Fundamentalist Texas Baptists
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Wed Jan 06, 2010 at 09:29:19 AM EST
Earlier I had chronicled the departure of the new  Fundamentalist Baptist convention in Texas from historic Baptist views.  Not only have they taken a diminishing view of religious liberty, the group continues to fall under the umbrella of the most extreme right in its view on American culture.
     The Southern Baptist of Texas Convention appears to have waged an all out war against public eduation.  In 2006 they sponsored a homeschool conference both in Dallas and Houston.  Many articles in their publications addressed their fear of public education and its harmful impact on Texas students.  Baptist Press, their official version of the news, carried a story calling a recent letter from pastors suporting pubic education a political ploy sponsored by a "liberal group".  Gary Ledbetter, their editor of their newspaper has been open regarding his disgust with public education.  He wrote that a generation of college students has been taught that the "great men" view of history is a flawed description of dead white men.  Teaching, he added, is not objective and should not be.  He insists that efforts to exalt Biblical truth in every discipline are worthwhile.  Turth is truth after all, he writes.  A Biblical worldview is thus necessary.  Ledbetter wrote that there is an agenda against America's Founding Fathers and we should oppose such anti-intellectual views.  This editor supports the efforts of fellow patron David Barton who desires that Texas school books leave out mentioning Ceasar Cheves, Colin Powell and Justice Thurgood Marshall for being too radical.  
     Under their Cultural Watch program, leaders like Russell Moore, a professor at Southern Seminary are often quoted.  Moore told his audience they needed to "outbreed the Mormons..."  Part of the homeschool movement is tied into a "full quiver" theology.  This group wants female Christians to have as many offspring as possible.
     Tammi, SBTC's editor's wife, published an article in their newspaper about attorney Shelby Sharpe speaking at the Texas Seminary in Fort Worth.  The attorney fired up the audience by claiming there are many in the country who are now criminally prosecuted for being Christians in America.  He made that comment before delcaring that once the Surpeme Court had declared the country officially a Christian nation. The lawyer told the future preachers to remember their marching orders and not be afraid of the loss of the 501c3 tax status.  He told his listeners as the offical attorney of the SBTC that we are to have this culture live in obedience to every command of God.  No human law should contradict Biblical law, he advised.  He added that now scriptures are considered hate crimes by legislators.  He ended by telling the crowd, "There are occasions when you have to kick some folks out of some places where they don't need to be.  You do it forcefully."
     Ledbetter warned his warriors that there is an attempt by some to lead a Marxist overthrow of the government in the name of the Christian faith. He notes these "redistribution" folks want to create a new America.  Gary suggests the leftist folks in the nation want to make Christianity a mandate for bigger government.  As true Fudamentalist believe, the less government the better.
     Right wing talk radio hosts are open with their fears that the Obama administration will enforce a so-called fairness doctrine.  The law was to make sure both sides of a view are expressed over the air to have a more open forum.  Radio hosts from the right see this as an attempt to censor their programs which for the most part present a very narrow view.  SBTC writers argue with the radio hosts that this is an attempt to muzzle free speech.  Ledbetter and friends come from a rich  history of silencing critics and ending the careers of journalists who did not see things their way.  Kelly Boggs, writing a veiwpoint about this in their journal, suggested this fairness doctrine was a mere attempt to promote the "illusion of total public support of their whacked-out ligislation".
     A frequent expert on national affairs to the crowd is Richard Land, a noted Religious Right figure.  Land noted, among other gems, that Justice Sotomayer used the courts to slap the face of male firefighters by allowing a black to be picked over them in the famous court decision.  Land suggested her gender and national origins would hamper her opinions on the court.
     Some moderate Baptists appear to make belief in global warming a test of faith.  On the other hand, Kelly Boggs, again had his chance to weigh in on the topic.  Kelly wrote, "The evidence is starting to reveal the theory of man-made global warming is naked--it has no clothes."  When Kelly and fellow Fundamentalist journalists have a rally they invite folks like Marvin Olasky to lead the conference.  Olaksy, a homeschool promoter, is also tied to Dominion theology and anti-separation of church state views.
