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One Stop Baptism, and While You are There, Eat a Hot Dog and Drink Some Hot Chocolate


This Saturday, the City of Defiance, Ohio, will hold its annual Halloween Parade. Three of our grandchildren with be marching with their respective school bands in the parade. Several of our children and their families will be street side to watch the parade. While there, they, along with other bystanders, will have the opportunity to:

the gathering place defiance

The Gathering Place, a local charismatic church in downtown Defiance, is reaching out to the masses this Saturday, offering saints, sinners, and snarky atheists walk-in baptisms by immersion, along with hot dogs, hot chocolate, and candy.

Who thought up this nonsense? Did he or she bother to consider the theological implications or Biblical justification for baptizing people off the street? Imagine going to the parade, and while standing streetside with your family, you decide to get baptized (a rite of initiation into Christianity, an outward sign of an inward act). Do the folks at The Gathering Place really think someone is going to do this? I suspect if anyone is baptized, it will be people who are already affiliated with the church. This is an increasingly common practice in Evangelical churches. Members who are already baptized (supposedly a one-time act) get baptized again. Why? Because they want to or it makes them “feel” good. After all, worship is all about “felt needs,” right?

Just when I think I have seen everything . . .

Maybe I will go get baptized on Saturday. Not for salvation, of course, but I sure do love hot dogs (oh wait, the church is likely using $1 hot dogs from Aldi, so maybe not), hot chocolate (with whole milk, please), and candy. Lots of candy. 🙂


Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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    How bizarre. But then I cringe to recall more than a few ‘witness events’ that I took part in when fundy. I was sure the lawd told us to do them and they’d lead to conversions…but in fact we just looked silly, wacky or weird to those observing us. And we thought they were so attractive that our heathen hearers would be drawn to our jesus in such a powerful way. Oh the delusions I lived under back then too.

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    That’s some next level desperation there, baptizing people off the street! It’s either scaring people into getting fire insurance, or people already affiliated with the church getting a rededication baptism, or someone pranking them by getting baptized, or someone guilty into it because they ate a hot dog…..

    Have you ever wondered if anyone peed in the baptistry?

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      “Have you ever wondered if anyone peed in the baptistry?”

      The baptistry at my church almost always had a broken heater. It was so cold the pastor joked about getting fishing waders. I not so sure that a little blast of warmth wouldn’t have been considered a blessing.

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        Lol our Southern Baptist pastors ALWAYS wore fishing waders into the baptistry – as a kid, that’s how I learned the reason the pastor was able to come back out to the service so quickly! Our church’s janitor took me on a tour of the baptistry one Monday morning as he was cleaning it, so I got all the behind-the-scenes info. My grandfather was very involved in the church and would take me on errands with him if school had a holiday break.

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    Barbara L. Jackson

    This is a little less damaging than some of the previous entries about Halloween being caused by Satan (when is was started as the eve of all saints day) but it is weird.

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    Ben Berwick

    I do like me a hot dog, but it’s got to be a good quality one, and drowned in ketchup and cheese. At Christmas, there is usually a Christmas Market in town, and hot dogs are one of the things they cook up, along with roast pork baguettes, and crepes that drip with chocolate sauce. I am so hungry now.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    Bruce, you’re probably right that the (re-)baptisms make people feel good about themselves. But I also suspect they’re performative, done in the hopes of influencing spectators to do the same.

    I like hot dogs (though I don’t eat them as often as I once did), chocolate milk (yes, with whole milk) and candy (depending on which). Those things aren’t enough to tempt me into baptism, though.

    I like Missi’s idea, especially since I’m a trans woman. Let them see what a surgeon with a God-given talent could do with the body God gave me! (snark)

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    Kevin Morgan

    My brother belonged to a Baptist church plant, you had to do your homework to find out it was Baptist. They had Communion every Sunday which meant they left it on a side table. The minister would say “If you want it help yourself.” Modern fundagelicals have no theology beyond getting saved and they’ve reduced that to mumbling a prayer. Lazy and sloppy.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    A really good hot dog on a properly fresh bun requires yellow American mustard, period. 🙂

    And yes, I know that other kinds of mustard are available and actually use various ones for sandwiches and cooking. (1 cup plain yogurt + 1.5 tbsp seasoned (sweetened) rice vinegar + 1.5 tbsp sweet hot mustard + 1 tsp. celery seed = a wonderful, zingy, not-too-sweet dressing for shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix.) Dijon mustard is an essential ingredient in many of my marinades.

    But for hot dogs, only the old (to me) standard will do.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    Raised Catholic, I dipped my toes into the Evangelical waters for a few years in my 20s, and actually did get baptized again in the non-denominational church I was attending. I was searching for an authentic Christianity at the time, and actively rejecting what I perceived as the heavy baggage that Catholicism had piled on top of the Bible to advance an agenda I dimly understood. I didn’t realize that Evangelical Christianity piles a different but similarly heavy load of baggage on the Christian holy book. I also didn’t understand that it was important not to revere a holy book without reading it carefully as a whole entity. I needed SOMETHING, and at the time, I thought it might be a closer relationship with God.

    (Decades later, I now have a much better understanding of how and why organized religions consider various writings to be sacred, which are deeply rooted in history and political climates of various times. But that’s a discussion for another day.) The fact is that I was baptized Catholic as a baby with a dribble of water on my head, and various required words said by the priest. I’m told that I didn’t cry, which impressed the adults around me.

    Then, in my early 20s, I endured immersion baptism in my new Evangelical church. The water was cold. The experience was miserable. I walked out of that baptismal pool the same person who entered. I didn’t need the nonexistent Jesus, I needed Prozac and therapy. I was finally treated for chronic depression,, which I had endured as far back as I can remember, almost a decade later.

    To be clear, I don’t see the advantage of making someone dunk themselves in a pool of cold water as better or worse than dribbling “holy” water over their head. Both are highly symbolic actions. One can argue, from a Christian point of view, that infant baptism is meaningless, but the Catholic Church has other, age-appropriate rituals for guiding the young Catholic into their version of the Christian fold. I see the different rituals of the differing approaches to Christianity as being distinctions without a real difference.

    If you have a good reason to believe, you believe. The rest is details, and what might be profoundly uncomfortable to people in one Christian tradition is home to people in another. Y’all are still all Christians. I might not agree with you, but I respect your right to believe. Well, until you start to proselytize me for my unbelief, or tell me that Catholics aren’t really Christians, or that my experience with Evangelical churches means they weren’t True Christian churches.

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    I stopped to see my parents this evening and when I walked through the kitchen door my mother had one of the other church ladies on phone getting the Sunday list of prayer requests together. One of the requests was for the lord to open some stranger’s heart to accept Jesus as their saviour. It sounded so absurd and ridiculous I made a face which then resulted in me receiving “the look” from my mother – forty three years old and it still works to wipe a smirk from my face. I wanted to point out the whole free will issue but thought it best to just get in and get out.

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Bruce Gerencser