And a Puppet Shall Lead Them

Has the election registered in your brain yet? It has among the Southern Baptists.

From the Suspicions Confirmed Dept.:

The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest collection of churches, is finally winding down its meal service for hurricane victims in the Southeast. That's the bad news.

The even worse news is that, now that the Baptists have even more of a presence in that part of the country than they did before, they're going to shift into "long-term ministry."

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The church's members remind every American not only that the sole way to "salvation" is to believe in Jesus Christ in exactly the way the Southern Baptists believe but also that their denomination is "the third-largest disaster relief agency in the country, behind the Red Cross and the Salvation Army."

Church official Jim Burton told faithful readers of the Baptist Press that the 16 million "Southern Baptists need to remember that disasters aren't over when the cleanup ends" and that they need to keep supporting Baptist officials "in the affected states as they develop their long-term strategy not just of the physical rebuild but also of the emotional and spiritual rebuild."

Let's face it: These religious nuts can't wait to get their hooks in, especially through their annual summer "mobilization" of 24,000 missionaries called World Changers.

"The annual objective of World Changers, which is primarily the rehabilitation of substandard housing and sharing the Gospel, is going to blend well with the long-term recovery efforts of disaster relief," Burton said.

Of more immediate concern is how many of these faithful will flock to the polls next week.

Numerous observers, including The New York Times in this story by David D. Kirkpatrick, have noted how hard George W. Bush's handlers are working to get the evangelicals to say amen.

Skirting on the edge of election laws, former Christian Coalition chief salesman Ralph Reed told the sect's pastors this summer at the annual Southern Baptist confab, "Without advocating on behalf of any candidate or political party, you can make sure that everyone in your circle of influence is registered to vote."

The call-response is locked in: The Southern Baptists organized "I Vote Values," their first-ever major voter registration drive, Kirkpatrick wrote. Now that it's the 21st century, the Southern Baptists are no longer afraid to provide a link on their voter-registration website to even The Washington Post, especially when it's to an October 15 story headlined "Evangelical Leaders Appeal to Followers to Go to Polls." You should read it too.

Key, of course, is the favorite tactic of Bush-Cheney '04 Inc.: fear. In this case, it's fear of them heathen homosexuals.

Who knows how many people will actually turn out to vote in this strange and scary election season. But for sure a lot of Southern Baptists will. And amid all the soup-ladling and soul-saving is the steady drumbeat of anti-gay rhetoric.

Baptist preacher Dwight McKissic, a black man, spread that message in a speech earlier this month at the denomination's huge seminary in Forth Worth. As a Baptist Press story noted, McKissic "could offer no guarantee" that "the battle against same-sex unions would be won." But, referring to the black soldiers in the movie Glory, he said:

On the verge of a suicide battle and after an all-night prayer meeting, they said, "If we go down, we’re going down standing up."

All this talk about "going down standing up"—that's a different missionary position for religious sects in America.

 


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