R.G. Puckett: Baptist Warrior for Separation of Church and State

Article excerpt

We note with sadness the passing of the Rev. R.G. "Gene" Puckett, a courageous Baptist minister and editor who served as executive director of Americans United from 1979-82.

Puckett, who died in May at age 80, was an articulate Southern Baptist who hewed to that denomination's traditional view that freedom of conscience is an essential human right and that church-state separation is the best way to protect that principle. That spirit guided him during his tenure at Americans United.

When the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was targeted for takeover by fundamentalists, Puckett was in the thick of the fight. He had edited several Baptist newspapers prior to coming to Americans United and assumed the editorship of the Biblical Recorder in North Carolina after leaving AU. From that perch, he stood strong against all those who would seek to use government power to impose faith.

Sadly, Puckett and his allies lost the fight against fundamentalism in the SBC, but he remained active. In 1990, he and other Baptist leaders formed the Associated Baptist Press, a news service free of the rigid fundamentalism that had tainted many Baptist publications.

Puckett was fully committed to religious freedom for all Americans. …