IMPORTANT NOTE: The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog is devoted to peaceful, nonviolent opposition to Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the so-called Religious Right in the United States. We believe that written and spoken words alone are sufficient, powerful, and effective means for opposing fundie wickedness in all of its many forms. We completely and totally reject any current or future call from the American public to settle religious and faith differences by means of physical violence.
On this blog, we often use the noun or adjective term fundie (or fundies) to refer to Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism or Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. It is not used in a pejorative or expletive sense in order to demean these belief systems or the individuals who adhere to them. It is used strictly as an abbreviation to save time, wear on typing fingers, and the tediousness of having to write out such long primary terms repeatedly. No offense is intended by their use.
The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog is a free public service designed to educate and enlighten the American people. It is not a money-making operation, and it has zero monetary or material assets.
The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog is an opinion center devoted to open criticism of Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the so-called Religious Right in the United States. Why are we so critical of them? Here are just a few among many good reasons:
(1) Most Americans believe Christian fundamentalism was born in the American South because they have seen so many fat-bellied fundie preachers with southern accents on television. However, as a matter of historical fact, the American South was not the birthplace and cradle of Christian fundamentalism. Christian fundamentalism was actually born and raised in the American northeast (New Jersey) and in the states bordering on the Great Lakes—all about 100 years ago. From there it diffused outwards over time to California, the American South, and other areas of our nation.
From its beginnings in the early 20th century, the Christian fundamentalist movement declared itself to be in a state of bitter, open, militant ideological warfare with all nonfundamentalist denominations, churches, and individuals. Christian fundamentalists considered all of these nonfundie denominations, churches, and individuals to be apostate. The fundies used the term apostate to describe all human beings and organizations who they felt had denied what they regarded as the “true” Christian faith.
In their minds, this “true” Christian faith was the highly exclusive Christian fundamentalist belief system. In effect, these fundies concluded that any so-called “Christian” at odds with their belief system was an enemy of God, and any enemy of God was an enemy of theirs, too. Henceforth, anyone who claimed the Christian faith, but did not comply precisely with every stipulation in the fundie belief system, was considered to be a fake Christian, a pretender, a hopelessly deluded soul, a person inexorably bound to spend eternity in Hell.
Who were these so-called enemies of God? They were the sincere disciples of Jesus Christ who were members of numerous well-known Christian denominations. Just one such example was The Methodist Church [now The United Methodist Church (UMC) (Figure 1)]. Today the UMC is the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States—right after the Southern Baptist Convention churches.
Figure 1. A Common Target of Christian Fundamentalist Hatred
From the unique fundie perspective, the additional enemies of God included the following denominations and their many millions of members here at home and around the world: Roman Catholic Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopal Church (U.S.), Anglican Church (U.K.), United Church of Christ, Congregational Church, Quaker Church, Northern Baptist Church, American Baptist Church, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Greek Orthodox Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church, and numerous others of the approximately 44,000 Christian denominations on planet Earth.
Simply put, Christian fundamentalists considered themselves to be God’s exclusive soldiers in a militant religious war against all the rest of Christianity on planet Earth and against all of the sinful men and women on Earth (with the fundies often talking and behaving as if they themselves somehow did not stand within that same circle of sin as all other human beings.) The scripture at 1 John 1:8 calls out this fundie conceit for the bold-faced lie it actually is.
This hate-filled fundie war against the rest of Christendom still goes on today. Nowadays, fundies give passive lip service to their own sinfulness, but in their militant, assertive, and aggressive behavior toward outsiders, they still regularly send out a subliminally clear message that plainly says:
You are all sinners. We have enumerated your many sins on this list. Unlike you, we are nearly sinless. In all matters of faith, we and we alone please God. We have……………..arrived. We are still fighting against you, and we are coming after you in order to assimilate you into the Fundie Collective—and if you refuse to assimilate, we shall apply measures to coerce you into assimilation.
(2) American Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are obsessed with three things:
- Hell—or at least their unique version of it.
- An incessant fear of this Hell.
- A low-down view of God the Father, his essential nature, and what He is really like.
What is the unique fundie conception of Hell? Let us put it like this. If your sweet, kind, and loving little Greek Orthodox daughter Jennifer died on her 12th birthday, and she had not honestly said the famous fundie Sinner’s Prayer, the fundies believe God judged her spiritual body, found it guilty, and rendered her spiritual body capable of feeling exquisitely high levels of physical pain. God then made her spiritual body unable to be damaged or destroyed, unable to go unconscious, and unable to ever die. Then the Heavenly Father threw your little Jennifer with great anger and disgust into the raging fires of Hell—and your little daughter Jennifer—right now this very minute—is experiencing the same thing the T-1000 liquid metal robot experiences near the end of the short video clip (below)—with one important difference—this agony will continue on without any rest for poor little Jennifer throughout all eternity. For billions and billions of trillions of years into the future, little Jennifer will be continually in this agony without any rest or reprieve. (Click on the video clip below and drag the red time ball to 1:48 to get a taste of little Jennifer’s agony in fundie Hell.)
