by Charles S. Garabedian
All you Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals out there need to take a close look at the article below and the statistics in it. This article was published today in The Washington Post. You may read it here:
Good news and bad news are present in this article. The bad news is that Christianity among whites in the universal church is declining in the United States. The good news is that white fundie churches are in decline and fast approaching the low numbers they once used to taunt the shrinking mainline Christian denominations. The taunter of the past is fast becoming the tauntee. Moreover, the fundies will find it increasingly difficult to self-righteously separate themselves from their sinful neighbors because the only persons left to talk with in the future will be…well… their sinful neighbors. These fundies have always feared and dreaded being a tiny handful of “true” Christians left in an American pot boiling over with the vilest sinners and apostates one can imagine—like those awful women who show their navels at the beach. That day is fast approaching.
Cheer up fundies. You have evangelicalism—you know—the only big word you ever learned. You can do two things about your declining fundie church membership:
(1) You can evangelize the ever-swelling ranks of the unchurched and apostates—but a lot of those people are your former church members. You know—the people whose shoulders you loaded down with soul-destroying legalistic burdens, treated mean, and pissed on for years. Do you really think they will be coming back? Do you really think all the outsiders you have pointed fingers at and condemned to Hell will be showing up to hug you in the midst of your tears? You know what Jesus said. You reap what you sow—and man—you fundies have spent the last 100 years sowing the seeds of nastiness in the fields of your fellow men—and your bitter harvest is already upon you.
2) You may be able to slow down the emigration of people out of your fundie churches. That means focusing on the children still left in your churches and getting them to stay. You already know the only tools that can possibly work. You have said it so many times. All you have to do is beat your fundie children bloody with your right doctrines. Double-down, triple-down, and quadruple down on them with your children. Show them how much you care for them by giving them hundreds of Biblical laws and man-made rules to obey—and continue giving them as little true love as possible. When your children fail, all you have to do is take out that Old Testament rod and beat the red juice out of them—only harder than usual next time. When your children have a major church-related concern and need to talk to a kind and understanding adult—do what you have always done—turn a deaf ear to them—and be more cold, stern, and distant with them next time. Foist tons of factual ignorance upon your children, and tell them it is God’s own truth. “That old teacher down at the schoolhouse!!! What does she know?” Tell your children that compassion is wrong and that true Christian love is all about being angry, tough as nails, and mean-spirited with people, “and little honey, the only reason daddy and mommy treat you like shit is because we love you.” All of this is almost sure to keep your children in your fundie churches—right?
This post ends by recalling my acquaintance, Douglas Frank, who taught for many years at The Oregon Extension. Doug was a recovering fundie. In a conversation with a former student of his (Rev. Randall Balmer), Doug saw only one hope for the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals in the United States. He envisioned all American fundies falling on their knees in anguish and crying out to God:
Forgive us Lord for we are sorry bastards!!! Forgive us Lord for we are sorry bastards!!! Forgive us Lord for we are sorry bastards!!!
The message is simple. You fundies have a 100-year-long and very widespread reputation for being sorry bastards. It is a direct result of how you mistreat people. The only way you can save your churches is to repent of being sorry bastards, reform your churches, and clean up how you interact with your fellow men and women. If you do not—then all is lost.