9/23/08

A Non-Believer in Church: Secularity and State

Vectorized Southern Baptist Convention logo, d...Image via WikipediaI am thrilled that people in the community have found this blog and are giving me feedback. A pastor at the First Baptist Church in Oxford sent me an e-mail saying that he found the blog post where I discussed my first visit to that church. He wanted to invite me back for their series titled "God and Politics." This is my first invitation from a local church to attend service. The topic of church and state interests me, so I e-mailed back to accept his invitation, adding that I would probably write about it.

The pastor that invited me lead the music. He played several beautiful songs by an acoustic guitar. It was heartfelt and reminded me of the same music found at the Episcopal church. As most of you know who have been following this series, I can appreciate religious music. I would like to tell him that I enjoyed those songs and the words he shared in between.

When the senior pastor got up to share his message, the tone of the service changed to that of evangelical politics. His talk was centered on the theme of "speaking out". He talked about many things, some of which were offensive to me. He spoke of things that were disparaging of secularists, and I will not repeat those words here. He made claims regarding homosexuality that are not supported by any scientific research. He held a position that issues such as homosexuality and abortion were non-negotiable, while other issues should be debated and studied because they were more complex. His view was that those of us who disagree on these non-negotiable issues have loose morals. In addition to the position of the Southern Baptists on the separation of church and state, he advocated a "separation of secularity and state." He did not preach a message to inspire people to make their lives better; it was a message to rally this church into the voting booth based on misconceptions about homosexuality and abortion. This group has the unfortunate name of "Values Voters".

I was upset by the message. I will not be going back. Instead, I'm going to take this moment while these things are fresh on my mind and do something positive: I'm make a small donation to a group supporting reproductive freedom.

(My original draft of this post was 4 times longer and tried to go point by point with the lesson. I realized that was too much. You are glad, I'm sure.)

UPDATE: The First Baptist Church of Oxford has updated their Sermon Podcast Series so that you may hear for yourself.