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Legal challenge threatened if baptism blocked (ACLU Shocker)
Richmond Times-Dispatch ^ | Jun 3, 2004 | JUSTIN BERGMAN

Posted on 06/04/2004 6:44:42 AM PDT by Ligeia

Edited on 07/20/2004 11:51:53 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

RICHMOND, Va. - Free-speech advocates warned Thursday they will file a federal lawsuit if officials at a public park block a baptism planned for this weekend in the Rappahannock River.

Kent Willis, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, said he has prepared a temporary restraining order against the park if officials try to interfere with an Episcopal pastor's plans to hold a baptism there on Sunday.


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


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: aclj; aclu; baptism; churchandstate; fredericksburg; lawsuit; religiousfreedom; rutherfordinstitute; vaaclu
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When has the ACLU been known to defend religious freedom where Christian rights are threatened in recent years? The Virginia ACLU group will probably be thrown out.

Pastor plans baptism at river on heels of dispute

BY KIRAN KRISHNAMURTHY TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Jun 4, 2004

FREDERICKSBURG - A pastor plans to baptize a church member at a waterfront park here Sunday, two weeks after park officials told another pastor his baptismal ceremony in the Rappahannock River violated park policy.

Fredericksburg-Stafford Park Authority Director Brian Robinson, whose handling of the earlier incident has come under scrutiny, said yesterday that he will allow the Rev. John H. Reid to baptize a church member at Old Mill Park in Fredericksburg on Sunday afternoon.

"It seems to be just a small, casual group, and we wouldn't have a permit issue," Robinson said.

The American Civil Liberties Union's Virginia chapter has said it is prepared to take legal action if park officials ban baptisms or otherwise discriminate against religious activities.

Kent Willis, executive director of the state ACLU chapter, said yesterday that he plans to monitor the event in light of the May 23 incident, in which the Rev. Todd Pyle of Cornerstone Baptist Church said he was told by a park official to cease baptisms in the river at Falmouth Waterfront Park in Stafford County.

Pyle said he had baptized 12 people in the river that day when Robinson told him such a ceremony was prohibited because the park discourages water activity. Pyle said many other people were wading in the river at the time.

Robinson later acknowledged that he is unable to bar any certain group of people from the river. He said churches and other groups are allowed to hold events at a park shelter but that they must first obtain a permit.

However, the park authority's policy on the matter is unwritten and does not specify what constitutes a group. "There is a gray area," Robinson said yesterday, adding that the park authority is reviewing its guidelines.

Robinson, for example, said he is not requiring a permit for Sunday's baptism, primarily because Reid's New Generation Evangelical Episcopal Church apparently plans no other activities at the same time and because a small number of church members - Reid estimates 10 to 20 - are expected to watch.

Reid said he has baptized about 40 people in the past six years at waterfront parks operated by the regional park authority. He said that this Sunday's baptism was planned before the recent dispute over Cornerstone Baptist Church's baptisms.

Robinson also noted that Cornerstone Baptist members were passing out religious literature in what he considers a common area, away from the shelters that can be reserved.

Willis said he is troubled by the lack of a hard-and-fast policy at the park.

"What they have are traditions, maybe even de facto rules, but they are very vague," he said. "We will need to be vigilant."

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031775863253&path=%21news&s=1045855934842

1 posted on 06/04/2004 6:44:42 AM PDT by Ligeia
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To: Ligeia

ACLU - even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.


2 posted on 06/04/2004 6:46:07 AM PDT by BSunday (Go Rangers ! Beat the Yankees !)
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Two previous threads:

Public Baptism Sparks Controversy (More State-Sponsored Religion Bashing)
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1146547/posts

Public baptism sparks controversy
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1146280/posts


3 posted on 06/04/2004 6:46:14 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: BSunday
ACLU - even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again

I thought it was a blind hog and an acorn! :^)

4 posted on 06/04/2004 6:50:03 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: Ligeia

Can you say "token" ?

: a member of a group (as a minority) that is included within a larger group through tokenism; especially : a token employee


5 posted on 06/04/2004 6:51:53 AM PDT by cripplecreek (you tell em i'm commin.... and hells commin with me.)
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To: Ligeia

Even a blind pig finds an acorn every once and a while


6 posted on 06/04/2004 6:52:46 AM PDT by bad company (Honor Courage Integrity)
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To: Ligeia

How about a stopped clock is right twice a day?


