Monday, October 23, 2006

A Call to Reassert Baptist Tradition on First Amendment

Jeph Holloway, professor of religion at East Texas Baptist University, has an outstanding article about "Right or Wrong? Church-State Separation" in the Baptist Standard. Here's a quote:

Why would any Baptist want to overturn the First Amendment? I cannot imagine any Baptist inviting government oversight of our preaching and worship services, so I don?t believe any would want to discard the Free Exercise Clause, which denies Congress the power to "prohibit the free exercise" of religion. Some, however, want to at least modify the Establishment Clause, which prohibits Congress from establishing religion as a state project. Why? Clearly some Baptists want to use the power of the state to reassert a religious influence in our land in hope that such an influence would stem the tide of what they consider to be the serious moral decline of our culture.

Concern for such moral decline is well founded. The question, though, is whether such a strategy for moral transformation is either appropriate or effective. Until recently, the dominant Baptist answer to this has been a resounding "No!" Any reassertion of this traditional Baptist outlook will come through courageous pastors and adult Sunday school leaders who will have to counter powerful voices that have influenced many Christians through various media channels.

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