Baptist church removing Jesus statue it deems too 'Catholic'

2018-05-31 13:31
Bert Baker, an amateur artist, stands in front of a 2m tall sculpture of Christ at Red Bank Baptist Church in Lexington, South Carolina. (Gerry Melendez, The State via AP)

Bert Baker, an amateur artist, stands in front of a 2m tall sculpture of Christ at Red Bank Baptist Church in Lexington, South Carolina. (Gerry Melendez, The State via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

A Baptist church in South Carolina plans to remove a hand-carved statue of Jesus Christ because some congregants believe it's too "Catholic" for their place of worship.

The hand-carved, 2m statue and accompanying reliefs depicting scenes from Christ's life have been displayed outside Red Bank Baptist Church in Lexington for a decade.

But in a letter to the artist, Pastor Jeff Wright said the art would be removed this week.

"We have discovered that there are people that view the art as Catholic in nature," Wright wrote in the letter to Delbert Baker Jr. A friend of Baker's posted the letter on Facebook.

Wright wrote that the statue and reliefs bring into question "the theology and core values of Red Bank Baptist Church", but he didn't elaborate.

The pastor did not return telephone calls or respond to messages The Associated Press left in person with his staff at the church on Wednesday.

The letter said Baker had until Thursday to remove the art if he wanted to keep it. If not, it would be destroyed. Workers at the church refused to tell the AP if that deadline remained in place.

Dysfunctional

The dispute is a symptom of a larger "dysfunction" in the Southern Baptist Convention, said Bill Leonard, a professor of Baptist studies at Wake Forest University.

"Almost week to week there's another incident in which southern Baptists portray themselves ... having convictions that look like bias and prejudice in the larger culture," Leonard said. "The bias is so deep that they even think they have the wrong Jesus is in front of their church."

In his own letter responding to Wright, Baker explained his vision of the art, saying it was meant to show Red Bank Baptist had a focus on Christian outreach.

"This is why Christ is represented as though he is stepping outside of the building, not just confined to the idleness of inner walls," Baker wrote in the letter, which his friend also posted on Facebook. "Under each arm, the reliefs depict scriptural and historical events that we as Christians believe represent the life of Christ."

The reason that has been given for removing the art makes no sense, Baker added, because a large sign out front identifies the building as a Baptist church. Instead, the explanation makes it appear that congregants are disparaging Catholics, Baker wrote.

"I was obedient to my Lord in creating it and after much prayer I must respectfully decline to take part in its removal," Baker wrote.

Baker did not respond to telephone messages from the AP on Wednesday.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    us  |  religion

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

HSE Manager

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R550 000.00 - R650 000.00 Per Year

IT Manager (contract)

Cape Town CBD
Communicate Cape Town IT
R330 000.00 - R458 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.