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Posts Tagged ‘southern baptists’

Proselytization is a two-way street. So pity (a little bit) the poor attendees of the Southern Baptist Convention, who are going to have to deal with evangelization from PETAns:

Among the demonstrators who will be standing outside the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville as the SBC opens its two-day meeting on Tuesday will be one dressed as Jesus, carrying a sign reading “For Christ’s Sake, Go Vegetarian,” and another dressed as a chicken with a sign reading “Jesus Loves Me Too.”

Other members will be holding signs reading “Thou Shalt Not Kill. Go Vegetarian” and “Blessed Are the Merciful. Go Vegetarian.” They will also hand out leaflets that relate vegetarian living to Christian teachings.

Now, if you’ve read my book, you know that I’m not a big fan of granting people’s imaginary premises in order to engage with them.

If vegetarianism is a good idea, then PETA should be making the case that vegetarianism is a good idea. If a bacon cheeseburger, cooked medium rare, with aged cheddar cheese, two thick-cut strips of peppered bacon, a mix of mayonnaise and BBQ sauce that I like to call “BBQonnaise,” dill pickle chips, fried onion straws, crisp lettuce, ripe tomato, and sweet red onions isn’t the tastiest thing on the planet, they should be arguing that it isn’t the tastiest thing on the planet.

Instead, their argument contains the following pieces:

  • god’s mythological garden was vegetarian, according to the cave-people-written book of myths you cherish”
  • maybe the fish Jesus ate were only symbolic fish, just like the one that “got away” on your last trip to the lake
  • because Jesus “gave his life willingly,” eating his flesh and blood doesn’t actually count as eating flesh and blood (and possibly also because they’re actually crackers and wine, but we’re not going to mention this common sense fact, because we’re trying to participate in your fantasy world)
  • meat-eating is “part of the fallen creation” (whatever the hell that means)

You’ll have to forgive me for being skeptical that the PETAns actually believe any of these arguments, any more than they believe their arguments that “Mohammed only symbolically slaughtered the Banu Qurayza,” that “adhering to a vegetarian I-tal diet will increase the ‘life energy’ that Haile Selassie puts inside us,” or that “Bhai Gurdas’s praise of goat meat doesn’t really count because it was written in poetry form.”

Hopefully soon they’ll get back to more sensible behavior, like opposing the throwing of dead fish or hiring the granddaughter of a murderous guerilla to lend his violent cachet to their cause, or taking a brave stand for the rights of houseflies.

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If you have a Google News Alert for “LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention’s publishing arm” like I do, you probably saw the large number of articles describing how sales of new baptisms slipped again in 2008. (I was unable to find any good statistics on sales of pre-owned baptisms.)

And if you are a scholar of religion like I am, you probably ran to their website so you could download the data and play with it in Excel. You probably also hunted down some UCR data on crime. You probably started searching for correlations. And you were probably surprised to discover that higher Baptism rates mean higher murder rates!

murder_v_baptism

Now, whenever we discover a relationship like this, we need to be careful. In general, correlation does not imply causation. There are certainly other options available for explaining this relationship:

1. Reverse Causation

If you flip the graph, you could construct the alternative hypothesis “murder causes baptism”. However, dead people cannot be baptised (unless you are a Mormon, which most Southern Baptists are not). QED.

2. Third factor causes both

Maybe Global Warming is responsible. After all, when it’s hotter, the blood gets angry. And also when it’s hotter, the cool dip of a baptism seems more appealing. Some NASA data should clear things up:

global_temp_index1

Looks like that doesn’t work either.

3. Coincidence

If this weren’t a religious phenomenon, we could chalk it up to “coincidence”. However, as everyone knows, a coincidence is just “god’s way of remaining anonymous” (as opposed to everything else he does to remain anonymous, like being invisible and silent and imaginary). In the land of religion, there are no coincidences!

4. Both cause each other

Maybe there’s some sort of physical law linking both, like “Joel’s Law of Murder and Baptism”: M = sB + G, where s represents sunspots, and G represents god’s wrath. If this were the case, increasing the murder rate would necessarily increase baptisms too.


Clearly there is room for further research here. Nonetheless, my preliminary Sunday-morning social science makes one thing clear: Baptism kills!

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