Charles S. Garabedian
Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals speak a unique code language of their own creation. Those inside the fundie system are well aware of the code words that comprise this language and what they mean. Outsiders who do not know this code language can be misled by it. The fundies are well aware of this simple fact, and when convenient for their own purposes, they use this code language to deceive people outside of their own ranks. Nowhere is this code language more evident than in their use of the word Christian.
Most people around the world would define a Christian as a person who adheres to the basic tenets of the Christian faith and is a dedicated follower and emulator of Jesus Christ in his or her daily life. If asked for more information, they would probably rattle on about membership in various Christian denominations and churches around the world.
These people would be surprised to learn that Christian fundamentalists and many conservative evangelicals define who is and who is not a Christian quite differently. In the fundie mind, a “true” Christian is a person who has accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord; a person who believes in the famous list of five or nine so-called fundamentals of the Christian faith; and a person who adheres to various other pieces of layered on fundie doctrines. For example, over the years, I have had assorted fundies tell me that a person must believe every word of an inerrant and literally read Bible (Authorized KJV) before they can be saved and be a “true” Christian. In their usual all or nothing thinking, the fundies equate any alternative understanding of even one word or one verse in the Bible as a rejection of all the other words in the Bible. Therefore, if a person has an alternative interpretation of a word or verse, they cannot possibly be a “true” Christian.
The term “true” Christian implies the existence of an “untrue Christian.” Christian fundamentalists and many conservative evangelicals believe they are the only real Christians on planet Earth, and everyone outside of their ranks who claims to be a Christian is nothing more than a faker or pretender. The word they use to label such people and their churches is apostate. Most of the fundies I have ever known delight in any available opportunity to wallpaper a person or a church with that word—and they are often very mean spirited and downright nasty when they do it.
Many of you fine readers just said:
Well, I had no idea the fundies believed such things, but it does not bother me because I feel sure they would accept my excellent Presbyterian USA credentials.
No. You do not understand. As far as the fundies are concerned, you are a member of an apostate church, meaning a church that never was a follower of Jesus or a church that has abandoned the “true” Christian faith and is now an enemy of God. From the fundie perspective, that is all other churches on planet Earth except their own fundie churches. If you are member of a United Methodist Church, Disciples of Christ Church, Quaker Church, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Church, United Church of Christ, Lutheran Church, Presbyterian Church USA, American Episcopal Church, Anglican Communion Church, Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church (list of legitimate and often well-known churches goes on and on and on and on), then you cannot possibly be a “true” Christian. Instead, you are an enemy of God and all that is Holy—and you are going to burn in Hell forever because you are not a “true” Christian like the fundies.
The Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are reasonably certain you, I, and the rest of the American public do not understand the key elements of their unique code language. This gives them an opportunity to use their code language deceitfully on the American stage. For example, if a hot button issue such as transgender restroom use arises, it is not at all unusual to see a fundie pastor, speaker, or writer say something along these lines in an article, public speech, or news media interview:
An awful sin has befallen this great land of ours—this America we love. It is up to us Christians to put an end to this sin and reclaim our great nation for the Lord. Christians all over America are rising up in strong opposition to this sinful transgender restroom law that is now being proposed.
Did you catch the part that says: “…Christians all over America are rising up…”? Upon closer examination, one will usually find that Christians all over America are not rising up. Instead, groups of fundies here, there, and yonder are rising up and making a lot of noise far in excess of their numbers and actual power. In the above statement, our imaginary fundie writer or speaker is using his knowledge of fundie code language to deceive the American public and the news media into believing that every fundie church (and every nonfundie church they despise) have by some great miracle come together as blood brothers and are now like-minded and united in opposition to the proposed law. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth!!! Just like a blow fish can puff itself up to more than twice its body size when faced with a threat to its existence, the fundies cleverly use the code language term “Christian” to falsely puff up their own numbers and power in the face of a perceived threat to their belief system. I have seen the fundies do versions of this many times in various media.
I am not going to mince words anymore here. The bottom line fact of the matter is this—plain and simple. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals use various elements of their unique code language to deceive the American people and tell lies to the American people.