his last sentence. The other 5 were fairly obvious, but he continued;
"We are so concerned with the Earth and worshiping the Earth and trying to take care of the Earth that we forget to worship God. Why should we be concerned with the Earth when we know that God is going to destroy it? Do you know what we get when God destroys the Earth? I am looking foward to the end of the world."
A rumbling of amens went through the congregation and being brought up in the church, I knew the answer to that. It is "Paradise and Everlasting Life."
I couldn't help but get chills by hearing him say this. It reminded me of when I was in church as a child, during the end of the cold war, and our pastor said that he hoped that the Russians and Americans would just go ahead and fire off their nuclear weapons so we could all go to the afterlife sooner. I heard a man said, "What a bunch of Horse #$%@," stand up and walk out, and I remember the cold sweat on my hands as I put my head into them in embarrassment realizing it was my dad.
Dr. Kern ended the service by saying, "Get back on God's leash and stay on it. Be on God's good side." He said a prayer, asking God to guide President Obama, look over the troops, and take care of traveling families this labor day weekend. We sang the hymn, "When we all Get To Heaven," and were dismissed after the announcement that it would be a great if some people of the congregation could attend a "Freedom Conference" which are aligned with First Stone Ministries, which is an ex-gay service affiliated with Exodus International. It was a very important issue and it would be great for some members of the church to attend.
I left feeling how I thought I would. Confused. The feeling you get when you walk in the door is everyone being so happy to be there. They greet you while music that reminds you of your childhood plays softly on the piano in the background, almost seductively, and then they tell you how you should fear God. The congregation goes into a days of "amens" and prayers, almost like they are psyching themselves up for a football game, and finally, they send you off with a mission to attend an ex-gay conference to represent the church.
I know that this may or may not be a true representation of normal churches. Churches vary from religious sect to other, but I feel that these churches are sometimes the only thing people feel they have in life, and that "reality" is molded into their minds, and they should feel justified doing anything to stand up for that "reality" because it is divinely inspired by Christ himself. It seemed to me that they were saying the Christian church, and the Christian God above anything else in the world, and even this world itself. To me, that was the message. It may be interpreted by others to mean other things, but the fact that I interpreted that way, makes me fearful that many more people share the same sentiment, without the reservation that they are not actually Christian and do not believe in such things.
I always wondered why people fear god (intentionally not capitalized) and in the same conversation quote John 3:16
Quoting UAL747 (Thread starter): I pondered on this and was wondering why he alluded to government and Satan in the same sentence
Well, that I can understand. I think satan is as much a creation of man as god but the US government is certainly not what the founders of this country intended when they signed as small document that included this ".. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — ". Of course the next senence upsets our governemt very much.. "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
I digress though, the woam is an idiot but she is allowed to be an idiot, that is what the 1st ammendment to the constitution was written to protect.
Is grammar no longer taught is schools? Saying "me and her" or some such implies illiteracy.
TheCol From Canada, joined Jan 2007, 2031 posts, RR: 6 Reply 2, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 3423 times:
Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time, so I'll tell you all a story my former pastor told us in some of his sermons:
Bill (don't remember his real name) was an old homeless guy, who lived/drifted around a small town somewhere in North America (don't remember where the town actually was). Being a faithful believer in Christ, Bill would walk 10 miles to a small church on the outskirts of town to attend the morning service every Sunday. One Sunday morning in the Wintertime, a nasty storm blew through that part of the country. It was snowing like crazy, and the temperature dropped to about -20c (-4f). Braving the icy roads/sidewalks, blowing snow, and the extreme cold, with no winter footwear and hardly any winter clothes, Bill walked the usual 10 miles to the same church he always attends. When he got there, given that most of the congregation didn't show up that day, the Pastor was shocked to see him walk in the door. After fetching Bill a hot cup of coffee and a warm blanket, the Pastor asked him: "Bill, you must have passed 4 or 5 churches on the way here, why didn't you just attend one of their services instead?" Bill said: "Because you're the only people around here that loves a guy like me."
No matter how random things may appear, there's always a plan.
An excellent post, one of the better ones I've read on a.net, and interesting in that you let the dear reader decide...
You know, I always thought that commonsense and a good sense of humor is the best antidote, and that plain folk would see through false prophets. Unfortunately, that didn't seem to work in one of the world's most advanced countries - Nazi Germany.
