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Kayla Evans


Ethnographic Essay

Professor Nadene Eisner

Being An American Black (?) Baptist: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Every Sunday morning, a mother wakes her family up, telling them its time to get ready

for church. Everyone gets ready and is expected to be ready before she is ready to leave, if you

arent, you may be in big trouble. She explains Bible stories to her kids on the way to church,

and when she gets to church she makes sure her children are seated, she picks up her bible and is

ready for service. This is the routine for every American Baptist mother.

Being an American baptist, I know the hardships that we as a people go through to get

respect and push through the stereotypes that are given to this religion. I always look forward to

going to church, the people there are friendly, and everyone is always welcoming. Everytime I

mention that I go to church (or when mentioning I go to a Baptist church), people ask me

multiple questions, such as, Do they judge you too much? Do you guys have to dress up for

every service?, I hear things like, I thought you guys werent allowed to dance., Why do you

guys call regular music the devils music?, and although some of the older baptists people in the

church may practice some of these judgemental practices, many of the younger, and middle aged

baptist church members believe that everyone is equal, and everyone has the right to make their

own decision.
Through observations of the baptist people, religion, and church, this paper will explore

how Baptist churches operate in their own social environment at Abundant Life Baptist Church,

as well as allowing people who are not familiar with the religion to learn about it more ; the

evidence used will prove that some of the stereotypes portrayed by the media are sometimes not

true and how offensive they can be to the Baptist religion and church. The stereotypes by the

media can turn people away from this religion and baptist people.


The baptist religion believes that once you are baptized, and ask for forgiveness from

God, you are saved. Any sins that you commit, after repenting, you are forgiven, God will

forgive you and you have free will to follow him and make your own decisions during your short

time on earth. We believe that when you die, if you have given all of your sins to Jesus, repent,

and believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and your sins, you will have a peaceful afterlife.

If you do not, then our bible predicts that you will go to hell.

According to the article, Baptist Beginnings by Leon McBeth, McBeth stated, Our

best historical evidence says that Baptists came into existence in the early seventeenth

century.They apparently emerged out of the Puritan-Separatist movement in the Church of

England. Some of these earnest people read the Bible in their own language, believed it and

sought to live by it. They formed separate congregations which accepted only believers into their

membership, and they baptized converts upon their profession of faith. Their opponents

nicknamed them Baptists and the name stuck. This quote is explaining how the Baptist

denomination got its name. The Baptist denomination specifically got its name from the fact they

they baptize, the believers of Jesus Christ. I asked my mother, Katherine Evans, about the

practice of baptism, and what the difference between other religions baptizing their members and
our religion baptizing our members she said, Baptism is still a practice that Baptist people

practice today, a difference between the baptist religion and many other religions, is the simple

fact that, we have to chose when we are ready to be baptized . We are not to make people get

baptized, or make our children get baptized You should in fact, state when you are ready to give

your life to God, and state that you believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and your savior.

That is when you are ready to be baptized.

How stereotypes evolved


Stereotypes portrayed by social media about the Baptist church is not always true,

and sometimes offends many people who practice this religion. Many people believe that Baptist

people think that we believe that dancing is the devil, or that we think that drinking is bad, in

the article 5 Baptist Stereotypes That Are Absolutely True (Or Not) by Jade DeAmond; she

introduces 5 stereotypes baptists endure daily, the stereotypes are as follows:

1.) All the potlucks

2.) Alcohol is the devil

3.)Dancing is the devil

4.)No raising of hands during worship

5.)Were all hypocrites

I introduced these stereotypes to my pastor, Pastor Marcus Clemons, who is also a high

school teacher for Chicago public schools, and asked him what he thought about them, these are

the interview questions and replies:

1.) Do Baptists believe that alcohol is the devil?

a.) Answer: No, they do believe that alcohol is okay in moderation but to get drunk is a sin.
2.) What are potlucks, and do all baptists have them?
a.) Answer: Potlucks are when people get together and eat food in a group. Some baptist churches

have them, but anyone can have a get together.

