Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Kind of Back Handed Compliment

Tucked away in Faulkner County just north of Little Rock, Arkansas sits the Beryl Baptist Church. Located in the town of Vilonia, it's flock is righteously tended to by Pastor John Lindsey, the 2nd. Faulkner County is like many rural counties across this country. Median income is just below the National average and more people did not go to college than did.

What I find interesting is that for a population of around 88,000 people, there are roughly 121 churches of some kind. According to demographic information I found, these 121 homes of worship serve roughly 53% of the locals who claim to belong to one church or another. 121 places to pray for 47,000 people. Far and away the single largest block are the Baptists. They claim 48 churches with about 25,000 folks claiming to believe. You add in the other evangelical protestants and Faulkner county is Jerry Falwell heaven.

I found this sign on another blog. It was a blog that proudly proclaimed it's disdain for religion. The image is supposedly real and not one of those Photo-shopped images, or one of those goofy "fill in your slogan of choice" images. The real McCoy. Someone supposedly thought this would make sense to their parishioners.

But finding it on an anti religious site made me suspicious. I began a search to find out the truth of it. So far, I have found nothing to disprove or corroborate it's authenticity. And that really pisses me off. I was hoping to be able to debunk it or reinforce it. My plan got shot in the butt.

I did verify that John Lindsey is the Pastor of the Beryl Baptist Church. I even found a picture of him playing pool after a hard day on the revival circuit. But no where could I confirm or deny the message in this sign. So here I am with all this useless information about a church, a county, 121 churches and 88,000 people who I would guess could not care less if the sign is real or not. Well, I am assuming at least 47% of them do not care one way or the other.

After all this digging and prodding Google in the right direction, I feel my efforts should amount to something. At least one post regarding the message, my frustration, or even some pithy comments on why the Hell are there so many churches in one county?

So why don't I just look at this message?

I would be one of the first people to claim I do not see much logic in many religious takes. I will also be there with those who claim that faith does not need reason or logic to exist. But to say reason is the enemy of faith publicly on a church sign is just not logical. I cannot believe that even the hardest core bible thumpers would come up with this message. Church folks are not all dumasses they are played up to be. Yeah, many have blind spots regarding their beliefs, but I have never considered them imbeciles.

So lacking any evidence in either direction I think someone is pulling the Internet's leg again. Or maybe I just have more faith in my fellow man than some would consider reasonable.

(548 / 13,747)


BBC said...

why the Hell are there so many churches in one county?

Simple, lots of brainwashed folks there. Don't run into many of those types when I'm camping.

I just had a great camping trip.

Kulkuri said...

I don't doubt the sign is real. When you're thinking in one direction, you don't think of all the different ways something can be taken and sometimes the truth sneaks out!!
As for churches, in Uncle John's Bathroom Reader it said that Tejas has over 13,000 churches. The Kid said that one of her co-workers was looking for a church after his family moved to the area. One Sunday when his typical nuclear family went to one church, they doubled the attendance. She asked me why are there so many churches?? Is it because they don't want to drive very far to go to church?? I told her it was because none of them could agree on what their bible says.

Randal Graves said...

I think I'm kind of on your side. Even the most hardcore fundie likely wouldn't put that sign up, but, and it's a big, giant, colossal ass, they certainly subscribe to that view, that reason, our reason - you know, "reason" - is the enemy of Faith In Super Jesus.

Hell, I live in the bluest county of Ohio and within 10 minutes of walking distance of my house there are about four churches.

Linda McGeary said...

I don't think even God would agree with that sign, for in Isaiah's first chapter it says..."Come let us reason together, says the Lord."
From what I understand of scripture God is intelligence and love.
I see no argument between reason and faith. One is head and one is heart. Intellect and emotion. That's what being human is, I don't see how they can be separated and still be a healthy whole person. That idea seems like a silly impossibility.

People don't have to belong to a religion, or go to a church to have faith in a sustaining, supporting life force. (God - if you want to call it that.) Or to be a good person, having integrity, and compassion for the human race and the earth.

