Stupid Preacher

I’m not going to mince words: I think that if this letter to the editor in the Winston-Salem Journal from Robert L. Hutchens, Pastor of Meadowview Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, is any indication of his intellect then he’s about as poor a leader of a flock as you’re going to find. His letter is written, I think, to support the Forsyth County Commissioners’ decision to fight the ACLU’s effort to stop the practice of sectarian prayers before commission meetings. Here’s what he wrote:

While militant
Muslims attempt to overthrow world governments with violence, some
local governments continue to claim that we can’t pray in Jesus’ name
in government meetings. This controversy separates those who are
Christian in name only from Christ’s true disciples who obey God before
men.

The Danbury
Baptists wrote to Thomas Jefferson, who assured them that government
would stay out of churches’ business because of separation of church
and state. It’s meant to keep government out of the church, not
vice-versa. That same week Thomas Jefferson attended Christian worship
in the Capitol, and at his request, military service bands played
Christian hymns.

Atheists are free
not to believe, and should thank the Baptists, for Baptists have always
stood for soul liberty, whether choosing Christ or not. During the
Middle Ages, apostate Roman Catholicism murdered millions of
Anabaptists and atheists with power from a corrupt union of religion
and government. During our nation’s infancy, European Protestants
continued to persecute Baptists attempting to unionize church and
state. Only those ignoring historical facts pervert this separation and
attempt to limit our right to Biblical prayer before government
meetings.

Thankfully some other readers of the Journal didn’t hesitate to call him on his, uh, creative historical perspective. On August 4, Rudy Diamond of Lewisville wrote to the Journal:

A letter to the
editor (“In Jesus’ Name,” July 28) says that Thomas Jefferson’s
wall-of-separation letter to the Danbury Baptists is “meant to keep
government out of the church, not vice versa.” I beg to differ. Nothing
in Jefferson’s writings supports a one-way wall of separation of church
and state.

Jefferson
distrusted the clergy. In a letter to Jeremiah Moor in 1800, Jefferson
wrote, “The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and
ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable
engine against the civil and religious rights of man.”

Not only did
Jefferson distrust the clergy, but his view of Christianity also
differed from the views held by today’s religious right. In an April
11, 1823, letter to John Adams, Jefferson wrote, “The day will come
when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his
father, in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the
generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

An accurate reading of history will fully support the concept of a separation of church and state that is not just one way.

RUDY DIAMOND

Lewisville

And on August 5 Mel Henderson wrote a letter to the editor in response to Pastor Hutchens:

The writer of the
letter “In Jesus’ Name” (July 28) claims that when Thomas Jefferson
wrote of the wall of separation between church and state, he only meant
it to be a one-way wall, preventing the state from influencing the
church.

Jefferson was a
brilliant man, and I think he knew full well the difference between a
wall and a funnel. His letter to the Danbury Baptists is quite clear.

This “one-way wall” is not only a science-fiction device; it is an attempt to make something say the opposite of what it says.

The whole point of
this minister’s letter seems to be “we Baptists will humor you
separatists and let you have your religious liberty — even though you
have no right to it.” As American citizens, we do.

MEL H. HENDERSON

I owe Rudy and Mel a debt of gratitude because their responses prevented me from getting my panties in a bunch and did a much better job of putting the disingenuous Pastor Hutchens in his place.

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