The Gross National Debt

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baptist youth visit a Mosque to learn

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No. I ain't kidding. It happened right here in my community.

Steve Laughman, who has risen considerably in my estimations, is the youth & family minister at the Ashburn First Baptist Church. He led a youth group in a 4-hour a week comparative study of world religions.

Four hours a week. Two hours on Sunday night after church. Two hours on Wednesday.

Steve spoke to Kiwanis today about this class he taught. As he opened his talk, I was impressed. Comparative religions? Coming from an extended family well-steeped in Southern Baptist traditions and with many family members convinced anyone not a Baptist is going to hell, I was more than intrigued.

Russian Orthodox ministers.
Steve said he started the class off with Judaism.

"Ah," I thought. "A comparative study of the various branches of Christianity" and I prepared to tune him out.

Then, he said they studied Eastern orthodox Christianity and my eyes opened a bit. When he said they went to a Catholic church in Macon, I sat up and paid attention. I have relatives who believe that since I was baptized a Catholic (I am an American now), I'm on the express train to hell.

When he said they visited the Mormon church in Tifton and a prayer service at a mosque in Albany, I wanted to stand up and applaud loudly.

The class studied a variety of religions and, where possible, paid a visit to adherents of those religions.
redneck unorthodox minister

Wow. A youth pastor at the first Baptist Church in South Georgia took a group of teenagers to a mosque, not to preach at 'em but to learn about them.

I'm still in a bit of shock over this. I'm certain as word of this spreads, Steve is going to catch some of the hell some people will say he's destined for.

Steve pointed out something which bears mentioning. He and the kids he took on the field trips are secure in their beliefs. By understanding other beliefs, they will be able to more intelligently articulate their own, especially if confronted by others of a differing belief.

Imagine that. A pastor who is so secure in his own beliefs that he can study another belief and become even more secure in his own. Wow.

He said he and the students were welcomed in the other congregations, especially when the other congregants found out the Baptists were there to learn, not proselytization.

Even more impressive, adults at the church have asked for the same class. Steve plans to oblige 'em. I Wish my schedule would allow me to go.

I am reminded of John Lennon's classic song "Imagine."

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine.

I once read that if you fully understand the "enemy" you can no longer consider him an enemy.

Imagine understanding. Imagine accepting people and in turn being accepted.

Imagine learning the truth instead of blindly accepting prejudice.

Dunno about you, but that's what Christianity means to me.

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