How long should boaters wait before getting into the water ?
They battle it out in Chattanooga
Churches in Soddy-Daisy that plan to perform baptisms at public boat ramps will now have to first contact City Hall. That was the decision of the Soddy-Daisy Commission during its meeting this week.
The unanimous decision was made following a report by Commissioner Geno Shipley, who said that on the Fourth of July, a local church held baptism services at a public boat ramp for about 40 people. And while the services were taking place, an individual with a boat to launch became impatient and went ahead and put it in the water.
“I think it’s real rude to do something like that,” Commissioner Shipley said.
“I don’t know if it’s legal or illegal,” but maybe there should be a sign at public boat docks stating that boaters should respect a baptism service and not launch boats until the service is over, he said.
City Attorney Sam Elliott noted that the boat ramp is one of only a few in the area for public use and that the law stipulates that “you can’t hinder religion, but you can’t advance it either.”
He then suggested that religious groups notify City Hall concerning how many people will be baptized and how long it will take. “If it’s a two-hour baptizing, then that really hinders” use of the boat ramp, he said, adding that a church planning a baptism service longer than 30 minutes should “pick an alternative time” when boaters are less likely to be there.
City Attorney Elliott noted that he was just using “common sense” in his recommendation because there are no court cases dealing with that particular subject.
Mayor Bob Privett asked if anyone called the Soddy-Daisy Police Department, and Commissioner Shipley said, yes, and that the police arrived and talked to the driver of the boat, but did not give him a citation because it did not seem to be the right thing to do.
Mayor Privett replied, “That was a good judgment call.”
During a brief interview following the meeting, Mayor Privett said usually “99 percent” of the people who encounter a baptism service will wait until it is over, but that in this case “one person, whoever that person was, chose to push the issue of the law ….
“When we get to a day and time that a person can’t respect another person’s religious activity of baptizing, we’re in trouble.”