Fundie Hell is What Happens to the T-1000 Liquid Robot
This fundie vision of Hell is the primary reason so many Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are scared to death of God rather than being deeply in love with God—because only a stark, raving-mad monster would punish a human soul like little Jennifer—or any other kind of human soul for that matter—in this horrifying way for all eternity. An uncle of mine, who was a rare and quite sensible fundie of deep and abiding faith, said it best to me one day when I was a young person:
If God is really like that and He really would do that to a person forever, then no human being, even if saved by grace through Jesus, will ever have a chance of being happy, being treated well, or being dealt with fairly in Heaven. It means Heaven is ruled by a vicious monster who is worse than any depraved criminal who has ever lived on Earth. Any deity who would do something like that to a person for all time has no right to even call himself “God” because He is far worse than even the worst people He is throwing into this Hell of his.
In response to my uncle’s above statement, a typical fundie preacher would correct him by saying:
Why—Hell is one of the greatest evangelistic devices ever invented!!! God knew people would never come to him in large numbers unless he used something horrifying to scare them silly—to make people afraid of him. Here is what you need to understand. You might not like the fact that God would do something so awful to a poor little girl like Jennifer. I do not like it either. I would not do a thing like that to little Jennifer, and neither would you.
However, you have to understand that God’s ways are not our ways. God is not a human being. We often forget that. God is a strange alien being from another dimension or realm of existence, not a cuddly mammal like your momma or a butter puppy.
Whatever God says is right, good, and true—including his own behavior—is right, good, and true—simply because He says it is. God sets the standard and the way things are.
God the father is one really angry, mean-spirited, unkind, unreasonable, murderous, and genocidal entity. He thinks almost nothing about inflicting severe pain, suffering, and death on people, and He waits around hundreds of years to rescue even his own ancient Jewish followers from agonies inflicted on them by evil nations. The writers of the books in the Old Testament have clearly painted this picture of what God is really like and who God really is—from one end of the Old Testament to the other.
It may not be a pleasant picture for us to look at. However, we just have to understand that this is what a perfectly alien and Holy God is like. We have to accept God as He is—not as we want him to be—and cope with him in whatever ways we can find—always being extra careful to follow his many laws to the letter—and live out our lives like walking on egg shells—to avoid sinning, displeasing him, or otherwise upsetting him—and always be looking for new ways to avoid or placate his wrath—for fear of what awful things he will do to us if we fail him in even the slightest way. It’s just that simple.
You know our old-time Christian fundamentalist saying: “A simple gospel for a simple people.” Well, maybe you could also say that we have: “A terrifying God for a terrified people.” We Christian fundamentalist pastors think that’s a good thing.
What our hypothetical fundie preacher says is really——very sad. Based on the Old Testament, it substitutes a low-down human perspective on God the Father for the true God of Love that pervades the New Testament. God wants a person to come to him with a love-filled heart that is also open to God’s love and open to reconciliation—-not because the person is scared out of their wits by God—but rather—because the person loves God and knows that God loves them.
Our hypothetical fundie preacher (above) has a false image of God in his mind, and he is scared to death of his God. I contend that it is humanly impossible for a person to truly love—or respond in true love—to a mean-spirited, hateful, abusive, capricious, genocidal, and murderous God who scares a person out of their wits. No human being in their right mind would or could respond positively and lovingly to a deity who is really like that. Could you respond in true love to a menacing Sadaam Hussein on one of his worst, angriest, and most murderous days?
Mainline Christian scholars who have really studied the subject of Hell in depth, as presented in the Bible, have found it to be a vague and not very well defined matter that is not to be taken literally. The notion of a Hell of eternal torture with fire and excruciating pain, like the one experienced by the T-1000 liquid metal robot and little Jennifer, is a product of the Medieval European imagination run wild—and overlaid on the Bible from outside of it. Moreover, such an extreme Hall of Horrors does not comport with the essential personality and nature of God, as presented by the overall words, deeds, and example of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Take a good look at these two verses from the New Testament, the first from the Apostle Paul and the second from Jesus himself—and see how different they are from what the fundie preacher (above) says:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:1-3).
[Jesus says] Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Matthew 11:28-29).
In other words, as the first verse says, God is like the Jesus of the New Testament, who treats nearly everyone He meets (sinners, unclean lepers, demon-possessed people, and all) with great welcoming, love, and kindness. Indeed, as a favorite Southern Baptist pastor of mine (Dr. Douglas Watterson, formerly of First Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee) once said, and this is a direct quotation:
God is like Jesus. Jesus was God’s answer to the bad reputation the Old Testament writers mistakenly gave to God the Father in the Old Testament. God is like Jesus. God is like Jesus.
Consider that second verse from Jesus too. Does that sound like a life lived stepping carefully on eggshells——-a life lived in continual fear of failures and deeply fearing the certainty of God’s wrathful punishment for those failures? No. It most certainly does not. Knowledge of the perfect love of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit works to cast out such fears so people can find———-wait for it—————-“rest unto their souls.” Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism do not provide their terrified fundie followers with this kind of sustained and truly lasting rest and peace.
(3) Christian fundamentalism fills its devout followers with extraordinarily high levels of sinful spiritual pride and arrogance. They consider themselves to be God’s separated and exclusive “T. I. Double Gr-r-r-r-r-er!!!”—and just like Winnie the Pooh’s Tigger—they are his only ones. They tend to be nice to people when they are trying to woo them into their fundie belief system. However, when people refuse to be further wooed or refuse to convert to their belief system, the white gloves come off, the boxing gloves go on, and these fundies often become just plain mean and nasty.
