Friday, June 17, 2005

CONVENTION BLOGGING I. The Southern Baptist Convention is in session. It is almost as scary as the Texas Legislature.

The convention is composed of messengers sent by individual churches to meet and make decisions that much of the denomination will ignore completely. Southern Baptists believe in the autonomy of local congregations. Most Southern Baptists believe in the autonomy of individual believers.

Although the convention is composed of messengers that include clergy and laity, the convention is run by the clergy and for the clergy. Preachers hold all the leadership positions. The President is always a preacher and he appoints other preachers to all the important positions. Sometimes a board will have some lay persons on it, but never in large enough numbers to dilute the preacher vote.

This causes one of two reactions in lay people. The first group apprehensively waits for the convention to do something really embarrassing that gets trumpeted in the newspapers and that they have to explain to their friends. One example is the boycott of Disney, which most Americans see as the most family friendly organization around.

The boycott was largely ignored by Baptists, who continued to go to Disney World and go to see Disney films. I remember, in fact, being in a church committee meeting with a woman in the early years of the boycott, and she was wearing a Disney t-shirt. I pointed out the boycott and she was embarrassed that she did not think to wear a different shirt. She was not embarrassed that she went to Disney World with her kids.

The second group largely ignores the meeting and they ignore the resolutions that are passed, just like the Disney deal. A lot of people, especially women (who are in short supply in the denominational leadership), were upset when the convention modified the BAPTIST FAITH and MESSAGE to say women should submit to their husbands. They knew the Bible said it, but they hated to have it said out loud because some poor guy might think it applied to him and try to enforce it at home.

Practically speaking, it would be better to have men submit to their wives, because women attend church more and do most of the service work at church, even though they are not deacons, and could tell their husbands they had to help. However, pretty much everybody ignored it so it didn’t matter anyway, a lot like the convention in general.

This year the first big issue is public schools. Everyone knows the public school does not do much to further Christian principles, despite the hand wringing of the American Civil Liberties Union and other left wing bigots. They teach your kids evolution (at least as best they can; we have yet to have a teacher that could explain it or answer questions, except Dave Perry, who is a creationist.) They may give your kid a condom, tell them where to get an abortion, host a dance playing nasty music, urge them to accept homosexuality as a valid lifestyle, and maybe even urge them to find their spirit guides.

Other than that, public school is a pretty good place, at least other than the violence, sex, drugs, and general hip hop culture.

So, wouldn’t you figure if the SBC did not like Disney, they would hate public school? Well, no, of course not. The President of the SBC, Bobby Welch, said it would be wrong for Southern Baptists to withdraw their children from public classrooms. When the President does not like a resolution, it is hard for it to get to the floor.

It is irrelevant, anyway. The masses are not going to pull their kids out of public school, because they cannot afford private school. (see discussion above about ignoring the resolutions.)
The messengers evidently will get to “debate” a resolution complaining of immorality in public schools. I put “debate” in parenthesis, because my guess is no one is going to get up and argue that public schools are bastions of morality.

Also, debates in the convention are pretty well orchestrated. If you are speaking against something the powers that be want, you will likely never be recognized. They have microphone stands that are numbered. You stand there, maybe even wave your arms, but no one calls on you. Ask Dr. Fred Malone if you don't believe me.

Meanwhile, Pastor Whosit or Dr. Whatsit gets recognized before he even hobbles down to the other microphone, and you wait for him to get there and make outrageous, ambiguous, or untrue statements you cannot rebut.

Then, everyone will worship together, or talk out in the hallway, and go out to dinner and eat very well.

More of this fair and balanced reporting later. See, it's my blog. I don't have to wait for the President to recognize me. Nah nah.
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