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Parody Site isn't all that funny

I'm sorry to have to do this. I haven't even checked with the rest of the staff to see if it's OK to write up this editorial. I'm just so depressed with the choices some people make. Recently, we've been flooded with emails pointing us to the 'crazy Baptists' over at the Landover Baptist page. Quite frankly, I'm not impressed.

Here's a little background on me. I've been a Baptist my whole life. My father was a Baptist minister for years, taught at a Bible college and has given his life for full-time service to Christ. I have followed in my father's footsteps, and am also a minister. I am 24 years old and have been working with a church here in the midwest for over two and a half years.

Here's a few samples of the many emails we have received about Landover Baptist's Star Wars webpage:

"This is stuff that jokes are made of, even more shocking is that its real."

"Man, how I wish this was a dumb joke. I can't believe people think like this these days!"

"I'm not sure if I should be disturbed or laughing my butt off..."

"This has got to be the sickest story I have ever read."

"See what kind of idiots the Baptists are?"

"Just go to it and inform the rest of the loyal readers of this bull."

So, we've been flooded with the links to this site, at last count 27 times in the last week, with people saying things like, "Look at what the Baptists have done this time," or "those Christians are completely nuts!" My heart sinks and I've got to go check out the site since they're referring to me. What do I find over on the Landover site? Basically, the site is a satire of religion and makes fun of God. There is no Landover Baptist Church. There are no pastors. It exists only on the Internet and in the minds of two young men.

With that said, here's the background on the site. Two seniors, Mike Allen and Chris Harper, were kicked out of their school with a few weeks left before graduation. They were kicked out of Liberty University for a radio program they were doing that was deemed offensive by the administration. They kicked them out just weeks before they were to graduate, and it appears the web site is a way for them to vent their feelings about Christianity. I understand that, but I have a hard time agreeing with what they have to say, especially when unsuspecting visitors characterize an entire group of people based on their satirical words from the website.

Go visit their site if you want, but know that what is said there does not reflect the sentiment of Baptists and Christians everywhere. Let's be careful not to let the statements and accusations of one group of people reflect our opinion of them all.

I understand parody, but this just isn't funny.

Written by Joshua Griffin
June 2, 1999

Why not try these alternative links instead?

How to become a Real Jedi
The Force Returns

UPDATE 7.09.99
Amazing. As I type this update, another email comes in again with a link to the site and various comments about it. Wow. Anyhow, thanks already for all the notes and letters on both sides of the issue. I appreciate your thoughts and welcome more in the future. I would like to post a few excerpts from those letters some time this week, so send in your comments!

UPDATE 7.12.99
Here are some of your comments so far:

Heather says, "Thank you for the editorial and the links to Frank Allnut. As a Christian, I found that site 100% offensive."

Andy writes, "I just felt like I should e-mail you to thank you for your wonderful editorial (and for the great links at the bottom), and to encourage you in your walk with the Lord. I am positive that through those links, God will work. I went to TF.N looking for the best in SW news, and I left receiving an enormous blessing of God through your editorial."

Nancy writes, "Frankly, I can't see what all the fuss is about. The site is clearly labeled as satire. I don't think it's particularly good satire, but it's effective enough to get an emotional reaction out of people. Those who think that the Landover Baptist site is "real" are falling into the satirist's trap. Like the worthy individuals who accused Jonathan Swift of advocating cannibalism in "A Modest Proposal," they just don't get it."

Laura comments, "I was heaps encouraged by your editorial about the controversy with the Baptist site and the star wars parodies (i haven't been there so i don't know the details), but it was great just to see someone standing up for their faith. I belong to an Anglican church in Sydney, Aust, and our whole church are just trying to focus on Jesus more and more. To read what you published on the net about being a minister and your father commiting his life to Christ was great. The links were very cool too, thanks for putting them up."

Matt suggests, "Why is this on a star wars website? We don't care about your religious problems, nor do we care about your lack of a sense of humor. The people who visit this site do so because they love star wars, not because they want to hear from whinning christians; so if it is not about star wars then it does not belong here."

Jeff states, "Lessons like, appreciating people even if they are clumsy from time to time, not worry, because there will be a bigger fish to take care of the huge problems we think are so insurmountable. Star Wars is not the belief system in which I build my eternal hope on, but if I can use it to springboard into a chance to witness to someone or encourage them, I think that's very good."

Rudy says, "As stated, the web site was created to satirize the Baptist right. The point that was being made was this: if some religious organizations condemn homosexuality or are against gun control or believe certain books should be banned or preach that their way is the only way, well, condemning "Star Wars" is just as silly and pointless. That is fair satire, and very timelely."

Shawn comments, "Wow. After reading your editorial, of course I HAD TO check out the Landover Baptist site. I've gotta say: I'm amazed that anybody could misconstrue that as being anything but parody. Maybe I've read "The Onion" a few too many times. I don't know..."

Written by: Joshua Griffin


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