I think religion is a very personal spiritual quest. It becomes easier when you are with fellow travelers - but you will then be exposed to those who would claim to have seen A Way and want to lead you. This person will claim some special wisdom or reawakening ( If at all, I believe the closest Man has ever seen this is when God told Einstein "E=mc**2".)
The pulpit has been the fountainhead of hatred across many religions, from the Inquisition to Wahhabi fundamentalism. Many of us seek consolation and comfort, and instead become manipulated by our deep-seated fears. Beware of darkness, people..
As for me, until God decides to show himself to me, I see the sublime in the clouds and sky, and in my loved ones, much as Wordsworth did.
UAL, thanks for a thoughtful discussion. Your experiences seem to echo why the Southern Baptist movement is descending a slippery slope to irrelevance.
Quoting UAL747 (Thread starter): It seemed to me that they were saying the Christian church, and the Christian God above anything else in the world, and even this world itself.
Well, that is more or less true. As Christians, we are supposed to love and honor God above all things.
The beef I have with the Southern Baptists, though, is in their fire-and-brimstone interpretation of that, as evidenced by the sermon you were subjected to. I was raised a Methodist, and now attend a church not affiliated with a denomination; however, I served as organist for a few years at a Southern Baptist church. Once every few months, the senior pastor would call me into my office and try to "save" me--in a nutshell saying the only way to Heaven for me as a Christian was to become a Southern Baptist. Hogwash. I resisted, and was thus resented--but I was the only organist in town and needed money for flying lessons .
I looked at working there as a unique opportunity to make some sociological observations. People I knew throughout the week...your normal, average, regular people...would come in on Sunday and you'd thought they stepped right out from divinity school. Churchy words here, preachy words there, lots of disdainful gossip about people who'd "sinned" and "needed prayers bad." Then the pastor would come in and fire up the crowds with talk of government conspiracies, evil, demons, and of course the biweekly discussion that the End Times are upon us. I left feeling worse than you did--angry, saddened, and sort of defeated.
Sure, that pastor in that church you attended was spewing the party line of Southern Baptists, more about imparting politics than bringing the flock "nearer to thee." But it was completely ridiculous.
Yes, we love and honor God above all things. But that line about "worshiping the Earth" was patently ridiculous. God calls on us to be good stewards of the Earth, and by honoring the gifts he's given us, we glorify God. We are also called upon to respect the laws of the land. How this pastor calls that "worship" of the President or the government is beyond me. The whole sermon just seemed like a bunch of manipulative words and platitudes.
In a nutshell, UAL, I'm sorry you were subjected to this growing up. I thank you for a well-balanced post. Dr. Kern's Christianity, nor the Christianity of any Southern Baptist churches I have ever attended, is not anything like my own Christianity. I feel like so many people are missing out on the positive side of the religion, because we can't get these goons off the altar.
Vikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9017 posts, RR: 28 Reply 5, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3378 times:
Quoting Comorin (Reply 3): An excellent post, one of the better ones I've read on a.net, and interesting in that you let the dear reader decide...
Wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this thread, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Well done UAL747. No flamebait, no harsh language - just some interesting observations and questions.
Quoting UAL747 (Thread starter): The congregation consisted of about fifty people, sixty years or older and I realized that I stood out like a sore thumb.
I wonder if that's a common thing at these sorts of Southern Baptist churches - the congregation consisting of the older age bracket.
Ual747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 7, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3360 times:
I was taught that any noun or pronoun that referred to the Christian God, such as "He" or, "The Almighty," was supposed to be capitalized and it was disrespectful not to do so. I personally do not care, but I have been taught to think that way, so when I do see it not capitalized, I automatically think, "disrespect" even though I'm about as far from a Christian as anyone can be.
Vikkyvik From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 9017 posts, RR: 28 Reply 8, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 3343 times:
Quoting JBirdAV8r (Reply 6): It boils down to correct grammar. When referring to the Christian God, the G is capitalized.
That's fair enough, although there's plenty of other grammar I've forgotten as well.
However, I very seldom refer specifically to the "Christian God," because it doesn't exactly exist in my view of the world, and I certainly don't claim to know how the "Christian God" is different from the "Jewish God" or what-have-you. I'm not a Christian, and when I say "god," I'm usually referring to the general concept - not to a specific God, as it were.
