Baptists Should Worry About: Islam, Atheism, and… What?!

Chuck Colson told a large group of Southern Baptists that enemies are afoot.

Enemy 1:

At one point, Colson said “Islam is a vicious, evil … ” and then before finishing the sentence, said, “Islamo-fascism is evil incarnate.”

Comments about Islam have generated controversy at past Southern Baptist meetings. In 2002, a former Southern Baptist Convention president, the Rev. Jerry Vines, called Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, a “demon-possessed pedophile.”

What is with Baptists and the insanity over Islam?

Enemy 2:

The second threat, Colson said, was evident in the popularity of several best-selling books espousing atheism by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others.

“This is a virulent strain of atheism which seeks to destroy our belief system,” Colson said.

Yes! Finally someone attacks those pesky “books.”

Enemy 3:

Colson also dismissed a burgeoning movement known as “the emergent church” _ popular among younger Baptists and other evangelicals _ as “abandoning the search for truth” in favor of “conversations in coffee shops.”

Those damn Christians trying to have conversations and relate to people. Heathens, all of them.

Doesn’t anyone screen these speakers before inviting them?

(Thanks to Steelman for the link!)


[tags]atheism, atheist, Chuck Colson, Southern Baptist, Islam, Muslim, Rev. Jerry Vines, Muhammad, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, emergent church[/tags]

  • Richard Wade

    Hey Mike C, you have conversations in coffee shops, don’t you? In fact don’t you work in a coffee shop or something?

    That guy may be talking about you.

  • Lee

    This point of view of the Southern Baptists really doesn’t shock me at all. In fact, it’s exactly what I’d expect out of most fundamentalist denominations.
    I was born into a Oklahoma Christian family. My parents were both ‘saved’ before I was born. Before they were ‘born again’, they were going to the honky-tonks and swilling beer with all the other sinners. By the time I was born, they had become faithful in attending the First Church of the Nazarene. For those of my fellow non-believers who are unfamiliar with the Nazarenes, I can tell you that they are a dry, uninteresting ilk of believers… and they are fundamentalists who believe that the bible is literally the word of god and anything outside of their god’s will is evil.
    In 1979, my folks moved the family from Oklahoma to West Texas. There, my parents decided there must be more to the religious experience than what they had experienced up to that point… I think my dad must have been talking church with a co-worker and became intrigued with the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. We began attending an Assembly of God church – this was my first experience with hearing people ‘speaking in tongues’. One thing this group had in common with the Nazarene fundys was the belief that the bible is literally god’s word and anything outside of their view of god is inherently evil.
    I didn’t really become immersed in the whole Charismatic movement until we moved to Louisiana and became members of the First Assembly of God in a small, central Louisiana city – what a culture difference! The people there were so much more emotionally expressive (a nice way of putting it) than any I’d ever seen. These people not only spoke in tongues, but they also gave messages in tongues and were ‘slain in the spirit’ (that’s where you fall to the floor, shaking, quivering, and jabbering in tongues with your hands in the air, your eyes closed, and a goofy grin on your face). This group had the most militant view of others who did not line up with their take on the ‘word of god’.
    After I became indoctrinated by this Louisiana group of A/G fundys, I also became a little bit insane. I was fearful of nuns – after all, Catholicism, as I was taught, was an evil cult that worships Mary (who is really not really the Mary that is Jesus’ mother, but the Whore of Babylon, or some such nonsense). I learned about faith, demonology, the evils of secularism, and other things through the teachings of televangelists such as Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Creflo Dollar, and Jesse Duplantis.
    The lessons I learned about evil during my time spent with the militant fundamentalists also paved the way for my doubt in the movement and my
    conversion to atheism – not the result my family would hope for – I’m the only atheist in my family. I was the only one in my family who questioned the faith and actually put it to the test. As a 16-year-old girl, my test was to see if the ‘message in tongues’ displays that my church loved so well was real. In my test, I reasoned that if it were real, I would be called down if I faked it (The whole idea behind the message in tongues is that one person very loudly speaks out a message in tongues that is interpreted by another person in the church for the understanding of all – it was viewed as a direct message or prophecy from God). So I faked a message in tongues, fully expexting to be called down for faking it – but I wasn’t called down. The so-called message was interpreted and I was elevated in status by the rest of the church for ‘being open to god as a vessel of his voice’.
    Okay, so these people are teaching me? What can they really have to offer? Now I realize that all I learned from them was an unhealthy mixture of hatred, bigotry, fear, loathing, and ignorance. But at least I possessed a mind that fought the battle for me – and won out over stupidity (I’ve been a full-fledged atheist since 1998). Too bad there are millions of others in militant fundamentalist churches such as Assemblies of God, Southern Baptist churches, United Pentecostal churches, and others who refuse to obey their sense of reason.
    I suspect that it was such a militant fundamentalist who dented the rear of my SUV right by the “reality bites” evolve fish eating the christian fish sticker… destruction of property fits in well with such an attitude of ignorance and hatred.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Chuck Colson —-> Paris Hilton. Different look, same act.