7 posted on 06/04/2004 6:53:40 AM PDT by iceskater (No nation or state ever taxed itself into prosperity.)
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To: Ligeia

The Church is j8ust wrong on this.

In making this baptism a public event, they are stepping out of the church realm and stepping into showmanship.

If this guy wants to get baptised, and the Pastor believes he is a genuine Born Again Christian, then he can baptise him in any water deep enough to immerse him.

To DEMAND that they be allowed to use a privately owned park, even a public owned park, that is pushing the envelope, and FORCING people to demand they watch almost.

They can find a spot on the Rappohannock somewhere that no one has to see this event.

Unless the whole idea is to make this a show or something, then that proves my point.


8 posted on 06/04/2004 6:55:01 AM PDT by RaceBannon (VOTE DEMOCRAT AND LEARN ARABIC FREE!!)
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To: iceskater

Hey, did you see Doug Wilder is thinking about running for mayor of Richmond? He might get that city council straightened out.


9 posted on 06/04/2004 6:55:52 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: RaceBannon

Christians pay the same taxes as everyone else and should be able to use the park as they see fit as long as they don't intervere with anyone else.


10 posted on 06/04/2004 7:00:15 AM PDT by cripplecreek (you tell em i'm commin.... and hells commin with me.)
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To: RaceBannon

Hi, Race. I don't know the pastor or his church and it's only a handful of people. Not all churches have baptimals and some people want to do it the way Jesus did it. I don't see any harm in it, really. I do know that along the Rappahannock there in Fredericksburg about the only clear spot to hold such a ceremony is the public park. Riverfront access nowadays is difficult due to easements and other encumbrances.


11 posted on 06/04/2004 7:01:31 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: Ligeia

I don't understand what the minister is waiting for. Does the Bible tell believers/repenters that there is a six month waiting period on baptism?


12 posted on 06/04/2004 7:02:51 AM PDT by petitfour
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To: Ligeia

Yes, I did. He is apparently making arrangements to live in Richmond and register to vote here. Two people have already dropped out of the race when they heard he was in. I'm glad. Doug, even though he's a democrat, will take no prisoners. That's exactly what this city needs.


13 posted on 06/04/2004 7:05:58 AM PDT by iceskater (No nation or state ever taxed itself into prosperity.)
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To: BSunday
ACLU - even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.

Keep in mind that the ACLU's defense of public demonstrations of faith will extend to the very public calls to prayer that Moose Limbs want in Detroit.

14 posted on 06/04/2004 7:08:35 AM PDT by PLK
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To: RaceBannon
To DEMAND that they be allowed to use a privately owned park, even a public owned park, that is pushing the envelope, and FORCING people to demand they watch almost.

Aren't public parks open to all members of the public? Are Christians now not members of the public?

15 posted on 06/04/2004 7:10:34 AM PDT by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: RaceBannon

Would you be similarly offended to witness a non-christen activity? If it was a swim party would that constitute "showmanship"? No one is "forced" to watch and no one is harmed by watching. And if you are offended by others participating in a christen activity, then the problem is yours, not theirs.

Should churches be built with high walls around the perimeter so you aren't forced to see people entering the church? You act like an act of faith is so horrendous that you need protection from catching even a glimpse.


16 posted on 06/04/2004 7:20:48 AM PDT by dangerdoc
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To: RaceBannon
"The Church is j8ust wrong on this.
In making this baptism a public event, they are stepping out of the church realm and stepping into showmanship.
If this guy wants to get baptised, and the Pastor believes he is a genuine Born Again Christian, then he can baptise him in any water deep enough to immerse him."

Whoa there, brother Race .... Two of my children were baptized in 'public waters' at a community park. It has been for years, and is, a tradition by that particular church.

I came across a magazine in the Dr's office yesterday ... I think it was called 'Nostalgia' and one of the submitted pictures was a 1920's baptism somewhere in the South.

The point I want to make is ... I don't think this is grandstanding, but a response to a threat.

Which came first ... we're gonna' baptise, or you'd better not baptize?

The only warriors worth their salt in this country are the Christian soldiers.

Or is that rhetorical these days?

I love you brother, but I think you're wrong here.

