65 thoughts on “In Their Own Words: The Appearance of Evil”

  1. Of course, the question should really be about whether it matters at all if the bottle were indeed the “real thing.” In other words, can something that God calls a blessing be evil?

  2. Aww! and to think I was called “Crazy” on the FFF when I posted that the ice cream truck idea to get children’s names was not a good idea because it did not look good….among other little things…like safety and legal issues! Guess, I should have used “appearance of evil.” Maybe they would have understood better! Nah, that’s right, “appearances of evil only applies to those IN the pews not to the ideas of THE ONE behind the pulpit. I digress.

  3. Wow. Just…wow.

    Perhaps Bill should change his last name to something other than ‘Lytell’…appearance of evil and all that. He wouldn’t want people to think he tells lies, after all…

  4. Who gets to decide what appears to be evil? A toothpick from afar could look like a cigarette. A pair of shorts from afar could look “too short.”

    I’ll never understand how people think that one “appearance of evil” passage suddenly changed gears and started talking about external conformity to an arbitrary standard after dealing for so long with the internals.

    Context? We don’t need no stinkin’ context.

  5. My questions to the pastor would be, “What makes drinking a beer evil? and “Who are you to judge anyways?” and “So what if he had a beer? You’re his pastor, not his mother!”

  6. The Mother of all Sins in the IFB Cult is that you might do something that will “RUIN your Testamony.”
    … which actually means it may be somenting that may shocking to the sensibilities of the prudes and prigs in the pews.

  7. That particular text is actually saying to avoid evil where it appears, or in whatever form it takes, not to avoid innocent things that others may construe as evil. How typical of Fundamentalism that they screw up the meaning and then make a doctrine out of it.

  8. I know exactly how it feels to have someone tattle on you about something similar to this. Ours involved a joke tweet, tattling, wild accusations based on little facts that went through all the pastoral staff, and ended with us leaving, but it finally broke us of Baptist churches and I am digging being PCA. I told our new pastor about what happened and he was stunned that it was handled that way. I’m never going back to a Baptist church again.

  9. Speaking of avoiding the appearance of evil: as a fundy, you can’t be seen at a movie theater, but you can watch the same movie at home.

    Fundamentalist standards are just a bunch of absurd overreactions to perceived evils.

    Fundamentalism is the wrong answer to the question nobody asked.

  10. My husband says that drinking the cream soda from that particular brand looks more like a bottle of beer than the root beer…

    1. That could be due in no small part to the fact that the bottle manufacturer for a particular brand of beer sold in the US also makes the bottles for the root beer in question. Or maybe just a devilish coincidence.

  11. “Fundamentalism is the wrong answer to the question nobody asked.”

    Probably the best thing I’ve heard in a long time! Kudos Reader Mo!

  12. Of course you could just pour your beer into an empty coke can and walk down the street smiling and waving. No “Appearance of evil”.

  13. I think the real issue here is not that a dark root beer bottle is “the appearance of evil” but that beer is considered evil at all. God forbid that a fundie would want to crack open a cold one every now and then.

  14. I drank a Bell’s Expedition Stout in honor of this post. Of course I drank it through a straw, out of a plastic cup. Gotta watch “my testimony”.

  15. I had a pastor once who refused to drink can drinks because of the appearance of evil and would not wave to a woman driving down the street because it might make someone think they were having an affair. You know that is one of the sure signs that someone is having an affair!

  16. I never understood a lot of the “appearance of evil” things. Seems like it was a good excuse to make an innocent person look like they were doing something wrong while justifying the person who jumps too conclusions and gets wrong ideas too easily. I can understand not looking like you’re saying/doing the wrong thing, but then it gets to the extent where you’re so paranoid about every little thing and what other people think, that it’s ridiculous.

  17. The Fundy “appearance of evil” is the empowerment of the “weaker brother.” It gives the prudes and the prigs dictatorial power over e-v-e-r-y-thing in everyone else’s lives. The weaker brother/sister don’t like the way you dress… it appears evil. The weaker brother/sister don’t like your choice of music…… it appears evil. The weaker brother/sister don’t like the way you wear your hair… evil. Where you go out to eat, because it has a bar… evil. The way you cut your grass…evil…… to the micro-minutia this formula gives the un-limited dictatorial power to the “alleged” weaker brother/sister. Of course this “weaker” brother/sister usually holds some overarching leadership position in the local administration.

