Miss Maudie is a Baptist. However, as she tells Scout, there is a big difference between regular Baptists and foot-washers (Lee 59). What  does it mean to be a “foot-washing Baptist” (Lee 59)?...

Miss Maudie is a Baptist. However, as she tells Scout, there is a big difference between regular Baptists and foot-washers (Lee 59). What  does it mean to be a “foot-washing Baptist” (Lee 59)?

 

 

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A "foot-washing Baptist" is a way of saying a very strict Baptist. Foot-washing Baptists and Baptists are both Christian denominations and really, they're both Baptists. But the foot-washing Baptists are so strict that they believe everything pleasurable is a sin. Miss Maudie adds that some foot-washers once told her that she and her flowers were going to hell. 

Yes ma’am. They’d burn right with me. They thought I spent too much time in God’s outdoors and not enough time inside the house reading the Bible. 

Foot-washers are also quite strict in focusing on reading the Bible. The practice of foot washing comes from the Gospel of John where Jesus teaches his followers to wash each other's feet. The idea is that we are all equal and serves as a practical metaphor (and actual practice) of the Golden Rule. However, Miss Maudie is trying to explain that extreme religious fanaticism, especially in the hands of a bad or unhinged man like Mr. Radley, is a bad thing. 

Miss Maudie is making the point that Mr. Radley is too strict and perhaps has punished Boo in unnecessary ways and for unnecessary reasons. She doesn't come right out and say it, but one could infer that she is suggesting that Mr. Radley's strict ways may be abusive and might have something to do with how Boo Radley turned out. Scout asks her if she thinks Boo Radley is crazy. Miss Maudie replies: 

If he’s not he should be by now. The things that happen to people we never really know. What happens in houses behind closed doors, what secrets - 

 

 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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