In my first post, I was simply commenting about the capitalization of the word "god". I didn't refer specifically to the "Christian God," or any other.
Quoting JBirdAV8r (Reply 6): If I don't agree with Obama, should I just call him obama?
Whatever floats your boat.
Quoting JBirdAV8r (Reply 6): You don't have to agree with my religion, but you shouldn't belittle it either.
Like I said in my first post, I'm not. Nor did I say in my first post that I don't agree with your religion. I don't care about your religion. It doesn't affect me in the least, and if it makes you happy, then cool.
Quoting Ual747 (Reply 7): I was taught that any noun or pronoun that referred to the Christian God, such as "He" or, "The Almighty," was supposed to be capitalized and it was disrespectful not to do so. I personally do not care, but I have been taught to think that way, so when I do see it not capitalized, I automatically think, "disrespect" even though I'm about as far from a Christian as anyone can be.
That's fine - I understand (now) that people are taught that. Nevertheless, one person's intentions do not always align perfectly with another's understanding.
Anyway, apologies for the tangent.
"Two and a Half Men" was filmed in front of a live ostrich.
TheGov From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 408 posts, RR: 3 Reply 9, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 3300 times:
One of the big issues that vexes Christians and non-Christians alike is the term, "fear of God." As a Christian, I know for years that I was taken aback by the term. I could not reconcile how a God who loved me wanted me to literally fear Him. Fortunately, I finally heard a sermon that defined "fear of God". The minister pointed out that the term "fear" was another term for "respect". He stated that God, by virtue of being God, was worthy of our respect. This revelation was extremely helpful to me and should answer IMissPiedmont's question regarding fear and John 3:16.
Honestly, I hesitated responding to this thread. I am a Christian, attend a Presbyterian church, am an officer in that church, help teach Sunday School and try to live my life in a way to reflects what I believe. (here is where I am probably open for bashing)
Am I here to try and convert everyone? No. I don't like being preached to and therefore do not try to preach to anyone else. If anyone asks me about my beliefs, I will certainly share them, but will not push them down their throats.
Am I closed minded? It is my hope that I am not. In my line of work, I deal with all different faiths and even non-believers and try to treat each with equal respect. When I deal with these groups, again, all that I ask is that they don't try to push their faith on me as I will not try to push my faith on them. Some are certainly more tolerant than others. So, UAL747, I'm sorry your experience was such that it was. The Southern Baptist are, unfortunately, one of the more intolerant groups. But remember, there are certitudes in the Bible that all Christians should adhere to. Some just do it more often and closely than others and sometimes only want to focus on one or two of them.
Many non-Christian people assume that Christians are more or less robots. If you think that, you owe it to yourself to read up on Mother Theresa. She experienced many a doubt about her faith. She often spoke of dark times and feelings of abandonment by God and Jesus. As a Christian, I, too, experience feelings of abandonment and even question God. I have even gotten angry with God, albeit respectfully. Many a person in the Bible has questioned God and even gotten angry with God. Why should I be any different? After all, He gave me these emotions. My faith, like the tides, ebbs and flows. It is during those times that my search for God intensifies and solidifies. Some denominations would probably tell you that I shouldn't be doing any of that. But God created me and knows me and certainly knows my heart. I would even go so far to say that those ebbs and flows allow me to re-connect with God and grow my faith even further.
And one final thought. The people that are becoming Christians today are not wanting to hear the type of sermons Dr. Kern is delivering. Take a moment and listen to the style of preaching that Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and Jessie Duplantis espouse. They teach the certitudes but in a warm, inviting way. Why else would they have churches with thousands of members of all different age groups. From what UAL747 said, Dr. Kern is tending a dying church. I feel sorry for Dr. Kern. There is more to God than teaching scare fear, there is love.
BMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15080 posts, RR: 26 Reply 10, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3272 times:
Quoting TheGov (Reply 9): Am I here to try and convert everyone? No. I don't like being preached to and therefore do not try to preach to anyone else. If anyone asks me about my beliefs, I will certainly share them, but will not push them down their throats
I am the same way. I'm pretty religious, but I'm not going to be getting on a plane to Mexico or somewhere to build houses anytime soon.
