Belly dancing decision misunderstood

  • Follow Letters

As a member of West Acres Baptist Church in Evans, I feel compelled to respond to Jezibell Anat's letter in which she alleges that her belly dancing group was "unfairly excluded" from an event which took place at our church ("Show unfairly excluded belly dancing," Jan. 14).

The event was originated by high school students to use music and drama to raise funds to save the Miller Theatre. The students were to receive school credit for this project. Upon learning the nature of Ms. Anat's group's dance routines, a decision was made by the church staff that we could not allow belly dancing in our church, and that decision was relayed to the students.

Before condemning our church for "unfairly" excluding her group and their "ancient art form" of belly dancing, I would plead with her to consider that West Acres is first and last a Christian organization, and every particle of structural material in our facilities has been prayed over and many inscribed with scriptures from God's holy word as acts of dedication to the only reason that West Acres exists -- for the praise, honor, worship, service and glorification of Jesus Christ and His message of salvation to a lost and dying world.

As a young man and long before my commitment to Jesus, I witnessed belly dancing on several occasions, and while I'm sure that some view it as an art form and many secular venues welcome it, I can't imagine such dancing to in any way coincide with the purpose and mission of West Acres. We must make unpopular and inconvenient choices at times, but I believe this decision was correct and in the best interests of our church.

I am sorry if our position was misunderstood by the students or the performers and any inconvenience it might have caused. We do not judge or condemn Ms. Anat or her performers and, in fact, if they are interested in learning more about the Christian faith and/or Baptist beliefs, I would urge them to visit with us at any of our services and see how we go about our service to Jesus.

They will find that while we are not perfect, we are forgiven through grace by faith in the perfect sacrifice of Christ, and that most of us are loving, sincere people and can be quite likable.

Roy S. Ellis

Evans

Comments (24) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
GGpap
491
Points
GGpap 01/19/10 - 06:01 am
0
0
Good letter Mr. Ellis, and

Good letter Mr. Ellis, and while I believe your explanation was just, I still must question the timeliness of the refusal forwarded to Ms. Anat that your church could not "allow belly dancing in our church," GGpap

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 01/19/10 - 06:15 am
0
0
Mr Ellis, you write a letter

Mr Ellis, you write a letter that almost duplicates Miss Anat's. I'm wondering if the clothing police checks EVERY female entering your venerable building (which you mistakenly call a church) to see if they meet the same guidelines you use for Miss Anat's dance team. Some of the ladies attending dress in a manner that inspires a different type of worship than the one you describe. I suspect you personally have a belly fetish and this exclusion is just a cover for your personal feelings.

Dixieman
15313
Points
Dixieman 01/19/10 - 06:47 am
0
0
Church is a private

Church is a private organization and can decide who may and may not perform on its premises. This is a non-issue!

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 01/19/10 - 08:32 am
0
0
Dixieman is correct, though
Unpublished

Dixieman is correct, though the letter writer and his reasons are ridiculous.

ONLY THE TRUTH
2
Points
ONLY THE TRUTH 01/19/10 - 08:33 am
0
0
"God made man (woman) in his

"God made man (woman) in his own image"... Why would Baptists not condone the glorification of God's creation???? Are ya'll too weak and your faith so shallow to resist????

mb6504
0
Points
mb6504 01/19/10 - 08:42 am
0
0
My younger sister was one of

My younger sister was one of the students who put this show together. West Acres informed them on Friday - the day before the show - that there was to be no dancing AT ALL - not just Jezibell's. WHAT? When the 4 GHS students approached West Acres well over a month before the show was to take place, and had paid in full, they told W.A. what was to be expected. There was no contract written or verbal, of what was W.A. expectations or their requirements of what was allowed in their facility. After 3 hours of negotiating and going back in forth (3 hours that were needed to put together their show - it was the day before!) they finally reached a decision that the belly dancers weren't allowed. West Acres handled this completely wrong and were seriously unprofessional. They really need to find another way to handle these kinds of transactions. We definately will not be recommending W.A. for any kind of venue to anyone. Thankfully Ms. Jezibell and company were able to modify their performance, and the whole entire show was a success! They raised over $5,000 towards the restoration of the Miller Theatre! Good job you guys!

AWyld1
3
Points
AWyld1 01/19/10 - 09:14 am
0
0
Another letter from someone

Another letter from someone that judges even though their religion tells them not to. You can't use the parts of the Bible you want and disregard others. Church's, just like governments, should quit trying to tell me what my morals should be. I am responsible for my relationship with God. The dancers were there for a good cause and the church was blinded by ridiculous morals. By your admission you should return any tithes given to you by anyone who has a moral letdown...it would only be fair...

