Tuesday, September 3, 2013


FOX NEWS – The National Park Service began enforcing a policy recently that required churches to obtain special use permits in order to baptize in public waters. As part of the same permit process, the NPS also mandated that churches give the Park Service 48 hours advance notice of pending baptisms.

But as any Baptist or Pentecostal in good standing knows – that’s a problem.

“If the Holy Spirit is working on Sunday morning, you’re going to baptize Sunday afternoon,” Dennis Purcell told The Salem News. “You may not know ahead of time.”

Many Christians believe that the Bible commands new followers of Christ to be baptized immediately after their conversion. It’s a public expression and celebration of their new-found faith in Christ.

The National Park Service told local churches the permits were needed to “maintain park natural/cultural resources and quality visitor experiences, specific terms and conditions have been established.”

(Of course those maintenance measure have not been needed for centuries.)

The feds also closed vehicle access to a sandbar along a popular creek in the Ozark Mountains, meaning churches could no longer drive their elderly members to the outdoor baptisms. And to make sure the Baptists behaved, they placed large boulders in the area to block car traffic.

(Of course, they do the same for other visitors to the parks, right?)

“Like the Baptists and Pentecostals are going to harm natural resources and adversely affect quality visitor experiences by occasionally baptizing new converts?” asked local resident Lewis Leonard. “I can think of a whole lot more activities along the river ways that are not conducive to maintain the natural resources.”

Rep. Jason Smith fired off a letter to the feds on Aug. 21 demanding answers.

“I am very troubled by any federal rule that requires churches to apply for a permit for the purpose of baptism, especially when these traditional activities have been done in the rivers and streams of this nation since its founding,” the congressman wrote.

He pointed out the National Park Service does not require a 48-hour notification from fisherman or swimmers – so why churches?

(Because churches are made of people and fishermen and swimmers are not people?)

“One would hope that the answer is not ‘because the National Park Service wants to limit the number of baptisms performed on the river.”

(Oh, of course not!)

The Park Service responded within 24 hours. They said the reason they needed two days notice is to “give the park staff adequate time to prepare the permit.”

(Why they needed to require a permit in the first place is the real issue.)

Funny how helpful the government is to its citizens, isn't it?


sue hanes said...

Joe - This seems strange to me - that baptisms need a permit. Is there a limit to how many can be performed? I think they just want to regulate - like with everything else.

Joe said...

sh: Agreed, but it goes deeper than that.

Duckys here said...

But based on local outrage – and Rep. Smith’s promise to bring the matter before Congress, the Park Service had a change of heart.

“As of today, the park’s policy has been clarified to state that no permit will be required for baptisms within the Riverways,” Supt. William Black wrote in a letter to the congressman. “I can assure you the National Park Service has no intention of limiting the number of baptisms performed within the park.”

Rep. Smith called the decision a “victory for common sense.”


Joe, I can't understand why you omitted that portion of the story. I'm beginning to think this site may not be fair and balanced.

Xavier Onassis said...

Use a glass of tap water or dunk 'em in a bathtub.

Take them to the nearest cow pasture and put their head in the watering trough.

Or is the Holy Spirit only able to work it's magic in public parks?

Joe said...

Ducky: "I can't understand why you omitted that portion of the story."

The point was not the outcome, which was resolved properly. The point was that the stupid park tried making the rule in the first place. That's the point. Do you get it? That's the point, the whole point and nothing but the point!

XO: "Or is the Holy Spirit only able to work it's magic in public parks?"

What has that to do with anything? And it's not "it's" it's "its" and it's not "its" anyway, it's His.

Xavier Onassis said...

Joe - The point is they can perform their little baptism ceremony anywhere, they don't need access to public lands to do it so their religious freedom is not constrained in any way. 75% of the planet is covered in water and modern civilization makes it readily available with the twist of a knob. Go find some if you need some and stop fabricating issues where non exist.

Duckys here said...

It's tougher than you think, XO.

The same article was complaining about a beach lifeguard blocking a baptism because of the rip currents.

Xavier Onassis said...

Ducky - Now see, the lifeguard was clearly in the wrong. In fact, I think ALL baptisms should be performed in rip currents. It would add a real "God's Will" aspect to the proceedings, don't you think?

If the baptism "takes", God can snatch them up to heaven right there on the spot!

If he casts them back to the shore, well, they're welcome to come back and try it again when they have more faith.

I like it!

Joe said...

XO: "The point is they can perform their little baptism ceremony anywhere..."

Except a public park.

"God can snatch them up to heaven right there on the spot!"

Reminds me of the man who's ethnicity made him less than welcome in a certain church. But he came anyway, got saved and was baptized. They were a three-times-dunkin' church. The man died and went to Heaven where St. Peter asked him for his testimony. "I was dunked the first time and came up shouting 'hallelujah!" SP said, "Cool!" He said, "I was dunked the second time and came up shouting, "Praise the Lord!" SP said, "Neat!" He said, "I was dunked the third time..." SP said, "And what did you shout the third time?" The guy said, "You know...I don't remember coming up the third time."

Xavier Onassis said...

Joe - Funny stuff! I swear you have mellowed over the years.