stone wall photo
Photo By JojoOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

*tap tap tap* Is this thing still on? So…It’s been a while. How is everybody?

Let me start by saying that this is NOT a reboot of SFL. As the last three years have gone by I’ve thought about this blog and all of you with nostalgia and warmth but with no real desire to return to regular writing here. It was fun while it lasted.

So why this post? I’m glad you asked.

A short walk from my house is a fundamentalist church that I sometimes pass by on a quiet Sunday morning and count the six aging cars outside. Six cars — never any more than that but sometimes even fewer. There’s a deceptiveness there in those tiny numbers, a temptation to assume that because the IFB movement continues its slow slouch towards irrelevance that fundamentalism itself is all but dead. Have a care. It is not dead but sleepeth.

Scan a social media feed, listen to a podcast, pick up a newspaper (if you’re of a certain age) and the kinds of behaviors that fundamentalism has long cherished leap off the page. Try as you might, you cannot avoid the yelling white men in the suits and ties. They bully and belittle. They spread fear and lies. They inspire people to the very worst bargains, offering safety in exchange for your son’s inheritance and security in trade for your daughter’s humanity. “If you’re not with us, you’re the enemy,” they say. We can’t all just get along.

It’s all very familiar — but this time Fundyland has gone mainstream, unencumbered now by the outmoded guise of morality or spirituality. It’s plain at last that many evangelicals may have long embraced the right but never righteousness. After all, why be good when you can be great instead? It seems that the proffered pottage of a little power is all it takes to steal the birthright of millions of the pious. So it goes. So it has always gone. All that has changed is the pretense.

So how then shall we live? What is our way of being in the world? The same as always, I suppose. Be kind. Speak the truth. Love each other. These things are needed now more than ever. Live them in your community. Encourage them in your friends and family. Vote them whenever possible.

The good news is that we’ve all seen this kind of thing before and we know that eventually it collapses under the turgid weight of its own hubris and avarice. Until then I hope to hear that you all are well. Thank you for everything.

~ Darrell

Heading to Somewhere Else

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Chapter 6)

Eight years ago I started down a road out marked “Out of Here.” Today I’m sitting looking at another sign named “Somewhere Else.” I think it’s better here. Time will tell.

Those eight years since SFL started have brought us 2,075 posts, 12 million visits, and almost 150,000 comments. A lot has happened in that time and we’ve experienced it together.

Yet with all the words written and replied, fundamentalism is not dead — mostly because fundamentalism will never die as long as human beings are what they are. Pride, fear, and greed are the ingredients we all carry with us; fundamentalism just has its own family recipe for the way they mix and serve them.

When Stuff Fundies Like started began to gain popularity about six years ago I told myself that every anniversary I would take stock of my personal motivations and the reasons I kept writing. Today as I sit here I can honestly say that the reasons are all gone.

I haven’t darkened the door of a fundamentalist church (or many other churches) in years. For me, my fundamentalist past has become a fixed point in time, a place I can’t ever really go back to because my personal story has changed and the fundamentalism I knew has changed. The old names and faces have started to fade away even while the methods remain.

The Independent Baptist movement is a shell of its former self. The winds of change are blowing and although you’ll always find IFB churches hiding in the hills and hollers of this land they’re quickly becoming a cultural oddity. Someday they’ll be spoken of in the same breath as the Shakers, Amish, and other breakaway sects who stood still while time marched on.

As for me, I’m continuing my journey to Somewhere Else which means moving on from here. The SFL archives will remain but (unless something unforeseen occurs) this will be my last post here.

The Facebook page and Twitter account will stay live so that I can keep touch with you all if BIG NEWS breaks out in fundyland.

You can also reach me over at darrelldow.com or my writer’s page where I’ve been doing some writing on other topics.

The forum will stay active for as long as I can afford the hosting. If you want to register just drop me a line.

I’m also toying with the idea of compiling a Best Of SFL book with my original pieces in it. If you’d be interested in such a thing let me know.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to thank so very many people who have supported, contributed, encouraged, chided, goaded, and otherwise made this blogging experiment one of the best experiences of my life. SFL took me halfway around the world. It reconnected me with faces I’d all but forgotten. It has brought me so many new friends that time would fail to name them all.

I love you all. I wish you joy.

I’ll leave you with this song that I recently fell in love with that gives a wish that seem so very appropriate for those who’s roads are taking them from Back There past my resting spot on the way to Somewhere Else. “I hope life without a chaperon is what you thought it’d be…and that all your favorite bands stay together.”

A Thanksgiving

The day demanded Thankfulness
So counted I each blessing
Yet oft plagued with Forgetfulness
My short list was distressing

Then I remembered you, my friends
And thought of all you’ve done
Your kindly spirit never ends
To this unworthy one

So at this time that such requires
To friends who’s friendship never tires
As all your kindness I recall
I wish you joy. I love you all.


For years Jeri Massi has been cataloging the abusers and criminals who have plagued Baptist fundamentalism. She pulls no punches and takes no prisoners either on her blog on in her numerous books.

Her latest book, The Big Book of Bad Baptist Preachers: 100 Cases of Sex Abuse of Children and Exploitation of the Innocent, is a sort of rogues gallery of the worst of offenders from Ralph Lee Aaron to Franklin Wray.

Each entry is a couple pages long starting with a grid like this one:


It’s worth pointing out that Jeri not only keeps tabs on the legal sentence but also catalogs whether the accused was disciplined by his church and whether a public warning was put out to other churches about their crimes This chart is then followed by a narrative with background and details about their particular case.

I’d recommend that any Baptist church out there grab a copy of this and compare the names to the people who may be attending their conferences, running camps their kids attend, or (God forbid) teaching or preaching at their own church. If you’re an abuser, you can run across state lines to a new church but Jeri is trying hard to make sure that you won’t be able to hide the truth for long.

I did get a free copy of this book from Jeri for promotional purposes but the review is my own — so back off, FTC.

Bring Them In

In Sunday school many years ago, I heard the tales of the missionaries of olden days and my heart was awed by their bravery and their sacrifice. They suffered disease, famine, shipwreck, and death at very hands of the people they went to reach.

We were inspired. We were delighted. “Anywhere with Jesus,” we would sing, “I may safely go.”

Unless, of course, that place is Walmart in my hometown and I may see Syrian refugees there.

Here’s what confuses me to no end: when did American fundagelicals become so very timid in their faith that the prospect of importing an entire new mission field to evangelize in their own back yards is something to fear and dread? When did Bring them In turn to Please Keep them Out?

The Christian missionaries we revered went half a world away to reach these self-same souls. Perhaps the point all along was that these people were heroic in going out to save us the trouble of having the world come in instead.

Or darker yet, perhaps some people just aren’t considered to be worth saving.

A silly blog dedicated to Independent Fundamental Baptists, their standards, their beliefs, and their craziness.