Atheist Visits Baptist Church April 8, 2008

Atheist Visits Baptist Church

When an atheist visits a Baptist church in Mississippi, it’s hard to try and stay objective when social cues are ignored by the congregation and the sermon is full of bigotry against those who are different.

First, the pastor, who can barely get a word in due to his interrupting congregation:

The preacher got up to deliver his lesson, but before he got very far, a man stood up to tell everyone how much Jesus helped him with his life. This didn’t seemed planned. This man talked for a few minutes before he sat back down. The preacher spoke about half a sentence when a woman stood up and told everyone about how Jesus solves all our problems. She talked for a few minutes about how Jesus worked in her life and then sat down. I guess this preacher is use to constant interruptions.

And when he finally gets to speak?

To give you an idea of his preaching style, think of Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” hyped up on steroids.

Of course he talks about how everything is evil (being gay, killing babies, etc.) but what gets me is this part:

He wanted to bring the Bible and prayer back into our schools. He warned his congregation that if they tried to bring the Bible into schools, the government would oppose them, but do not worry: God will be on side of God, and God’s side always wins.

Ummm… the Bible is allowed in schools. So is prayer. As long as it’s not forced upon everyone. No one’s going to oppose you.

That’s what we call “tolerance.”

This pastor obviously wants none of that, though.

Did atheist Oliver get anything out of this experience?

[The pastor] was stereotypical of everything that non-believers see in Christians: they are loud, obnoxious, ignorant, and filled with prejudice and self-righteous attitudes. It is hard not to stereotype when I’m watching Christian fundamentalism in action.

I suspect things aren’t going to get much better as Oliver treks around MS.

But if you have suggestions for churches in the state that might be a bit more conducive for an atheist visitor, I’m sure they’d be appreciated.

(Thanks to vjack for the link!)

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • grazatt

    Welcome to the bible belt!

  • Kate

    Maybe Mike Clawson knows of an emergent church in the area – I’ve visited Erik’s (in NC) a few times and it’s actually not too bad. A little on the Jesus-y side for me as an atheist, but certainly nothing like a Baptist church.

    Don’t go to a Baptist church. It will just confirm all stereotypes.

    Or for a really good time…try a UU. 😉 Not a “church”, but still fun. Or UCC, United Church of Christ, aka Unitarians Considering Christ.

  • Ron in Houston

    I think about 10-15% of the congregation in the Unitarian Universalist Church are atheists. I don’t think an atheist would be shocked in the Episcopal Church. Bored perhaps, but not shocked.

  • Josh Manley

    I am a native Mississippian. I suggest visiting First Presbyterian Church, Jackson. Ask to meet either Ligon Duncan or Derek Thomas. If you are in another city, I might be able to make a recommendation there as well.

    If you are ever in Washington, D.C, visit

    Josh Manley

  • Joseph R.

    Do you know why baptists don’t have sex standing up?
    Because it looks too much like dancing.

    I agree with Kate, generally speaking, baptists will confirm many negative stereotypes.(I know this because I used to be one.)

  • Fyurien

    Some food for thought… there are people that actually listen to this guy. Not particularly related to this post, but still worth a read. Enjoy Atheists!! =)


    The problem (symptom) is not with the speaker and purveyor of such ignorance, its with the ignorant that listen. Fix the problem, and the symptom goes away…

    PS: I still think Atheism is wrong. =P

  • Oliver

    Hello Hemant! Thanks for highlighting my visit to the First Free Will Baptist. There is a Unitarian Universalist Church in the North Mississippi area, and it is on my list of places to visit. I’ll be reading the comments for other suggestions from your readers.

  • I tried to find openly liberal churches in Mississippi. Not very easy in that state, outside of the few UUA congregations. A couple church websites from that area did catch my eye though: Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg which says they are an “open and diverse family dedicated to serving God and all creation” First Presbyterian in Oxford says “we celebrate and respect the rich diversity of background and belief to be found here”

    I work with the UCC and Disciples but they have little presence in that state. One’s best bet is Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church, and the ELCA Lutherans. But even these groups, which are moderate to liberal generally, can often be conservative in Mississippi.

    I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I lived there. Sounds like a painful time to be had for anyone who expects to find fair minded religion. Maybe there are some Reform Jews in the state? *heh*

  • Thanks for the link Hemant. I admire the heck of our Oliver for his willingness to journey to the heart of delusion each Sunday and report back to us heathens.

  • I just spent a week at Lagniappe Presbyterian in Bay St. Louis. It’s a church that’s helping with a lot of rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. They’ve helped repair over 300 homes and have built 18 more. Plus they’ve hosted a lot Habitat workers who have repaired over 600 and built over 60. Might be worth checking out…

  • My husband was an evangelical (converted many) until 7 yrs ago. Now he’s a very intelligent Christian preacher. You don’t have to come to TX to check our church out – the Basilica Community has a podcast.

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