Skip to comments.Legal challenge threatened if baptism blocked (ACLU Shocker)
Posted on 06/04/2004 6:44:42 AM PDT by LigeiaEdited 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 ...
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."
ACLU - even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.
Two previous threads:
Public Baptism Sparks Controversy (More State-Sponsored Religion Bashing)
Public baptism sparks controversy
I thought it was a blind hog and an acorn! :^)
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
Even a blind pig finds an acorn every once and a while
How about a stopped clock is right twice a day?
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.
Hey, did you see Doug Wilder is thinking about running for mayor of Richmond? He might get that city council straightened out.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Aren't public parks open to all members of the public? Are Christians now not members of the public?
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.
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.
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 think Mohammad Ali called this his Rope-a-Dope tactic - it confuses the enemy.
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.
Gooood, I like my enemies confused.
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".....
"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>
I bet they disagree, too. I'd like to be privy to their email exchanges today.
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.
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.
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.
Talk about politics making strange bedfellows.
Ah, I see your point, now. And it's a good one. In this case, though, I'm betting the Virginia group is sincere.
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.
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.
Oops I forgot the </i>.
I hope you brought your asbestos jammies, Race...
I think the policy is that it is an option to do it either way.
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.
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.
It would be a shocker up here! :)
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.
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."
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.
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.
I would hope you are saying that in jest.!!
It is neither your, nor my business if someone wants to proclaim their faith publicly.
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
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.
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.?
Who are you, and what have you done with RaceBannon?
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.