  18. I know growing up, this was emphasized to the point where I would cause me to look over my shoulder or cause me to second guess decisions on little things. After being out of the IFB scene for 10+ years, this sometimes will trip me up like a nervous tick that refuses to go away (if this makes sense). The bottle had me laughing, I didn’t even have to read the caption, and I already knew where this was leading:)

  19. charlene,

    This still happens to me too. It’s something that I have to work on when I find myself slipping into those kinds of thought patterns. Changes that Heal is a book that helped me alot in setting boundaries in my life and dealing with “overarching leadership”.

  20. So, when I was music director at an Episcopalian church, we used to drink beer out of Hardee’s cups at our Spring Festival. I suppose that was OK because it didn’t involved the appearance of evil? BTW, the beer was donated by a parishioner who owned a beer distributorship.

    @ Mo – great line. Nothing like people answering questions nobody’s asking!

  21. Bassenco’s right:

    That particular text is actually saying to avoid evil where it appears, or in whatever form it takes, not to avoid innocent things that others may construe as evil.

    I’ve seen the “appearance of evil” argument used as a reason to censor ingredients (red wine vinegar and Dijon mustard) out of recipes in a church cookbook. The cooks who submitted those recipes were a little irritated, since the recipes wouldn’t taste so good without those ingredients.

  22. That is why I skip the appearance and just go for the real stuff. When you get outside of fundy land drinking alcohol is just not that big of a deal. Drinking and IBC even less of one.

    You don’t get more absurd then what this guy said. Really? This is cause for you to go talk to the guy. On a rumor that he *might* have been drinking? Come one save it for something that really matters.

  23. @Mark Rosedale

    You really need to get outside of Baptist land in general, in my experience, to remove the risk of alcohol being considered a problem. The SBC is notorious for this, and I’ve never been in a Baptist church (independent fundamental, SBC, or otherwise) that hasn’t had an alcohol abstinence clause in its constitution. Alcohol-accepting Baptist churches could and probably do exist, but they’re most likely found in areas other than the “Bible belt” (where I live) and the deep south.

  24. Ugh…this one used to drive me NUTS! I’ve made a comment or two about it in past articles here too. The whole movie theater BAD, video store GOOD thing bothered me to no end and I never got a straight answer on that one. I also knew from just the picture where this post was going, LOL! I remember hearing about this, also the green bottles are just as bad. And forget about using a paper bag around it…that’s just proof positive that it’s alcohol…

    I’ve got to say that those who were looking for any and all “appearance of evil” in others were the most obnoxiously boring people I’ve ever met. They had ZERO fun, and ZERO tolerance for anything out of their comfort zone. Terrible company…run as far away from them as you can!

  25. Here in the rusted buckle of the Bible Belt we all grew up on radio Sermons of Dr. Bob Sr., Lester Roloff, Oliver B. Greene and the likes. All were temperence preachers who build their empires preaching “a-gin’ demon alcohol” just like Billy Sunday did before them.

    Yes-sir-rebob, there is nothing like preaching hell-hot a-gin demon alcohol. That’ll get ’em shoutin’ in the pews, oh let me tell you brothers and sisters a good sing-song tirade on that ole demon in the bottle is sure to give any self respectin’ fundy spiritual junkie an emotional fix that is sure to last to the end of the parking lot. Yes indeed, that spoon of medicinal wine will lead to beer from a bottle sure as shootin’!

    Oh, don’t you know it is the sin in the alcohol that has broken up so many homes, and left so many dead on the highways! Oh just leave the bottle alone brother, stay away from the cooking sherry sister! Sin is in the alcohol and is something external. You have to fight a-gin it ! Fight a-gin it I’m tellin’ ya, if’n ya wanta be right with gawd! Lawd help me, I feel the spirit aniointing me now! Somebody hold my mule! Listen to what ole Billy Sunday had to say about sin:

    I’m against sin.

    I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist.

    I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth.

    And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!”

    Amen? Amen! Whew, had to get that out ‘fore it hurt me.

  26. I’d get scolded for packing a fancy bottle of sparkling cider to go in my wicker picnic basket. “Why would you want to buy that? It looks like wine.”

  27. I grew up in Brazil as a missionary kid, and the soda pop down there often came in glass bottles like the one above, and said “champagne” (which meant that it was carbonated). Some of the more “liberal” missionaries loved to put pictures of people at their church gatherings drinking this in their slide presentations to shock people back home.

  28. So much for drinking. My dad and I had to hide the playing cards when the pastor came to visit. Very evil!!! In later years though we just continued to play and suffered the glares of the pastor. My dad would just say:yup we sre bad as ever.

  29. so now all the funduhmentalists need to go rid their homes of all Thomas Kinkade paintings. Guilt by association and all that.

  30. @ Loren, excellent point! LOL!!

