Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ethics Leaders who Argue Unethically

Robert Parham, whose title is Executive Director for the Baptist Center for Ethics, embarrasses himself by unethically manipulating facts in essentially arguing that Baptists in Tennessee can either vote for Harold Ford, Jr. or prove that they have not "moved away from their segregation heritage and racial prejudice."

The commentary's headline asks if Baptists will vote for "one of their own" if his name is Ford? But Parham, and the headline writer, have perhaps forgotten that Baptists in Tennessee refused six years ago to vote for a fellow Southern Baptist whose name was Gore. In fact, the rejection of Gore, not the race of Ford, is the factor to remember in this year's election. Gore, like Ford, was the son of a Washington politician who rose to prominence with the help of the family name, told voters what they wanted to hear about his conservative credentials, and then went to Washington and proved to be a left winger. Most Tennessee Baptists are old enough to remember when Gore was pro-life, and they are not naive enough to think that Ford, like Gore before him, is not capable of "growth." In addition, while Ford is trying to campaign to the right of Pat Buchanan, he has not voted that way, and no one really imagines that he will do so as a U.S. Senator.

If Parham wishes to engage in rhetoric suggesting that Baptists have a choice of voting for Ford or being branded as racists, he is free to do so. However, such propaganda sullies a man who would lead a "center for ethics," Baptist or otherwise.


Blogger S-townMike said...

You haven't said anything that disproves Parham's main point that a primary test in this election will be whether Southern Baptists-- one of the most segregated denominations--will be willing to vote for a black man.

There is nothing unethical about the point.

9:08 AM  
Blogger MCO said...

Mike, while it is unfortunate that black and white people frequently worship in separate locations on Sunday, that is hardly unique to Southern Baptists. As I am sure you are aware, the reasons for such are manifold: some of it is due to the past evil of slavery and the ongoing evil of racial prejudice. Some of it is more related to styles of worship. That I like Bach in my worship separates me equally from both most blacks and most whites, but I am prejudiced against neither.

While I am not naive about the role of race in an election, most Baptists will choose in this race, as they did in the 2000 Presidential election, based on matters that have nothing to do with either an ethnic or religious test. As someone who cares deeply about both ethics and race, I find Parham's commentary to be reprehensible.

12:06 PM  
Blogger S-townMike said...

What is unique to Southern Baptists is that they chose to split with Northern Baptists in order to defend slavery, they passed segregation resolutions to defend Jim Crow and oppose Civil Rights reforms (the only thing that kept them for hemorrhaging members was that those resolutions were non-binding on churches and individuals), and they continue to fight separately from their black and white Baptist cohort (unlike other denominations that split over slavery) against Civil Rights reforms. (American (old northern) Baptists in contrast are more multi-racial and dedicated to working for justice across denominational lines).

It is either naive or cynical to suggest that race does not determine how Southern Baptists will generally vote at the polls. A leopard does not change its spots. The SBC has a racist legacy that it has more than earned in the past 150 years. And barring an observable, collective metanoia of biblical proportions, Southern Baptists will still be lead by the issue of race. So, it is folly to suggest that Southern Baptists would vote for an African American who publicly embraces their values and governs accordingly. Levelling the "liberal" charge is a smoke screen that hides the issue of race. When it comes to the SBC, you have to keep your eye on the ball. There is nothing reprehensible in that.

And Parham ought to know; he's been a Southern Baptist.

1:05 PM  
Blogger MCO said...

Mike, yes, of course. And that is the reason that Parham will next be writing a column urging Southern Baptists in Maryland to exorcise their heritage on race by voting for Michael Steele. And you'll be blogging comments in agreement.

When I see that, I will apologize for my assertion that this has everything to do with cynical politics and nothing to do with race.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To s-townmike: Having lived in Memphis for a number of years I am very well aware of the Ford family politics. They are much more racists than I could ever think about being....just happens to be reversed racism. I don't care what church someone goes to or what they really believe as a basis for who I will vote for. But when someone says he is a Chrisitian but he believes and votes for abortion (as well as other things that a true believer in Christ would never accept) then I find that difficult to believe as Jesus Christ would never have stood for abortion or some of the other things Ford has been known to support. When a family such as the Fords stir up hated and keep the race issue going in every election that I can remember it makes me doubt their true Christian beliefs. I am sure that many of today's candidates in all the upcoming political races want to claim to be Christians and conservative since this is the way the wind has been blowing for the last 5 or 6 years. But look at their past records and see what they have stood for when their ideas and beliefs didn't make such a difference to anyone else. God judged Sodom and Gomorrah for the sinful lifestyle those people had allowed to run rampant in their nation. If God does not judge America, He will owe those 2 cities an apology. I don't think He will be apologizing. So think about what the alternative to that is and vote for the candidate that has consistently believed and voted for what true Christianity espouses.

9:54 AM  

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