Quoting TheGov (Reply 9): The Southern Baptist are, unfortunately, one of the more intolerant groups.
And one of the more vocal ones.
Quoting TheGov (Reply 9): Many non-Christian people assume that Christians are more or less robots.
It would shock many people to see how much discord there is even within the subdivisions of the Christian church.
Quoting TheGov (Reply 9): Take a moment and listen to the style of preaching that Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and Jessie Duplantis espouse. They teach the certitudes but in a warm, inviting way.
I don't care for these types either, but I am what Garrison Keillor would call a dark Lutheran. There is a balance to be struck between the "God says that you are wrong and you should do this" and the "It's OK because God loves you." Various groups fall at all sorts of places along that spectrum, but often the loudest are the radicals.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
Jcs17 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 8065 posts, RR: 41 Reply 11, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3260 times:
I'm a non-practicing Catholic and hold conservative views. I'm the first person to call Southern Baptists bat shit stupid and general white trash. When I was in high school in Atlanta, we lived next to a Baptist family who wouldn't let their kids associate with us. My family is nominally Roman Catholic, however my sister and I both went to Catholic schools because Fulton County schools suck ass.
Kiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8442 posts, RR: 14 Reply 12, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 9 hours ago) and read 3254 times:
very interesting post - thanks for taking the time to write it .
I have to admit that the southern US has always struck me as a rather scary part of the world and this post did nothing to reassure me . I suppose to be fair not all churches are like this and , no doubt , if people hadnt invented god in order to have an excuse to attack those who are different then they would have found some other excuse for intolerance but I still find those sermons deeply disturbing . Since you are from the area perhaps you could tell me , do you think the views expressed in that church are representative of the general population down there , or was this an extreme minority ?
Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
Ual747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 14, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 3225 times:
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 12): Since you are from the area perhaps you could tell me , do you think the views expressed in that church are representative of the general population down there , or was this an extreme minority ?
You know I really don't know. Churches seem to be mysterious things here where I live. Many things are said in church that do not go repeated. I tend to surround myself with free thinkers and people that are much different than the people I witnessed today, however, that doesn't mean that they aren't more prevalent than I assume.
I think in the cities it's much more progressive. Dallas, OKC, Houston, any large city is going to be more open minded. I would hope that most people were more progressive than this, but something tells me what's said at church stays at church and in the mind. I think the sentiments I heard expressed today are shared by many many people, but most aren't as vocal about it.
Quoting DocLightning (Reply 13): "Under God" was added by MCCARTHY, not by the founders. If you have to lie to make your point, then you have no point.
BMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15080 posts, RR: 26 Reply 15, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 3202 times:
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 12): I have to admit that the southern US has always struck me as a rather scary part of the world and this post did nothing to reassure me .
Rural America in general suffers from a lot of inertia. Everything takes a long time. "My grandad drove a Chevy, my dad drove a Chevy, so I drive a Chevy" is often a common thought process. Maybe it's a cultural thing, or maybe people are just stupid, who knows. I was lucky enough to grow up in a bedroom community that is not very isolated, so the attitudes there were much more suburban than the typical small American town, but there were some hillbillies around for sure.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
TheGov From United States of America, joined Apr 2003, 408 posts, RR: 3 Reply 16, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 3174 times:
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 12): I have to admit that the southern US has always struck me as a rather scary part of the world and this post did nothing to reassure me .
I'm sorry you feel this way. But, I will admit, since I was born and raised in the South, I feel quite at home here.
Quoting BMI727 (Reply 15): Rural America in general suffers from a lot of inertia.
I think the term should be independence, not inertia. Rural Americans do not like being told what to do and prefer the simple life and simple things. However, I would ask that you not confuse wanting to lead a simple life with being simple.
And as a reference to the quote by Kiwiandrew, I think what he has seen (and perceives as scary) is the obvious independent streak in Southerners. Southerners really don't like being told what to do nor how to live their lives and are willing to fight about it. Southerners have been that way since the founding of the nation with the Civil War being the high water mark for Southern independence.
Quoting BMI727 (Reply 15): Maybe it's a cultural thing, or maybe people are just stupid, who knows
Please see the previous paragraphs.
Quoting Jcs17 (Reply 11): I'm the first person to call Southern Baptists bat shit stupid and general white trash.