    G. G. Liddy said taht Colson once said he’d run over his grandmother for Nixon, he wondered what he’d do for Jesus. Probably the last thing Liddy said that was coherent.

    A religious denomination that is taking lessons from Chuck Colson is a denomination in trouble. Which doesn’t exactly bother me, considering it’s the Southern Baptists c. 2007.

    You know that the Baptists began as a free thought movement? Roger Williams was the origin of the idea of the Separation of Church and state. I believe Jefferson or maybe Madison cited him as such.

  • http://www.agnosticatheism.wordpress.com HeIsSailing

    Old as I am, I don’t even know what an ‘Emergent Church’ is. Can somebody summarize this movement for me, and why Colson may feel threatened by it? Thanks

  • Darryl

    Many of the problems we are having with fundamentalists will be solved by simple attrition. As the older virulent fundies are dying off we see that younger evangelicals are reflecting the times in which they were raised. We’ve just got to hold out until the worst ones are dead, and keep a close eye on their disciples. One day, gay-hating will be incomprehensible to evangelicals, and they will be embarrassed by their history, and hopefully they will take a lesson from this and be less dogmatic all around (although I’m not betting on that).

    Education is the only thing we can positively do to combat this kind of dangerous nonsense.

    Lee, your story is something. It’s too bad you were dragged through all that.

  • Darryl

    Mike C. won’t like this, but here’s my view about his and his wife’s ministry: the emergent church in my view is a means by which Christians (and maybe others) that could be or become a part of the problem can transition into becoming a part of the solution. I’d much prefer a young person that is susceptible to being radicalized by some fundamentalist to stumble upon Pastor Mike’s kinder and more reasonable way of being religious.

    Sorry for making you an instrument of my grand vision, Mike.

  • Richard Wade

    HeIsSailing,
    We have a resident Emerging Church Pastor who contributes much to this site, Mike C. If Hemant has a “Friendly Christian” counterpart, this is the guy. You can find a good description on his blog. Scroll down and on the left, under “Classic Pensees” you’ll find an article called “What is the Emergent Church?”

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    Mike C. won’t like this, but here’s my view about his and his wife’s ministry: the emergent church in my view is a means by which Christians (and maybe others) that could be or become a part of the problem can transition into becoming a part of the solution.

    Actually that’s a great definition. In fact, I use that language of “being part of the solution” vs. “being part of the problem” myself quite frequently at our church. :)

  • Mriana

    I think Colson has a misinformed and/or misguided view of atheists. Yes, there are atheist extremists, but I don’t think they are anything to be concerned about. I am more concerned about religious extremists (both Christian and Islamic). They scare me more than atheists who are extreme in their views. Harris appears to not believe in violence and Dawkins considers violence uncivilized. Religious extremists have no boundries and to me are cause for alarm.

