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.
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