Bedside Baptist, St. Mattress

Have you been to Bedside Baptist or St. Mattress on a Sunday morning? These are clever ways of saying that you slept in and missed church!

Ah, yes. Good old Bedside Baptist, where Pastor Pillow and Deacon Sheets preside with somnolent gravity. Among some communities of Christians, it’s virtually a mortal sin to miss church for no good reason, and so several playful metaphors have arisen in the past 50 years to downplay the fact that you missed church. Instead of saying that you slept in, you can jokingly admit that you were actually attending another church—Bedside Baptist, St. Mattress, or a variety of other places. Who needs to know that the church was nothing more than your bedposts and pillow and comforter! It’s just like telling your friends you were at St. Arbucks on a Sunday morning, when you were really nose-deep in a frothy cappuccino and the morning paper.

If you think Christians making up fake names for churches is hard to believe, then have you heard of the made-up books of the Bible such as II Hesitations and First Fleshalonians? And you thought Christians were always super serious and stuff!

Here’s the definition for one of the most popular imaginary churches: Bedside Baptist:

Bedside Baptist n. Also: Bedside Baptist Church (see sense 1: citations for 1990, 1993, and 2007) and Bedside Baptist Fellowship (see sense 2: 2011 citation).
1. A tongue-in-cheek name for a fictitious church; one “attends” this church by sleeping in on Sunday morning and missing church.
For more information, see *fictitious churches.
1987 Abraham Hot Trax: Devotions for Girls 111 : You could attend “Bedside Baptist” this Sunday. Or maybe you’ll make it to “Mattress Methodist.” Perhaps you prefer “Posturepedic Presbyterian.” You could even get out of bed and watch four hours of prime-time preaching. 1990 Covell Mission Impossible 60 : It would have been easy, particularly after a heavy week of language study, to settle for “bedside Baptist” church. 1990 Lockerbie, Fonseca College: Getting In and Staying In 172 : In fact, the standard joke at the cafeteria on Sundays has to do with attending various “churches of rest”—Pillow Presbyterian, Mattress Methodist, Bedside Baptist. 1993 Whitmer Letters from the College Front 85 : On Sundays, don’t attend Bedside Baptist Church (otherwise known as “sleeping in”). 1997 Harris If This World Were Mine 42 : His mother had just asked him when was the last time he had been inside a church. She didn’t understand his joke when he told her he attended Bedside Baptist regularly. 2000 Baye Blackbird 12 : I was reminded that whenever I resist the temptation to simply worship at “Bedside Baptist,” I end up being particularly blessed by a Sunday school lesson, a song, a sermon or an encouraging word. 2007 Braner Love This! 57 : One particular Sunday morning … I decided to attend the local “Bedside Baptist Church.” (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I slept in.) 2008 Fodor’s Texas 16 : Going to church on Sunday is part of the culture for many in this swath of the Bible Belt, and if you didn’t go to church on a given Sunday, the joke is that you went to Bedside Baptist. 2012 Lucas A Belle in Brooklyn 261 : I usually sit through the service in silence, taking notes on my BlackBerry and Tweeting the best parts of the sermon for all of those attending Bedside Baptist.
2. A tongue-in-cheek name for a fictitious church; one “attends” this church by staying home on Sunday morning and perhaps watching a church service on television instead of going to church.
For more information, see *fictitious churches.
1998 Meier, Wise The Secret Code 35 : “Where do you go to church?” “Bedside Baptist. I just hit the TV remote on Sunday morning and wander from service to service.” Ben laughed. “Very funny.” 2003 Berry The Unauthorized Guide to Choosing a Church 81 : You may want to attend “Bedside Baptist” and find your church on TV. 2011 Heitzig Church? Who Needs It 141 : When I asked where she fellowshiped, she replied, “The Bedside Baptist Fellowship. I lie in bed every Sunday and turn on the television, or I listen to the radio. That’s my church.”

Next up is St. Mattress, a somewhat older term than Bedside Baptist. I suspect that St. Mattress may have even been the first of these playful terms for sleeping in, perhaps because St. Mattress is such a natural pun on St. Matthew’s (or St. Matt’s), which is a pretty common name for a church. Observe that St. Mattress dates back as early as the early 1960s. Even Baby Boomers didn’t like to admit too openly that they slept in instead of hoofing it to church!