    I think though that the guilt by association thing only works with things that fundies already hate such as CCM music. They hate it, so when a musician is caught in adultery that justifies them saying no one should ever listen to any of it. However, when a pastor or ministry is associated with someone committing adultery, they rarely seem interested in cutting off associations with that pastor/church/college. They won’t get rid of Kinkade either because they approve of him. You’re either in or out with the IFB; if you’re in, you’re really in. If you’re out, you’re really out. Even if you can show Biblical justification for your positions, they’ll never accept you or your reasons; they’ve already made up their minds. (See the oft-references movie theater vs. video store situation.)

  31. From Wikipedia:

    “The Los Angeles Times has reported that some of Kinkade’s former colleagues, employees, and even collectors of his work say that he has a long history of cursing and heckling other artists and performers. The Times further reported that he openly groped a woman’s breasts at a South Bend, Indiana, sales event, and mentioned his proclivity for ritual territory marking through urination, once relieving himself on a Winnie the Pooh figure at a Disney site while saying “This one’s for you, Walt.”[26][27] Kinkade has denied some of the allegations, and accepted and apologized for others.[27]”

    “In 2006 John Dandois, Media Arts Group executive, recounted a story that on one occasion (“about six years ago”) Kinkade became drunk at a Siegfried & Roy magic show in Las Vegas and began shouting “Codpiece! Codpiece!” at the performers. Eventually he was calmed by his mother.[26] Dandois also said of Kinkade, “Thom would be fine, he would be drinking, and then all of a sudden, you couldn’t tell where the boundary was, and then he became very incoherent, and he would start cussing and doing a lot of weird stuff.”[26] On 11 June 2010, Kinkade was arrested in Carmel, CA on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol. [28]”

    Sounds like some fundy pastors out there. Root beer has been known to have this effect on some fundies. I don’t know if Kincade is a fundy but his artwork decorates many a Bible cover in fundy circles. Please consume responsibly.

  32. This is so frustrating. I think I’m going to go to a local pub to have a few brews and cool off. Seriously.

  33. @Josh: I used to be a member of a Baptist church (SBC) deep in the Bible belt where there’s a Baptist church on nearly every corner. Not only was moderate alcohol consumption permitted and perfectly normal at that church, it was not uncommon to hear (from the pulpit!) that alcohol is a gift of God to be consumed in moderation. All that to say that while I pretty much agree with your statement, it *is* possible to find Baptist churches in the Bible belt where alcohol consumption isn’t a big deal.

  34. Our church’s constitution (written in the 1950s) explicitly states that members are not to drink alcohol. A sweet couple about to join our church were concerned about this because they sometimes had wine with their meals. My husband explained that his position was not to get drunk (as the Bible says). We are now in the process of rewriting our church constitution.

    I cannot imagine ever being in a church hearing a preacher say that alcohol is a gift of God to be consumed in moderation. I do believe that’s the Biblical position, but I can’t imagine hearing it! 🙂 I’ve never had alcohol, except in desserts. The BJU professor leading a study tour in Europe told us to “ask no questions for conscience’ sake” at some of the desserts provided at some of the hotels at which we stayed.

  35. @Pastor’s Wife: that was the first church I was a part of after leaving fundamentalism. Needless to say, it was a bit of a shock for me, too. 🙂

  36. @Amanda: That is quite encouraging to hear.

    @Pastor’s Wife: That’s also encouraging. The church I currently attend is reworking their constitution as well. The pastors and deacons want, among other things, to replace the clause prohibiting consumption with a clause prohibiting intoxication by or abuse of alcohol or any other substances. This particular change is being fought tooth and nail by a sizable number of congregants, so I’m not sure whether the changes have any hope of passing a vote. The great irony is that they, ignoring all Biblical arguments to the contrary, whine and moan about us “going liberal on alcohol,” while it is they who have a 19th century (?) liberal / social justice perspective on alcohol prohibition.

    A silly anecdote: once, on vacation with my parents (I was already at least 21 at the time), we stopped at an ice cream shop that had numerous exotic flavors. I really wanted to try the “Almost White Russian” flavor, though the “K.G.B.” flavor (containing, among other things, Kahlua) also sounded intriguing. Oh well, that will have to be for another day, another time, in the presence of those around whom I don’t have to be so concerned about my “testimony.”

  37. I almost choked on my cereal when I saw this. There was a real dispute about this in my church last summer. We have ice cream fellowships after church on wednesdays, and when my youth director picked out this root beer to sell, it was almost banned. But thankfully reason won out, and we got to enjoy our “appearence of evil” root beer. lol

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