Keeping up Appearances

A recent conversation with a fellow graduate of my Fundy U reminded me of a particularly striking metaphor for the real priorities in fundamentalism. If you were to stand in front of the Administration building of that institution you couldn’t help but notice a striking set of palm trees, straight and tall. This isn’t in itself surprising because the palm is the symbol the college, a testament to their marketing strategy of “fun in Florida.” Like most things at that college, however, there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

Those who pay attention will notice that when the weather gets cold (and it does occasionally do that even in Florida) the severely underpaid ground staff will be seen scrambling to put heater blankets on these trees to keep them alive. You see, the trees aren’t native to Florida. They’re imports from far, far away bought and shipped at great cost and they were chosen for their looks not their resilience or their authenticity.

I can’t help but think of how much those palm trees reflect the goals that fundamentalists so often seem to have. Look good. Be beautiful. Spare no personal cost. Do whatever it takes no matter how impractical. And if all else fails, fake it if you have to.

If only they cared enough about their students to offer them an emotional warm blanket when the spiritual cold sets in.

183 thoughts on “Keeping up Appearances”

  1. So how’s a fundie college student like a palm tree? They don’t branch out until they leave the grounds.

  2. I remember often hearing, “what will others think?”

    Visited my Fundy grandparents for Easter. That evening the choir was singing their cantata. Grandma and Grandpa spent 10 minutes discussing if they should take their Bibles. I asked why take them if their isn’t a sermon. The reply was, “what will people think, as they drive by, and we don’t have our Bibles? They might think we don’t think it is important.” They took their Bibles, but never opened them up.

    1. Yes. What others would think was huge in our home too. Bringing Bibles was one as you said. Playing in the front yard on a Sunday was another — people would think we weren’t honoring the Lord’s Day if we did.

      1. We had the added layer of pressure of being a home school family, so we not only had to have good appearances for the sake of church but also so that people wouldn’t think anything bad about homeschooling. I can’t tell you how many “rules” in our home were justified by: “well, we need to make sure that homeschooling looks good.”

        When I transferred colleges, I wrote my admissions essay to the University of Dallas on the philosophy of friendship. (Yep, I was a pretentious little sophomore, but I got in so it worked!) In my essay, I mentioned that I had been a “shy homeschooled kid” that hadn’t really branched out until I went to college. I was proud of the essay and I sent it to my parents. I got an angry e-mail back from my mother telling me that I had made homeschooling look bad and I needed to be more mindful of the image that I gave to homeschooling. (Of course, my mother also INSISTED that we always say that we were “home educated” NOT “homeschooled” because she thought it sounded better and more impressive. Yes, this is the same mother that didn’t want any of us to go to college.)

        1. I got away alright, but that hasn’t stopped my mother from constantly browbeating me (and now my wife) about the “appearance” issue. It really is one of her favorites. Now, with some years of experience behind us, we mostly take it with a sense of humor and a grain of salt. But sometimes you just want to slap her. (Metaphorically, of course. Growing up, we were made to memorize the verse that if you strike your father or mother you are to be put to death. My brother once lost his temper and threw a Kleenex at my mother and she told him that in OT times she could have killed him for that.)

          I used to have a blog (now deleted) and she would read every post that I put up there and send me private e-mails about how the things I said made her “look to her friends who read my blog.” I finally told her, then why don’t you tell your friends to get a life and quit reading a college kid’s blog!?!? She said, well, they want to know how homeschooled kids turn out. I said, well, I actually think I am a pretty good example of that!!! She didn’t like that answer. ๐Ÿ™„

        2. Me too, I would have loved to read that blog. Stories of former fundies always amaze me.

        3. DK, May I ask, what were some of the reasons she gave for not wanting her children to go to college? (I have a hunch on a few. Thanks, PK

        4. It was nothing specific, just a general (but quite strong) anti-college bias. Some common themes were:

          When she and my dad were in college they did drugs and engaged in other bad behavior so college makes you do that.

          Bill Gothard didn’t want ATI young people to go to college. he wanted us all to take advantage of “exciting opportunities to serve” in his training centers.

          College represented a loss of control by my parents over every aspect of my life. She once claimed to be accountable to God for everything I saw or heard no matter what. This, of course, meant total, 24/7 mind control.

          She wanted me at home “serving my family” by doing house and yard work and taking care of my siblings at home.

          God had not “called” me to go to college (nor, I was told, would He ever do so).

          Due to the foregoing, my parents had made no financial plans for me to be able to pay for college so they couldn’t afford it and debt was, of course, a sin so, oops, I just couldn’t go.

          I got a 1490 on the 1600 scaled SAT and my mother recently told my wife that I got several college offers on that basis but she threw them all away and never told me.