17 posted on 06/04/2004 7:21:37 AM PDT by knarf (A place where anyone can learn anything ... especially that which promotes clear thinking.)
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To: Ligeia
When has the ACLU been known to defend religious freedom where Christian rights are threatened in recent years? The Virginia ACLU group will probably be thrown out.

I kind of doubt that the national organization agrees with the Virginia ACUL on this position. Usually, the ACLU is against use of public property for religious displays or use.

18 posted on 06/04/2004 7:30:59 AM PDT by Always Right
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To: Ligeia

I think Mohammad Ali called this his Rope-a-Dope tactic - it confuses the enemy.


19 posted on 06/04/2004 7:31:09 AM PDT by ZULU (They weree)
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To: RaceBannon
In making this baptism a public event, they are stepping out of the church realm and stepping into showmanship.

Most Churches do this in private because they have a tub. This Church is a poor community church that doesn't. This isn't showmanship, but your bigotry against Christians is showing.

20 posted on 06/04/2004 7:34:06 AM PDT by Always Right
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To: ZULU
Mohammad Ali called this his Rope-a-Dope tactic - it confuses the enemy

Gooood, I like my enemies confused.

21 posted on 06/04/2004 7:35:07 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: Ligeia

OK- I'm confused:

As a former Episcopalian, I can attest to the fact that the Episcopal Church does not do baptism by immersion - but by sprinkling.... Although I will admit I've never heard of an "Evangelical Episcopal Church".....


22 posted on 06/04/2004 7:35:28 AM PDT by TheBattman (Leadership = http://www.georgewbush.com/)
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To: RaceBannon

"In making this baptism a public event, they are stepping out of the church realm and stepping into showmanship...To DEMAND that they be allowed to use a privately owned park, even a public owned park, that is pushing the envelope...They can find a spot on the Rappohannock somewhere that no one has to see this event."

They need to do the same thing with anyone caught reading a Bible.

Why should someone have the right to force their views on another, especailly in a public park where people should have the right to picnic unoffended.

Let them read their Bibles at home... </sarcasm>

Ed


23 posted on 06/04/2004 7:36:37 AM PDT by Sir_Ed
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To: Always Right
I kind of doubt that the national organization agrees with the Virginia ACUL on this position. Usually, the ACLU is against use of public property for religious displays or use.

I bet they disagree, too. I'd like to be privy to their email exchanges today.

24 posted on 06/04/2004 7:37:56 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: Ligeia

These people should not let the ACLU defend them, I don't care if it's free. The ACLU loves to use these cases to pretend they are evenhandedly defending American liberties, while the reality is that they are an anti-American force for destroying American democracy, a bunch of leftists trying to tear down the things that made us great so they can impose their socialist nirvana.


25 posted on 06/04/2004 7:41:23 AM PDT by Defiant (Moore-On: That rush of excitement felt by a liberal when America is defeated.)
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To: TheBattman
As a former Episcopalian, I can attest to the fact that the Episcopal Church does not do baptism by immersion - but by sprinkling.... Although I will admit I've never heard of an "Evangelical Episcopal Church".

I wondered about that, too. I'm guessing the pastor is shepherding an independent church which may have been influenced by an AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church.

26 posted on 06/04/2004 7:43:49 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: Ligeia

Uhhhh. I meant the ACLU is doing this to confuse US.

They are alomst consistently anti-American and anti-Christian.

Occasionally they do something that makes sense. Sort of like the Ku Klux Klan delivering meals to needy black families as they did a few years ago. Or Saudi Arabia States providing some assistance to our war against terror.


27 posted on 06/04/2004 7:43:59 AM PDT by ZULU (They weree)
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To: Ligeia

Talk about politics making strange bedfellows.


28 posted on 06/04/2004 7:47:26 AM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: ZULU
I meant the ACLU is doing this to confuse US

Ah, I see your point, now. And it's a good one. In this case, though, I'm betting the Virginia group is sincere.

29 posted on 06/04/2004 7:50:02 AM PDT by Ligeia (Don't like war? Then choose your burkha S, M, L)
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To: RaceBannon

I think you need to read the other two articles on this subject first. There was no DEMAND until some park employee took it upon himself to try to stop a baptism that was already in progress last month.

River baptisms are quite tradional in many areas; I'd say the right to perform them has been grandfathered. And since other people, who were not being baptized, were wading in that same river and not asked to leave, I'd also say the park has no leg to stand on. Especially since they had no written policy and are only now trying to come up with one, after the fact, and only to control baptisms.


