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Public baptism sparks controversy
CNN ^ | Wednesday, June 2, 2004 Posted: 8:31 AM EDT (1231 GMT) 6/2/2004 | AP

Posted on 06/02/2004 9:41:22 AM PDT by zechariah

Public baptism sparks controversy

Wednesday, June 2, 2004 Posted: 8:31 AM EDT (1231 GMT)

Pastor Todd Pyle baptizes Mark Maynard in the Rappahannock River at Falmouth Beach in Virginia.

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- The Rev. Todd Pyle thought it was the perfect spot to baptize 12 new members of his church. The river was calm and shallow, and there was a shaded area offshore for people to stand.

"It was a very serene place," he said. "It was special."

But officials at the Falmouth Waterfront Park, a public park just outside Fredericksburg, weren't pleased. They tried to break up the ceremony, claiming it might be offensive to nearby swimmers or other people using the park. Pyle was able to finish the baptism, but then he was asked to leave.

The incident has outraged free-speech advocates.

"These people are being discriminated against because of the content of their speech," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, who heads the Christian Defense Coalition. "It's one of the most egregious violations of the First Amendment I have ever seen."

Mahoney's group has threatened to file a lawsuit if the park refuses to allow future gatherings by religious groups, something for which the park admits it has no written policy.

Pyle said he chose to hold an outdoor baptism, still common in parts of the South, because his Cornerstone Baptist Church in Stafford lacks an indoor baptismal pool. He said few people seemed to notice the small congregation during the 30-minute ceremony May 23.

But park officials said religious groups seeking to perform a service in the park still need to apply for a permit or else gather under a shelter or inside.

"We don't want to tread on anybody's First Amendment or constitutional rights," said Brian Robinson, director of the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority. "What we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted that just sort of occurs spontaneously."

John Whitehead, director of The Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based civil liberties organization, said that's a clear violation of the church members' constitutional rights.

"Could a church have a picnic in the park and sing hymns? Of course they could," he said. "Parks have been forums since time immemorial to do these types of things."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia also said in a statement: "If the park rules allow people to wade and swim in the river, then they must allow baptisms in the river."

Robinson said the park's board has formed a special committee to examine its policy and to put it in writing. If the church applies for the proper permit, he said it's "certainly possible" they would be allowed to use the river for another baptism.

Meanwhile, Pyle said he will find another place to hold outdoor baptisms.

"We're disappointed," he said. "Every single person that was baptized thanked me afterward, saying [the river] made their experience more meaningful."

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: aclu; baptism; churchandstate; fredericksburg; lawsuit; rutherfordinstitute; vaaclu
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1 posted on 06/02/2004 9:41:23 AM PDT by zechariah
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To: zechariah
What?
It has to be done in secret now?

So9

2 posted on 06/02/2004 9:44:01 AM PDT by Servant of the 9 (Screwing the Inscrutable or is it Scruting the Inscrewable?)
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To: AdamSelene235

ping.

[z]


3 posted on 06/02/2004 9:45:24 AM PDT by zechariah ("Sir", they said, "We would like to see Jesus.")
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To: zechariah
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia also said in a statement: "If the park rules allow people to wade and swim in the river, then they must allow baptisms in the river."

This is so obvious, even the ACLU can't weigh in on the wrong side.

4 posted on 06/02/2004 9:46:40 AM PDT by shhrubbery!
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To: zechariah
They tried to break up the ceremony, claiming it might be offensive to nearby swimmers or other people using the park. Pyle was able to finish the baptism, but then he was asked to leave.

I wonder how assiduously they go after people having sex in the park.

5 posted on 06/02/2004 9:48:04 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: shhrubbery!

Maybe the Park Service is afraid of Holy Water....


6 posted on 06/02/2004 9:48:22 AM PDT by OpusatFR (Vote Kerry if you want to commit national suicide)
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To: zechariah

Somebody put these "officials" in touch with the city officials of Hamtramck, MI.


7 posted on 06/02/2004 9:50:33 AM PDT by Monk Dimittis
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To: zechariah
we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted

"All that is not mandatory is forbidden."

Scary choice of words from the spokesperson.

8 posted on 06/02/2004 9:51:44 AM PDT by been_lurking
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To: hellinahandcart

I wonder how assiduously they go after people having sex in the park.