        5. You were in the top 1 percentile on the SAT (the old scoring system, where 1600 was perfect).

          You could have gotten scholarships to any number of good colleges. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

        6. I stand corrected, D’S, your Mother was an absolute cannon. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜•

    2. I was an adopted PK. Specifically adopted, because my parents and the other suck up kids never missed an opportunity to convey that good deed they did. “What would other’s think” was a third of all the punishments I received were justified along that line of questioning.

      1. Delaine, I am so sorry. I already felt less than as the adopted kid in my family without constant reminders. The insult of your supposedly loving family glorifying themselves by adopting you is beyond the pale. ๐Ÿ‘ฟ

      2. To live under such a gun? ๐Ÿ˜ฅ Aslan and Cthulhu save us from such a fate. You have all my prayers and sympathies. ๐Ÿ™ (we need an icon for hope.)

    3. Almost no one brings a Bible to my Lutheran church. We have a rack full of Bibles as well as LSBs, and we take one to use for the service and Bible Study. This seems to work much better for my family, as we manage purse, keys, phones, and – on the third Sunday – the crockpot.

      1. Sometimes a bursting palm tree is just a bursting palm tree. But probably not when it comes to places that focused on controlling all gender interactions.

        1. There’s a long running strain of people commenting on various dating/touching rules only applying to hetero relationships in PCC rules. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

    1. I’ve been to that park several times! I wish they were still a Cubs affiliate so I could go watch Cubs prospects and get Cubs Hall of Famers signing instead of Bob Gibson, and Cardinals prospects!

        1. Hey, now, they were a smokin’ good team back in Ought-Six.

          Nineteen Ought-Six, that is.

          It would be pretty creepy to meet those HOFers right now, though.

          Of course, Ernie Banks looked pretty good when I saw him a few years ago.

        2. I’m trying to remember the Hall of Famers that were on those Bills teams that lost 4 Super Bowls in a row? Is it Jim Khan? Brice Smith?

        3. Well if you must know:

          Jim Kelly
          Bruce Smith
          Thurman Thomas
          James Lofton

          I’d personally rip each one of their busts out of the HOF in exchange for 1 Super Bowl win.

          And might I add….touchรฉ ๐Ÿ˜†

  3. IFB aren’t the only ones who lug their Bibles everywhere — I sometimes wonder if it’s a Baptist thing in general. If it’s a worship service, a prayer meeting, a business session, a denominational gathering, whatever — it doesn’t even matter if it’s in a church sanctuary (ahem, auditorium) and there are Bibles in the pews — three-quarters of those attending will have their Bibles with them. We were told, as kids, that we should each bring our Bible to school every day and carry it around with our other books “as a witness.” Riiiiiiiiiight . . . I couldn’t think of a quicker way for a student to NOT make friends.

    1. It’s a Baptist thing.

      I’m going to a church that does liturgical calendar readings, complete with all the Bible passages printed in the bulletin, and it’s taking the longest time to get used to the idea that leaving my personal Bible at home is okay even though no one else attending was bringing one with them. That and getting over the worries of relatives who know I’m leaving it home judging me for not being serious about church anymore.

      1. Yep. When I left the IFB for other denominations (I’ve tried several in my journey), I remember being surprised at the centrality given to the scriptures in most other churches. It was a totally new experience for me to have Scripture readings just for their own sake and not as a formality before a sermon.

        I shared this with my family and was told that it simply could not be true that other churches read the Bible like that (because we know that they all hate God’s word). When I showed bulletins from other churches with the readings, I was told that, ok, maybe they DID read the Bible, but it was “cold, lifeless, and dead, and not led by the Holy Spirit” because the liturgical calendar dictated the readings rather than letting the pastor pick them out. (Never mind the fact that MAYBE the calendar of readings might have been influenced by the Holy Spirit.) I was also told, “we do the same thing in our church and have Scripture readings just for their own sake.” That was just a blatant lie, and I said so.

        Sooooo, my mother, who was in constant cahoots with the pastor to get me to stay IFB (because she wanted me to take over the church because she thought that meant that she would get to run things behind the scenes), asked him, unbeknownst to me, to have Scripture readings on the weekends when I was home and went to church with them. I found it quite amusing because I saw through the scheme at once, but it was still awkward to have the pastor say, “okay, ****, since you are here, please come up to the pulpit and read a chapter for us.” Sad that they would do something like that to manipulate me to stay in the church but not in order to actually hear the Word of the Lord.

        1. Your Mother wanted you to head the church just so she could run things behind the scenes? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ™„ She sounds quite the pistol, with that kind of manipulative skill the government should send her to make peace in the Middle East; after all, the Holy Land is right in the middle of it. ๐Ÿ˜€
          Seriously, hope you’re on good terms now.