Their social currency in religious dealings with human beings outside of their own faith circles is incessant conceit, condescension, anger, and hatred. Consequently, in social environments where they are totally free to be their true selves, fundies tend to come across to people as vain, narcissistic, exclusivist, self-righteous, mean-spirited, and filled with hate. Many enjoy demeaning people, being abusive to people, and tearing people to shreds emotionally and psychologically. Bullying and shunning of outsiders who do not follow after the religious tunes they pipe are fairly common. I once knew a highly educated Christian fundamentalist who regularly referred to all nonfundamentalist human beings as mere “worms.” To further illustrate this overall point, check out the following quotation from televangelist Pat Robertson:
“You say you’re supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense, I don’t have to be nice to the spirit of the Anti-Christ.” (The 700 Club on January 14, 1991)
(4) Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are consumed by a focus on the Bible (often the 1611 Authorized King James Version). This includes a ridiculous focus on saving the Bible from destruction—as if mankind had the power to destroy it (Matthew 24:35). It also includes an intense focus on Bible idolatry, Old Testament law, and a mean-spirited Old Testament God who spends nearly all of his time filled with anger at mankind because of its sins. (One would hope God has better things to do with his time than be constantly filled with anger.)
In the eyes of many fundies, God is a spirit that actually exists in human physical form. Indeed, according to my Uncle James, a now deceased fundie-pentacostal preacher, God is a very old-looking man with completely white head hair and a long, white, flowing beard (kind of like Mr. Natural of late 1960s hippie fame) who sits on an actual throne chair in a great stone palace in Heaven. From the fundie perspective, God spends a great deal of his time seeking short-term vengeance against sinners in this life and eternal vengeance against them in the afterlife—all as payback for their sins. In other words, from the fear-filled fundie perspective, God’s four primary characteristics are incessant anger, seeking of vengeance, harsh judgement, and violent retribution. Check it out:
Captain Kirk Meets the God of the Fundies
Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are driven in all they do by an incessant, deeply internalized, jelly-quavering personal fright of this constantly angry and vengeful God—who they claim to love. However, more often than not, they behave as if they are God’s only children, and God is the Great Child Abuser in the sky.
In the fundie mind, despite the loving, all-covering, and saving grace of Jesus Christ, each day in life is a treadmill slog of asceticism and sin avoidance (working hard at making one’s self Holy) in order to placate the rage of this revenge-thirsty God. Why?
Any sin observed by God in the life of a fundie may bring down horrifying punishment upon him or innocent members of his family in this life. Any repetition of sin in the life of a fundie may be regarded as proof positive that he was never saved and never a “true” Christian to begin with—even though he was certain he had been saved by grace through Jesus Christ (Footnote 1). Therefore, just one or two repeated sins on any given day or multiple days could be the factors that condemn a fundie to the fires of Hell forever.
As you can plainly see, incessant FEAR (underline that word) is the central driving force in American fundie religion today. This fear may exhibit itself as conscious fear, unconscious fear, or both. Be careful. I am not talking about Biblical “fear of the Lord” here, which most competent theologians have long interpreted as a “well-mannered respect for God.” I am talking about a consistent and deeply internalized fundie state of continuous fright—like you would have if you came face-to-face with Sigourney Weaver’s Alien. In response to this fright, the primary job of the fundies here on Earth is to do the following:
(A) Get and keep themselves saved from God’s incessant anger and vengeful wrath.
(B) Avoid God’s punishment upon them and their families in this life.
(C) Save other people from God’s rage-filled vengeance.
Of course, the final rage and vengeance is the apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. The fundies expect this final spell of rage to be similar to God’s many Old Testament fits of rage and the inevitably withering salads of genocide, death, and destruction that always came with them.
The tunnel-vision-like fundie focus on evangelism (above all other things) is to provide a means of escape from God’s rage and vengeance. It is viewed as an Emergency Rescue Operation implemented under severe time constraints—because they believe we live in the last few remaining days of the end times:
You gotta believe in the Bible and Jesus exactly the way I do—right now—and get down to my church—or one just like it—before it’s too late—before the world ends tonight!!!
Because of their fear-soaked belief in a capricious God of incessant rage, vengeance, and violent retribution, they tend to minimize the importance of the God of Love that pervades the New Testament. To them, love consists of one thing—and one thing only—the God-provided opportunity for a few contrite human souls to get saved from Heavenly Daddy’s final fit of rage and the boiling fires of Hell (that awful closet Daddy stuffs the naughty children into to torture them with fire and skin-melting pain for all eternity).
In Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical minds, this emergency rescue operation is the end of God’s love—and very close to the end of any responsibility they have for being loving toward their fellow man. If some poor man freezes to death in the gutter on a cold winter night, who really cares? The only really important thing was to get him a quick fire insurance policy before he died. Little true love. Little real compassion. Even less kindness and mercy—and except for a little passing lip service and minimalist action—screw those Jesus loved and called the least of these—and show you really mean it by voting a straight Republican ticket in every election for the rest of your life.
(5) Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do not trust facts, as a matter of faith, and in so doing, they place a high religious value and a high personal value on ignorance and the spreading of ignorance to the rest of mankind. They often believe falsehood is truth and truth is falsehood. In their peculiar little world, if they believe the Bible says 2 + 2 = 5, then henceforth 2 + 2 = 5.