St. Mattress n. Also: St. Mattress of the Springs (at sense 1, see 1973 citation); St. Mattress Baptist Church (at sense 1, see 1986 citation); Church of St. Mattress.
1. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
1962 Mag. of Sigma Chi 81/1 15 : Active church attendance and participation by chapter members and pledges (other than at “St. Mattress”) is personally worthwhile, above all else. 1973 Davies-Rodgers The Great Book: Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church, 1832–1972 411 : In speaking of the lethargy of some communicants on Sunday morning in not going to Church, he referred to their obvious preference to attend “St. Mattress of the Springs”! a1974 A. Sexton [1928–1974] in Middlebrook Anne Sexton: A Biography (1991) 395 : Sexton contemplated being baptized in the Episcopal church, but, never a joiner, she continued to claim that “Saint Mattress is just as appropriate a place to find the unknown, doubtful, ever-possible, joyous ‘God’” as any church service. 1980 Walden Sword Scrapbook 177 : “The only saint he knows is St. Mattress. He can’t get out of bed.” I thought I had heard them all. But this was a new one. 1986 Walker Where the Rivers Flow 51 : A few of us would haughtily joke during Sunday lunch that we had attended “Saint Mattress Baptist Church” that morning. 1997 Mawhinney Preaching with Freshness 191 : “While people wake up to go to church on Sunday mornings, millions more stay in the sack. They attend St. Mattress.” 1999 Sweet Soul Tsunami 59 : To ask all guests and visitors to stand … in a post-Christendom culture … is likely to drive people to worship at the altar of St. Mattress and to exhibit greater devotion to Our Lady of the Pillow. 2002 McKenzie Journey to the Well 168 : You decide that the service at St. Mattress where Pastor Pillow preaches is better than going to church, so you stay in bed. 2004 Perry Email Episodes 154 : My husband and I faithfully take part in the activities at St. Mattress. Sister Sheets and Pastor Pillow are great friends. 2012 Stephenson The Underwater Window ix. : The absence of a Sunday practice allowed the spiritual-minded to attend church and the sleep-minded to worship at St. Mattress.
2. One’s bed as a place of prayer or meditation.
2009 Kennedy Being Catholic Now 73 : I go to St. Mattress. This is when I’m lying on the bed and I feel a need to have a conversation with God.

So these two whimsical names for fictitious churches aren’t the only ones in the Dictionary of Christianese. Christians have invented about two dozen more, including these gems: Box Springs Baptist; Church of the Holy Comforter; Church of the Inner Spring (also Church of the Inner Springs); First Church of the Water Bed; Holy Mattress; Horizontal Holiness Church; Mattress Methodist; Mt. Pillow; Our Lady of the Pillow; Our Lady of the Sheets; Pillow Presbyterian; Pillow Street Presbyterian; Posturepedic Presbyterian; St. Mattress of the Springs; St. Mattress Baptist Church; St. Other Side of the Pillow; and Temple of the Inner Springs.

When there are a lot of similar terms like this, the Dictionary includes a miniature essay that gives general information about why so many similar terms have been invented, and the essay also provides cross-references to all the other terms. As you saw in the definition for Bedside Baptist above, at the end of sense 1 there is a note directing the reader to see the essay “Fictitious Churches” for more information. Here’s that entry, so you can see what these miniature essays look like, and so you can also get a sneak preview of all the other names of fictitious churches:

FICTITIOUS CHURCHES Christians have coined a variety of obviously tongue-in-cheek names of fictitious churches that are referred to for ironic, sarcastic, or otherwise humorous effect. Almost all the names are alliterative for additional comic force. These names may be usefully grouped into four categories, as outlined below:
See also *fictitious books of the bible.
1. Terms for sleeping in on Sunday morning and missing church. 2. Terms for staying home on Sunday morning and watching a televised church service. 3. Terms for missing church to go do something else. 4. Stereotypes for kinds of Christians. 5. Other fictitious churches.
1. The various names of fictitious churches in the first and largest category invoke imagery of a bed, such as the mattress, springs, pillows, sheets, and comforters:
*Bedside Baptist 1;
*Box Springs Baptist;
*Church of the Holy Comforter;
*Church of the Inner Spring (also Church of the Inner Springs);
*First Church of the Water Bed;
*Holy Mattress;
*Horizontal Holiness Church;
*Mattress Methodist;
*Mt. Pillow;
*Our Lady of the Pillow;
*Our Lady of the Sheets;
*Pillow Presbyterian;
*Pillow Street Presbyterian;
*Posturepedic Presbyterian;
*St. Mattress (also St. Mattress of the Springs; St. Mattress Baptist Church);
*St. Other Side of the Pillow;
*Temple of the Inner Springs.
Of these, Bedside Baptist, Church of the Inner Spring, and St. Mattress are the most common.
Some Christians go a step further and refer even to various fictitious ministers at these made-up churches (note the imagery of bedding in all the names):
*Bishop Pillow;
*Bishop Sheets;
*Brother Sheets;
*Deacon Sheets;
*Pastor Blanket;
*Pastor Pillow;
*Pastor Sheets;
*Reverend Sheets;
*Sister Sheets.
Possibly St. Mattress was the first of these terms to arise, since it dates back in print to the early 1960s. It may have been coined as a parody of St. Matthew (or, more casually, St. Matt’s), a saint’s name that is fairly common in the names of churches. As far as all the other terms go, about half of them first appear in print in the 1980s, and the other half first appear in print during the 1990s and 2000s.
2. These names of fictitious churches invoke imagery of staying home instead of going to church. Many of these terms suggest staying home and watching a church service on television in the comfort and convenience of one’s living room or bedroom:
*Bedside Baptist 2;
*First Church of the Frigidaire 3;
*Lazy Boy Lutheran;
*Look at TV Lutheran;
*Stay-At-Home Baptist (SAHB);
*Television Tabernacle.
See also *cable-television Christian.
3. These names of fictitious churches refer to missing church to do something else:
*Our Lady of the Greens (playing golf);
*St. Arbucks (visiting a coffee shop).
4. These names of fictitious churches are intended to characterize certain groups of Christians, usually in a disparaging way.
Christians who are reserved during church services or who are reluctant to employ spiritual gifts are said to belong to the *First Church of the Frigidaire.
5. Other fictitious churches include *Stay-At-Home Baptist.