        2. She has never explicitly acknowledged that she wanted that (she says all she ever wanted was for me to do what God called me to do – but the implication is that is not what I am doing now), but it was the unstated expectation that I was burdened with for most of my high school and young adult years. Since I was homeschooled, she got to plan a high school graduation ceremony for me to her exact specifications (again, being sure to keep up every “appearance”) and she asked the pastor to preach a sermon to me on Hannah giving Samuel to the Lord and how Samuel took over leadership of Israel from the high priest. In front of everyone I knew, he told me that God was calling me to preach. I was given the typical, “go to Bible college for just one year” line, but I was smart enough to see through that ruse. After that, things deteriorated fast as she realized that her plans to establish a little kingdom at that church weren’t going to happen. (Because there were four sisters after me, so there was no other son to be the potential pastor for many, many years.)

  4. It’s all about the “testimony.” They are unconcerned with spiritual coldness and the students’ well-being because these leaders are, in fact, spiritually dead.

    It’d be like expecting a vampire to donate blood.

  5. “I dig a french bikini on Hawaii island
    Dolls by a palm tree in the sand…”
    (The Beach Boys, “California Girls”)

    I wish they all could be Pensacola girls…

    That’s the subliminal image I think the PCC administration is trying to project, as reflected by their advertising.

      1. Love that show, but Hyacinth reminds my husband of a lady from Fundystan so he doesn’t watch it.

        1. I knew someone who was like hyacinth boo-Kay. Her name was Betty. She was a good friend of the family. Hyacinth must have been based on her, but watered-down a bit.

    1. My grandmother used to invite us over to watch that show because she LOVED it (and we didn’t have TV to watch it ourselves). I remember one evening we finally went over and watched it. For some reason, my fundy parents HATED it. Go figure.

      1. Well, Onslow wasn’t exactly a role model. Nor was Rose. Those two were probably their excuse.

        But I suspect the REAL reason for their hatred was that they saw too much of themselves in Richard and Hyacinth, based on your comments.

        What say you?

        1. It might have something to do with the fact that they got in a fight with my grandmother’s husband that evening (my grandmother remarried after she was divorced, so we were taught that he wasn’t her “real” husband and they were living in adultery) about the fact that they should lighten up about their stance against entertainment. He challenged them to find something wrong with Keeping Up Appearances. Honestly, I forget what it was, but they found something.

        2. Dude, forget about the book. Your life story is worthy of a miniseries.

          None of the reality show dreck could compete. I see a ratings bonanza.

        3. Those “find something wrong with” challenges always end up with something wrong being found by the fundies. ๐Ÿ™„

        4. You’re right, RobM, but he was a lifelong Methodist gentleman from Alabama and he assumed that such a challenge would be met with enough civility that it would not be taken seriously.

        5. Surprise! It’s taken seriously, and there will be no civility or reasonableness about the standards by which it is measured! ๐Ÿ™‚

        6. I can’t help it, but the very thought of “Grandma Is Living In Adultery!!!” ๐Ÿ˜ณ does make me grin; who says life gets dull when you’re a senior? :mrgreen:

    2. I always liked when Dick (excuse me, Richard) would get to hang out with Onslow and be himself in spite of, or to spite, Hyacinth.

      It is a great show. But I don’t remember any palm trees.

    3. I love that show and I used to watch it all the time with my borderline fundy parents. When the “bad parts” came on they used to say “that’s not very nice!” and then we kept watching ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

      1. There ARE real Hyiasinth Boo-kay’s out there. I knew one. Combine the Boo-kay Syndrome with a hefty dose of extreme Fundy-ism and you have the receipe for a classic sitcom.

  6. That’s not the only college that has been bitten by the “keeping up appearances” bug. I went to Crown at the end of the “pioneer days”, when we shared a dining hall with the church academy (seated 100+, but served 700+ every day) and shared facilities with the church and academy. In the years before, students had to stay with church members for housing. In my opinion, those were great days. They taught students what the ministry was really about: faith in Jesus and sacrifice for His work.

    As my time there ended, the church renovated an old Levi’s warehouse to be the college campus. With this (and the other buildings built) it seems that no expense was too great. Granted, some of the displays created were donated, but the point is that the church took a turn toward opulence and debt for testimony’s(?)/Jesus'(?) sake, instead of building things that were nice, functional, and more affordable. Because of these actions, the ministry is in constant debt and, as an alumni, all my wife and I receive from them as far as communication are calls/letters begging for more money (sometimes several times a month)! May the Lord help us to be good, wise stewards of what He gives us!

    1. They had a much grander vision for the future of the college, because of its quick growth to @900 students. I remember sexton telling us in one of his senseless rants that by the time my freshman class graduated, they would have over 2000 students. There was even property purchased and plans made to build housing, but that quickly died when attendance started sliding. My senior year, the college had @350 on-campus students and about 100 commuters and a handful of online students. So they have to soak all of their students for cash to pay their loans.