In particular, they despise scientific facts that do not agree with their fundie theology—all the while falsely claiming that Christian fundamentalism has no theology. (Yes, I have actually seen fundies make this stupid claim.) Many fundies believe the Earth is only 5,000 to 10,000 years old. Biological evolution never happened. Dinosaurs and humans lived on Earth at the same time and played together. Psychiatry and clinical psychology are often believed to be tools of Satan. There is no such thing as man-induced global warming. In astronomy, they believe the big bang never happened, and the speed of light changes over time. They claim geological and C-14 dating methods do not work because radioactive decay rates changed wildly over past time. Satan established the United Nations to become the future throne of the Anti-Christ and his one-world government. Therefore, the United States needs to defund and pull out of the United Nations to deny him a throne. The ignorance and stupidity get far worse.
Just to show you how far this pathetic love of ignorance has gone, the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical faction on the Texas State Board of Education (TSBOE) has introduced the idea into Texas K-12 textbooks that the Biblical patriarch Moses was a founding father of the United States of America. Yes, you read that correctly—George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and Moses. Furthermore, they have tried to incorporate into the state K-12 curriculum the notion that historically disgraced former Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), a publicly disgraced bully and political witch hunter of the 1950s, was a great man Texas school children should all admire. Moreover, this fundie faction on the TSBOE has tried to implement the idea that African-American slavery had very little to do with causing the American Civil War (1861-1865). Do you believe that piece of fundie nonsense? Check out the truth by clicking the highly conservative source here.
The following video interview with a former Calvinist evangelical and co-founder of the Religious Right, who is still a strong disciple of Jesus Christ and is now a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, puts this whole matter into appropriate and truthful perspective:
Important Note about the Above Video: The fundies who come here try to keep people from watching this video by turning off the hidden controls for the audio portion of the feed. If there is no sound after you click PLAY, please place your cursor arrow on the little video screen and look at the bottom of it. You will see a speaker symbol. If it is crossed out, just click on it to turn the sound back on. If there is no cross-out on the speaker symbol, look to its immediate right and use your cursor to drag the little white ball all the way to the right. Either one or both should give you plenty of sound.
Fundies have a totalitarian dictator mindset, and they love to keep people like you in the dark by censoring truth. Their action with the audio portion of this video is a perfect example of how they use trickery, lies, and deceit to operate and keep you in the dark.
(6) Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals often go out of their way to harm and punish people they disagree with. Nowhere is this imposition of harm and punishment more evident than in the current controversies over LGBTQ civil rights.
This was brought home to me in spades on one of my favorite Christian blogs where the owner asked the mothers of LGBTQ children to write in and share their experiences with their LGBTQ children in church. Many of the mothers who wrote in to the blog were current or former members of Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches. Readers were moved to tears by their stories, and I was (quite frankly) shaken to the core by their revelations. One might expect the church leadership and its members to have rejected the LGBTQ child alone—and leave it at that. But no, the mothers often reported that their entire family was disgraced and shunned while still in the church—shunned for failing to raise Godly children—but never mind that these gay children were raised in these fundie churches. Church members who had been close friends of family members for decades would withdraw and no longer have anything to do with the family—and we are not just talking about one or two people here. Judgement and enforcing that judgement by social sanction and harsh punitive action were the name of the game.
Children in these churches who discovered they were LGBTQ at puberty were incessantly hounded, harassed, and bullied. Some fell into deep mental illness and committed suicide under the pressure. In short, the church leadership and church members made the lives of LGBTQ children a living Hell until the whole family had no choice but to leave the church. Self-righteous fundie fathers disowned their gay sons and daughters—and kicked them out into the streets to fend for themselves. Children who could no longer take the incessant pressure to tow the fundie religious hard line and be perfect ran away from home because the only other choice they could see was suicide. Judgement, condemnation, shunning, and other harsh punitive actions were everywhere—and the New Testament love and mercy of Jesus Christ were nowhere to be found in the tragic stories told by these numerous fundie mothers of LGBTQ children.
(7) Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals think they know how to do things better than God does, and if He will just get off his Heavenly throne for a few minutes and let them sit on it in his place, they will show him a thing or two about how the universe ought to be run!!!
In the Bible God makes it clear that he gives human beings a free choice to believe in Jesus or reject him. With regard to human behavior, God gives people a free choice to obey him or disobey him. That is not good enough for Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals. They want things done their way instead. For the past 45 years, they have been working extremely hard day and night at the federal, state, and local levels to take over elected government offices and government institutions so they can use their legal authority, police power, and military power to force the American people as a whole to believe in God exactly as they dictate (i.e., force them to become Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals) and force them to behave in their everyday lives exactly as the fundies dictate.
Christian fundamentalists have a totalitarian dictator mindset that is anathema to the principles of human free will and free moral agency God established at the foundation of the world and has maintained throughout human history. It is also anathema to the principles of our free representative democracy as crystallized in the minds of our American founding fathers, set forth in the U.S. Constitution, and recorded in the annals of American history.
The sin of Eve in the Garden of Eden parable was not disobedience to a command of God, as the fundies so wrongly state. That was only a symptom of a much deeper original sin. If you will read the Biblical text more carefully in the Book of Genesis, you will see that the true root sin was Eve’s desire to be like God, and she bit into the forbidden fruit to achieve that end. The disgusting and unAmerican lust for politico-religious power in Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals—and their long-term aim to misuse and abuse such power to get what they want—indicates that they too have taken a bite out of Eve’s forbidden fruit so they can one day obtain enough power to play God. Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are dangerous people. They have to be stopped by peaceful, moral, and legal means before they gain enough worldly power to commit unspeakable acts of evil on the Earth in the name of Jesus Christ.
