Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Southern Baptists on Governance

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said this when asked how he could support Sarah Palin as vice president, when Southern Baptists believe women cannot be heads of household or pray out loud in church:

The only restrictions we find in Scripture are that, for whatever reason, women are not to be in charge of a marriage and women are not to be in charge of a church. That has nothing to do with governor, or senator or the House of Representatives, or president, or vice president.

I can't argue with that logic. However, I am a little concerned that if we are going to strictly follow this Scripture thing, Palin will need to spend seven days a month in something like a red tent. I can't see how that won't interfere with her vice-presidential duties, unless they make it a special red bunker in some undisclosed location.


Robert J. Day said...

Southern Baptist, like the Mennonite, are indeed "people of the book." However, their churches are organized by the same texts that inform their personal faith and convictions - the New Testament. By the way, Southern Baptist disagree among themselves with the role of women in ministry about as much as Mennonites do. You have not got someone in hypocrisy but rather someone trying to be true to their understanding of scripture while remaining actively involved with modern culture.

Dan S said...

Thanks for the comments Robert. I don't mean to exclude Mennonites from my criticism - certainly Lanacaster Conference has earned it with their recent decision not to ordain women pastors.

I guess my perspective is that a lot of suffering has resulted in well-intentioned people being true to their understanding of scripture, and that in an of itself should not forestall criticism.

I'm sure I could speak the truth in love more often than I do. I just get annoyed when people say they believe in the Bible literally, and then quote selective passages that merely re-affirm their own world view. In this case, I believe that his religious beliefs are sexist, which is not God's will, but that he is willing to forgo them for political gain, which is hypocritical.

I do appreciate your voice on this though - it's good to be held accountable for my flippant remarks.

Robert Sievers said...

Since the subject of vice presidents, religion, and hypocrisy are staples here, I couldn't help put point out this article.,8599,1840965,00.html

Apparently, Joe Biden believes life begins at conception. This is wonderful, but yet he supports abortion rights.

If you support abortion rights because you don't believe a fetus is a living person, at least your position is somewhat consistent. However, if you believe it is a life, but have no problem with people KILLING IT ANYWAY, what does that say about you? "Yes, I believe its a baby, but I have no problem with you terminating it.

My humble writing skills do not even allow me to explain how messed up such a position is.

Dan S said...

Here are Biden's comments in context:

MR. BROKAW: If Senator Obama comes to you and says, “When does life begin? Help me out here, Joe,” as a Roman Catholic, what would you say to him?

SEN. BIDEN: I’d say, “Look, I know when it begins for me.” It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church. But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths—Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others—who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They’re intensely as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life—I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society. And I know you get the push back, “Well, what about fascism?” Everybody, you know, you going to say fascism’s all right? Fascism isn’t a matter of faith. No decent religious person thinks fascism is a good idea.

So, essentially, he is saying he is pro-choice. He identifies the issue as a religious one, not a scientific one, and is a very grey area.

It's like someone saying they believe Jesus is the only path to salvation, but still being against legislation requiring everyone to worship Jesus.

I suppose you could still criticize this as being inconsistent. But then you'd have to criticize McCain for believing life begins at conception, voting to demand everyone abide by this, but then supporting stem cell research.

Fingtree said...

To conveniently overlook cloning and allowing cloned meat to be processed, packaged and sold to be eaten by Christians and others alike and to also support the murder and killings of thousands of victims in an unjust war for profits, makes anyone who attempts to 'humbly' argue the point of abortion moot. You cannot worship both God and Mammon. Although, Donald Rumsfeld in the name of his Nazi-war lord (Jesus), would jump at the chance to have a cloned army, while aborting innocent children, women and others in the 'shock and awe' style some so proudly supported before. With cloned soldiers; at least them coming home in body bags wouldn't have an impact. Perhaps the media would be allowed to film the coffin's of cloned soldiers as they come back with the Bush Administrations version of the American flag draped over them.

mennomom said...

This is the first time I've responded but I've been reading your blog & comments for some time. Your musings on Palin/Southern Baptists/read tent could not have come at a better time for me. I had just come from a frustrating episode at my church in which I attempted, foolishly as it turned out, to start a "conversation" via an adult Sunday School elective about how faith intersects with politics. Everyone I talked to agreed that it was a great idea, but when it came right down to it, no one wants to risk even having an informed discussion, for fear that it will polarize the congregation even more. This led me to the conclusion that we must be already polarized beyond hope. So I was pretty bummed and then I read this piece and my tears turned to laughter - just what I needed! I just hate it when people who claim to be "people of the book" end up using Bible verses to slap each other across the face. God must weep, or maybe laugh at our stupidity.

Dan S said...

Thanks for your comments mennomom. Yea, it seems Mennonites are pretty politically divided these days, generally along the same cultural lines as the rest of the US (rural=conservative, urban=liberal). (Although I wonder whether this is true in Canada. The Canadian Mennonites I know tend to be politically liberal, but then again, I'm probably self-selecting them)

Good thing we are so passive agressive about it, so it doesn't come out into the open as much as it would otherwise :)

Robert Sievers said...


We always come back to the same place. Why aren't you pro-choice about people using their money for social projects. If you believe it is the right thing to do to give money to the poor, why don't you let everyone choose for themselves. You constantly inflict your morality on everyone else while claiming you stand for individaul choice. Your position is so inconsistent.

fingtree, as always, I have no idea what you are talking about. Pretend I said something that offends you in order to deepen our bond of respect. That is how it works for you, correct?

