Which church best in a bar fight?

Dear Editor:

Growing up in Lewisburg, I never dreamed that a proposed city ordinance preserving one’s right to remain in their home or retain one’s job because of gender orientation would evoke the fighting passions it has.

But, the other evening, as I walked downtown, there was a large crowd encircling Lewisburg City Hall, awaiting the first reading of the ordinance.

This gathering of two groups of opposing views was being closely monitored by the police, who nervously fingered their tasers, their riot gear close at hand, reinforcements on the stand by. Those against the civil rights ordinance belligerently displayed large “No” signs. With equal pride and determination, those “For” the ordinance displayed smaller “Fairness” stickers. Rumors were circulated that the “No’s” were out of town militants bused in by trouble making Baptists.

This mingling of potential combatants, with opposing religious beliefs, so close to the center of government, evoked the question often asked, but seldom answered: Which church congregation would be best to have watch your back in a “knock down,” “no quarter asked” saloon brawl? Would it be the Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, the Baptists or whom?

Realizing that my opinions will probably be challenged by some congregation whose church wishes to be considered the best saloon brawlers, I want to venture my thoughts on this subject.

Normally one would assume that Episcopalians would be the first choice because of the familiarity with bars. But Episcopalians and Lutherans are a lot alike. They seem to take no joy in smashing someone’s face with a beer bottle, just for the sake of doing it. At least they want to justify their pleasure by being politically correct on which side they take. They want to make sure they have their facts straight, their cause is just; that they are on the correct side of history. Most of those I recognized as Episcopalians were carrying copies of the ordinance, and going around stating “There is nothing in this ordinance that is going to let pedophiles into public rest rooms and claim residence there.”

When it came to a bar fight, by the time Episcopalians could gather the data to make up their minds about whose side they should be on, the fight would be over. The fight sites would be limited to those bars that served quiche and offered a good label of Chardonnay.

Methodists on the other hand, are less fact and data oriented, but will probably find the right answer by good intuition. Being non-drinkers, they seem to be non-judgmental. Still when it comes to saloon brawling, with a few individual exceptions, Methodists should be considered too inexperienced.

What about my own church: the Presbyterians? I am a card carrying Elder. My favoritism should make my neutrality suspect. But, as bar room brawlers, I don’t think we measure up. Maybe thirty years ago, we could have held our own in a good bar room slug fest; but today our congregation is aging. I’m not sure we could even run from a good fight today. This may be due in part to the harm fundamentalists have done to the entire Christian religion. Young people see the hypocrisy of those preaching hate against gays, blacks, women, and other members of the human race. The young and educated just don’t understand that Fundamentalists don’t speak for all Christians, particularly on toleration of minorities.

The Catholics, on the other hand, if the brawl fell on a Friday Fish Fry night, and properly led by a fighting priest, match up well with just about anyone. However, I will leave to the reader’s own judgment as to whether Catholics could be rallied around a cause that argued that the congregation should be able to fire the priest over his sexual orientation. I’m just not prepared to go there.

Now, I have to get to the Baptists. I love the Baptists. On first blush, they look good in a fight. They will fight just about anybody over any issue including themselves. Whether its guitars in church services or how many dunks an old reprobate like me needs to wash away his sins, Baptists will hold their opinions. “Often wrong, but never in doubt” is their battle cry.

But that’s the problem, they seldom bother to get their facts right. Take the issue at City Hall. They rallied their troops with something about the issue being pedophiles or deviants in public rest rooms. That dog just won’t hunt. A reading of the ordinance doesn’t reveal any clue about what they are talking about. When it comes to bar room fights, it is best just to let the Baptists fight in a corner by themselves.

Growing up here, I didn’t think we needed such an ordinance. After seeing some pretty scary people waiving “No” signs in front of City Hall, I became convinced that our City does need such an ordinance. Not because this ordinance has any real teeth in it, but because I want our city fathers to make a clear statement that the city I live in, wants tolerance and equality for everyone.

The bigots might be best in s saloon brawl, but bigotry is not a religion to be worshiped here.

Next time, perhaps I could discuss the more pressing question: What kind of assault rifle do you think Jesus Christ would carry?

Paul Detch



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