What other fictitious churches have you heard other people say? What do they mean? Which fictitious churches do you sometimes refer to in your own conversations? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Scroll down to read all the dictionary entries related to make-believe churches!

 

Bishop Pillow n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
2008 Burton Suddenly Single 47 : “I haven’t seen you in church lately…. I guess you’ve become a member of the good ol’ SAHB.” … “What’s that?” “Stay At Home Baptist,” he replied. She chuckled. “So who presided—Bishop Pillow?” “Yeah … Deacon Sheets spoke a powerful word.”
Bishop Sheets n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
2006 Jenkins Royal Moments of a King 75 : No one has taken note of the fastest growing megachurch of all: “Bedside Baptist” founded by Bishop Sheets and Pastor Pillow!
Box Springs Baptist n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
Brother Sheets n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
2012 Hurtgen World Changers for Christ 30 : The temptation for many students is to simply … not go to church at all while a student. The old joke goes that one attended “Bedside Baptist Church” where “Bro. [=Brother] Sheets” is the pastor and he “covers all the subjects” (or, you may have heard of the “Horizontal Holiness Church”).
Church of the Holy Comforter n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
Church of the Inner Spring n. Also: Church of the Inner Springs. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
1984 St. Clair Leadership 37 : It would be a lot easier to spend time at the Church of the Inner Spring (mattress, that is) under the warm protection of the Reverend Sheets. 1991 Larsen Caring For the Flock 23 : And perhaps the most popular of all is “The Church of the Inner Spring,” a refuge for many on a typical Sunday morning. 2007 Boa Passionate Living 59 : On Sunday mornings, I would sleep in at the “Church of the Inner Spring” and hear sermons by Pastor Pillow. 2008 Jenkins Riven 371 : “She wants to know where we’re going to church.” “There’s a surprise. Did you tell her Church of the Inner Spring with Pastor Blanket and Deacon Sheets?” Peter roared [with laughter].
Deacon Sheets n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
2004 Edwards Did I Get Out of Bed for This? 79 : We do the Sunday-morning rollover at Bedside Baptist. Pastor Pillow and Deacon Sheets are there to comfort us. 2008 Burton Suddenly Single 47 : “I haven’t seen you in church lately…. I guess you’ve become a member of the good ol’ SAHB.” … “What’s that?” “Stay At Home Baptist,” he replied. She chuckled. “So who presided—Bishop Pillow?” “Yeah … Deacon Sheets spoke a powerful word.”
First Church of the Frigidaire n.
1. A tongue-in-cheek name for a fictitious church whose members are overly reserved (“frigid”) during church services. Advocates of expressive, spontaneous behavior during church services will sometimes label people as being from this church.
See also *fictitious churches; *frozen chosen.
1985 Treat Setting Your Course 81 : God desires for us to clap and lift up our hands. I specifically put this in here because a lot of people come from the “First Church of the Frigidaire.” There are many people who are a part of the “frozen chosen,” so they get nervous when you start clapping and praising the Lord.
2. A tongue-in-cheek name for a fictitious church whose members are vehemently opposed to the use of spiritual gifts. Vocal advocates of the use of spiritual gifts will label some people as being from this church.
See also *fictitious churches.
1991 Charisma and Christian Life 16/6 8 : Charismatics who joke about “The First Church of the Frigidaire” brand traditional churches as cold and lifeless. 2001 Slaughter, Bird Unlearning Church 109 : I grew up in what might be called the First Church of the Frigidaire because the spiritual climate was so cold. 2005 Witherington The Problem with Evangelical Theology 222 : It is no fun growing up in the first church of the Frigidaire where spontaneity and the Holy Spirit are not allowed to get a word in edgewise, lest we fail to finish the service at the prescribed time! 2011 Miller Eighty Years Behind the Masts 323 : It does not justify the “First Church of the Frigidaire.” Everyone has received at least one spiritual gift. There still should be a robust theology of the Holy Spirit.
3. Syn *Bedside Baptist 2.