3.) Do Baptists dancing is the devil?
a.) Answer: The Baptist old tradition believes that dancing is a sin and they believe that one

should not be gyrating the body around, but the non-traditional new church(younger

generation) does not go as far as to say that one cannot dance.

4.) Are baptists allowed to raise hands during worship?(pray by showing affection to God by raising

a.) Answer: Baptists are allowed and even encouraged to raise their hands during worship to praise

God they are even told by the Bible to lift up holy hands in the sanctuary and Bow Down and

Worship God so yes it is a sign of affection and love towards God as they pray o lift up hands as

a sign of surrender or giving up everything to God.

5.) Do you believe that all baptists are hypocrites?
a.) Answer: I do not believe that Baptists are hypocrites I do believe that many people are

hypocrites that go to church, because a hypocrite is one who says one thing and then does

another or says they believe strongly in one thing and does the opposite and I believe at times

everyone can be hypocritical and not just in the church, all over but hypocrites are found right in

the church because they stand up and say that they believe all of the Bible and what the Bible

says yet they do many of the opposite things at the same time.

Pastor Clemons, explained some of his views to me, and it made me better understand

how a Baptist pastor feels about these stereotypes and ridiculous they may sound to him. This

interview shows that although baptist people, may have flaws most of these stereotypes are

untrue, and represent the religion negatively. These stereotypes portray the religion as judging

and boring, but in fact the stereotypes are really the complete opposite, people do not try to look

at the Baptist church and people for whom they really are, and that is sad because they believe
that Baptist people will turn them away but, in reality that is not true. Baptist people and

churches, encourage you to come to them for help when you are in need.

I also talked to the first lady of the church, Erika Clemons to get insight on how she feels

about stereotypes portrayed about the baptist church, she replied It doesnt really bother me.

Ive been taught that it all boils down to Gods word message, principals, and instruction humans

will be human everybody has an opinion and a way of doing things agreeing to disagree is

always the way to go or totally avoid the conversation, when people become judgemental or get

caught up in he say she say, or particular behaviors or beliefs behaviors or beliefs we can only

control ourselves. Her response really shocked me, she did not limit herself to being upset, but

instead she saw it positively, she basically agreed to disagree. This proves that the stereotype that

baptist people are judgemental is not true.


Although, Ive been going to Baptist churches my whole life, I never really observed

what goes on in it. But, Last Sunday, I look as an outsider, ready to understand what I couldve

missed every Sunday. I noticed many things that I never noticed before, like how important the

bible is to everyone, they read and repeat, and do it again, and everyone is so engaged in what

Pastor Clemons is saying. When Pastor Clemons says stand for the word of God, everyone

stands, and waits for the word of God. Everyone is more attentive than Ive ever seen. Its like

you can feel the Lords presence in the church. Everyone is ready for the word of God, everyone

is excited when the choir sings. The musicians are playing very sincerely. I did not notice any

judging, everyone was very welcoming, they were smiling, and enjoying each others company. I

did not see one moment where anyone looked uncomfortable.

When Pastor Clemons invited people to join the church, three men joined, and one

woman. It was a heart-warming service. The people who joined were so happy to be a part of the

church. And the members gladly accepted them.


In conclusion, the Baptist church does have many stereotypes that can tear people

away from the religion. If you never have went to a Baptist church, you will never understand.

Before you judge a religion, you should go and see if you would enjoy it first. Making someone

feel bad about their religion is wrong, and believing stereotypes can make your view of a religion

very vague. If you hear something bad about a religion, make sure you learn about it yourself

Works Cited

Clemons, Marcus. "Questions About Stereotypes of The Baptist Church." Telephone

interview. 25 Apr. 2017.

DeArmond, Jade. "5 Baptist Stereotypes That Are Absolutely True (Or Not)." Odyssey.

N.p., 22 Aug. 2016. Web. 02 May 2017.

McBeth, Leon. "Main Menu." Baptist History and Heritage Society. Web. 02 May 2017.