Weird Quote of the Week: Baptists in Texas

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Weird Quote of the Week

FWR told me he found the plethora of religious denominations confusing. I hear you, brother. The Apostle Paul said the same thing in the First Century CE.

Mark Twain commented in the 19th Century CE that it was easier to get a lion, a tiger, and a panther to live together in harmony than a Baptist, a Methodist, and a Presbyterian. I often wondered about that statement – I mean, they usually do all right at the annual Lenten luncheons these days. But a little research into the religious life of the US in the 1850s reveals some strange stories that shed a bit of light on what Twain was talking about.

From the Texas Baptist, 5 August 1856, p.2:
Brother Baines:

Please answer the following query: A young lady having joined the Baptists is forced by her parents to withdraw by taking a letter, and afterwards she is compelled to join the Methodist church. What action should be taken by the Baptist church?

Answer: If the young lady has been forced to take a letter, and compelled to join the Methodists, we should say no action should be taken, only to unite in continuous prayer for her deliverance from such bondage. If, however, the church is satisfied that she joined the Methodists willingly, they should declare her church connection with them dissolved. We would advise suitable admonitions before she is declared a heretic.

Found in: Joseph Everett Early, A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook: A Companion to McBeth's Texas Baptists, pp. 50-51.


  1. A 'letter' is an approved document issued by a church certifying that the bearer was a member in good standing. Usually, letters were given to members who changed places of residence, so that they could be accepted as members in a church in their new location.
  2. George Washington Baines was President Lyndon Baines Johnson's great-grandfather.
  3. People got really partisan about their church denominations back in the 1840s.

My first impulse was to think that Brother Baines was joking. But I was forced to the conclusion that he wasn't. History: the more you study it, the more you scratch your head.

Yesterday, this day's madness did prepare.

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