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Church's Bible and book-burning prompts protest in Halloween rain
Tuesday, 01 December 2009 11:27

On a rainy Halloween, about 20 people — mostly seminary students in area colleges — showed up to protest the burning of Bibles (only non-King James Versions), books and other allegedly satanic-influenced items at a church in Canton. Daily Planet Staff Photo
On a rainy Halloween, about 20 people — mostly seminary students in area colleges — showed up to protest the burning of Bibles (only non-King James Versions), books and other allegedly satanic-influenced items at a church in Canton. Daily Planet Staff Photo


CANTON — In a closed service, as a contingent of protesters peacefully assembled outside in a pouring rain, the Amazing Grace Baptist Church celebrated Halloween by burning Bibles that aren’t the King James Version, as well as books, recorded music and anything else Pastor Marc Grizzard deemed a satanic influence.

The ceremony, starting at 7 p.m., concluded 75 minutes later when six church members, including Grizzard, quickly boarded two vans without making eye contact with the wet, shivering protesters standing patiently behind a line about 50 feet away.


The vans sped off to the disappointment of the protesters, some of whom told the Daily Planet that they had hoped Grizzard might address them. Just before the ceremony started, the protesters were warned by Grizzard and local law enforcement officials that if they crossed the line, they would be guilty of trespassing and subject to arrest. Nobody crossed the line.

Grizzard did not return telephone calls or e-mails from the Daily Planet, but in a statement on the church’s Web site, headlined, “Book burning great success!”  he noted, “We wanted to say that the book burning was a great success. It was a success because God’s Word was glorified and uplifted.
“God magnifies His Word above His name, and so do we.


Pastor Marc Grizzard

Meanwhile, on Oct. 31, after the church contingent motored off, weary deputies and others in attendance looked on — in amazement — as nearly a dozen of the chilled protesters formed a football-like huddle to say a prayer, asking forgiveness for the Bible-burners and giving thanks for the opportunity to express their opposition, as Christians, to the message that the ceremony presented.

The de facto protest leader, Dennis J. Caswell Jr., who is from Gaston County, told the Daily Planet, “We don’t dislike them (the Canton church’s pastor and members) ... If they call themselves ‘Christian,’ I don’t have the right to say otherwise.”

While Caswell said he has “no problem” with the King James Version of the Bible, he said most other versions are just as legitimate.

Agreeing fully with Caswell’s assessment was Brent Barber, another protester and divinity student who said he grew up just five minutes down the road from the church.

Caswell added, “All the men here (with signs) are pastors-in-training ... We’re all Christians.” The women with them are their friends or girlfriends, he noted.

Concerning the congregation’s abrupt departure, Caswell said, “I think he (Grizzard) did what he had planned all along. He left as the martyr. It looked” as if the small congregation of the faithful were being besieged by a larger contingent of hostile protesters and the news media.

Another observer noted that, as the five members boarded the vans, Grizzard turned out the porch light, as if trying to hide their identities — and that he turned the light on briefly before switching it off  again prior to the contingent speeding away.


The entranceway to Amazing Grace Baptist

During the service, sources said the news crew and others were listening through the floor upstairs and could hear yelling from the service.

As for the news media, Caswell pointed to crews from Fox News International TV and WLOS-TV. Also present was a reporter from the Daily Planet. The two TV crews left after 45 minutes of waiting, while the Planet stayed until the protesters  departed.

Besides the divinity students, also in attendance were several curious locals, including Samantha Goodel and husband Craig Harrell, who live in the Cruso community, where Amazing Grace Baptist is located. She said of the church’s actions, “I think it’s arrogance to presume to speak for God by lighting a fire and focusing their intent. It’s the same as witchcraft.”

She noted that the church’s viewpoint on the exclusive authority of the KJV was widely opposed by the majority of Cruso community residents.

And while Goodel noted that the book-burning’s international publicity may be the biggest news-making event in the history of the Cruso area, she pointed out that the church is just  five miles down the road from Cold Mountain, the subject of a 1997 New York Times bestseller book and spin-off film blockbuster revolving around a post-Civil War romance.