First Church of the Water Bed n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
Holy Mattress n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
2008 Bailey Living Well Is the Best Revenge 552 : “Where do you worship? Perhaps we’d like to visit sometime.” “Bedside Baptist, right here,” Nap said, his fist raised in the power sign. “And I faithfully attend Mt. Pillow and Holy Mattress,” Mack said cheekily.
Horizontal Holiness Church n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
2012 Hurtgen World Changers for Christ 30 : The temptation for many students is to simply … not go to church at all while a student. The old joke goes that one attended “Bedside Baptist Church” where “Bro. [=Brother] Sheets” is the pastor and he “covers all the subjects” (or, you may have heard of the “Horizontal Holiness Church”).
Lazy Boy Lutheran n. [From La-Z-Boy ‘a trademarked brand name of a comfortable easy chair’] Syn *Bedside Baptist 2.
Look at TV Lutheran n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 2.
2007 Crayton Lost Sommer 90 : “What church are you attending?” “Bedside Baptist, Pillow Presbyterian, Look at TV Lutheran, and Adore Me A.M.E.” [He was] shocked to hear that she wasn’t attending a local church.
Mattress Methodist n.
1. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
1987 Abraham Hot Trax: Devotions for Girls 111 : You could attend “Bedside Baptist” this Sunday. Or maybe you’ll make it to “Mattress Methodist.” Perhaps you prefer “Posturepedic Presbyterian.” You could even get out of bed and watch four hours of prime-time preaching. 1990 Lockerbie, Fonseca College: Getting In and Staying In 172 : In fact, the standard joke at the cafeteria on Sundays has to do with attending various “churches of rest”—Pillow Presbyterian, Mattress Methodist, Bedside Baptist. 1994 Evans The Victorious Christian Life 66 : Instead, you become a member of Mattress Methodist or Bedside Baptist. Yes, it’s true you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, but you should go to church if you want to be a mature Christian.
2. Someone who habitually misses church; one who regularly “attends” *Mattress Methodist 1.
2009 Samuelson A Bnewarian Fix 87 : “I’m a Mattress Methodist. I was raised and confirmed in the Methodist Church but it didn’t take. I hated church and loved to sleep in.”
Mt. Pillow n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
2008 Bailey Living Well Is the Best Revenge 552 : “Where do you worship? Perhaps we’d like to visit sometime.” “Bedside Baptist, right here,” Nap said, his fist raised in the power sign. “And I faithfully attend Mt. Pillow and Holy Mattress,” Mack said cheekily.
Our Lady of the Greens n. A tongue-in-cheek name for a fictitious church; one “attends” this church by playing golf on Sunday morning instead of going to church.
For more information, see *fictitious churches.
Our Lady of the Pillow n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
1999 Sweet Soul Tsunami 59 : To ask all guests and visitors to stand … in a post-Christendom culture … is likely to drive people to worship at the altar of St. Mattress and to exhibit greater devotion to Our Lady of the Pillow.
Our Lady of the Sheets n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
Pastor Blanket n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
2008 Jenkins Riven 371 : “She wants to know where we’re going to church.” “There’s a surprise. Did you tell her Church of the Inner Spring with Pastor Blanket and Deacon Sheets?” Peter roared [with laughter].
Pastor Pillow n. A fictitious minister whose name is meant to suggest that one slept in on Sunday morning and missed church (note the imagery of bedding in the name: “pillow”).
Similar fictitious names used in the same way are:
*Bishop Pillow;
*Bishop Sheets;
*Brother Sheets;
*Deacon Sheets;
*Pastor Blanket;
*Pastor Sheets;
*Reverend Sheets;
*Sister Sheets.
For more information, see *fictitious churches 1.
1996 Phillips Welcome to the Family: An Introduction to Evangelical Christianity 104 : Unfortunately, the only church many think is necessary for the believer is Bedside Baptist with Pastor Pillow. 2004 Slattery Guilt-Fee Motherhood 89 : We joked about going to “Bedside Baptist” and listening to “Pastor Pillow.” Sunday was just another day to catch up on sleep or studies. 2006 Jenkins Royal Moments of a King 75 : No one has taken note of the fastest growing megachurch of all: “Bedside Baptist” founded by Bishop Sheets and Pastor Pillow!