That's really not helpful. Southern Baptist are firm believers and really don't believe in a "gray area". They firmly believe that things are either right or wrong. But what they do that sets them apart from everyone, with the possible exception of the Mormans, is take very seriously Jesus' command to go and make disciples of all nations (the Great Commission, Matthew 28:18-20). They are attempting to live their faith as well as preach it. Whether we agree with them or not, we should at least respect the fact that they say what they believe and stand behind it. Not many groups or people are willing to do that anymore.
Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10): There is a balance to be struck between the "God says that you are wrong and you should do this" and the "It's OK because God loves you."
I would agree with that wholeheartedly. I only referenced the preachers that I did because of they are easily viewable on television. From a purely personal standpoint, I think that Joel is more of a motivational speaker than preacher.
Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10): I'm pretty religious, but I'm not going to be getting on a plane to Mexico or somewhere to build houses anytime soon.
Faith without works? It's all about serving your fellow man. While I haven't been to Mexico, I have attempted to serve my fellow man when I can. I know that you don't have to be religious to serve your fellow man. But, I believe that God calls me to love my fellow man and one of the ways to demonstrate love is through service. When I serve others, it is not with the attitude "Hi, I'm a Christian and I am here to serve you" It is with the attitude of " How can I help someone who is in need as God has given me much and I should not be selfish, but should give to others."
Kiwiandrew From New Zealand, joined Jun 2005, 8442 posts, RR: 14 Reply 17, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days ago) and read 3162 times:
thanks for taking the time to provide your input , however , I do not agree with your comment below
Quoting TheGov (Reply 16): And as a reference to the quote by Kiwiandrew, I think what he has seen (and perceives as scary) is the obvious independent streak in Southerners. Southerners really don't like being told what to do nor how to live their lives and are willing to fight about it. Southerners
What I find personally scary has less to do with a perception of 'independance' and more to do with a perception of 'intolerance' - please note that I did say 'perception' - I dont know if people in the South really are more intolerant , but certainly the reported text of the sermon strongly suggests that the people in that particular church are - at least that was how it came across to me .
A former colleague of mine who is proudly Texan but who spent a number of years living and working in Belgium admitted to me once over a few drinks that given the way that he was brought up if he had met me when he lived in Texas before he moved to Belgium he would automatically have thought of me as a bad person simply because I am gay and that his church had told him that gay people were bad . ( He actually took great delight in winding up his mother back in Texas the next time he phoned her by telling her that he had been out drinking with a gay man - he reported back to me that she was 'horrified' that he had got drunk with a gay man and that she "didnt think that it was a good idea" for him to drink with me again ) .
Perhaps I should take my partner up on his wish to do a road trip through the deep South as it may challenge some of my perceptions - but I can tell you , in all honesty and without any intent to offend , I would have to think very hard before going just as to whether I would feel safe to do so. Certainly the image of the South in the media is very mixed , with incredibly warm hospitality on the one hand balanced against an image of violence and intolerance on the other .
edited to add : and of course honesty compels me to add that the problem could be my making assumptions about peoples attitude because they are southerners just as much as it is of their making assumptions about me because I am gay .
[Edited 2009-09-07 07:06:07]
Moderation in all things ... including moderation ;-)
Us330 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 3809 posts, RR: 14 Reply 18, posted (4 years 3 months 5 days ago) and read 3149 times:
Quoting UAL747 (Thread starter): Opting not to understand the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas for fear of my own life,
It's better off that way--they belong in an asylum. I volunteer for a Jewish organization, and they routinely barrage us with faxes and hate mail. Most recently, the subject of the faxes has been that Jews kill and eat babies
Quoting Ual747 (Reply 14): . Dallas, OKC, Houston, any large city is going to be more open minded. I would hope that most people were more progressive than this, but something tells me what's said at church stays at church and in the mind
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 12): I have to admit that the southern US has always struck me as a rather scary part of the world and this post did nothing to reassure me . I suppose to be fair not all churches are like this and , no doubt , if people hadnt invented god in order to have an excuse to attack those who are different then they would have found some other excuse for intolerance but I still find those sermons deeply disturbing
I grew up in Dallas (probably the buckle of the bible belt), and my family has been there since the 1920s. Though my grandmother was actually a born and raised Southern Baptist, she underwent an Orthodox Jewish conversion prior to marrying my grandfather in the 1940s. As a non-Christian growing up there, and having family members having gone through the same experience, I can tell you that the Southern US is far from scary--the people there are outwardly some of the nicest and friendliest people you will ever meet.
