Sunday, February 05, 2006
Wear your love like heaven
The past couple of weeks a "discussion," if you can call it that, has bounced between this site and the blog of a fundamentalist Baptist preacher from Kentucky named Josh Buice. Josh first popped up on our radar for his article trashing Freemasonry. His anti-Masonic rant consisted of the usual well-known anti-Masonic drivel — you know, Masons worship the Devil, conduct Satanic rituals, secretly control the world, whatever.
Several Masons including the Widow's Son visited his site and posted comments assuring him that none of what he said was true, and offered to set him right by answering his questions about Masonry.
Pastor Josh never asked any questions about Freemasonry, except mockingly, but took upon himself to tell us what we were — sinners going to hell, even though most of the Masons who posted on his site proclaimed their Christianity. Additionally, almost all the Masons in most every lodge I've been in are Baptists — but still, Josh insists we're all going to Hell unless we toe his doctrinal line.
Lately Pastor Josh's rants have been along the lines of, "One day... I am going to a literal heaven which has literal foundations (12), a literal street of gold, 12 literal gates made of one literal pearl (per gate), and a literal city that is garnished with literal precious stones!" Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
In the past few days, the conversation has gotten rather heated, and no one is convincing anyone of anything. Yesterday and today the Baptists's tone has become kind of belligerent, with Pastor Josh trying to make fun of how many, or rather, how few, people are currently visiting BurningTaper.com. "Your audience is rather slim! Your following is rather slim!" he gloats in his latest comment.
Considering this blog is fairly new, and in its first few months was only intended to be read by the members of one local Masonic lodge, and that we've only in the last three or four weeks been actively seeking a wider readership, I'd say our traffic is exceptional. That little map from ClustrMaps down in the lower right corner has only been installed for the last two days. It shows we had 191 unique visitors during that time.
Ninety-five people a day times thirty days times twelve months equals over 34,000 people a year. At that rate, if all our visitors were Georgia Masons — our "target market," if we were to actually define one — statistically we'd reach every one of them in about a year and a half.
Compare that to the number of Baptists in the United States, that is, to the number of people attracted to the brand of Christianity that Pastor Josh proclaims (over and over!) is the One True Way to Heaven. Let's see who really has a rather slim following.
(Numbers and percentages used here are approximate, and most are from 2001.)
How many Americans consider themselves Baptists? According to TeachingAboutReligion.org, 33.8 million Americans, or 16.3%, are Baptists. Most live in the old Confederacy, so we'll assume (incorrectly, but for the sake of this discussion) that all Baptists are Southern Baptists. Fifty-one million Americans, or 24.5%, are Catholics, and 29,500,000 (14.1%) Americans say they are not religious.
ABC News reports that about 52% of Baptists say they go to church regularly. (Surveys show that most people lie on surveys, but we'll ignore that, since we know Baptists wouldn't lie.)
Assuming that the non-attenders don't really feel the strong passion and zeal that Pastor Josh does, let's assume that the number of people on his team in the USA is about (.52 x 33.8 million) 17.6 million. Let's call that the number of Josh-like, fervent, literalist, "God said it and I believe it!" fundamentalist Southern Baptist Christians in the USA — the "following," as Josh put it, the "audience" for his version of Christianity.
Slim? In the scheme of things, you bet! But wait, there's more!
There are 2.1 billion (with a B) earthlings proclaiming to be Christians, but only 70 million Baptists worldwide! That's a little over three percent of the professing Christians on this planet who, according to Josh's reasoning, are "real" Christians, that is, who believe the Bible is the "holy, inspired, infallible, inerrant, immutable, never dying, highly exalted, final authority Word of God!," as Josh's blog masthead screams. Catholics, by far the largest Christian group in the world, with one billion fifty million (1,050,000,000) adherents, apparently aren't official Christians, according to Josh the Baptist. Neither is the Eastern Orthodox Church with its 250 million members, or virtually any other denomination of Christianity, because they all allow some "wiggle room" for errors in interpretation and/or translation.
So is there a slim audience for Josh's version of Christianity? Let's see, worldwide, Baptists account for what, about one percent of the world's population, and three percent of the Christians? I guess Heaven will be only lightly populated, since only Baptists will be there. But God, will it be NOISY!
Heaven | Christianity | Baptists