Pastor Sheets n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
2008 Jobe Blocked Blessings 29 : Bedside Baptist and Pastor Sheets won’t enhance your life; only coming back to the fold will give you true peace.
Pillow Presbyterian n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
1990 Lockerbie, Fonseca College: Getting In and Staying In 172 : In fact, the standard joke at the cafeteria on Sundays has to do with attending various “churches of rest”—Pillow Presbyterian, Mattress Methodist, Bedside Baptist. 1992 Barker Losing Faith in Faith 137 : My religion is to worship at the Temple of the Inner Springs (Pillow Presbyterian). 2007 Crayton Lost Sommer 90 : “What church are you attending?” “Bedside Baptist, Pillow Presbyterian, Look at TV Lutheran, and Adore Me A.M.E.” [He was] shocked to hear that she wasn’t attending a local church.
Pillow Street Presbyterian n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
Posturepedic Presbyterian n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
1987 Abraham Hot Trax: Devotions for Girls 111 : You could attend “Bedside Baptist” this Sunday. Or maybe you’ll make it to “Mattress Methodist.” Perhaps you prefer “Posturepedic Presbyterian.” You could even get out of bed and watch four hours of prime-time preaching. 2012 Witherington A Shared Christian Life 83 : Those worshiping at Bedside Baptist, Posturepedic Presbyterian, or Saint Mattress Methodist, which is to say, staying at home in bed on Sunday.
Reverend Sheets n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
1984 St. Clair Leadership 37 : It would be a lot easier to spend time at the Church of the Inner Spring (mattress, that is) under the warm protection of the Reverend Sheets. 2009 Collier Along the River 55 : One morning Don was asked by one of the college Pharisees why he was not at church. He just smiled and replied, “But I did attend church. I went to the Bedside Baptist where reverend Sheets presided. The Spirit came over me like a blanket!”
Sister Sheets n. Syn *Pastor Pillow.
2004 Perry Email Episodes 154 : My husband and I faithfully take part in the activities at St. Mattress. Sister Sheets and Pastor Pillow are great friends.
Stay-At-Home Baptist n. Sometimes abbreviated SAHB (see 2008 citation).
2008 Burton Suddenly Single 47 : “I haven’t seen you in church lately…. I guess you’ve become a member of the good ol’ SAHB.” … “What’s that?” “Stay At Home Baptist,” he replied. She chuckled. “So who presided—Bishop Pillow?” “Yeah … Deacon Sheets spoke a powerful word.”
St. Arbucks n. Pronounced Saint Arbucks. [A respelling of the word Starbucks ‘a trademarked brand name of a chain of coffeeshops’ to make it resemble a saint’s name such as might appear in the name of a church] A humorous, tongue-in-cheek name for a Starbucks coffee shop or any coffee shop.
One “attends” St. Arbucks simply by going to Starbucks. Thus a Christian might quip: “I didn’t see you at church this morning because I was at St. Arbucks.”
For more information, see *fictitious churches.
2005 Fischer Confessions of a Caffeinated Christian: Wide-Awake and Not Alone 114 : I actually have heard of a group of guys who treat their local Starbucks like a church, gathering there weekly to fellowship, study the Bible, and pray. That’s how they came up with this new name: St. Arbucks. Sounds like a mainline church, doesn’t it? 2008 O’Deens Abs of Faith 000 : They can meet in the local diner, at St. Arbucks. (Some might know it better as Starbucks, but it is amazing how many spiritual conversations and spiritual fitness habits have been conducted over a great cup of Java!)
St. Other Side of the Pillow n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
For more information, see *fictitious churches.
Television Tabernacle n. Syn *Bedside Baptist 2.
See also *electronic church.
1986 The New Yorker LXII. 152 : An evangelist [is] financing a “television tabernacle.” 2004 Wright God’s Vision or Television 60 : “Bedside Baptist” and “Television Tabernacle” can never be substitutes for the gathering together with other believers that is seen in the New Testament church of Acts 4.
Temple of the Inner Springs n. Also: Temple of the Inner Spring. Syn *Bedside Baptist 1.
For more information, see *fictitious churches.
1992 Barker Losing Faith in Faith 137 : ’Cause my religion is to worship at the Temple of the Inner Springs (Bedside Baptist).

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