BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
by Meg White
I got an e-mail from Josh Glasstetter of the People for the American Way‘s Right Wing Watch Thursday evening, letting me know how that ol’ fashioned book burning went down in Dixie over Halloween.
In his words, it was the “Worst. Book burning. Ever.” Watch the video; I’m guessing you’ll agree:
You may have heard about the plan hatched at Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, NC to burn not only your standard devil-worshiping music and porn, but also other people’s bibles (and to chow down on some “fried chicken and all the sides,” of course).
The group is part of a movement that believes only a certain interpretation of the Bible written down a few hundred years ago is the real version. They also believe that all the other versions were written by Satan to confuse believers. Often referred to as King James Onlyism, adherents are generally found among Baptists who crusade against other evils such as dancing.
(There are many different sects surrounding King James Onlyism, with varying degrees of adherence to textual dogma that I’m not going to get into here. These guys seem to be on the far end of the spectrum, but I’m no theological scholar.)
The problems with the planned book burning were three-fold: It was raining, there were protesters, police and media surrounding the event, and what they had planned was illegal. Hence, the tearing and the throwing into a tall kitchen garbage can the aforementioned evilness that you see in the video above.
But there’s more than just confusion over the difference between burning and throwing away in this video. And there’s something so much more down-to-earth about just throwing stuff away — rather than dramatically burning it, which evokes the flames of Hell and all kinds of religious fervor with it — which allows a deeper look at the meaning of the modern “book burning.”
Just look at the targets of their rage. OK, I get the Megadeath, Ozzy Osbourne thing. These guys are relatively unabashed in their closeness with the supposed “dark arts,” etc. And I’d personally like to thank the Amazing Grace church for their commitment to the destruction of the hateful screeds of the likes of James Dobson and Rick Warren. Good riddance.
But why “burn” (and when I say burn, I clearly mean crunch up and toss in the garbage) Tom Petty’s greatest hits? No offense to Tom, but Top 40 radio has overplayed that disc to such a degree that I don’t think I ever need to play it again. Why bother?
But wait, did the preacher on the video actually say, “Paul Simon?” Thankfully they haven’t figured out how to burn music off of my iPod, so I can still listen to my copy of Loves Me Like a Rock. Looking at the fact that they’re tossing VHS tapes in the “fire” leads me to believe that they may not know what an iPod even is. Or perhaps they’re trying to avoid getting in copyright trouble for “burning” DVDs. Hopefully we can all stay ahead of these guys by getting Blu-ray players and Kindles.
Indeed, if the promise of the “paperless office” ever comes to Canton, NC, I don’t know what they’ll do. Clicking and dragging a picture of a folder filled with digital images of “the great whore” Pope Benedict toward a recycling bin icon on one’s desktop has got to be less satisfying than watching the face of John Paul II turn into ashes before your very eyes.
Regardless of my derision (I think we can be pretty certain none of these people are BuzzFlash readers), church leaders declared the event a success, with no shortage of hilariously defensive language. This is the full statement posted on their Web site after the event (emphasis mine):
We wanted to say that the Book Burning was a great success. It was a success because God’s Word was glorified and uplifted. God magnifies His Word above His name, and so do we. The video of the entire service will be up in a few days. We wanted to thank all the Bible doubters who prayed for rain with us. All the protestors and media got wet; we were inside where it was nice and dry. Someone said that we were “hiding” out, but that is not so. The Chief Deputy asked us to keep everything inside, and we agreed, so we were obeying those in authority. We also have others that rent spaces in that same building that we have to respect. This event was successful not because of the rain, it was just an added blessing. A blessing in the sense that less people came out to protest, and there were no problems. We are not glad people got wet, we are glad that His Word was honored. Some have written praising God that he intervened and stopped the Book Burning because of the rain, protestors, and state laws about burning paper. Nothing was stopped. Our goal was to destroy garbage as noted below, and we did just that. We didn’t care how it was destroyed; only that it was destroyed. These same people must have never heard about “Paper, Rock, & Scissors.” Scissors cut paper, and paper tears real easy. We destroyed everything as planned. Praise God! God answered every prayer that everyone prayed, but they don’t like the answer.