(8) Christian fundamentalism is not original, 1st century, orthodox Christianity as the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals falsely claim. Any well-educated Christian theologian or church historian who knows the full width and depth of Jewish theology, Christian theology, and church history around the world knows that claim is preposterous. Christian fundamentalism is a recent, homegrown, American tater founded in the United States in the early 20th century. Christian fundamentalism as an organized movement is only about 100 years old.
In effect, Christian fundamentalism asks the American people to believe that Jesus totally abandoned his bride (the church) for 1,900 years. Then, only 100 years ago, a few theological rutabagas found her wandering alone, wounded, and dazed in some forest; patched up her wounds; and gave her back to Jesus in a newly revised form that captured how she was originally intended to look on her wedding day with Jesus in the 1st century A.D. That is 100 years of very recent fundie history and fundie spiritual arrogance against 1,900 years of overall church history. There is that sinful fundie spiritual pride again—and their refusal to face simple facts.
Christian Fundamentalism vs Conservative Evangelicalism?
On this blog, we often use the terms Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism—combining these two subterms. We have a very good reason for doing this. Conservative evangelical churches have very much in common with Christian fundamentalist churches, including their ridiculous belief in Biblical inerrancy and a primarily literalist reading of scripture—to name just a couple. Moreover, the leadership and members of conservative evangelical churches have bought deeply into many of the neofundamentalist religious, social, and political beliefs that accompanied the Christian fundamentalist resurgence in the United States, which began circa 1970. Today they are like two peas in the same pod, separated by only a modicum of distance as set forth in the following blog article by a former (well-educated and highly knowledgeable) Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) pastor with 25 years of preaching experience (Figure 2). Please click on the safe blue link below and give it a read:
Figure 2. Bruce Feeds the Facts to Southern Baptists
Is the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) just a bunch of conservative evangelicals? The position we hold here at the Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog is the same position held today by many former SBC leaders, seminary professors, pastors, missionaries, and church members throughout the United States. In our honest opinion, the hostile Pressler-Patterson takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 was, in its very essence, a takeover by a Christian fundamentalist element that had long laid low and lurked within that organization. The takeover of this once great denomination was, in its pure essence, a Christian fundamentalist takeover. Given the unfortunate path the SBC has traveled over the past 36 years, its dedication to the ridiculous doctrine of Biblical inerrancy, its sell-out to Calvinism, the persistent racism in its congregations, its low-rating of women, and its current association with right wing extremist political ideology, it is our shared opinion that the SBC and its member churches are now easily classifiable as a Christian fundamentalist denomination—in the worst sense of that terminology—and we consider it to be one. In good conscience, we can do no other.
Fundie Spiritual Blindness and Denial of Truth
It goes without saying that most Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals do not like the Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog. Many of them might even try to accuse this blog of being a center of religious hatred, bigotry, and persecution. To the contrary, this blog—and we believe rightly so—adheres to the opinion that any such charge sent our way is a classic example of the old pot calling the kettle black. Why? American history clearly shows that Christian fundamentalism (and to some extent conservative evangelicalism) clearly set the original pattern for American religious militancy, exclusivity, bigotry, and hatred at its own inception in the early 20th century— and even more so during the period from 1970 to 2018. This blog is simply calling out its original and still ongoing evil—and fighting back against it.
Indeed, instead of accusing the kettle of being black, the old Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical pot would do better by listening carefully to the confessional words of Jacob Marley’s ghost in the famous Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol:
I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you [Ebenezer]? Or would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It was full and heavy and as long as this seven Christmas Eves ago. You have labored on it since. It is a ponderous chain. Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable, but he could see nothing.
With regard to themselves, many Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are just like Sergeant Schultz in the old CBS-TV comedy series Hogan’s Heroes (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Poster Child for Fundie Spiritual Blindness
The fundies specialize in picking apart, accusing, judging, and condemning all of mankind on a daily basis, but they almost never stand in front of a full-length mirror to see their own grave sins, foibles, errors, and failures. Indeed, chafing under the back-breaking weight of Old Testament law, fabricated New Testaments laws, preacher rules, and rot docterns, they make it from one day to another in life by psychologically blinding themselves to their own sins, imperfections, and failures. Why?
It is psychologically necessary for them to do this. Acute awareness of these sins in persistent human consciousness would crush their hearts and souls into mere juice. Therefore, taking the cue from Sergeant Schultz, they choose to psychologically know nothing about the evil hearts that reside within themselves. This frees up all of their energy to concentrate on the sins of their fellow man so they can spew their vitriol and venom onto nonfundie Christians and nonbelievers. As a result, the fundies alienate other Christians and chase nonbelievers away from Jesus—rather than drawing them to him. Thus, it can be said honestly that Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals are two of the biggest atheist, agnostic, and “nones” creators on this Earth.
The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog sets a full-length mirror in front of Christian fundamentalists, conservative evangelicals, the Religious Right, and their two precious “isms” so they and all of mankind can clearly see their narrow mindedness, cold hearts, wickedness, hatred, cruelty, hypocrisy, inconsistencies, errors, foibles, and failures in this life. Moreover, this blog is an old-fashioned, loud, bold, and highly outspoken Christian rebuke of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism. It is also a sound rebuke of their outrageous, heartless, deceiving political love child known as the Religious Right.