Admittedly, though, growing up as a Jew in the South, it does feel like you are walking on eggshells and are never sure whether or not you are truly welcome in certain social circles--an experience which can be somewhat difficult given how relatively small the Jewish population is. I went to private school, and you experience a mix of degrees of religious adherence, even amongst the educated populace--there were families there who were fundamentalist and/or evangelicals, and while they would always be friendly and kind to you when they saw you, you were always weary that their preacher or church was calling for them to convert the Jews. Heck, there are people that my parents consider reasonably good friends who believe that on Judgment Day that the Jews will go to hell unless they convert.
The South just tends to be slow to adapt to cultural changes. It will eventually get around to them, but at a pace probably 15-20 years behind that of other areas, and this figure pertains to urban locales, so the pace is considerably slower in more rural locations.
As a comparison, I look at the experiences of my grandfathers, my parents, and my brother and I in regards to acts of religious tolerance/intolerance during our youth, and I can see that the situation steadily improves for each succeeding generation.
The South isn't scary--it's just, for better or for worse, unique place that is more resistant to changes than the rest of the United States.Note, though, that i'm not trying to defend or excuse the behavior of the more outwardly religious and blatantly ignorant types (indeed, during high school I probably banged my head against the wall after reading the op-ed letters section of the local paper so many times that I probably lost a considerable number of brain cells). And, you should note, that just because someone is religious doesn't mean that they are ignorant. In fact, some of the most enlightening and respectful conversations that I've had on these issues have been with people who have spent a considerable amount of time studying the Bible.
DeltaMD11 From United States of America, joined Dec 2002, 1701 posts, RR: 37 Reply 19, posted (4 years 3 months 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 3120 times:
Good post UAL, very interesting commentary and observations. Coming from my end, Oklahoma has its fair share of hopped-up God-fearing dingbats so I had to chuckle as I was reading through your post just kind of nodding in what has become to me regular observation as well. I don't know what it is but I've always felt really uncomfortable when walking into a church as a visitor and having someone run up to shake my hand and ask me where I'm from and things of that sort. While its a nice gesture, I'd rather be left alone and allowed to see the church in and of itself before I start meeting and greeting. Ive considered myself Episcopalian for the last few years, having left the Catholic church. The Bible Belt down here does have its fair share of interesting churches, good on ya for having the courage to visit something so outside the box. I'm leaving Oklahoma this Wednesday, going to be kind of sad to leave the little Episcopal church that I've been attending and have become accustomed to here in Lawton for the last 10 months.
Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Us330 From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 3809 posts, RR: 14 Reply 20, posted (4 years 3 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 3096 times:
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 17): but certainly the reported text of the sermon strongly suggests that the people in that particular church are - at least that was how it came across to me .
No, they are intolerant. There are always more radical and extreme congregations, and this church was undoubtedly one of them.
Also, though Southern Baptists have a reputation of being intolerant (rightfully so, I might add), there are always exceptions--my family happened to be one of them.
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 17): Perhaps I should take my partner up on his wish to do a road trip through the deep South as it may challenge some of my perceptions - but I can tell you , in all honesty and without any intent to offend , I would have to think very hard before going just as to whether I would feel safe to do so. Certainly the image of the South in the media is very mixed , with incredibly warm hospitality on the one hand balanced against an image of violence and intolerance on the other
Honestly, in any major city or urban area you'd be fine. You might get some dirty stares or looks if you and your partner are publicly affectionate, but that's as far as it would go. In smaller, more religious towns, though, you might have some issues, but as long as you aren't publicly affectionate, or ask for a single bed, you'd be fine.
Granted, you and your partner would serve as gossip fodder for the next week or so, but they wouldn't say anything to your face.
Jetmatt777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 2688 posts, RR: 35 Reply 21, posted (4 years 3 months 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 3075 times:
When you are afraid (fearful) of something, you don't get complacent. Many Christians have become complacent (routine) and do not fear God. Church -> Bible -> Home -> School -> Church -> ...etc.
I don't view Christianity as a religion; Religion to me means "routine". We should not be routine in our walk with God, and therefore we do not become complacent.