See, they wanted it to rain! And there’s no fire in Rock, Paper, Scissors, so there!
The group already has a link set up for Book Burning 2010, though it seems as if the logistics haven’t been worked out yet. Maybe they can secure a book-burning permit to circumvent the nasty North Carolina state law. Or maybe they’re hoping to start a new tradition with Book Burning Rain-out 2010?
As I mentioned before, these guys are clearly defensive after all of the media coverage and outrage directed toward them. Religious groups get understandably upset when you burn documents that they believe to be sacred.
Perhaps the most telling insight into the world these fundamentalist Baptists are living in is a page upon which one of the pastors of the church posted e-mails responding positively to the media coverage of the book burning.
“Dan and Patti A.” (though, considering the writer’s later comments about “women’s roles,” I’m thinking Dan was the composer) hilariously write (emphasis mine):
It’s too bad you can’t find someone who lives outside the city limits who will allow you to burn the books. I know that we live in the country, and we’re allowed to burn things. but it’s wonderful that you have gotten some media attention because of your beliefs. Too many people want to pick and choose things in the Bible that they agree with, and throw out all the things that make them uncomfortable.
Yeah. It’s too bad that people just burn, I mean throw things away when they don’t believe in them.
The e-mails show several common strains. Most of them mention that the end is near, but the most striking feature they have in common is utter loneliness. Here are some excerpts:
I think the book burning is great!!! My wife and I do not go to church out here because of the perverions [sic] that are used in our area. We have not had a TV in about 10 years because of the filth on it. Satan likes to attack people for doing what is right. It is a bit of a lonely life when you truely [sic] try to follow what God wants, especially in the times we live in.
- Tom S.
It is very lonely to be a Christian these days, because it is hard for me to find anyone who truly loves and serves ONLY the Lord and not the world. But I am not really lonely because I have fellowship with Jesus.
- Elaine W.
My wife and I also burned every fake Bible we had, including our wedding Bible that someone gave us not knowing my stand on the Bible issue.
I CANT BELIEVE WHAT I AM HEARING,OTHER THAN A COUPLE OF PEOPLE I LISTEN TO ON SERMON AUDIO, I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE LEFT THAT BELIEVED WHAT YOU BELIEVE. THE TRUTH IS IN SHORT SUPPLY THESE DAYS.
- Rob B.
I thought I was crazy because no one else saw these things and they thought I was the problem.
It can be very discouraging here at college because hardly any one believes like I do and to them I am a heretic. Ya have made my day and I hope that one day I could come by and see ya one Sunday or Wednesday and attend ya’s services. If I can I will try to make it for the burning but I can’t promise anything. Thank you for taking a stand for whats right
- Bro. Quincy H.
And just to give you an idea of what the church leadership thinks these poor souls should do about their isolation, take a look at this response to that last e-mail from Brother Quincy (emphasis mine):
Hello Quincy, Thanks for your kind comments. I to [sic] many years ago went to a school that didn’t believe the Bible (KJV). Be very careful that they don’t persuade you to question God’s Word, just like satan said to Eve in Genesis 3:1 “…Yea, hath God said?” Never be what they call being “open” to their view, that’s questioning God’s Word. I personally as a pastor would encourage you to move to a college that will teach you correctly in the things of God. Are you taking Greek or Hebrew? if so which text? May God Bless you. Keep standing for God.
- Pastor Marc
Sad, isn’t it? I almost feel sorry for these intolerant bigots.
Perhaps the most constructive thing organized religion does is that it gives people a place to peacefully gather and reflect. Healthy social interactions centered around religious activity for much of human society’s long development. And in this age of digital disconnect, interpersonal interaction is more important than ever.
While many religious customs were formed as a way to differentiate groups and had the ultimate effect of alienation and sometimes violence, that is certainly not a viable way to build a community in our modern world. But clearly, that is not what Amazing Grace Baptist Church aims to do. They’re waiting out the modern world, hoping to be raptured as soon as physically possible.
And that’s sad. But while they’re attempting ol’ fashion book burnings, I’ll be busy enjoying the spoils of the modern world (as long as they don’t start “burning” my sacred mp3s and DVDs).
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS