When I relocated to Dalton, Ga, it didn’t take me long to get married. My new wife was a very active member of the Baptist community.
Her family accepted me with open arms however the First Baptist Church group was less willing to accept this Jewish guy from NY. It wasn’t as if there weren’t any Jews in town, but it was rare to have an interfaith couple in their more elitist congregation.
My wife would take her children to church every Sunday and would often invite me along for the service, followed by lunch at her folk’s house out in the country. I attended the services rarely, but I always visited her mother and father. It’s worth noting. Her parents attended services at a more fundamentalist and less popular church. The few times I attended their church, I found myself very welcome and never felt the least bit pressured. It was always a wholesome and pleasant experience for me.
I began to notice my wife’s friends would always inject my Jewishness into social gatherings, and the pressure was mounting for my participation in their church. After a while, the behavior became disturbing. I never gave thought as to how this was affecting the children.
I first noticed the kids were having some issues when they continually asked me questions about Judaism. It occurred to me that their friends peppered them with inquiries regarding some very bizarre subjects that I had heard before. As an example, they wanted to know about my horns. Their older siblings and parents instigated this behavior. I thought how silly and unfair this was, why beat up on innocent kids and introduce them to this trash.
I discussed the situation with My wife, and she calmed me down with the ”they are just curious” excuse. I went with it against my instincts, but I remained to notice the continual undercurrent. The kids continued with the questions, and I answered them as best I could. I even fabricated a few answers to play with their heads.
I was convinced to attend Sunday School and to participate in several church activities. I intended to demonstrate Jews weren’t that different than Baptists. One of my chosen activities was to work in the Family Life Center. The Life Center was the pride of the church. It was a free-standing building that would rival a good health club and more. The center was the responsibility of a special minister.
Loyd Trip was a special guy and was more than willing to have me overseeing many of the activities. I would work a couple of nights a week managing the center. My wife and the kids would come to the center when I was on duty. It turned out to be a perfect family activity. We worked out together and had loads of fun.
One night our seven-year-old son noticed that all the adults had uniform name badges and I wore a handwritten paper stick on tag. He wanted to know why I didn’t have a real badge? Not a bad question. My wife tried to explain that even though we were a family and because I was Jewish, I wasn’t a church member. That didn’t sit well with Brad.
Brad went to an embarrassed Loyd Trip and demanded that I get a name badge. Loyd gave it some thought and told Brad he would handle it. Loyd understood.
The following week while on duty, Loyed called us into his office and ceremoniously placed my shiny mew name badge on my chest.
Loyd turned to Brad and asked him what he thought of that?
Brad smiled and gleefully screamed — — -
“HOORAH, WARREN IS FINALLY A BAPTIST.”