First Baptist Church of Elyria, Ohio and a Message a Former Attender is Sending

In Elyria, Ohio a former attender of a Baptist Church has a message for those who attend and his former teachers. Knowing how evangelicals in Ohio have bonded themselves to Trump Jason Schmidt in a billboard seeks to illustrate that the President does not have an exclusive support from God. This blog is proud of Jason for taking a stand and receiving criticism. 

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one.”

Henry David Thoreau

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13 NIV

Time for an alter call First Baptist of Elyria

This post at The Wondering Eagle today is unique in that I know the person I am writing about. And I have known him for years. Jason Schmidt in Ohio did something that got press coverage involving his former Baptist church.

George W Bush signature on 1996 Dole/Kemp sign

How My Paths Crossed with an Intern in the Bush White House

Out here in the Washington, D.C. suburbs I once had an apartment with an extra room. Not knowing what to do I decided to sublet it while being aware of the transit nature of Washington, D.C. and the large number of people who come here for intern jobs. At the time I was also involved in McLean Bible in Tysons Corner. McLean Bible has an internal bulletin board that attenders cold post housing needs or items for sale. I posted an opening for a room, a den actually and never thought much about it. This happened in the spring of 2006 if I remember correctly. Shortly afterward I was contacted by Jason Schmidt. Jason had completed a year at Cedarville in Ohio but was looking to attend school elsewhere. I agreed to sublet the room to Jason and in time I met him and his family. Spoke with his parents who wanted to meet me.

The reason why Jason came here to the D.C. area is that he had an internship at The White House. Jason respected and admired George W. Bush, as had I. While Jason told me a number of stories about his time as an intern one gave me a laugh which I will never forget. One day Jason showed up to work and he looked up George W Bush on the White House email system. He then sent the President an email saying hi, and he thought it was cool. The following day he was spoken to and told “The President is a busy man.” When he told me that I laughed in private later. Its one of those situations that are memorable that you chuckle about afterward.

A Politicized Faith and Pushing Back From It

Jason when I interacted with him personally was a orthodox evangelical and one that was conservative. Over time he saw the mix of faith and politics and he became more concerned about what happened. As Christian nationalism began to be a more important issue Jason felt like he could not be a part of the scene. He explained how he left the Republican Party in a newspaper article. “It started with the Tea Party, and then Trump and the birther conspiracies. All these conspiracy theories, things that were easily disproved. It’s hard to ignore climate change is real, and there is blatant disregard of that,” he said. “But the rise of Donald Trump was the nail in the coffin for me. The whole mocking of the disabled reporter — that should have been it. And people went with it.” But Jason also had a long history with evangelicalism and he was troubled by the descent of evangelicals. He wanted to convey a message to Lorraine County Ohio, and his former Baptist Church, teachers, members who taught him faith over the years. “Donald Trump doesn’t get the exclusive claim to God, religion or being pro-America. That’s ridiculous. Joe Biden is a man of deep faith,” and the father of a veteran, he said. “I’m giving them something to think about on their way to church on Sunday.

A Billboard Aimed at First Baptist Church of Elyria

Across the street from First Baptist Church of Elyria Jason rented a billboard for $400.00 which had a message for his former Baptist Church. Knowing how evangelicals are about Donald Trump and how many blindly support him Jason had a message. He erected a billboard that said “Biden God Country Honor.” He put his name on the bottom of the billboard and since he has done that he’s received a number of messages. A couple of nice notes. And then some hate mail. His former Baptist church has been silent about this and has not responded. This received coverage in the local newspaper and you can read about it in, “Man spends money to erect a billboard across from his former church.” 

Proud of You Jason

Jason, deeply proud of you in many ways. This take courage, and likewise to face your evangelical past is not something everyone can do. I have seen the dark side of faith, as I write about it here daily. But my last and final evangelical church had Christian nationalism creep in and that became an issue. I lost a number of Wisconsin friends from evangelicalism because of Christian nationalism. I thought I knew a lot of people, but I did not. It takes courage to speak up and in that sense you have done that in this billboard. Keep it up and the next time you pass through the D.C. area we should talk. (When the pandemic is over of course.) 

One thought on “First Baptist Church of Elyria, Ohio and a Message a Former Attender is Sending

  1. It’s nice to read about someone whose conscience gives them a call and they ponder what’s going on these days. I’m not religious anymore, and don’t care much for religion, but I don’t have a problem with folks being believers, either, as long as they’re honest about what concerns them and are willing to think about the more troublesome aspects they can’t reconcile. Looks like this man’s done that, and I’m glad for him.

    Just hope he’s found some better church or better support system in the end. Too many stories of folks leaving churches or being pushed out because the “family” or “community” has turned into a “cult” that if you disagree at all, you need to leave. That’s not community to me, at least, not one I’d like to be a part of. Some churches are fighting back against that stringent cult of personality, and I applaud their efforts. More so, I applaud the flock that wants to take the time to look for better instead of sticking with something that doesn’t feel right because of family or tradition.


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