    I am uncertain about the Emergent Church though. I can see it going either way. People like Spong concern me far less.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    Hey Mike C, you have conversations in coffee shops, don’t you? In fact don’t you work in a coffee shop or something?

    Yeah, I work in a coffee shop. And I often have conversations there too. ;) ::gasp::

    That guy may be talking about you.

    I guarantee that he is. In fact, I once wrote a letter to Colson complaining about his unfair caricature of the emerging church and he wrote me a letter back in which he claimed to be familiar with the EC but then proceeded to misspell the name of the one author he claimed to have read.

    Anyway, I’m glad to know I’m in good company on Colson’s “Axis of Evil” – Muslims, Atheists, and Me! :)

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    BTW, the article about the emerging church that Richard Wade mentioned is here. However, it is written primarily for a Christian audience already familiar with the terminology, so be forewarned.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person by who he counts as his enemies.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Lee… what an incredible story. I’m so happy for you that you got out of that.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • waldteufel

    Says a lot about the Southern Baptists when they have to turn to a convicted felon for moral guidance.

  • Miko

    I think Colson has a misinformed and/or misguided view of atheists. Yes, there are atheist extremists, but I don’t think they are anything to be concerned about.

    Well, that’s the atheist side of things. We don’t blow up buildings, but we do sometimes help people see why their religion is silly. As atheists, we’re afraid of being killed by zealots. As Baptists, they’re afraid of people burning in hell forever as punishment for critical thinking.

    Now, since there isn’t a god, and certainly isn’t a god who devotes a significant amount of time to punishing rationality, you’re right that there isn’t anything to be concerned about. But for the people who don’t realize that, I can see why it’d be scary.

  • Steelman

    (My last two attempts to post disappeared, so I hope I don’t end up doubling up…)

    Mike C said: Anyway, I’m glad to know I’m in good company on Colson’s “Axis of Evil” – Muslims, Atheists, and Me! :)

    A Southern Baptist version of the Axis of Evil was exactly my thought in my email to Hemant about this article. Authoritarians, non-authoritarians, believers, unbelievers, and apostates; the SBC takes all comers who would dare challenge their…I mean God’s, authority! I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Fundamentalism,” and below that, “Means never having to change your mind.”

    Which has me wondering, Mike, since you’re one of those who changed your mind about fundamentalism:
    In regard to what the article said about the EC being “popular among younger Baptists and other evangelicals”: is it? What are the age and previous religious affiliation demographics in the EC?

  • Steelman

    To Lee: I was also raised in the Church of the Nazarene and later (as a young adult) attended an AoG church. Ah, the memories…:)

  • QrazyQat

    What Colson is very worried about is “thought”. People talk and sometimes, accidentally, think while doing so in places like coffee shops. This is indeed very dangerous for religion, especially conservative and literal religions. Receieved wisdom handed down is where it’s at for them.

  • Mriana

    Speaking of religious zealots…

    I had to place some crazed delusional person named secretary of the Afterlife2.org on my spam list. They are now threatening me with a potential visitor from the afterlife, as well as other loonecy. :roll: I’ve never replied to their off-list spam, but they are on some Yahoo list just to harass evolutionists and maybe some other places with atheists and alike. When I say crazed and delusional, they make no sense and even by X-ian standards, they’d be mentally ill. So, be forewarned. :( I’m even let the owner of where I THINK said person came from know too.

    There’s always the spam button, thank goodness!

  • Maria

    I’ve noticed this happening whenever people in a Church start to get “too liberal”…..

  • Chance

    You know that the Baptists began as a free thought movement? Roger Williams was the origin of the idea of the Separation of Church and state. I believe Jefferson or maybe Madison cited him as such.

    This is corect but please please don’t confuse the American Baptists with the Suthern strain. The thinking and rationalism inherent in the American variety is often missing in it’s southern cousin.