Nativeson1
2
Points
Nativeson1 01/19/10 - 09:20 am
0
0
There is a time and place for

There is a time and place for most things, and belly dancing at a church is inappropriate...If I sat and read my Bible while getting a lap dance at a strip club wouldn't that be odd???? And the letter writer was not judging, he was simply defending the decision not to have a secular event at a religious location, more people need to use better judgement as well...

mb6504
0
Points
mb6504 01/19/10 - 09:32 am
0
0
Nativeson .. you must have

Nativeson .. you must have never seen a belly dance before. These women were professionals. There were 3 of them on stage. Nobody was sitting in a chair up on stage with them like a lap dance. Certain (Not ALL) belly dancing can be like that yes, but this was a family friendly event. I highly doubt these women would have danced in a way that was inappropriate for children and would disrespect the chruch in any way. I am sure these women were smarter than that, and they proved it by modifying their performance. West Acres personel should have informed the GHS student when they were approched from the start what their expectations were. These dancers have danced at several functions like this - FAMILY ORIENTED - and it never was a problem. Which is why they were invited. I hope W.A. has learned from this and will in the future have everything from the get go outlined in detail. If the students would have been told, no dancing, then they would have found another venue.

scoobynews
3855
Points
scoobynews 01/19/10 - 10:53 am
0
0
mb6504 Your sister and her

mb6504 Your sister and her friends should have thought all this through before going to West Acres (a Christain church) to use their facilities. I am surprised the school even allowed this with seperation of church and state. AndYes, WA should have gone over what was allowed and what was not so that proper performances could have been chosen. I see error on BOTH sides not just one.

mb6504
0
Points
mb6504 01/19/10 - 11:00 am
0
0
Several students that were in

Several students that were in this production and in the group dances, are members of that church. They suggested it. Obviously they didn't see anything wrong with what was going to take place. West Acres was fine with it and then went back on their word. It has to do with them not being professional - not the students fault.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 01/19/10 - 12:32 pm
0
0
It actually didn't take place
Unpublished

It actually didn't take place in the church, proper. mb6504, I hope your sister and the others learned to get a written contract next time and maybe learned something about the ridiculousness of religion...

mb6504
0
Points
mb6504 01/19/10 - 12:45 pm
0
0
She lit into him as soon as

She lit into him as soon as he said no dancing. And then he wanted to preach to her about it's what Jesus wants, which made her even more mad! Lol. It has nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus isn't accepting the money for use of a facility. Jesus isn't trying to run the business end of the church. Believe me I lectured her about it .. however they are high schoolers, trying to put together their senior project. They were dealing with a church, whom they didn't think would ever do something like that. It was for a good cause! On top of the fact that they had already told them to begin with dancing would take place. They raised $5,000 - so because there was no 'belly dancing' it didn't hurt them. It's just the point of unprofessionalism that made us angry. I am sure both parties have learned from this!

willienelson
5
Points
willienelson 01/19/10 - 12:51 pm
0
0
Wow. Let me get this

Wow. Let me get this straight. The church has no right to disinclude anyone based on their morals but you guys have every right to condem the church and demand someone's inclusion based on your morals. Mekes sense to me.

mb6504
0
Points
mb6504 01/19/10 - 12:54 pm
0
0
No the church can disinclude

No the church can disinclude whomever they want. It was the fact that when they approached West Acres they told them what would take place. Over a month later - the day before the show - the chuch told them that there was to be no dancing. I don't give a crap if it was square dancing that isn't the point. The point is W.A. was extremely unprofessional in their business transaction and needs to fix it. Did you not read anything I have wrote previously??

Riverman1
84917
Points
Riverman1 01/19/10 - 04:25 pm
0
0
I was raised a Southern

I was raised a Southern Baptist, but became a secular one later in life after I found out some of the rules condemned me to eternal hellfire. One of those rules is no dancing. That's in addition to no drinking. I've done both of those so I can't criticize those belly dancers too much. Actually, I can roll my belly too. I sort of lean forward and suck in the top of my stomach and sort of let it work down in a rolling motion. It's a sight to behold. But I bet there were no belly laughs when the dancers, hip as they are, were told they couldn't perform.

Little Lamb
46404
Points
Little Lamb 01/19/10 - 04:29 pm
0
0
You know, the fundraiser was

You know, the fundraiser was a SCHOOL project. You would think the kids' school would have let them use the school auditorium.

Boogaloo
1
Points
Boogaloo 01/19/10 - 05:02 pm
0
0
Sounds to me like everything

Sounds to me like everything was cool until the last minute when one of the "church ladies" heard what was going to happen. Then it hit the fan and the plug was pulled. Spineless.