30 posted on 06/04/2004 8:03:19 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: Ligeia

Just don't let them see that cross on the Senate of the State of Virginia seal.

ACLUers are like vampyres - a cross has a strange effect on them.


31 posted on 06/04/2004 8:03:20 AM PDT by ZULU (They weree)
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To: hellinahandcart
River baptisms are quite traditional . . . .</> They are even mentioned in the Bible a few times.
32 posted on 06/04/2004 8:09:30 AM PDT by petitfour
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To: petitfour

Oops I forgot the </i>.


33 posted on 06/04/2004 8:10:06 AM PDT by petitfour
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To: RaceBannon

I hope you brought your asbestos jammies, Race...


34 posted on 06/04/2004 8:12:46 AM PDT by Oberon (What does it take to make government shrink?)
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To: TheBattman
As a former Episcopalian, I can attest to the fact that the Episcopal Church does not do baptism by immersion - but by sprinkling....

I think the policy is that it is an option to do it either way.

35 posted on 06/04/2004 8:14:37 AM PDT by Always Right
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To: Sir_Ed

Reading my Bible is NOT a public event, and is not a visible event, it is someone reading a book, usually only people who actually OWN a Bible even know that one is being read.

But a public Baptism in a Public park smacks of showman ship, not a sacred event in the person's life, this is something more for the Church Family to enjoin in, not something happening at a Park, it just does not go well with the fleshly worldly entertainment aspect of a Park.

There are plenty of places on that river that can be used, I am sure, to force the use of the park sounds like grandstanding, not just an exercise of freedom of religion.


36 posted on 06/04/2004 10:40:03 AM PDT by RaceBannon (VOTE DEMOCRAT AND LEARN ARABIC FREE!!)
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To: RaceBannon
There are plenty of places on that river that can be used, I am sure, to force the
use of the park sounds like grandstanding, not just an exercise of freedom of religion.


I feel about the same way.
At the same time...it's interesting to note that this incident is
from below The Mason-Dixon Line. And in the fundamentalist Christians
of my grandparents' generation, a public baptism in a river was a common event.

At the same time, I feel the more quiet "witness" (and not using a public park area)
is more effective.

Reminds me of the story about how one of Reagan's Cabinet members suggested
opening Cabinet meetings with a prayer...not a common thing in the history of the
Executive Branch.

Reagan's reply was something along the lines of "why, I've always started
these meetings with a prayer.".
37 posted on 06/04/2004 10:49:46 AM PDT by VOA
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Comment #38 Removed by Moderator

To: VOA

When I think of park, I think of amusement park, so, I might be visualizing the wrong thing here.

I can think of a public park nearby that is very woodsy, and has an area where the Church would not be in-your-face with it all, I might be reading this wrong.

It just sounds like people trying to stir up a mess instead of act with a little more discretion to avoid the idea of it being a sideshow baptism.


39 posted on 06/04/2004 10:52:51 AM PDT by RaceBannon (VOTE DEMOCRAT AND LEARN ARABIC FREE!!)
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To: Motherbear

It would be a shocker up here! :)


40 posted on 06/04/2004 10:54:24 AM PDT by RaceBannon (VOTE DEMOCRAT AND LEARN ARABIC FREE!!)
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To: RaceBannon

Think "state park" rather than "amusement park".

This place has trees, picnic tables and grills, and a softball field, pretty much.

The Baptist minister who was thrown out said he selected the particular spot because there were a lot of shade trees for the witnesses to stand under. It doesn't sound at all like an obtrusive spectacle to me. And the Episcopal pastor says he has used this place for baptisms dozens of times. The parkies must have discovered the Baptist minister by pure dumb luck.

I just don't know why this should bother anyone any more than seeing people fishing, swimming, or throwing a stick to a dog in the river.


41 posted on 06/04/2004 11:52:04 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: RaceBannon
Race, look at this---Brian Robinson was singing an entirely different tune the week BEFORE the baptism, and that was after someone drowned.

But Robinson said nothing can be done to prevent anyone from going in the water along most of the river. "We have no ability to control how people come and go," he said. "It's very dangerous for sure, but the policy of the Park Authority is we don't promote activities in the river, and it's swim at your own risk."

