In passing a Methodist camp meeting one day in September, Raccoon John Smith stopped to watch a young Methodist preacher baptize a howling, rebellious infant by sprinkling water on the squirming body. When the service was concluded, he stepped to the front of the crowd and, identifying himself, took the preacher firmly by the arm and attempted to lead him toward the creek a few yards away.
“What are you trying to do, Brother Smith?” the young preacher protested. “Are you out of your mind?”
“What am I trying to do?” John affected deep surprise. “Why, sir, I am going to baptize you by immersion into the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to His commandment.”
“But I have no desire for such baptism. I know of you; you are called ‘The dipper.’ But you are not going to dip me. I’m a Methodist; let me go!”
John tightened his hold on the man’s arm while the crowd watched, some in dismay, others in amusement. “That is a scoffer’s blasphemy of a holy ordinance,” he said sternly. “Are you a believer?”
“Of course, I’m a believer,” the preacher said indignantly. “But I’m not willing to be immersed. It would do no good for you to baptize me against my will. It would be wrong.”
“I don’t understand,” John said. “Only a few minutes ago, you baptized a helpless baby against its will, although it screamed and kicked. Did you get its consent first? Come along sir, we will have no more of this foolishness.”
The crowd broke into open laughter, and John gave the young preacher a quick pull toward the creek, and then suddenly released him. He waved to the people for silence.
“Brethren and friends, I shall be in the neighborhood for a little while visiting among you; let me know if this poor, misguided man ever again baptizes another without his consent. For you have heard him say that it would do no good, that it would be wrong.”