Guest Post by John Hawkins from Right Wing News. You can follow Right Wing News on Facebook here.
There is no aspect of your life from birth to death that our government doesn’t want to control and that even includes being BAPTIZED BY YOUR CHURCH.
In a stand-off between Baptists seeking to exercise their religious rights and the National Park Service, the National Park Service just blinked, backing off of a requirement that churches get a permit (a two day process) before baptizing people in public waters.
…In Missouri, where this matter came to a head, people gather together on river banks to witness baptisms. As choir members sing hymns, the preacher leads the new believer into the water for a full immersion baptism. In terms of environmental impact, this temporary plunge into the river is about as minimal as one can get, an impact that is equal to, or even less than, the effect from swimmers, fisherman, or weekend frolickers who head out to the same waters for fun and sport.
…Nevertheless, the Park Service recently began a new policy requiring churches that wished to hold baptisms in public waters to apply for a special permit at least 48 hours in advance of the baptism. The Park Service justified this recent demand by saying that the permits were necessary to “maintain park natural/cultural resources and quality visitor experiences, specific terms and conditions have been established.”
…In Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, the Park Service went one step further: it closed the road that led to a sandbar abutting a popular baptism site. And when we say closed, we mean closed. The Park Service didn’t just put up a “No Access” sign on the roadway. Instead, it blocked the road with boulders. While young and healthy people can still hike to the sand bar, elderly people, whether they are congregants or new believers, can no longer get there.
…On August 21, Rep. Jason Smith (Missouri, R) heeded the complaints of his constituents and wrote a letter to the NPS asking what the heck was going on…
…Between citizen outrage and Rep. Smith’s threat to bring the matter before the full Congress, however, the Park Service quickly reversed its new policy, writing to the Congressman that, “As of today, the park’s policy has been clarified to state that no permit will be required for baptisms within the Riverways. I can assure you the National Park Service has no intention of limiting the number of baptisms performed within the park.”
There’s a lesson here for both Christians and conservatives. The government has no qualms about pushing people around, but if you’re willing to stand up for yourself and shine a light on what they’re doing, you’d be surprised how often the bureaucratic bullies will run for the hills rather than try to defend their autocratic behavior to the public.