 

Especially if they're gay.

 

Oh, excuse me...Public gay sex is now considered an educational field trip for elementary school children...

9 posted on 06/02/2004 9:53:26 AM PDT by Fintan (Oh, who cares...)
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To: Servant of the 9
It has to be done in secret now?

That's right - all Christianity must occur in designated Church buildings - otherwise it will infringe upon the public's general welfare.
10 posted on 06/02/2004 9:56:59 AM PDT by AD from SpringBay (We have the government we allow and deserve.)
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To: zechariah
" "What we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted that just sort of occurs spontaneously." "

Jackass authoritarian bozo...

11 posted on 06/02/2004 9:56:59 AM PDT by spunkets
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To: zechariah
"We don't want to tread on anybody's First Amendment or constitutional rights," said Brian Robinson, director of the Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority. "What we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted that just sort of occurs spontaneously."

Yeah, you have to watch out for those spur of the moment baptisms.

12 posted on 06/02/2004 9:57:30 AM PDT by TontoKowalski
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To: been_lurking
"All that is not mandatory is forbidden."

Well, 1984 is now long past and the Thought Police are taking their positions of authority.

13 posted on 06/02/2004 9:59:02 AM PDT by siunevada
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To: zechariah

"claiming it might be offensive to nearby swimmers" Can someone tell me just where in the constitution this right not to be offended is before I have an anurism? How about my right not to be bombarded daily with their girls gone wild culture.


14 posted on 06/02/2004 9:59:25 AM PDT by bad company (to thine own self be true)
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To: Servant of the 9

this coming Sunday our church (which meets at the local high school) will be holding baptisms in a rented hot tub out in the school's quad area right after service... usually we gather at somebody's swimming pool... the hot tub thing should be interesting...


15 posted on 06/02/2004 10:00:20 AM PDT by latina4dubya
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To: zechariah
"What we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted that just sort of occurs spontaneously."

Yeah, that's why I go to the park, lots of formally planned activity.

16 posted on 06/02/2004 10:01:43 AM PDT by siunevada
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To: TontoKowalski

I see people babtized all the time at the Kern River here in CA. We'll be playing in the water at the park and they will be dunking person after person across the river. I've never heard anyone complain.


17 posted on 06/02/2004 10:03:25 AM PDT by chile
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To: Fintan

Yep. The current governor of Virginia hands out pardons to folks who are convicted of indecent acts in public. Gay sex in public is ok with Gov. Warner.


18 posted on 06/02/2004 10:04:18 AM PDT by petitfour
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To: zechariah

Do you people know how outraged a normal person can get seeing some right-wing whackos "washing" their old selves and rising as a child of Christ??? Huh? Huh??? Its disgusting!!

You have to keep these freaks in control or they will start talking to you in God-speak...

</sarcasm for those who think im serious>


19 posted on 06/02/2004 10:06:29 AM PDT by smith288 (Its only May and im sick of John Kerry's ugly mug)
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To: zechariah
Does anyone actually read the First Amendment any more? (i.e., the part about "free excercise")
20 posted on 06/02/2004 10:12:44 AM PDT by Question_Assumptions
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To: zechariah

It's another moron moment brought to you by a gubmint hack.


21 posted on 06/02/2004 10:13:23 AM PDT by Jaded
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To: shhrubbery!

-"The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia also said in a statement: "If the park rules allow people to wade and swim in the river, then they must allow baptisms in the river."

This is so obvious, even the ACLU can't weigh in on the wrong side."-

Unfortunately, the parks are afraid BECAUSE the ACLU is already threatening them to remove religious evidence, monuments, plaques, etc., so the parks' over-reactions to things like this are quite understandable. The ACLU take away, and giveth all in the same breath.


22 posted on 06/02/2004 10:14:30 AM PDT by AmericanChef
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To: zechariah
"The river was calm and shallow, and there was a shaded area offshore for people to stand."
 
That pastor must have a very righteous flock!

23 posted on 06/02/2004 10:15:55 AM PDT by azcap
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To: chile

Saw the same thing in Lake Tahoe last summer while on vacation. Sure people stopped and looked. Nobody seemed upset or offended. We thought it was great.