42 posted on 06/04/2004 12:00:08 PM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: Motherbear
This is not grandstanding. "Goin' down to the river" was done in the south by many churches for a long time. Not all churches have a baptismal, and the river seems more appropriate than someone's swimming pool, although that works, too.

This is no more offensive than seeing two or three Christians studying the bible at a coffee shop. It's done all the time.

It's sad, but true - you can read the Manifesto of the Communist Party in a coffee shop in a large northeastern city and no one thinks anything about it. If you read the Bible in a that same coffee shop, you are likely to be labeled a freak. We need your prayers.

43 posted on 06/04/2004 12:39:51 PM PDT by AlwaysFree (John Kerry - "Did you know that I served in Vietnam?")
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To: RaceBannon

A baptism is when someone makes public thier private commitment. I see nothing wrong doing this in public. It is not a sideshow, it is not grandstanding. It is someone displaying, publicly, that they have given their life to Jesus. And we're talking about a public park, not a water park.


44 posted on 06/04/2004 1:02:19 PM PDT by SirAllen (Liberalism^2 = Communism)
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To: RaceBannon

I would hope you are saying that in jest.!!

It is neither your, nor my business if someone wants to proclaim their faith publicly.


45 posted on 06/04/2004 1:12:57 PM PDT by rock58seg (Character and integrity do count. BUSH/CHENEY 04)
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To: Motherbear

Used to see a baptism at the junction of the Thornton and Hazel rivers every now and again. I don't know if it was immersion though -- sometimes the Thornton ran pretty shallow. ;-D


46 posted on 06/04/2004 1:56:24 PM PDT by DeaconBenjamin
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To: hellinahandcart

I was once severely inconvenienced by a total immersion baptism ceremony.

We were skinny dipping. All, and I mean all our clothes were on the river bank, when about thirty cars come pulling up on the opposite riverbank. Still not sure whether it was Baptist or A.M.E. But, they all waded on into the water. We never had a chance to get to our clothes. We had the good sense to float down around the bend. There we found a cardboard box and "convinced" one guys younger brother to get into it, and go get our clothes. He looked sort of like the guy in a barrel after a bad night at poker.

We still laugh about that Sunday afternoon when we get together.


47 posted on 06/04/2004 2:09:19 PM PDT by rock58seg (Character and integrity do count. BUSH/CHENEY 04)
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To: RaceBannon

So are you saying it was the public display of his faith that got Jesus Crucified? I guess you are saying he should have shutup.?


48 posted on 06/04/2004 2:13:39 PM PDT by rock58seg (Character and integrity do count. BUSH/CHENEY 04)
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To: RaceBannon
The Church is just wrong on this.

Who are you, and what have you done with RaceBannon?

49 posted on 06/04/2004 3:14:16 PM PDT by ActionNewsBill ("In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act")
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To: ActionNewsBill; knarf; hellinahandcart

Thank you! :)

My concern was the apparent act of defiance, to demand that the park submit to the Church, not that i was saying that public profession of faith was wrong, I was under the impression this was a different park than what hellinahandcart explained, I thought this was like a 6-Flags.

To me, to do it at a place like 6-Flags would be a grandstand maneuver, not a Holy, Savred event for a believer to publically proclaim their faith.

Plus, you guys in the south are old fashioned! And, the water is a lot warmer! We wouldn't think of doing that stuff up here until after Memorial day anyways! :)

And for th life of me, I NEVER heard of any river Baptism up here at all, not once! We do it at the Churches that have baptismals! Else ANY spot in the river would be nice, not some park.

I was concerned it was an in-your-face act, to force people to see what you are doing, not an act of doing it because it is an act of obedience to God's word.

Of course, what may be true here, is that Churches were Baptising people in that spot for over a century, and because so many people came there, the state decided to make it a park...

I have seen the state make a park out of a swimming hole up here, maybe the state made a park out of a local swimming hole that was also used by the Churches for Baptisms.

Someone asked, Do Churches wait 6 months before they Baptise someone?

That is a good idea sometimes, to see if the person is genuinely saved, to watch them to see if their conversion is genuine, otherwise, you would be baptising someone who was never regenerated. You would be misleading them and the church as to what you were doing and making a mockery of the event.


50 posted on 06/04/2004 3:37:57 PM PDT by RaceBannon (VOTE DEMOCRAT AND LEARN ARABIC FREE!!)
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