The Fundies and President Donald J. Trump
In our honest opinion, the white hot Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical fervor for electing Donald J. Trump President of the United States was a full-on demonstration of just how utterly low-down, undiscerning, spiritually blind, unloving, and corrupt American fundie leaders and their followers have become. Just turn on any news channel (except for Fox News); watch the daily behavior of Mr. Trump (and his evil minions); and ask yourself these four questions:
(1) Is this how a Christ-following person behaves?
(2) Is this how a Christ-following President behaves?
(3) Is this President the kind of person any serious Christian should admire?
(4) Is this the kind of President authentic Christian leaders should support?
We advise you to stay away from the Fox News channel because independent fact-checking organizations have discovered it to be the most highly biased and lie-filled news network on TV. (Click on this article.) The fact that Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals feed on Fox News like mother’s milk fully demonstrates just how spiritually deceived they are and how quickly they run to embrace any lie that will scratch their itching ears and make them feel good (II Timothy 4:3).
Purposes of This Blog
The Flee from Christian Fundamentalism blog is a Christian opinion center targeted at and dedicated to the following:
1) Informing ordinary Americans about the full ideological belief systems of Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the so-called Religious Right.
(2) Describing, denouncing, and rebuking the evils, abuses, oppression, excesses, and harms Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the Religious Right inflict on fundie Christians, nonfundie Christians, and many other Americans—all people God loves so very much.
(3) Encouraging the remaining 12 percent of young adults (high school graduates and college graduates), as well as older adults, to leave their Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches throughout the United States, thereby eventually depopulating both their churches and the so-called Religious Right. The ignorance, bigotry, hatred, spiritual abuse, outright lies, distortions of truth, and concealment of truth in Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the Religious Right cannot continue if there are no people left in the fundie church pews to love ignorance and falsehoods, deceive people, hate their neighbors, and abuse people in the name of Jesus.
(4) Encouraging fleeing Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals to keep their faith in Jesus Christ and realize that the oppressive and abusive fundie brand of Christianity that they grew up under is not the kind of Christian faith that Jesus, his 12 Disciples, the Apostle Paul, and the other 1st century Christian leaders had in mind. Indeed, numerous Christian scholars and pastors who have studied the fundie belief system have called it a counterfeit Christianity. The full, authentic, and undivided Christian faith that most fundies have never experienced beckons them with the following gentle words of Jesus:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
(5) Warning Christian and nonChristian American citizens against joining Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical churches—and letting them know that far less crazy, oppressive, abusive, and downright dangerous church environments are available to them—and show them how to find those warmer, kinder, more loving, and more nurturing churches of Jesus Christ in their geographic areas of the United States.
A Few More Thoughts
A car in the parking lot of my church every Sunday morning once bore a bumper sticker that said the following:
If there had never been a Pearl Harbor, there never would have been a Hiroshima.
In a similar vein, we would like to say clearly and unequivocally that if Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism had never gone hateful, spiritually arrogant, angry, militant, aggressive, hungry for political power, and bereft of love towards the rest of Christianity and the rest of mankind FIRST, this blog would have never been created. This blog and the criticisms on it are simply a direct Mainline Christian response to this long-held hatred, arrogance, anger, militancy, aggression, hunger for political power, and lack of love. This attitude and behavior that permeates fundie America is causing great harm to the fundie people in their own churches and to Christians outside of their churches. Even worse, these attitudes and behaviors are causing great harm to nonChristian men and women throughout the United States because they paint a false picture of Christianity and chase these people away from the love of Jesus Christ.
Famous Christian pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer at first decided to be quiet in the face of Nazi tyranny. He later repented of his silence and worked against this tyranny toward the end of World War II—and he forfeited his life by hanging in a Nazi concentration camp for doing it. Given the courage and commitment to God of men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, can this blog and its owner do anything less than speak out loud in the face of the growing threat of fundie politico-religious tyranny in the United States? A saying often attributed to Irish-born philosopher Edmund Burke reads as follows:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
The owner of this blog does not claim to be a good man. He looks at himself and recognizes many sins, faults, and failures that occur in his life each day. As Jesus said, only God is good. However, as a matter of Christian conscience, the owner of this blog cannot just stand by, say nothing, and do nothing about the outrageous wickedness and excesses of Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, the Religious Right, and all the harm they are causing to ordinary Americans. To do so would make this blog an accomplice in the commission of those evils and excesses. As a result, we feel compelled to speak out about these things and to speak up for the many ordinary Americans who are being hurt and oppressed by militant Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and the Religious Right today. Indeed, even in his own mission statement, Jesus said:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19).
Jesus was always willing to speak up and speak out about the many spiritual and social matters that concerned him as part of his mission on Earth—and he sometimes used very strong actions and harsh words to do it (Matthew 21:12-13 and Matthew 23). This blog can do no less than speak out with a bold voice against the evils and excesses of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism—and all of the pain and hurt they are delivering to our fellow Americans and to the Christian faith.
Recent statistical data gathered and published by traditional, hard-core Christian fundamentalists indicate that a full 88 percent of the children raised in Christian fundamentalist churches (and probably many conservative evangelical churches that share similar beliefs) leave the faith traditions of their youth when they become young adults. Moreover, they never go back to those churches (or churches like them) again for the rest of their lives. That should tell you something!!! Young men and women know when they have not been truly loved in church and when they have not been told the full truth in church—and they want out because of it.
