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Steve Likes to Curse
Writing, comics and random thoughts from really a rather vulgar man
The Herald-Mail gives free publicity to a misogynist church 
Monday, June 21st, 2010 | 08:13 pm [commentary, hagerstown, religion]
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Three-and-a-half years ago I wrote an article about the pastors of a few of the bigger churches in my local area. First among them was painstakingly coiffed slime mold Larry Aikens, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Temple on the National Pike between Hagerstown and Clear Spring.
 
At the time I wrote:
 

Emmanuel Baptist, like the other churches I’m going to mention, doesn’t list anything too blatantly intolerant on its beliefs page, but if you read between the lines you find they aren’t the most ecumenical bunch.

 
Back then the most offensive thing I could find on the Emmanuel Baptist website was the insistence that “you must believe in Jesus for salvation,” which carries the charming implication that everyone who dies after saying a polite “thanks, but no thanks” to the whole human-sacrifice-by-proxy thing — or awesomer still, dies without ever hearing of Christianity — is going to burn in hell forever and ever and ever. It’s an oversight Larry Aikens and his staff have since corrected. 
 
I returned to Emmanuel Baptist Temple’s website over the weekend after an acquaintance shared with me something a cousin who recently began attending services there had told her. According to this cousin — who, like most of the rest of my acquaintance’s family, is an evangelical Christian — Emmanuel Baptist requires its female choir members to keep their hair a particular length, and not be too overweight. Because who wants to sing along with a choir of pixie-haired fatasses — am I right, fellas? 
 
Emmanuel Baptist also reportedly requires its members to submit a copy of their annual tax returns, so the church can verify that the members are tithing at least 10% of their gross income, like good Independent Baptists. That’s nakedly avaricious, and, I think, tells you everything you need to know about the sort of church Emmanuel Baptist Temple is, but it’s not particularly misogynistic, so let me not dwell on that.
 
On the new (or at least new to me) “
We Believe” page, amidst the usual declarations about God creating the universe and man needing redemption thanks to the first two humans committing a rules infraction thousands of years before the birth of anyone presently alive, there is this pearl of Biblically backed bigotry:
 

[T]he Bible allows women to speak to other women (Titus 2:4) but is opposed to women preaching to men (I Timothy 2:12) and is opposed to women holding the office of Pastor or Deacon (I Timothy 3:2, 12).

 
Mighty big of the Bible, allowing women to speak to other women.
 
Try this just for fun: replace “women” and “men” with any two other categories of humanity, and see how it sounds. Any church that forbade, for instance, blacks from preaching to whites or holding leadership roles would be condemned and marginalized. Why are churches that discriminate on the basis of sex rather than race treated any differently?
 
Why any human being would willingly submit to this sort of treatment is beyond me. So is why any organization this blatantly discriminatory deserves to be tax exempt. But those aren’t the foremost mysteries on my mind today. What really puzzles me at the moment is why our local newspaper, the Herald-Mail, would choose to publicize the backwards, misogynistic Emmanuel Baptist Temple with a pleasant, completely uncritical
feature in today’s edition.
 
The article, which quotes from Aikens and one of his parishioners, is accompanied on the Herald-Mail’s website by a video that includes an excerpt from Aikens’s sermon, a brief tour of the just-dedicated new sanctuary, and a lengthy clip of the choir performing. How much does advertising like this normally cost, I wonder.
 
Located only a few miles from Hagerstown, a city with more than its share of shabby neighborhoods, impoverished residents, and an ever-expanding homeless population, Larry Aikens and his staff at Emmanuel Baptist chose to spend an estimated $7 million of their members’ money on a new sanctuary, classrooms for a fundamentalist Christian private school, and other additions and renovations for their church — which, as I mentioned before, is exempt from local, state and federal taxes. I think of the good that $7 million could have done for this community — the homeless shelter that could have been built and staffed, or the home foreclosures that could have been prevented, or the struggling local businesses that could have been kept afloat — and I start to get angry. None of those things will happen. The good Christian people of Emmanuel Baptist decided to build themselves a nice new church instead.
 
Normally I’m not much for quoting scripture.  Yet, I can’t help but recall that in the Beatitudes (recorded as part of the Sermon on the Mount in the Book of Matthew, and the Sermon on the Plain in the Book of Luke — both texts of some importance to Christians, I am given to understand) Jesus teaches that the poor and the hungry will be blessed, along with the meek and the merciful. A church that spends millions of dollars to build itself a massive hilltop temple, in a community where the poor and the hungry are never difficult to find, is neither meek nor merciful.
 
Is there any such thing as Christian charity, really?  What I see in the new Emmanuel Baptist Temple, with its council of bigots leading a fleeced, willfully oblivious flock, is certainly Christian, but it is not charity. And what the Herald-Mail does in publicizing it is not journalism.
Comments 
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 04:21 am (UTC)
Anonymous
emmanual baptist temple has female choir members with short hair (and one even has a pixie haircut!)and they don't have to be certain weight. also, no checking tax returns. someone was misinformed.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 01:20 pm (UTC)
The person I know claims she was reminded (lovingly, I'm sure) that choir members are supposed to have their hair a certain length. And I know of another member of the church choir who was similarly spoken to about keeping her weight down. And yet another Emmanuel Baptist Temple attendee told me about the practice of checking tax returns of members to verify a 10% tithe. If you are a leader of Emmanuel Baptist and are willing to state unequivocally that these things are not true, I'll accept that. But I'll need your name and position before I believe it over what I've already heard.