24 posted on 06/02/2004 10:16:31 AM PDT by PrincessB
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To: azcap
That pastor must have a very righteous flock!

Well, The Master stood off shore, the flock may as well give it a try.

(Good catch)

25 posted on 06/02/2004 10:20:13 AM PDT by Graybeard58
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To: zechariah

I'm surprised that after saying the traditional "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit", that they weren't carted away for "hate speech".


26 posted on 06/02/2004 10:29:00 AM PDT by BSunday (If you're not right, you're wrong.)
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To: zechariah

Oh for crying out loud - what is this, Mecca, or the United States? They need a *permit* to have baptisms? It's time for a big fat lawsuit.


27 posted on 06/02/2004 10:33:29 AM PDT by valkyrieanne
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To: AD from SpringBay
It has to be done in secret now?

That's right - all Christianity must occur in designated Church buildings - otherwise it will infringe upon the public's general welfare.

Just curiously rhetorical...when (not if) we're attacked again, and the country starts singing "God Bless America" again, to which one will they be singing?

Can you imagine how some people would FREAK OUT if they heard a voice from Heaven saying "You've taken me out of your schools, your courtrooms, your laws, your city logos, your parks...everything but your money...and now that you're in trouble, NOW you call on me?"

28 posted on 06/02/2004 10:44:21 AM PDT by Christian4Bush (I approve this message: character and integrity matter. Bush/Cheney for '04.)
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To: zechariah

Now, had they been druids, or muslims, or...............


29 posted on 06/02/2004 10:50:17 AM PDT by Hegemony Cricket (Better fight the WOT in the Iraqi "holy" city of Najaf, than in the American holy city of New York.)
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To: zechariah

"We don't want to tread on anybody's First Amendment or constitutional rights,"

Well sir, you may not want to, but you and your ilk are doing a damn bang up job of it.

This PC crap of denying religious groups public access and free speech has now become the religion of the left.

Creeps all, they scream about religious people forcing their beliefs onto others. This while the repressive PC Nazis strive heartily at taking away our freedoms. It is now past passive resistance, it is time to get in their freaken faces and expose them for what they are. "NAZIS" whom wish to impose their beliefs and doctorines upon us all.


30 posted on 06/02/2004 10:53:14 AM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: zechariah
"I do not believe that the kind of society I describe in 1984 necessarily WILL arrive, but I believe...that something resembling it COULD arrive. I believe also that totalitarian ideas have taken root in the minds of intellectuals everywhere." - George Orwell


31 posted on 06/02/2004 10:55:12 AM PDT by Protagoras (Control is the objective , freedom is the obstacle.)
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To: zechariah
They tried to break up the ceremony, claiming it might be offensive to nearby swimmers or other people using the park.

How inconsiderate! They should have said they were performing a nude gay wedding ceremony.

32 posted on 06/02/2004 10:55:23 AM PDT by Alouette (Allah all wette)
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To: zechariah

I wonder if the "offended" persons were of the Mohammedan persuasion...

Probably.


33 posted on 06/02/2004 10:57:10 AM PDT by Guillermo (Simpson, you've got a short in your tail light. It started blinking when you made that turn - Wiggum)
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To: zechariah

INTREP - SECULARIZATION OF AMERICA ALERT!


34 posted on 06/02/2004 10:58:58 AM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: Hegemony Cricket

hey....

don't start disparaging the druids...


35 posted on 06/02/2004 10:59:05 AM PDT by Robert_Paulson2 (the madridification of our election is now officially underway.)
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To: zechariah

One step closer to CWII.


36 posted on 06/02/2004 11:01:01 AM PDT by F16Fighter
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To: zechariah; coloradan
"What we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted that just sort of occurs spontaneously."

All that is not permitted is forbidden, Comrade.

Is your church ATF approved?

37 posted on 06/02/2004 11:02:03 AM PDT by AdamSelene235
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To: zechariah
But officials at the Falmouth Waterfront Park...

How many officials does the park have, anyway? Why don't they just admit it was one uneducated "I'm-in-touch-with-nature" park ranger's assistant who got a bee in her or his bonnet about Gaia being so desecrated? That's my guess. Christians just don't appreciate nature, ya see.