     Biographers tell us that the earlier political campaigns of George Wallace had a simple plan.  You promised the crowd the moon and hollered n#@%*!  It worked and the people of Alabama responded until a more mature electorate caught on.  Molly Ivins, a late Fort Worth journalist, claimed the same agenda was taking place in Texas under the use of gays as a political motivation.  You could make the case that SBTC followers are homophobic.  It appears locally that Joseph McCarthy-like tactics regarding homosexuals are used to recruit new churches. Headlines of many articles declare Democratic Party affirmation of gays while GOP leaders in the state are not.  President Obama is often linked to homosexual agendas.  SBTC papers had at least two articles claiming that a Hate Crimes Bill would mean pastors could be arrested for taking a stand against homosexual lifestyles.  This positon is often repeated in the circles of the Religious Right but mainstream journalists have written more than once that this is not true.  David Barton told an audience I was in that pastors can now be arrested for reading portions of the Book of Romans from the pulpit.  Editor Ledbetter shared his opinion on Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. He believed the church should have been banished from the national convention because it was found to have had some members who were probably gay. The church voted they did not accept the gay lifestyle as morally or Biblically right. Their interim pastor  and latest pastor both said they did not support or endorse the gay lifestyle.  Lebetter said the church was to be held accountable because they happened to have some in the church it was rumored.  He also mentioned the idea of adulterers being in a church as not being acceptable. Thus, by logic, any church who had an adulterer on the membership role was subject to being ousted. The prospect of church leaders hiding in the hallway to catch a homosexual act or face denominational discipline appears rather odd.
     Separation of church and state, long cherished by Baptists, doesn't seem to matter much to Ledbetter and company.  Gary openly admits that the Bible ties them closely to the Republican Party.  Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is a close friend to David Barton, recently spoke to the notorious Council on National Policy.  Perry also spoke to the SBTC convention in  2006.
     One time SBTC president, Chris Osburn, got on Texas radio and admonished voters to get to the voting booths. He was interviewed with David Barton.  Among the items of concern for voters on the program were the rights of chaplains to pray.  The framed issues that Texas faced were "Post modern vs. Judeo Christian views on the Supreme Court in Texas".  Osburn affirmed Barton and urged pastors to get their congregations out to vote since the people did what their pastor led them to do. He said preachers need to stand up and lead the charge taking the lead in politics. On the program Barton warned the listeners that Americans United for Separation's letter warning churches not to engage in electioneering was merely an intimidation letter sent to churches.  Kelly Schaleford then defended voter guides so that voters can "know how to represent Christ when they go into the voting booth".  It was explained that the listeners now had a chance to take this country back for the Lord Jesus Christ which was what this election was all about in Texas.
     Ledbetter wants churches to get government funds for church outreach programs. When Civil Rights issues come into play on this charitable choice program, Gary wants government to look the other way.  He thus believes tax money can be used to win converts and indoctrinate potential converts. He also demands that the government cannot have any strings attached in hiring practices with the use of government money.  The convention seemed to like the idea of Rick Warren, a Baptist preacher, interviewing potential Presidential candidates.  The interview of candidates by Warren was used by the Fundamentalist paper to attack Obama.  The paper's candidate comparison carried only one issue, abortion. The position on abortion was determined to be the overriding moral issue in the 2008 campaign.
     When church state separation groups grew concerned that the Bush administration was claiming to allow discrimination in hiring with the use of tax money, Fundamentalist Baptists became defensive.  The "L" word was thrown at those who didn't like this new Bush policy.  They were dismissed as just "liberals".  The taking of any government money foir church programs is a radical departure from Baptist heritage.  With such paths traveled ture Baptists must wonder if the name "Baptist" even fits here.

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