I can't help but notice that you didn't deny that the church mistreats women in other ways — ways it proudly admits on its website — by banning them from leadership and preaching to men. Even if you are correct and my various sources are mistaken about the hair and weight requirements for the choir and the tax return checks for members, this church is still a bigoted organization that should not be publicized and celebrated in a newspaper.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 03:14 pm (UTC)
Maybe no one was misinformed. Christians are dependant on peer pressure. Without it, their communities would not survive. I once attended a church called Damascus Christian Community, headed by some dude named Bill Woodrow. I don't know if it is still operational or not, but I remember being told by the pastor's wife and a couple of other ladies in "leadership" that I needed to start wearing make-up! They also did that with a girl who was BEAUTIFUL without make-up! Other things led to mylack of interest in their goofy church, and more things led to my lack of interest in that particular religion; but consider the way Christians use peer pressure. Their whole movement hinges on it, enhanced by fear.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 03:27 pm (UTC)
That could be it. Perhaps the requirements for hair and weight in the choir are more "informal" unwritten rules. Just suggestions, offered in love, of course. Because as I said, who wants to sing along with a choir of fat bitches with short hair? Always look your best for Jesus, girls.

But the tax return requirement sounded pretty firm.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 04:16 pm (UTC)
They also wanted me to eat food I am allergic to, drink alcohol when I don't drink (they said I was rude for not drinking wine at a party someone threw) and get my German Shepherd put down. I wasn't willing to do any of those things. After those people, and the stepmother's 7th day adventist family, I can only conclude that there is something very unproductive and wrong with xians.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 04:42 am (UTC)
It's not just churches that get out of paying their fair share. The San Diego Comic Con is a tax exempt non-profit that turns a massive profit every year.

We were in line at Wal-Mart behind that pastor once. He even looks creepier in person. I was so upset that when we got home, I had to shoot up some black tar heroin and drink a six pack of malt liquor just to relax.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 01:25 pm (UTC)
How does Comic Con get away with that? Do they spend their surplus on the celebrities for next year, to avoid having to record all that money as profit? Since they aren't exactly a charity organization, it must take some creative bookkeeping to remain non-profit . . .

I've never seen Larry Aikens in person, but I can sort of imagine how creepy he must be. Ever since he took over that Moment of Truth commercial from the previous pastor, I've been having nightmares about a swept, meticulously sculpted head of Baptist hair pursuing me, trying to take my soul.
Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 | 02:18 pm (UTC)
Reading your post last night reminded me that I wrote a post a few weeks ago about SDCC not paying taxes and I then promptly forgot to publish it.

I do that sometimes.

I went ahead and posted it this morning. Here's a link:

http://bentcorner.com/2010/06/how-does-promoting-tv-shows-help-educate-people-about-comic-books/

Basically, they get out of paying taxes because they are classified as an educational organization.
Saturday, June 21st, 2014 | 05:36 pm (UTC) - is there a hell?
Anonymous
Okay, so you don't like this bigoted and narrow-minded and prideful and stuck-up church that preaches that there's a hell where you're going to burn forever and forever and forever if you don't accept Christ. I understand and I sympathize with the fact that you don't like such bigoted preaching from such a narrow-minded religious fanatic like Larry Aikens. But let me ask you something: If someone, no matter how bigoted and narrow-minded he is, presents to you even the hypothetical concept that there COULD be an eternal hell with raging fire in it, apart from whether there actually IS one, would you even want to take the chance on it? Would you even want to take a gamble on it hoping against hope that you'll come out on the winning side if you knew that the stakes were so high for coming out on the losing side? If I were you, I think that I would want to go to this bigoted church, or another church like it, and find out from these religious fanatics and holy-rollers in that church just how to keep from going to such a hell just in case it DOES exist. If this hell that this church talks about is such a terrible place, I think I would rather do what I could to prevent going there and then find out that I was fooled when I wake up in the afterlife and find out that it was all a joke and it didn't exist after all and I got so worked up over nothing, than to spend my whole life trying to debunk hell and laugh it right off the pages of all human literature, and then wake up in that hell and find out that it was true after all. Remember: This church says that this hell is FOREVER --- not just for a minute, not just for an hour, not just for the weekend, but all of the rest of time. So now after reading this comment, do you still want to be ABSOLUTELY SURE there's no hell? Or maybe perhaps you should do more research on it just like scientists do when they want to be absolutely sure of something. I would be afraid to make such a dogmatic statement that there's no hell without checking all of the facts first. Since this church you hate goes by the Holy Bible, I suggest you look into that book and see what you can find.
Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014 | 11:19 pm (UTC) - Emmanuel Baptist Temple
Anonymous
The authors of this article and ensuing comments need to get their frivilous gossip up to speed. And getting a life aside from bad-mouthing others while hiding like little mice behind a keyboard and monitor, would be a better idea. The tax-return laims are erroneous and baseless, the standards for women of the choir is misrepresented here, and Mr. Aikens and his littlr sidekick, Mark Chapman, were run out of the church on a rail 2 years ago. EBT is alive and well. I can't say the authors of this article and ensuing comments are well. On the contrary......SICK!
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