Sciencegeek
0
Points
Sciencegeek 01/19/10 - 05:31 pm
0
0
I saw the entire show, and

I saw the entire show, and everyone that performed did a wonderful job. The GHS students that sponsored this event did an outstanding job, and it was well organized and truly entertaining. All of the performers, including the dancers were excellent, and I felt worth having paid to see! I was actually surprised at the level of talent displayed by the acts. If the church had seen the acts that were going to be presented beforehand, I do not think they would have had any problem with them. There was nothing raunchy or disgusting about anything I saw. The only thing disgusting has been this stupid controversy and behavior by some adults in our community. Kudos to the GHS students and the performers. Don't let any of this sadden you. Be proud of what you accomplished, and welcome to the sometimes sad world we live in.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/19/10 - 05:38 pm
0
0
From what I have been told,

From what I have been told, the church did not have a problem with the belly dance group until they learned that it was largely a pagan group and had participated in the pagan festival.. it was when they learned of this that they pulled the plug. If this is the case, then the church leaders should just be up front of why they denied the group to perform.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/19/10 - 05:39 pm
0
0
Word to the wise for these

Word to the wise for these student groups putting on fundraiser shows.. do NOT book your event a Baptist Church. I'm sure other venues would have donated their space for this worthy cause without all of the ridiclous strings attached.

PantherPride
0
Points
PantherPride 01/19/10 - 09:08 pm
0
0
To all that say people should

To all that say people should not judge...I run a charity. It is for a great cause. PLEASE send me your money and I PROMISE I will do great things with it! You can trust me. How dare you judge me and find me a scam artists? BTW, I have a friend who is really nice and will treat your daughter to a great time and will respect her for the woman she is. Send me a photo and a number and I will pass it along. After all, you can trust me. Learn to READ, folks. You are wrong on judging! It's in the Bible!

corgimom
33161
Points
corgimom 01/19/10 - 09:23 pm
0
0
I like the way the staff at

I like the way the staff at West Acres showed their true Christian spirit and honesty by giving their word and then going back on it at the last minute. Yes, there are definitely morals involved here, but it's not about dancing. And, of course, all the singing involved Christian music and hymns, right? Because after all, it was held at a CHURCH, and you must uphold your standards, right? What a bunch of hypocrites.

Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 01/20/10 - 01:22 am
0
0
Corgi..I have it on good

Corgi..I have it on good authority that it was when they found out that Ms Anat was the leader of the Augusta Pagan Pride that they pulled the plug. who knows?? I guess they thought they were going to do some sort of satanic ritual. Really this is ridiculous. This was not in the sanctuary of the chiurch, btw. It seems to me if the church had all of these stipulations they should have spelled them out in the beginning. Kind of hard to have a show with NO dancing whatsoever. I guess that leaves out any Braodway numbers, etc. I think this no dancing thing is a ruse.. they just didn't want pagans in their church.

nomoreFH
0
Points
nomoreFH 01/22/10 - 11:36 am
0
0
Mr. Ellis not only ignores

Mr. Ellis not only ignores the unprofessionalism of West Acres but highlights his own ignorance. West Acres was at fault from the moment they took the students' first rental payment. Not only did they fail to supply a written rental contract, they failed to address any restrictions enforced by their faith. West Acres recognized this error and in fact apologized to the students. Therefore, Mr. Ellis, I implore you not to shed any negative light on the students just trying to support a worthy cause. The students took the initiative to personally ensure each act was family friendly. For the bellydancing acts they had contacts with the City of Augusta, Columbia County Special Events, and the Augusta Jewish Community Center. The students were organized and efficent and the Church failed to follow suit. West Acres has every right to deny entry to whomever they wish. It is private property. (Although I feel this directly conflicts with the "Come As You Are" and "All Are Welcome" hymns they sing along to every Sunday.) However, their failure to execute a structured business alongside their faith highlights a fault in their mission as a church so adamantly lamented on in Mr. Ellis' letter.

dance4joy
0
Points
dance4joy 07/08/10 - 09:57 am
0
0
I belly dance. I don't

I belly dance. I don't understand why some people think it is sexy. They will go to a gym and see people in much briefer attire than bellydancers and they will be doing all kinds of abdominal moves and nobody thinks they are sinful. You can see cheerleaders in much briefer attire than belly dancers, but nobody thinks they are sinful. On the other hand, being from a Greek Orthodox church, I have danced in a restaurant. I do not go for tips. I do not dance close to tables. The owner went to church and saw me, the dancer he had hired for his restaurant there. What did he do? He fired me. So the restaurant owner who hires a dancer can go to church, but the dancer can't go to church. I get it. And yes, I love Christ. Cause I am the woman at the well. I dance now just at home and with a class full of girls and occasionally at a family venue. By the way, you can wear a fully covered dance outfit, stomach and all, if it is really a problem. I don't blame the pastor. He can reject the dance team but please don't presume that just because he spent time watching belly dance before he came to the Lord, that all those dancers today do not know the Lord.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs