Doug's away for a bit, leaving me with keys to the Yugo. Whee!
This is some sort of holy week -- but what week isn't? -- so let me continue with my occasional posts about the joy of sects. This time, the Baptists.
The first World Baptist Congress was held in London in 1905, leading to the formation of the World Baptist Alliance. Doctrinally, Baptists have traditionally been against hierarchy -- the current Southern Baptist Convention would be like a steel rasp on Roger Williams' teeth -- and so the Congress met in a spirit of egalitarian fellowship. The next convention was held in 1911, in Philadelphia; the third, in Stockholm in 1923; the fourth, in Toronto in 1928.
The fifth was held in Berlin. August 4th through August 10th, 1934. A vintage season. Two days after the death of President Hindenberg, two weeks after the assassination of Austrian chancellor Dollfuss, and a little over a month after the bloody purge of the SA, the Night of the Long Knives.
Needless to say, reactions to the new Germany were mixed among the American attendees. Former Southern Baptist Convention president George W. Truett, who conducted camp meetings for cowboys in west Texas every summer for nearly forty years, "introduced a hotly debated peace resolution which urged governments to surrender whatever national sovereignty necessary to establish an international authority for peace in the world." On the other hand, the Southern Baptist Convention's then-current president, pioneer radio preacher Monroe Elmon Dodd of Louisiana, had a different take:
Since the war some 200,000 Jews from Russia and other Eastern places had come into Germany. Most of these were Communist agitators against the government... [While Jews] were not to be blamed for the intelligence and strength, so characteristic of their race, which put them forward, [they used their abilities] for self-aggrandizement to the injury of the German people.And a Boston Baptist was pleased:
It was a great relief to be in a country where salacious sex literature cannot be sold; where putrid motion pictures and gangster films cannot be shown. The new Germany has burned great masses of corrupting books and magazines along with its bonfires of Jewish and communistic libraries.
(Quotes taken from William Loyd Allen's fascinating 1982 article, "How Baptists Assessed Hitler", found here.)
One man in particular at the Congress seems to have been transformed by his experiences in Germany. It might be possible to catch a glimpse of him filtered through that week's Time magazine:
Treasuring a written promise of freedom of speech from Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Baptists talked about nationalism, war & peace, separation of Church & State. A U. S. Negro heading a delegation of 30 black Baptists was all primed to present a resolution on racial equality.In attendance was the Reverend Michael King of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia... known after his return as Martin Luther King, Sr.