On this blog, those fundie Christians who flee from Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical oppression/bondage are very much encouraged to keep their faith in Jesus Christ. They are encouraged to transfer their membership and attendance to different churches of their choice that are neither Christian fundamentalist nor conservative evangelical in nature. This will allow them to worship God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit in both spirit and truth in a positive, uplifting atmosphere of genuine love, calm, peace, compassion, and mercy. These new churches should take the Bible seriously—but avoid turning it into an inerrant, internally consistent, literally read idol. (Bible idolatry is just as bad as any other kind of idol worship.)
Plant New Churches Centered on Jesus and His Love
If no such churches are already available in your area of the United States, this blog encourages you and some Christian friends of like mind to get together and establish new and independent churches that are not sold out to Christian fundamentalism, conservative evangelicalism, and creeping Calvinism. These churches are envisioned to put faith in the persons of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit at the center of the church—not in the hideous human lie of an inerrant, internally consistent, and literally read Bible. Once again, these churches should take the Bible seriously without turning it into an idol and without pretending that it is God or Jesus. The Bible is not the Father, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit. The Father is the Father. Jesus is Jesus. The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit. Got that? These new churches should be places that focus primarily on the following:
(1) Repentance of sin and God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ his only Divine Son our Lord—by a process of teaching and confirmation—rather than using Sunday church to stage highly dramatic, emotion-charged, fear-soaked, hillbilly-cornball re-enactments of 19th century, funeral-home-fan, sweat-soaked-clothing tent revivalism.
(2) Love for God—based on the words and deeds of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. As an old, highly educated, and distinguished Southern Baptist minister once emphasized to me. The Jesus of the New Testament was God’s answer to the bad reputation the Old Testament writers wrongly gave him. (Note: We are not advocating Marcionist heresy here. We are simply saying that Jesus Christ and his New Covenant must once again become the central core of the church.)
(3) Love of the church members for one another (as Jesus commanded).
(4) Love of the church members for all 7 billion of their neighbors here on Earth (as Jesus commanded).
(5) Implementation of The Golden Rule daily in one’s own household and with all people (as Jesus commanded).
(6) Encourage people to behave kindly and lovingly in their own workplaces (Footnote 2). What a person learns in church on Sunday morning must not stay in church. It must walk out the church door and have a positive, action-based impact on all human life and God’s creation through good works—not good works to earn salvation—but rather a life of constant good works flowing freely and honestly from Jesus-transformed, loving, and caring hearts that want to demonstrate the love of Jesus in action.
(7) Show the love of Jesus Christ by caring for and meeting the needs of those Jesus loved and called the “least of these”—and make it just as important as evangelism—and show it by a 50-50 church budget commitment to both evangelism and consistent physical, mental, and emotional care for the “least of these,” both within the church and in the nonchurch community at large.
(8) Make Part II of the so-called Great Commission just as important as Part I in the life of the church (Matthew 28:16-20). Part II is teaching people the commands of Jesus Christ in the New Testament—and also teaching and emphasizing his many New Testament words and deeds as examples for all Christians to follow in their own lives and in their dealings with their fellow man.
In addition, we believe such new churches should reject the Christian fundamentalist doctrine of extreme separation from all sinners. First of all, such separation is really impossible to do in American society because Christians inevitably rub elbows with nonChristians every day at work, at play, out shopping, etc. We contend that no Christian can truly love his neighbor as himself (as Jesus commanded) while simultaneously and perpetually rejecting and shunning that neighbor because of his or her sins. That is just plain stupid and unloving. The Bible says that all saved Christians are still sinners. Ask the next Christian fundamentalist you meet this question:
How do you manage to practice extreme separation from yourself?
A Final and Disturbing Thread of Truth
Each of the five major world religions has a fundamentalist element or faction operating within its ranks. It is usually a minority element within each of these famous world religions. These minority elements get public attention far in excess of their small numbers of followers because religious fundamentalists tend to be loud and/or violent to get this public attention. Radical Islamic terrorism is just one example of this. Scholars of religion who study the various religious fundamentalisms around the world have noticed many similarities between them. Now, listen closely to my words written below for emphasis:
These scholars have found a single, giant, and compelling thread of truth that runs through the center of every major form of religious fundamentalism on planet Earth. It applies equally to Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Hindu fundamentalism, Buddhist fundamentalism, and all the other forms of religious fundamentalism. This shared thread is a deep-seated and all-pervasive FEAR OF ANNIHILATION that dwells in the hearts of those people who have become fundamentalists. They feel that their traditional religious belief system, their cherished secular subculture (often wrongly conflated with their belief system), and even their own lives are in grave danger of being erased forever from the face of the Earth.
There is both good news and bad news in this. The good news is that some of these fundamentalist religious belief systems are so antiquated, out of touch with reality, and out of touch with the modern world that they are already destined to disappear into the ash heap of history. This will happen simply because they no longer have any significant meaning for the present or the future. The bad news is that assorted fundamentalists tend to forsake peaceful engagement with their fellow human beings for violence when their fear of annihilation reaches a fever pitch.
This is what has happened with Islamic fundamentalism. The superorganic, 1000-foot-high tidal wave of western technological innovation, western cultural innovation, and economic globalism have overwhelmed Islamic fundamentalism. As a result, its eventual annihilation is a near certainty—not by anyone’s willful malice—but simply by the normal passage of time and the normal process of human cultural change that is well understood by cultural anthropologists. ISIS and Al Qaeda are not so much a danger as they are ephemeral symptoms of impending and inescapable religious and subcultural death among those who call themselves Islamic fundamentalists.