Many are afraid of fire, therefore they don't get too close, they don't play with it. When you don't have a respectable fear of it, you will probably get burned. The thought that God has the power to reject me from Heaven and forget my name, is enough fear for me to try to be close to Him. I am not perfect, pretty far from it, but I also fear God and try to fear Him.
The Westboro "Christian" Church is not representative of Christians. I won't judge them, it's not my position. But they do not represent what I am about, and what my friends are about.
TSS From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 2979 posts, RR: 5 Reply 22, posted (4 years 3 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3048 times:
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 12): I have to admit that the southern US has always struck me as a rather scary part of the world and this post did nothing to reassure me .
Although Oklahoma is undeniably South of the geographic center of the continental US, it is much more a "western" state than a "southern" one.
Quoting Kiwiandrew (Reply 17): Certainly the image of the South in the media is very mixed , with incredibly warm hospitality on the one hand balanced against an image of violence and intolerance on the other .
We present that image on purpose because if we didn't, we be over-run with Yankees in just a few years. We've already lost Florida to them, so we're not taking any chances with any of the other Southern states!
Seriously though, we're happy to host guests from other countries down here and if you visit the Deep South you'll likely be subjected to a good-natured New Zealand-themed round of "20 Questions" every time you open your mouth. About the only thing that would trigger the "violence and intolerance" would openly criticizing the South while you're here. Be a polite guest and we'll go out of our way to be gracious hosts, simple as that.
Able to kill active threads stone dead with a single post!
No no! Of course you didn't! I'm frustrated at the pastor, not you.
Quoting Us330 (Reply 18): Most recently, the subject of the faxes has been that Jews kill and eat babies
We do. The proof is that we eat Matzoh, which contains carbon. Christian babies' blood also contains carbon. Therefore, Jews eat carbon. Q.E.D. (No, really, that's one explanation that one such hate group gave).
Quoting TheGov (Reply 16): Southerners really don't like being told what to do nor how to live their lives and are willing to fight about it. Southerners have been that way since the founding of the nation with the Civil War being the high water mark for Southern independence.
This would be why the South lags in civil rights laws of any sort? I think that, say, trying to keep sodomy criminalized (as just one example) would comprise telling someone how to live his life. I think Southerners are VERY into poking into others' lives and ensuring that they live according to some given ethos, regardless if it's behind closed doors.
This whole "You're free to be as long as you act like I think you should" doesn't quite make sense and I see it a lot more in the South than anywhere else.
25 Pellegrine: I haven't been to anybody's church in years, I really cannot stand them. I won't really go in a Christian one now, just because I'd feel hypocritical
26 DocLightning: My question is: when did someone mix up Jesus's message of peace, humility, love, and non-judgementalism with violence (holy war, hangings, tar-and-fe
27 Us330: More proof that religion itself isn't the problem--the problem is people who use it to advance a particular ideology or platform.
28 DocLightning: It's very true. China has no religion, but no immunity to stupidity. The place where religion becomes dangerous is that it can be used to justify ANY
29 Yellowstone: I highly recommend John Dominic Crossan's book God and Empire: Jesus against Rome, Then and Now. He explores the conflict between the peace-through-v
30 UAL747: I think this was the biggest thing I left wondering. If you can do ANYTHING as long as you can reason that it's God's will, doesn't that make for a v
31 TheCol: You are mistaken. Just because they get their 15mins of fame in the media, doesn't prove they represent the mainstream. Far from it actually. Most of
32 Clemsonaj: Having grown up in Tennessee and now going to school in South Carolina I can say that I understand your apprehension. However I have begun to notice
33 UAL747: No, that's just a fact. Catholics, middle ages? Total means of controlling the population, which also makes me wonder how well the Bible was translat
34 DocLightning: Oh, it's absolutely true! You get them young (13 or so) and brainwash them early. That gives you people. You can get those people to do *anything* fo
35 Clemsonaj: Bart Ehrman wrote a great book on this subject called Misquoting Jesus. If you get a chance you should check it out of the library. It gives several
36 DocLightning: Step 1: Require that everyone pass a basic statistics course to graduate high school.
37 Type-Rated: Agreed. And if you don't you are talked about and shunned. I have found with Baptists there usually isn't any middle ground. It's our way or the high