I was born and raised in Craighead County, Arkansas. The origin and naming of the county is an interesting bypath in history.
In 1858 Arkansans elected William Atkinson Jones as their Governor. Jones's later contest with Jeff Davis for a seat in the United States Senate was one of the subplots that made its way into my dissertation a few years ago, and he was a formidable force in Arkansas Democrat politics during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
Among Jones's campaign promises was a pledge to create a new county out of Mississippi County in Northeast Arkansas. Jones won, and contrary to the basic rules of secular politics, went about making good on his campaign promises. The sole strident opponent to the creation of the new county was the state senator from Mississippi County, Thomas Craighead. The removal of the land to create the new county would diminish the influence and tax revenue of his Mississippi County constituency, you see.
One day, while Craighead was out on other business, Jones strolled into the Senate chamber and amended the bill to change the name of the county to Craighead County. The Senate adopted the measure in Craighead's absence, and forevermore my home county wears the name of the man most opposed to its existence. Every map, every calling of the roll, and every journey past the county-line marker was designed to be an insult—a reminder to Craighead of the political game that he lost. And now, Craighead County is the dominant county in the region, with its county seat of Jonesboro serving as the economic, cultural, educational, and political hub of that entire congressional district. What others meant as an insult to Thomas Craighead has actually preserved his name in an honored place in local and regional history.
The same thing might be said about the word Baptist. It was birthed as an insult and an instrument of opprobrium. Those who loved biblical truth clung to it in spite of its origins, and God blessed their faithfulness with such blessing that, for a while, it ceased to be employed as a by-word and epithet. Today represents, I suppose, the first time in our history in which "Baptist Identity" has become a slur hurled by people who actually, out of the other side of their mouths, claim to be Baptists themselves. But no matter the slight novelties of the present situation, I count it an honor to stand with Kiffin and Helwys, with Williams and Holmes, with Crosby and Taylor and Barber (hey, I'll have to do some genealogical research there, maybe I have "blue" blood as well!), and to wear proudly the name Baptist, even when it is intended as a matter of mockery and derision.