Regarding the church’s book-burning, Harrell added, “I don’t agree with it.”

Goodel and Harrell said the church is only six months’ old, having been founded when Grizzard who moved from Georgia. Amazing Grace Baptist claims 14 members. “They don’t reflect the community,” the couple reiterated.

The church, in its prepared statement on the ceremony, stated, “The video of the entire service will be (on the Internet) up in a few days. We wanted to thank all the Bible doubters who prayed for rain with us. All the protesters and media got wet; we were inside where it was nice and dry.

“Someone said that we were ‘hiding’ out, but that is not so. The chief deputy asked us to keep everything inside, and we agreed, so we were obeying those in authority. We also have others that rent spaces in that same building that we have to respect.

“This event was successful not because of the rain, it was just an added blessing. A blessing in the sense that less people came out to protest, and there were no problems.

“We are not glad people got wet; we are glad that His Word was honored. Some have written praising God, that he intervened and stopped the book-burning because of the rain, protesters and state laws about burning paper.

“Nothing was stopped. Our goal was to destroy garbage as noted below, and we did just that. We didn’t care how it was destroyed, only that it was destroyed.

“These same people must have never heard about ‘Paper, Rock & Scissors.’ Scissors cut paper and paper tears real easy. We destroyed everything as planned. Praise God!

“God answered every prayer that everyone prayed, but they don’t like the answer.”

“If there were any disappointments, it was that there were no other independent fundamental Baptist churches or individuals standing with us locally on the KJV.

“They hook up with the Southern Baptist and the Freewill Baptist to fight the liquor crowd, and the abortionists, but will not stand with the KJV, the Word of God.

“Next year, we will have others standing with us, as you will see. We have heard from hundreds of churches and individuals from around the world that will be happy to do the same thing next year.

“Some of our members were out of town on vacation that is planned every year about this time. This we can understand with no problem, but they still supported us in what we did,” Grizzard’s statement concluded.

In remarks promoting the burning, the pastor said, “What we’re doing is we’re burning books that are satanic. I believe the King James version is God’s preserve, inspired, in erect, infallible word of God.”

He also said that well-known Christian ministers like Billy Graham and Rick Warren are heretics whose books belong on a long list of negative influences and should be thrown to the flames. Grizzard said Graham, Warren and others have occasionally used Bibles other than the KJV, which, he reiterated, is the sole source he considers infallible.

According to the church’s Web site, members also will burn “Satan’s music, such as country, rap, rock, pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, Southern gospel, contemporary Christian, jazz, soul  (and) oldies.”

While the church noted on its Web site that, during the book burning, barbecued chicken, fried chicken and “all the sides” will be served, that plan apparently was scrapped, as was the previously scheduled outside book-burning bonfire, after the Canton fire marshall had warned that an open fire is prohibited by town ordinance.


Heretics? Book-burning targets works of many top Christian leaders


EDITOR’S NOTE: Following is the text of a promotion by Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton that noted it would be “hosting a Halloween book-burning to purge the area of Satan's' works, which include all non-King James versions of the Bible, popular books by many religious authors and even country music.”

“Come to our Halloween book burning. We are burning Satan's bibles like the NIV, RSV, NKJV, TLB, NASB, NEV, NRSV, ASV, NWT, Good News for Modern Man, The Evidence Bible, The Message Bible, The Green Bible, etc. These are perversions of God's Word, the King James Bible.

“We will also be burning Satan's music such as country, rap, rock , pop, heavy metal, western, soft and easy, southern gospel , contemporary Christian, jazz, soul, oldies but goldies, etc.

“We will also be burning Satan's popular books written by heretics like Westcott & Hort, Bruce Metzger, Billy Graham, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, John McArthur, James Dobson, Charles Swindoll, John Piper, Chuck Colson, Tony Evans, Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swagart, Mark Driskol, Franklin Graham, Bill Bright, Tim Lahaye, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joyce Myers, Brian McLaren, Robert Schuller, Mother Teresa, The Pope, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, Shane Claiborne, Brennan Manning, William Young, etc.”



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