The Laramie Project

The Laramie Project

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The Baptist Minister Character Analysis

The Baptist Minister is one of the most conservative ministers in Laramie and the head of a large congregation at the local Baptist church. The Baptist Minister considers himself a “Biblicist,” meaning that he believes in reading the Bible literally and word-for-word. The Baptist Minister, who is firmly against homosexuality, speaks on the phone with Amanda Gronich, telling her that, although he does not condone Matthew Shepard’s murder, he sees it as a kind of justice for Matthew’s gay “lifestyle.” In general, the Baptist Minister seems to see violence as a fitting punishment for what he deems to be moral transgressions, and while he believes that Matthew’s death was fitting punishment for his sexuality, he also believes that Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson deserve the death penalty for their deeds. The Baptist Minister expresses an ideological orientation towards violence and offers an image of God and justice as vengeful and unforgiving.

The Baptist Minister Quotes in The Laramie Project

The The Laramie Project quotes below are all either spoken by The Baptist Minister or refer to The Baptist Minister. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dramatists Play Service edition of The Laramie Project published in 2001.
Act 2: Lifestyle 2 Quotes

Now, those two people, the accused… I think they deserve the death penalty…Now as for the victim, I know that that lifestyle is legal, but I will tell you one thing. I hope that Matthew Shepard as he was tied to that fence that he had time to reflect on a moment when someone had spoken the word of the Lord to him—and that before he slipped into a coma he had a chance to reflect on his lifestyle.

Related Characters: The Baptist Minister (speaker), Matthew Shepard, Aaron McKinney, Russell Henderson, Amanda Gronich
Related Symbols: The Fence
Page Number: 67-68
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quote, The Baptist Minister explains his views on Matthew’s murder during a phone call with Amanda Gronich. The Minister, who was initially hesitant to speak with members of the theater company, opens up to Amanda after she tells him she attended his church service that Sunday.

The Baptist Minister expresses complicated views of both Aaron and Russell and of Matthew. He makes it clear that he condemns Aaron and Russell’s violence in itself, even going so far as to say that they deserve to be put to death. At the same time, however, the Minister, who is openly and extremely anti-LGBT, says that he hopes that Matthew “had a chance to reflect on his lifestyle” “before he slipped into a coma.” While the Baptist Minister disapproves of Aaron and Russell’s murder, he also seems to imply that Matthew’s death is a kind of just and divine retribution for his sexuality (which the Minister minimizes as a “lifestyle”). This reflects the Baptist Minister’s vision of God as more inclined to vengeful punishment than a loving forgiveness.

The Baptist Minister’s seemingly contradictory moral juggling certainly reveals the his extreme homophobia, but it also shows how he views violence as the appropriate form of justice for perceived wrongdoing (both for Aaron and Russell in the form of the death penalty, and for Matthew in the form of his murder). As the question of violence as punishment recurs in later discussions of the death penalty, the Baptist Minister serves as a warning of how orientation towards violence as punishment often reflects ideologies that center hatred and judgment rather than compassion and love.

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The Baptist Minister Character Timeline in The Laramie Project

The timeline below shows where the character The Baptist Minister appears in The Laramie Project. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1: The Word
Religion, Morality, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Theater and Representation Theme Icon
The Baptist Minister recites what seem to be Amanda Gronich’s memories of his sermon. The Baptist Minister says... (full context)
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...family as “one woman and one man and children,” which cannot by deviated from. The Baptist Minster adds that his followers may be criticized for their faith, but they must follow the... (full context)
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Prejudice Theme Icon
...Shepard. He says that they use the Bible as a way to defend their views. The Baptist Minister describes himself as a “Biblicist” and says that, regardless of people’s beliefs, the Bible is... (full context)
Act 1: Lifestyle 1
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Media and Community Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Prejudice Theme Icon
This moment consists of a phone call between Amanda Gronich and the wife of the Baptist Minister . Amanda introduces herself over the phone and explains her reason for calling. She talks... (full context)
Act 2: Lifestyle 2
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Prejudice Theme Icon
Amanda Gronich calls back the Baptist Minister . The Baptist Minister tells Amanda he does not really want to talk about Matthew... (full context)
Homophobia, Tolerance, and Acceptance Theme Icon
Violence, Punishment, and Justice Theme Icon
Religion, Morality, and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Baptist Minister notes that he thinks Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson deserve the death penalty. The minister... (full context)