Pastor's column did not judge letter-writer


Richard T. Cartwright

Sunday, May 19, 2019

When I read Holly Audette’s column on Sunday, May 12, I realized that she inferred several ideas from Dr. Paul Batson’s recent column that he did not imply. Dr. Batson was legitimately disconcerted about the application of a sacred Biblical passage by a misguided letter-writer to make a thinly veiled threat against all people who would speak against the U.S. president and his policies.

I firmly believe that Dr. Batson was not judging any person or group of people. When I read his column I did not get the impression that he was judging the person who wrote the meditations that really distressed him. He was just strongly disagreeing with the letter-writer’s point of view. Furthermore, the righteous person is spiritually-minded enough to appraise and examine all thoughts and ideas.

Speaking of the word “judge,” there is more than one kind of judge. While it goes without saying that there are legal judges who decide whether a person is guilty or innocent, there are also talent judges who can prudently judge the things that people do — sing, dance, paint pictures and so on — as being well done or poorly done. In other words, using Bible passages to threaten and frighten people into supposed “righteousness” is a poor usage of Holy Scripture. 

Furthermore, when Dr. Batson said, “I’m Baptist, but not that kind of Baptist,” he intended to say that he does not fit the stereotype of a typical conservative Baptist, because all Baptists are not the same. Nevertheless, he has just as much respect for Republicans as he has for Democrats. In fact, even the most conservative and opinionated Republicans would be warmly welcomed at his church.

Frankly, Mrs. Audette seems to have the viewpoint that all liberals and Democrats are morally inferior to conservatives and Republicans. Her apparent mindset reminds me of a conversation I heard between two church members more than two decades ago. I was the member of a very conservative Evangelical church when I heard these two other members discussing then-President Bill Clinton. I remember being astonished when I heard one man say, “I think that anybody who voted for him is the scum of the earth!” Quite frankly, comments like that have firmly given me the impression that conservative Evangelical churches are not psychologically or spiritually safe environments for liberal Democrats to attend for worship. 

I hope Mrs. Audette will someday realize that human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires, and as followers of Christ we should get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, along with any chip on our shoulder we may have. We should be kind and compassionate to one another and forgive each other just as Jesus Christ forgave us.

Richard T. Cartwright

Elizabeth City