Friday, April 11, 2008

Baptists Don't Dance

Once upon a time, I was a Lionette. Every Friday night during football season, I marched out on the field in a cowgirl hat, white boots, and a short skirt. By today’s drill-team standards, my uniform was positively prudish, but back then, it was short enough to raise eyebrows… at least among the ministers and deacons of my Southern Baptist church.

Of course, there was way more to worry about than just the short skirt.

We were dancing. In public. And that was bad. Really bad.

At least that’s what Brother Hayden said.

Sunday nights was when Brother Hayden would sermonize on sins like drinking, smoking, dancing, and cussing. Whenever he got to the part about dancing, he would always glare at Maggie and me, sitting in the back corner of the sanctuary, and we would just duck our heads.

Maggie was on the drill team too. She was also my prayer partner. Together, we sometimes prayed about whether we should stay on the drill team. We heard what Brother Hayden was saying, but we took the question straight to God and asked Him. And God never said we should quit.

But after months of being molested by a youth and education minister, who step-by-step said it was God’s will, I wound up as a pretty mixed up kid. After the molestation escalated to rape, I wound up more than mixed up. After all, I couldn’t even label it as “rape” because “rape” was something bad guys did, not ministers.

After I tried to talk to the music minister about it and he said not to tell anyone else, I was completely alone with my traumatized thoughts. After I was made to apologize to the perpetrator’s wife, I heard my own voice say “it was all my fault.” After the perpetrator told me I harbored Satan and made me kneel while he stood, praying aloud to cast Satan from me, I felt like evil incarnate and became terrified that I would burn forever in a literal hellfire. After Brother Hayden sent the perpetrator on his way to another church with praise from the pulpit about what a great man of God he was, I knew for sure that it was all my fault. And after Brother Hayden told me I should rededicate my life to Christ, I did, and I prayed that the dreadful darkness would leave me.

It didn’t.

So I gave up my Lionette uniform and quit the drill team.

In my traumatized, terrorized, over-indoctrinated, and brainwashed adolescent brain, I decided that maybe Brother Hayden was right and that maybe dancing was what had caused all the trouble. It was the only thing I could think of that I had done wrong. The drill team was my one act of rebellion.

So I figured that was how I let Satan in the door.

Did I mention that I was a pretty confused kid?

Obviously, I’ve come a long way since then, and I don’t believe much of anything that I learned from Southern Baptists anymore. I don’t wear a Lionette uniform, but I definitely dance.

So, if you aren’t afraid it’ll send you to hell, click “replay” and join me in a bit of a jig with John Calvin. It’s “Baptists don’t dance” with lyrics by Randall Hyde and animation by Roderick Edwards.


Anonymous said...

That's FUNNY!

Here's to dancing - and drinking and the occassional cuss word too!

Unknown said...

That clip is hilarious!

And I know what you mean about getting so confused; they say the right is wrong, and the wrong is right, until you don't know what the hell right and wrong are anymore.

I dance too.

Christa Brown said...

One of the things I like about this blog is that, so often, other survivors wind up saying things that help me understand things better myself, that cast a slightly different slant, or that reframes something in a way that gives me a slightly different perspective.

"They say the right is wrong, and the wrong is right." That sums it up so well - thanks Elisabeth. It not only sums up what the perpetrators do but also what so many other religious leaders do when they silence the victims and sermonize them on forgiveness rather than working to hold clergy-perpetrators accountable, protect others, and heal the wounded.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Christa, does that bring back memories. I really was not even sure you would go to heaven if you drank liquor. Now frozen margaritas are my favorite drink.

Not only did I hear it at church I heard it at home. My parents did not drink, cuss, or dance but they molested me regularly. I would have preferred a little drinking and cussing!

In OK we went to camp at Falls Creek every summer. We would be convicted of our sins and we would come back and not dance for awhile. Before the summer was over we were always back to dancing.

When I think of all that now, I think how ridiculous.


Anonymous said...


For the record, not all Southern Baptists are crazy. I happen to be one. And my pastor has danced for. My youth minister has danced before. Heck, my music minister had some of us dance for a musical once. I was Elvis. Danced some myself.

But. Some of them are kooks. I personally think that the whole no dancing thing is crazy. Some Baptists are stupid like that. Some other denominations are as well.

So ya. Just letting ya know not all of us are Catholic priest wannabes(I am SOOO just kidding). Ha :]