38 posted on 06/02/2004 11:04:40 AM PDT by Puddleglum (Defy the media elite - vote Bush in 2004!)
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To: zechariah

People are shocked that the world hates Christ and his followers. LOL. People don't even want the slightest inference of God to remind them that they are responsible for their actions. Their parents didn't, their government doesn't, who is God... (/sarcasm).

Just think, if it were handled like free trade, some here would just say "get over it, it ain't your religion".


39 posted on 06/02/2004 11:07:11 AM PDT by Havoc ("The line must be drawn here. This far and no further!")
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To: zechariah
It's a good thing this subversive group of Christians didn't try to announce their "Call to Baptism" over a public loudspeaker system, or they'd be in really BIG trouble, and the unbiased ACLU could no longer support them. Oh, wait....
40 posted on 06/02/2004 11:25:51 AM PDT by Auntie Dem (Hey! Hey! Ho! Ho! Terrorist lovers gotta go!)
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To: Robert_Paulson2

Disparaging? LOL! Nothing disparaging there. As numerous other posts on this thread have pointed out, perhaps somewhat obliquely, Christianity is virtually unique in being singled out for elimination from the public square. This is particularly odious to some (including me) because Christianity has been very pervasive from long before the founding of this country through the present time.

Like our founding fathers, I would heartily oppose any effort to "establish an official state religion". This position does not require eliminating Christianity, nor does it require giving preference to other belief systems to "compensate" for Christianity being so pervasive, as some seem to mistakenly think.

I yield the soapbox and the remainder of my time to my esteemed FR colleagues. :-)


41 posted on 06/02/2004 12:33:56 PM PDT by Hegemony Cricket (Better fight the WOT in the Iraqi "holy" city of Najaf, than in the American holy city of New York.)
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To: zechariah

Mahoney's group has threatened to file a lawsuit if the park refuses to allow future gatherings by religious groups, something for which the park admits it has no written policy.

Dont threaten Mahoney....do it. And get lots of monies from these crumbs and cripple them financially.


42 posted on 06/02/2004 3:35:37 PM PDT by mlmr (Poisoning pigeons in the Park............)
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To: zechariah
But park officials said religious groups seeking to perform a service in the park still need to apply for a permit or else gather under a shelter or inside

If that is true then this ceremony is cut-and-dry illegal. Now, if they apply for a permit and are denied....then we have a problem.
43 posted on 06/02/2004 3:50:12 PM PDT by LanaTurnerOverdrive
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To: Servant of the 9

I guess we have to start christening ships in church buildings.


44 posted on 06/02/2004 4:00:35 PM PDT by ValerieUSA
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To: zechariah
Where did this 'right to not be offended' come from? It seems that this mythical 'right' is being used more and more to suppress and oppress people. And it seems to be used most often by low level bureaucrats in situations where no one complained about anything.
45 posted on 06/02/2004 4:06:37 PM PDT by vigilo
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To: siunevada
Yeah, that's why I go to the park, lots of formally planned activity.

Sign of the times:

NO pets!

Stay off the grass!

No cans or bottles!

No Running!

No frisbee!

No tree climbing!

No Fishing!

No Swimming!

No littering!

No Sports!

Thank you and enjoy your stay at the park!

46 posted on 06/02/2004 4:29:14 PM PDT by Doomonyou (Molon Labe! FMCDH!)
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To: zechariah
What we try to discourage is anything not formally permitted that just sort of occurs spontaneously

The credo of a tyrant.

47 posted on 06/02/2004 4:35:55 PM PDT by Rytwyng (we're here, we're Huguenots, get used to us)
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To: TontoKowalski
Yeah, you have to watch out for those spur of the moment baptisms

Like this one?

Acts 8:35-38

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

48 posted on 06/02/2004 4:45:55 PM PDT by Rytwyng (we're here, we're Huguenots, get used to us)
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To: zechariah

I bet if it was some sort of pagan moose-limb water dunking ceremony it would be A-OK with the park.


49 posted on 06/02/2004 6:26:39 PM PDT by CurlyDave
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To: hellinahandcart
I wonder how assiduously they go after people having sex in the park.

Very aggressively, I'm sure. Unless it is homo-sex. Then they probably look the other way. Literally.

50 posted on 06/02/2004 6:32:34 PM PDT by Bloody Sam Roberts (`,,`,,Election '04...It's going to be a bumpy ride,,`,,`)
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