Whenever another few days have passed and some fresh new scandal breaks in fundamentalism, someone inevitably expresses the hope that this time will the the Final Straw that breaks the back of institutional power. Perhaps this time the church will either mend its ways or be forced to close its doors. Maybe this horrific thing will cause the school to change its policies and soften its stance. Maybe. Perhaps. Hopefully.
I confess that sometimes I’m hopeful too when some fresh new wave of truth crashes against the shaking foundations of fundyland. But my expectation is never that the entire system will collapse but rather that a few more will open their eyes. My constant hope is for a few remaining righteous to be vexed in their souls enough to to flee and leave those wretched churches and schools to slowly crumble. Empty pews not empty pulpits will signal the end of their era for there will always be hirelings looking for a flock.
The great truth is that fundamentalism exists because people need it in the same way that a junkie needs his dealer. With as far to the fringe as fundyland has moved, most of the people who remain are simply not strong enough to survive outside of the walls that lock them in. They perversely crave judgment and delight when they have the chance to judge others. They rely on the rules and rulers to tell them what to think and say and do. Even their basic instinct to defend themselves and their families has been subverted to The Cause. They will stay no matter what happens. They will continue on no matter what evil is exposed in their midst. They must still be in the right. God must still be on their side. How could it be otherwise? The truth is too terrible to contemplate.
There will be no fireworks to signal the end of fundamentalism. No banners will be raised nor conquering anthems sung. These churches and schools who have done such harm will meet their end in rust not flame. And as the final few sit surrounded by that decay the last of the fundamentalists will scream to the world that they are still winning even as their world crumbles around them.
But be of good cheer. Though the time has not yet come to see the end of the IFB age, we do not despair. “Ichabod” is writ large above their doors and the blight is creeping in. God may perhaps grant some a measure of repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. And we’ll be here to help bind up the wounds of those who escape.
The end is not yet but the end is ever nearer.