Dan S said...

Choice isn't an absolute good, Bob. For instance, I don't plantation owners should have had the choice to beat their slaves, depending on whether they were in a bad mood or not.

So, call me inconsistent if it makes you feel good, but it's the same for your positions. You want the choice on whether to alleviate suffering to be in the hands of individuals, and medical decisions to be in the hands of the government.

mennomom said...

Speaking as a Canadian who keeps in regular contact with menno family and friends north of the 49th, I think political positions probably run across the spectrum among mennos, although the religious/political right has had considerable influence via Focus on the Family and similar organizations. However, Canada has a parliamentary system in which whoever becomes Prime Minister is the head of the party which wins the most seats in the House of Commons, so one votes for the candidate representing a particular party (one of 4 or even 5) in the voter's particular district. Also, the campaigns do not go on nearly as long as they do in the US, so not a lot of time is wasted on "he said, she said, lipstick on a pig, the candidates personal life, religion, etc. etc. It has been known to happen that if the Prime Minister sees that he does not have a clear mandate and the business of government is at a stalemate, eg. bills don't get passed, etc. he can call for an election and six weeks later, it's over, and there is a new Prime Minister. Also, in general, Canadians tend to be much more even-tempered about politics. What many Canadians and Americans don't realize is that even a conservative Canadian is more "liberal" than a conservative American. For a Canadian perspective on faith and politics, see John Longhurst's excellent "NORTH OF THE 49TH" column in September 22, 2008 issue of Mennonite Weekly Review.

Fingtree said...

Biggest Respects to you Canadians Mennomom, you have it so much more together than the overall ridiculous mentality of the average American.

Robert Sievers said...


It always comes down to this. You view abortion as a medical procedure. I view it as taking a life. You view poverty as suffering, and I do not. There are many poor people who are a lot happier than you are I.

I choose life and informed personalized help with accountability. You choose medical procedures and impersonalized systemized laws.

As the Muslims say, to you be your way, to me be mine.

Fingtree said...

"As the Muslims say, to you be your way, to me be mine".
I have known quite a few Muslims through the years and have worked with them as well and have never once heard one of them use that saying.
That's a universal saying used on someone who is unreasonably shallow and unyieldingly stubborn or set in their ways. It's a good way to end a conversation going nowhere tactfully. I'm sure you have heard that saying quite a lot in your lifetime.
So Bob, you view war as liberating? How do you view cloning?
I remember Dan saying back in the late 70's that; "choosing an informed medical procedure personalizes the accountability of suffering within the happier world of the impoverished". At least he has been consistent.

Robert Sievers said...


The sentiment you lambasted me for is found in the Qur'an, chapter 109. If you knew Muslims who never said this, either they were not acquainted with the Qur'an, or you never had meaningful conversations with them.

I thought for once I would bait you to show you how inappropriate and frivalous your approach is. Good job giving your opinion that the Qur'an is a shallow piece of literature, and showing your ignorance at the same time.

Now that you are done making a fool out of yourself, Dan and I will get back to having a meaningful discussion.

Fingtree said...

Your bait tastes so good. That's funny, I have an English version of the Qur'an myself. One of the engineers I worked with a few years ago from Iraq was surprised I had one and asked to borrow it. He brought it back and explained how much was lost in translation, perhaps that saying was one of them. Maybe he just didn't have to end the discussion to soon with that saying. I'll let you get back to that meaningful discussion with Dan, sorry to have interrupted, I'm sure Dan didn't mind though.

Anonymous said...

"If you believe it is the right thing to do to give money to the poor, why don't you let everyone choose for themselves."

Bob, it comes down to should there be a basic standard of living that is considered humane by a society. Can we consider ourselves a moral country if we have children who are homeless? (the majority of people below the poverty line are children and elderly). If there are societal level standards there needs to be societal level solutions.

Does that abdicate individuals from doing what we can. Absolutely not. Perhaps a case study will be illustrative.

Hank, (homeless, mentally ill and uneducated) is on the streets. He begins to attend our congregation. Individuals assist him with housing, clothing, food and help with filling out the myriad of forms necessary to have basic IDs. Some people help him apply for government programs.

After years of relationships and assistance, he finally has an subsidized apartment, social security disability checks, and food stamps (about $60/month). His rent and utilities are paid by the mental health center (because he cannot manage his own money). He receives the remainder of his SSI for discretionary money (pays for things like laundry). He has no car, no phone, no bills other than power. He has one fork, one plate, and one glass. That's all he needs, he says.

He still needs assistance from people in the congregation to deal with paperwork and issues that come up (most recently he received a jury summons- both confusing and scary, and a trip to the dentist). Furthermore, all of his furniture and most of his clothes were gifts from us. Mostly, he needs people who will talk with him and treat him with respect.

Of course he needs both individuals, the body of Christ as represented in the church, in this case. However, he also needs the stability and independence that is granted him by his SSI check and public housing.


Robert Sievers said...


The example you give is definitely one we can all agree on as a success. Certainly I would never advocate no government assistance whatsoever. In the case of Hank, the system worked because of the personal involvement of the body of Christ.

I have another example which I am not legally allowed to share. I wish I could. The government is investing all kinds of money into a person who the help is only enabling, not helping. Perhaps you would say that is the price we must pay to get help to those who can truly benefit from it. I belive help from the system is not really help unless there is that individual attention that you described. That's the true point of disagreement.