  • Stephen

    I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “Fundamentalism,” and below that, “Means never having to change your mind.”

    I’m not really a graffiti person, but I’d be awfully tempted to alter “change” to “use”.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    In regard to what the article said about the EC being “popular among younger Baptists and other evangelicals”: is it? What are the age and previous religious affiliation demographics in the EC?

    The emerging church is very big among younger evangelicals. It has its roots as an attempt by churches to reach young adults back in the late nineties, but very quickly the young leaders that were tapped to do this started to realize that there was more than generational differences at play – what we needed was not just a repackaging of the same old gospel for a younger generation but a different approach to the gospel altogether (one that is more open to doubts and questioning, as well as one that is more about following Christ’s way of compassion and justice in the world than just about holding the right doctrinal beliefs). And as they began to discover this new approach they found that it wasn’t just young people who were longing for a different way.

    So yeah, the EC is predominantly but not exclusively young. In fact, my own emerging church contains probably more empty-nester aged families than young 20-somethings. But other EC’s in more young and hip urban areas or college towns do tend to attract the younger set. It just depends.

  • Maria

    You know I’ve noticed whenever a Church gets too “liberal” (or certain members of it do)-atheists are blamed. When I started becoming really liberal, some conservative people I ran into into at the Church I was at at the time said it was the work of “atheists”. Nevermind up till then I had only met on person who said she was an atheist and we never even talked about religion. My liberalism was the result of coming into contact with more of the real world. You guys really do get blamed for everything! :(

  • Jen

    Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person by who he counts as his enemies.

    Yes, and if the answer is everyone then you know he has a problem.

    Am I the only one who thinks its hysterical he accuses Muhammad of being a pedophile? Has he read the Bible? I mean, I get that things were way different back in OT time (after all, everyone lived to be 659) but how many people in the Bible took child brides, multiple brides, cousin/even closer relation brides? How can he judge one religion by modern standards and not another?

  • Mriana

    Atheists may get blamed for everything, Maria, but it doesn’t mean that it’s true and it’s not true. I get tired of people blaming others for something they had nothing to do with. It’s all crazy, but I honestly believe, some churches need to take a look at themselves. Their extremism sometimes creates atheists. Some extremely religious families help contribute to other family members rejection of religion. So, in essence, it can very well be Christians who need to be blamed.

  • Maria

    Their extremism sometimes creates atheists. Some extremely religious families help contribute to other family members rejection of religion

    I agree

  • Lee

    Steelman, I can only imagine the conversations you and I could have about our past religious experiences. Ah, the book burnings, the rock-n-roll album/cassette/8-track bonfires (you don’t want your marshmallows roasted over that one, fer sure), the ouija board burnings… makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside… kinda like a strawberry that rolled under the kitchen cabinet and was lost for a couple of months.

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  • http://tomesnyder.com/ Tom E. Snyder

    Colson also dismissed a burgeoning movement known as “the emergent church” _ popular among younger Baptists and other evangelicals _ as “abandoning the search for truth” in favor of “conversations in coffee shops.”

    So I guess Jesus is in trouble for talking to the Samaritan woman at the well instead of inviting her to “church”.

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  • Maria

    So I guess Jesus is in trouble for talking to the Samaritan woman at the well instead of inviting her to “church”.

    You know you gotta wonder how some of these “Christian leaders” would act today if they actually met the real Jesus……..

  • Mriana

    They probably missed the knock at the door or turned that person away not recognizing them.

  • Mriana

    Islam. It’s “evil incarnate.”

    Atheism. It’s “virulent.”

    Christian coffee shops??!?

    Oh good grief! Atheism is a virus now? PLEASE! OK, I’ll shut up before I go on a rant that gets my foot in mouth and I start sounding like Dawkins.

  • DS

    Yes, there are atheist extremists, but I don’t think they are anything to be concerned about.

    Yeah, when was the last atheist suicide bomber?

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