A most dissected message

Former President Bill Clinton will speak this Friday evening during the closing session of the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. He is one of those lightning-rod personalities who seems to draw either love or disdain.
Pastors across the nation, who have promoted the historic gathering to their congregations, can testify to that fact. Some church members have overreacted so negatively to Clinton’s participation that they have dismissed the whole conference as having no a valid purpose.
Bruce Prescott of Norman, Okla., who maintains the unofficial New Baptist Covenant blog site, posted an excellent piece last week about how the former president’s address will come at a time when the political stakes are so high for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton.
Bruce told how impressed he was after hearing Pres. Clinton speak at the press conference last April promoting the Baptist celebration. He passionately and clearly talked about his own faith, the biblical mandate to care for the poor, and the treasured principles of religious liberty.
I heard the same things and was impressed as well. Pres. Clinton’s biblically grounded message was brief, but superb. He out-preached some big-time preachers that day.
But as Bruce notes in his recent blog: “Last April, however, no one suspected that an African American would be the chief rival standing between Bill Clinton’s wife and the presidency. Then, no one suspected that the African-American community would be severely divided about who they would support for president.”
So on the Friday night before Super Tuesday, a day that may well determine the Democratic nominee for president, the husband of one vying for the office will have a platform.
Thousands of Baptists will be present, including many African Americans headed to the ballot box next Tuesday.
Like Bruce, I hope the message is similar to the one heard at the press conference in April. But the political temptation will be great.
Just how that address will go, nobody knows yet. But one thing is certain, it will be the most dissected message given at the historic Baptist gathering.
And, likely, not everyone will hear the same things. What one hears is often determined by what one is listening for.
Over 80 media representatives have been credentialed. Hundreds of others who write, blog or speak will be listening in. I can hear the pencils being sharpened now.


  1. John:
    Proud of you for taking the bull by the horns here.
    Didn’t register with me till today–I blogged just a few minutes ago how it could effect where I live–that Lindsey Graham that Friday morning is putting a lot on the line addressing immigration.
    I would hope you would take a look at my blog, and if not that, take a look at Ryan Lizza’s strong piece in November New Yorker on what Graham is facing in his SC Senate Race on the matter.
    Whatever Graham says, he has my respect for addressing the matter in this venue.
    I hope you or some of your peers can follow up on the Graham story as it develops and include in the report Harry Dent’s Daughter, the two term IMB trustee and Memphis Declaration signer who shares Graham’s hometown of Seneca.

    Not entirely cynical here, but has Daniel Plainview says about his Baptism in There Will be Blood–paraphrasing here–it’s shaping up to be [quite} a show.
    Please do see the Movie and I want tell anybody that you and Cartledge laughed when you here the line.

  2. Very well thought out & nicely presented. Bill & Hillary Clinton are as polarizing as it gets. While I’m sure Clinton’s message in ATL will be one of “reconciliation, hope, encouragement & peace,” it will also be viewed as “vengeful, disturbing, hateful, condescending & (most of all) political.”

    I’m sure it will be both, depending on the political stance of the hearer.

    Again, a well written piece.

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