Southern Religion

Biblical Recorder series on preachers and depression

Vincent van Gogh: On the Threshold of Eternity

Vincent van Gogh: On the Threshold of Eternity

September’s death of pastor David Treadway of Sandy Ridge Baptist Church in Hickory brought to North Carolina a new focus on depression among members of the clergy. As with depression among parishioners, it is a complex, pervasive, disabling, sometimes deadly problem:

Depression is third among the twenty leading causes of death and disability worldwide (after lower respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases), according to the most recent World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease, and is expected to be second to ischemic heart disease by 2020.

We have more depression/suicide resources here.


October 19, 2009 Posted by | Health, Religion | , , , | 2 Comments

Drop the ‘God’ excuses and tell the truth

Southern Baptist Convention political lobbyist Richard Land is in great part the creation of two Southern Baptist allies of the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R,NC), both of whom ran spectacularly afoul of the law in ways that seem to defy Christian ethics:

  • Former U.S. Attorney, N.C. Superior Court Judge, Republican Party chairman and Helms aid Sam Currin who was released from prison recently after serving half of a six-year sentence for money laundering and obstruction. At his sentencing in 2007, Currin admitted to laundering $1.3 million on behalf of David A. Hagen. Hagen was convicted of securities fraud and money laundering “in what authorities said was one of the most prolific spamming operations in the world.”
  • Late Baptist State Convention of North Carolina director, president of the Christian Action League of North Carolina, Cabarrus County commissioner and retired Baptist minister Coy Privette, who in 2007 pleaded guilty to six counts of soliciting a prostitute.

Enid, Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson summarizes today the history of Currin’s and Privette’s work toward creation of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) during the conservative takeover of the SBC, and toward Land’s installation as president of that new organization.

Burleson’s blog is a warning against the endless description such secular goals as somehow “God’s will.”

Burleson writes:

I’ve gone back and read as many quotes I could find from Sam Currin and Coy Privette regarding the merging of the two Southern Baptist entities [the Southern Baptist Public Affairs Committee and the Christian Life Commission] into the ERLC and Dr. Richard Land’s election as President.

Not one time did I read either of these men publicly acknowledge that they had an agenda to merge the two institutions and get their friend and like-minded ideologue Richard Land elected as President.

The language was all “The Lord has directed. . .” or “We are grateful to God for His leadership . . . ” or “This historic day is part of God’s plan . . .” etc… One of the reasons the world has such a hard time with Christians, particularly when we Christians end up getting caught in scandals on par with Currin’s and Privette’s, is that we have spiritualized our language and our actions–attaching God to just about everything we do.

Burleson instead recommends honesty and as a part of that, publication of appropriate corrections by the Baptist press. He gives as an example a recent correction published in Arkansas Baptist News:

In the Oct. 8 issue of the Arkansas Baptist News we reported that Chuck McAlister had resigned as pastor of the Church at Crossgate Center to devote full time to his Adventure Bound Outdoors ministry because he felt torn between two ministries that each needed to be full time. Since publishing the article, we have learned he was as one of four defendants in a breach of contract civil lawsuit against a real estate development corporation of which McAlister was a vice president. In a follow-up phone conversation with McAlister, he acknowledged that circumstances regarding the suit factored into his decision, but said he has realized for more than a year that he needed to devote full time to outdoor men’s ministries.

If such honesty were to truly take hold, there would be more than correctives to write. Enlightening new stories would emerge. Someone in the Baptist press would find themselves acknowledging, for example, that Currin’s activism was more than simply Southern Baptist. The Southern Poverty Law Center details Currin’s involvement in efforts by political right extremists to take over the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

It would be refreshing indeed to see professional Baptist journalists with knowledge, sources and access detailing the tangle of faith, politics and other agendas.

That would be in faithful keeping with the injunction of former Biblical Recorder Editor R.G. Puckett: “Tell the truth and trust the people.”

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Politics, SBC | | 1 Comment

Don’t get burned in the Bible bonfire

Or, former N.C. Biblical Recorder editor Tony Cartledge warns, disaffected by somehow hyper-visible, hyperventilating fringe views.

To help the dismayed, Cartledge first skillfully unpacks Baptist preacher in the Bible-burning celebration at the 14-member, Canton, N.C., Amazing Grace Baptist Church. Then with equal clarity, he deals with an anti-Obama video “which uses pseudo-scholarship and scare tactics to suggest that Jesus spoke the name of the antiChrist, and it would have sounded like ‘Barack Obama.'” [We dealt with an earlier version of that video.]

The keystone passage on pastor Mark Grizzard’s Bible burning:

Grizzard is welcome to believe the KJV is the preferable translation, but making a spectacle of burning other translations and books is an act of violence against hundreds of translators and authors who love God deeply.

As for the anti-Christ video:

Whoever did put that piece of digital garbage together ought to be ashamed to admit it, because it’s filled with half-truths, mis-truths, and an obvious effort to bear false witness against another. The sad thing is that his fake scholarship sounds just convincing enough that many uniformed viewers will be gullible enough to believe it, or to wonder if it could be true.

Read the entire, scholarship-rich blog here.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Cultural, Religion, SBC | Comments Off on Don’t get burned in the Bible bonfire

Get out your race cards

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan wants to play.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Obama, Satire | Comments Off on Get out your race cards

Boggs Neo-liberals

When independent film-maker Phelim McAleer monopolized the microphone during a Q&A session with former Vice President Al Gore at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ 2009 Annual Conference, the moderator switched to a questioner at the second microphone.[transcript]

In this standard keep-the-questions-moving effort, Louisiana Baptist Message editor Kelly Boggs somehow found evidence Friday of neo-liberal close mindedness.

Counterfactual Kelly has a couple of other, even more poorly examined examples of the behavior he ascribes to a group he terms “neo-liberals,” who seem to be allergic to legitimate debate.

Like Bigfoot, Boggs Neo-liberals may exist.

Perhaps someone else, possibly someone who isn’t published by Baptist Press, will find persuasive evidence.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Satire, SBC | | Comments Off on Boggs Neo-liberals

Links for the twitter-Bible story


Christian Post tells us “And God Decided to Chill,” is a “twitter Bible” without linking to the German-language [German][English translation] where it originated.

And without linking to any of the still-available-online tweets [German][English translation] from which the on-paper book was created.

Had Michelle A. Vu’s story been published exclusively on paper, there would have been less with which to quarrel:

Formally named “And God Decided to Chill,” the German language book is the compilation of tweets by more than 3,000 German Christians who participated in the church project earlier this year.

In honor of the Pentecost holiday, German Christians used the micro-blogging service Twitter to summarize 3,906 Bible sections into 140 character messages, according to Berlin-based newspaper “The Local.” Though the project was scheduled for May 20-30, it was completed 37 hours ahead of schedule and achieved a world record.

Going to an April story at Vu’s also unlinked-to source, Ecumenical News International, we learn how the date of the effort was chosen and that it was a complex, carefully planned undertaking:

The project aims to publish the Bible in a shortened, micro-blog form on 24 May, the final day of the once-every-two years German Protestant Convention known as the Kirchentag, which attracts tens of thousands of participants as well as political leaders from Germany and beyond.

Theologians are busy dividing the Bible into 3000 sections that will need to be summarised as tweets. Volunteers will then distribute flyers to the expected tens of thousands of Kirchentag visitors listing the Bible verses to be tweeted.

About that world record – what world record? One is claimed but never explained in the stories we unearthed.

Well, hope this helps.

October 19, 2009 Posted by | Publications, Religion, WWW | Comments Off on Links for the twitter-Bible story