In the late Spring of 2014 my friend Randall Balmer of Dartmouth published his biography of President Jimmy Carter titled the Redeemer President. His bio focused on Carter's pilgrimage in the Baptist faith with a spotlight on the fundamentalist forces who turned on him in the Southern Baptistr Convention between 1976 and 1980.
It is interesting to read Nelson Price-- the man who did the Inaugural Prayer for Carter's Presidency in 76 having been Carter's "prayer partner" in Georgia--in the June 14 Tribune in light of that biography.
Having observed Price tack in the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention the last 40 years, there is something a little hollow in Price's self victimization when he lead the calvary of intolerance in the Takeover.
And on the heels of Price colum Shorter Coming off the Hill, lauding his version of Rome Rotary and Chamber of Commerce engaging Shorter and its current ideology, as least its sports program, is a liitle disingenuous for a the Patton of what is passing for a liberal arts school.
Long story short, have these leaders of civic life and Rome business community have a conversation with Shorter with a group read of Molly Worthen's Apostles of Reason. Molly's investigation of inerrancy, the demagogged rubric that brought Price to prominence in the SBC, is the latest to point out that the fundamentalism Price Champions has a short life indeed in the history of Christendom; about 120 years since its founding in 1890. And Princeton analyst Robert Wuthnow writes in Rough Country, the Texas Branch of Southern Baptist fundamentalism Price has thrown in with has given us the underbelly of the Tea Party which has brought us to the point a Ted Cruz, or Rick Perry candidacy for President of the United States is taken serious.
There are three Christian martyrs of the 20th Century in bust in Westminster Abbey: Martin Luther King, Jr; Oscar Romero, And Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Price's heroes of the faith like WA Criswell, Jesse Helms, leaders of the John Birch Society and the likes of J Frank Norris are not found there; nor is there anyone from Marietta Georgia of 1915 who orchestrated the lynching of Leo Frank in a meadow now under the South Bound lane of I-75 about a mile from the Big Chicken and just a couple miles from Roswell street Baptsit Church.
Where in the career of Nelson Price is there any evidence he came to grips with the notorious implications of this crime that shaped the world view of the society in which he was to flourish just 50 years later?
Jimmy Carter had a course correction in his first days as Governor of Georgia and his former prayer partner Price has yet to find his way.
One further note about Bonhoeffer. UVA proff Charles Marsh, son of a former pastor of 2nd Ponce De Leon Baptist of Atlanta, Bob Marsh, who spoke out against the fundamentalist takeover of the SBC Price championed; Charles wrote a biography of Bonhoeffer published last year. On page 341 of that Bio Marsh reports Bobnhoeffer's thoughts on the "politics of stupidity" a few months before he became a martyr resisting the Nazis.
The leaders of Rome Georgia would find their time better served for the long term integrity of the civic life of their beloved Rome, if they spent their devotional time exploring Bonhoeffer and the above suggestions, instead of flirting with the shallow leadership of Nelson Price and his designs for Shorter College.