With regard to Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism in the United States today, the key question for all Americans is this:
At what point in time will this FEAR OF ANNIHILATION become so intense that IFB Baptists, Southern Baptists, and other Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical religionists begin secretly planning and resorting to terroristic violence against their fellow Americans?
In other words, when will the violent Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical terrorism begin on our own American soil and against our own nonfundie citizens? In our honest opinion, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security, other U.S. Government agencies, state/municipal law enforcement agencies, and the American people need to be vigilant and on constant alert for the breakout of such terrorism now—and going forward in time. This vigilance should be focused on the very real possibility of such homemade terroristic violence on our own soil. Why? Such violence is arising from all of the other major religious fundamentalisms around the world. Therefore, why would it not eventually arise within Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism here at home?
Personally, I suspect it may someday come, and if it comes, I am sorry to say that it may come in the form of a religious civil war similar to the one recently concluded between the Protestants and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland—a religious and subcultural civil war between the Red States and the Blue States. The hatred, racism, bigotry, violence, and just plain nastiness of the Trumpites (including the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups that claim conservative Christianity) over the past two years are more than enough to evoke such concerns.
If such a religious civil war ever comes to American soil, it will be the greatest conflagration since the American Civil War (1861-1865). Millions upon millions of Americans will die as a direct result of it. Spilled blood, destruction, and death will be everywhere. Given their FEAR OF ANNIHILATION, their deep sense of self-righteousness, their extreme stubbornness, their strong commitment to ignorance, and their extraordinary love affair with firearms, let us all pray that American Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals have a little bit of the Holy Spirit still left in them somewhere. Let us pray that this bit of the Holy Spirit will be enough to overcome their intense FEAR OF ANNIHILATION and prevent them from initiating fundie terrorism or a fundie-led religious civil war on American soil.
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Thank you and may God bless you forever through the Love and Grace of his only Divine Son Jesus Christ—our loving Lord and Savior—and the Savior of the world. Love and Peace be with you.
(Footnote 1) In the life of a single Christian fundamentalist or conservative evangelical, it is not at all unusual to find multiple, serial past salvation and baptism experiences that were deemed to be “not real.” This was the case with some of the members in the Southern Baptist Convention church where I was a member in the 1980s. The last instance of being truly saved was sometimes deemed to have not been truly saved. So, getting saved and the afterwards baptism had to be done over, and over, and over again until a person “got it right.” Moreover, if a person was baptized before they got saved, they were often encouraged to be baptized again to “get the order right.”
I have read eyewitness accounts of anxiety-ridden fundie church members who had already been saved and baptized four or five times. After yet another highly negative, fire and brimstone Sunday sermon designed to tear people down and frighten people out of their wits, they stumbled down the aisles of the church sanctuary on their knees, trembling all over, and bawling like stabbed babies to get saved and baptized for the fifth and sixth times. This kind of abusive nonsense in any church is just plain crazy!!!
This brings up an unconscious theme that seems to be common in the minds of individual fundie pewsitters—a theme the fundies would no doubt vigorously deny out of pure fear. That unconscious theme is the perception that the grace provided by Jesus Christ is fickle, weak, and not always effective—meaning not having enough power to “stick to” the fundie believer and do its appointed job the first time. Yes. Fundie pastors do indeed preach quite a lot about the all-powerful and all-covering grace of Jesus Christ. However, as a matter of practical daily perception and experience, that is often not the case in the minds of the fundie pewsitters. A dual matter that goes hand-in-hand with this theme is the unconscious fundie perception that the power of the Holy Spirit is weak and ineffective in the everyday lives of individual fundie believers. Indeed, it has often been my perception that Christian fundamentalism low-rates the power of the Holy Spirit for doing anything else outside of aiding understanding of scripture and providing comfort to believers.
(Footnote 2) Many American business owners, managers, supervisors, foremen, and workers sit in their church pews on Sunday morning and piously take in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible. They nod in full agreement with them. On Monday morning, many of these same so-called Christians enter the doors to their workplaces and immediately turn into Satan in the Flesh. Many Christian business owners and managers abuse their employees, lie to them, cheat them, ignore their safety, place nearly impossible work loads on their backs, and treat them badly in so many different ways. What is their lame excuse? It is the usual:
Well, this is business. You know—business. There’s no room for Jesus and being good to people in here. Business and the demands of business are different. It is cut-throat and dog-eat-dog in here and out there in the business world—and making money—no matter what it might entail—is the only goal. Money is the only God in the business world, and we have to play the game that way. It’s just how the game is played!!!
No!!! It is not supposed to be that way. Jesus expects each and every one of you to take what you learn about Jesus, his words, and his deeds on Sunday morning at church and take that into the workplace each day (365 days per year) and implement it within yourself and among all of your workers. You do unto your employees as you would have them do unto you—in all things. Jesus expects you to treat your workers respectfully, kindly, and lovingly—and look out for their well-being. They are your brothers and sisters on this Earth—and you are indeed their keeper at work. Jesus does not expect you to conform to the evil ways of the business world. He expects you to transform the evil world of business into what Jesus wants it to be—so American business will be a place where the Kingdom of God is at hand.