Last month, Angela Thomas wrote a pretty entertaining column for the Madisonville Messenger, a local newspaper in Kentucky. It poked fun at how the Southern Baptist Convention had voiced opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow in gay members:
Well, the Southern Baptist Convention has rejected the Boy Scouts of America. Thank goodness. It’s about time. They’ve already rejected the Democratic Party, Disney, the Teletubbies, and any Baptists that aren’t southern. So, it’s only natural that the Boy Scouts would be next, most likely followed by Betty Crocker (probably a lesbian), baseball (always going to Disneyworld when they win the World Series), and apple pie (eaten by Democrats, Mickey Mouse, Teletubbies…)
[Southern Baptists] are too sanctimonious to participate in Easter egg hunts and trick-or-treating. Santa and the Easter bunny are simply the devil in disguise, and cable television and the Internet are his playground. The Boy Scouts are his evil minions.
She went on to say that the rightward shift of Southern Baptists has turned them into “raging Shiite Baptists” and that they’re now the “crazy old paranoid uncle of evangelical Christians.”
I laughed. She makes good points! Southern Baptists often take their holier-than-thou attitudes too far and they really ought to let some things slide when they’re not big deals.
Her column wasn’t particularly offensive or mean — it was satirical more than anything else — but it’s causing quite the stir because her husband Bill Thomas happens to be an assistant pastor at First Baptist Church in Madisonville.
In the weeks since [her article was published], the status of Bill Thomas’ job with the church has become unclear. The First Baptist pastor said he had accepted Thomas’ resignation, but Thomas’ wrote in a letter obtained by the newspaper he had not quit.
Either way, one of the pastors is lying…
To his credit, Bill is supporting his wife on this one, saying of her column: “I did read it. I agreed with what she said and I don’t censor what my wife does.” He may also be under pressure to resign because he previously showed support for an openly gay church member who wanted to join the choir.
But SBC hierarchy isn’t taking his support of his wife lightly:
The Rev. Russell Moore, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said he was surprised the “shockingly sarcastic tone” of the column came from the spouse of a church employee. It’s not clear whether Angela Thomas also attended First Baptist.
“I didn’t find the column to be the sort of lighthearted poking that one would typically find in satire,” Moore said. “I found it instead to be more of a screed from someone who’s very hostile to where most Baptists stand.”
It’s not hostile to poke fun at your own people, especially when you have the ability to see them as others do.
More importantly, though, this whole debacle offers a lot of insight into how the SBC operates. A man’s job could be in jeopardy because church leaders are upset with something his wife wrote. It’s his job, in their view, to keep her in line.
The SBC’s response to all this just proves that Angela Thomas’ column was spot-on accurate.