For more than a decade, Red Bank Baptist Church in South Carolina has had a seven-foot statue of Jesus, created by a former member of the congregation, on their property. There were also other pieces of faith-based art on display at the church.
The congregation recently voted to take it all down, though, and the reason is the most Baptist thing I’ve ever heard.
According to the church, many people think the sculptures are Catholic and not representative of a Baptist church.
“We have discovered that there are people that view the art as Catholic in nature. We understand that this is not a Catholic icon, however, people perceive it in these terms,” said a letter that was signed by Dr. Jeff Wright, Red Bank’s senior pastor, and Mike Dennis, the church’s Chairman of Deacons.
Because a statue of Jesus was considered too “Catholic,” the Baptists are taking it down.
Bert Baker, the sculptor, couldn’t believe it when he got the letter from church leaders telling him what was happening.
“I’m not interested in stirring the pot, but people not liking it because it looked too Catholic is crazy, man. It’s been up there for 11 years,” Baker told The State on Tuesday. “I don’t agree with the letter, it bothers me.”
He’s not alone. Rhonda Davis, another member of the congregation, said on Facebook that she was disappointed in the underlying bigotry behind this decision:
… Red Bank has decided to single out another denomination as the reason behind the decision to avoid any real or imagined fear that they would somehow be associated with them AND to further insult the intelligence of an entire community who for 11 years never once has been confused about who RedBank Baptist Church is with or without the sculptures
It’s a fair point. Even if some people associated the statues with Catholicism, so what? Was that such a bad thing? (Baptist answer: Yes.)
At the end of the church’s letter to Baker is a Bible verse. 1 Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace — as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.”
Baker responded to the church’s letter with a question of his own: “… does the scripture you use at the bottom of your letterhead include Catholics?”
That’s one hell of a way to drop the mic. Baker had the option of picking up his artwork before it’s removed today, but he didn’t want to do it, telling church leaders they should “give it to another church or perhaps sell it and use [the money[ for Missions.” It’s unclear what the church plans to do.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)