Orginally published on Friday, September 08, 2006 at 7:19 AM
by Todd Rhoades
[HOLY OBSERVER] -- It appears that a disproportionate number of members of the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARBC) are regular in name only. In a study released in early May by the Barna Research Group, the GARBC comfortably—or perhaps not so comfortably— topped the list of major denominations for chronic constipation among members with a whopping 10 percent. That's nearly eight times the national average...
“These results are just unbelievable,” said George Barna, president of the Barna Research Group. “We’ve stumbled on a real epidemic here.”
The study defines chronic constipation as “either a decreased number of bowel movements and/or difficulties evacuating the rectum, including excessive straining or hard stools over a period of more than two weeks.”
While other denominations were well above the national average of 1.3 percent (just over four percent of Free Methodists and nearly three percent of Presbyterians suffer from chronic constipation), the “Regular” Baptists are clearly at the top of the heap.
John Greening, national representative of the GARBC, said the denomination had made no determination on whether or not it would consider changing its name in light of the findings.
“We’re going to think about this very carefully as a community of believers,” Greening said, although he would not elaborate on where all this extra thinking might take place. “I’m sure the name issue will come up, because we are, of course, very concerned about representing ourselves in a genuine manner.”
Greening denied that the GARBC’s recent decision to ditch its long time slogan, “Proud to be Regular,” in favor of “Together we can accomplish more” had anything to do with the study.
“That decision was made well before this information came to light,” he said.
Another high-ranking GARBC official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, cast doubt on the validity of the study results.
“These numbers have to be skewed,” he said. “No self-respecting Baptist is gonna talk openly to some researcher about poop.”
Although the study did not address possible causes for the high constipation numbers, Barna is not without his theories.
“It’s a well known fact that the older, more traditional GARBC members refuse to drink prune juice because of its .0006 percent alcohol content,” Barna said. “We also have to remember that this is a group of worshipers who often have to sit through a dozen or more stanzas of Just As I Am without a potty break.”
Whatever the cause of the chronic constipation, one thing is certain: the report has caused a ripple of anxiety through the GARBC membership.
“I had no idea this was such a problem,” said Harriet Mortimer, a GARBC member from Nashville. “I always thought that three bowel movements a month was normal.”
Others weren’t so surprised.
“This is news?,” said Jim Bixley, owner of a Birmingham service station that sits directly across the street from a large GARBC congregation. “I could have told you that.”
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