For me I attend church because a community of like minded people can do more together in the way of helping service than one person alone.

I think it's a shame, that when so many religions, at their core are basically teaching very similar enduring principles that those of us who claim to believe can't seem to value the diversity in the world, without judgement and condemnation, even to the point of wanting to wipe the ones who act different or look different, or talk different.

I'd say the real enemy of faith 'and reason' is hatred and fear.

BBC said...

I'd say the real enemy of faith 'and reason' is hatred and fear.

No, the real enemy of faith is religions.

Bill said...

I've been seeing this debate around in right-wing Christian circles for a long time. Why do you think science is considered to be such a threat by fundamentalist Christians?
I have contended for a long time, though, that this kind of faith has an enemy even greater than reason - truth. Right-wingers basically hold that truth is a worldly thing, all relative, and that the only meaningful truth is the Bible. There are so many different churches because there are so many different ways to interpret the Bible. Reason is what proves that any particular interpretation is incorrect so of course, reason is the enemy of any false belief.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

Well its obvious the sign in question is a listing of that weeks sermon---and thus subject to interpretation, its not a permenent sign, therefore no record of it, aside from the pic you have posted. As for interpretating its meaning, well its not worth my time---I'm an agnostic.

MRMacrum said...

BBC - It is not a simple matter of being brainwashed. Faith in something bigger than ourselves is an understandable residual of intelligence in my opinion. I will say though, much of organized religion is aimed at brain washing. But so can efforts of any group interested in convincing another turn into gruel for the brain. Religion is not the only schoold of thought guilty of this.

Kulkiri - Tejas? Where's that?

Randal - I have one church 300 yards away. It is a Congregational Church. They are mostly harmless. The pastor's blog though is "invite only". Hmm.

Linda McGeary - No Linda I think you are right. Sensible relgious adherents start with the leap of fatih and then tend to use reason to support their take. Absolutists on the other hand can be all over the place.

Bill - Yes, there are old school fundie eye for eye types who take literal meaning with them when they close the Bible for the day. But hands down, most of the folks I know who go to church on a regular basis have within them the ability to seperate their "faith" from the realities of science. Maybe it is just the region in which I live.

Old Dude - Open to interpretation?

Anonymous said...

The message on the sign is part of a quote from Martin Luther. You can find it on his WikiQuote page.

Anonymous said...

Why do you care weather or not someone went to college? I personal think some; who spent half their adult live getting all their degrees, thinks this makes them Einstein. In reality you have nothing better to do than to criticize a church sign or someone’s religious believes. The sign was not intended to cause controversy for those that have nothing to do. It was intended for those that read the sign and think upon it. For instance how you try to reason something that is not right, in which you consciously know it’s not right and in some know in their faith it’s not right.

MRMacrum said...

Anonymous 1 - The fact that the quote may have been passed down from Martin Luther does not make the quote worth any more than if George down to the hardware store said it. It reinforces the negative image many people have of the mindsets of religion in general.

Anonymous 2 - What an odd snippet to pull out of the post. I re-read it and saw no indication I voiced an opinion on caring or not caring whether someone went to college. Just sharing demographic information.

The fact that I blog indicates I have nothing better to do. What's your point? As to my reality - Obviously it does not meet your idea of reality. The sign is nonsense and your explanation (read justification) does nothing to elevate it beyond that level.

JimC said...

I emailed the church - they replied and confirmed the sign is genuine. The picture is not a fake.

Richard G. Howe said...

Thanks for the post. When I first found this picture on the internet, I assumed it was real. Being a Christian academic (Ph.D.) I occasionally run into some anti-thinking type Christians. However, when I discovered that one could generate fake church signs, I grew suspicious.
BTW, the possessive of "it" is not "it's" but is "its" (without the apostrophe). "It's" is the contraction of "it is." I thought I'd point this out in case you wanted to correct them in your post.
Richard G. Howe