      1. What year did you graduate? I graduated in 2004 and they were @1,000 students. All I have heard about since then is how much the college is growing (though I have never seen any numbers or visual evidence to prove this).

    2. Yes, my wife and I make fun of the constant letters asking for money (in our case, it’s BJU, where my wife got her degree). I’ll come in from the mailbox and say: “Bob Jones is again thanking God for every opportunity He has given us to be a blessing to them.” And she’ll say, “oh, so they want money again?” ๐Ÿ˜†

      1. You’ve been listening to the conversations my wife and I have about Crown, haven’t you ๐Ÿ™‚ ?!? They go about the same way!

      2. graduated 2012, its going down fast, apparantly they got some bump from the jack schaap scandal but my senior year, i would say they had about 150 men max. Seemed like a 3-to-1 ratio of preachers daughters to preacher boys. They had one mens dorm on the church campus for work scholarship guys but everybody else was on the north campus, which was no more than half full. about 25 in the lodge, 20 in the big house, and only 5 of the modulars were occupied, about 8 in each. Listening to Psexy talk in his fireside chats would make you think that everything couldn’t be better, and they are adding stuff on from time to time, like the “trade school” they swiped from BJU for pennies on the dollar. They finally got uber-filtered wifi in the church campus dorms but only after raising tuition, room and board, and fees to the tune of two thousand bucks a year, so out the door its over 7 grand a semester. They justified it by saying that they were accepted by TRACS(Christian Accrediting Organization) as a CANDIDATE for accreditation, which means nothing.

        1. Yeah, well, I’m a candidate for President of the United States.
          Only about 300 million people have to die to give me a good shot at it.

    3. Does buying the old Levi’s warehouse make them complicit in the move to Mexico for Levi Strauss? How does that fit in with the ‘Merecan Patriotism of Fundstan?

    4. “With this (and the other buildings built) it seems that no expense was too great. Granted, some of the displays created were donated, but the point is that the church took a turn toward opulence and debt for testimonyโ€™s(?)/Jesusโ€™(?) sake, instead of building things that were nice, functional, and more affordable.”

      Yep, the IFB church I’m currently a member of is $750,000 in debt for the sake of appearance and excellence. The pastor (MoG) stated to me that he thought people would come when the building went up…eight years later and seventy-five members strong, this has not come to fruition. What is shameful is that nothing is done differently. This man still rules the roost and all must submit to his direction. Why can’t we see the forest for the trees?

      1. I hate to hear about pastors and churches with no sense of financial stewardship. We are 250,000 in debt ourselves, because the former pastor took it upon himself to buy 23 acres of farmland that initially would not perk for septic and was labelled as swampland (this initially split the church). THEN he took the 100 year old farmhouse on the property and spent 90,000 to renovate and meet in, instead of building a church building! THEN, when the church had paid down a good bit of the 250,000 debt, he refinanced the loan back to 270,000 to get some of the money back they spent to renovate and do other projects! They were also paying 5,000/yr in property taxes and wasting almost everything that came in (all with 30 and under attendance)! This was all before my family came to the church.

        I’ve been here for two years as pastor and, by God’s grace and wisdom, have dealt with a lot of the issues. Sadly, the former people worshiped the former pastor and God had to rebuild our attendance, but He is doing great things and slowly rebuilding His church. The main thing that keeps us from saving money though is that 250,000 mortgage. We are just praying that God pays it off for us.

  7. When I was at Bob Jones there were two students of mixed race also attending there. One was a half Chinese male student and the other was a female who happened to be half Korean. They were both Americans. The Chinese guy could date whomever he wanted. The girl was restricted to dating other Asians (even though she had been raised by ‘white’ parents and dated white guys before she came to school). Why? Because she LOOKED more Asian than he did. ๐Ÿ™„ She didn’t stay there for very long.

    1. I assume that the real reason SHE wasn’t allowed to date non-Asians was because she was female. ๐Ÿ˜•

    2. Was this in the early 90’s? If so, I know who you are referring to! If not, then this happened more often than I’d care to admit.

      1. Ian, hope George doesn’t send this down the page but no, this happened earlier than that. I’m sorry to hear that it happened more than once.

  8. Great. Now I have an Oriental Trading ad for “lodge trees, decorative accessories” on this page. I get some doozies on here — atheist dating sites, ramadan sites, you name it.

    1. I think my favorite so far was when we were discussing bogus doctoral degrees and an ad showed up that said, “Get your doctorate online.”

    1. Means wearing khakis & a collared shirt to & from a sex segregated beach areas in 90+ high humidity weather often in cars that don’t have or can’t afford to run the AC.

    2. What does fun mean? “If we tell you it’s fun, then it’s fun.”

      (The softer version of “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”)

      1. Mr. Son, I have that saying on my tool chest at work. The sad part is that we have a couple of supervisors who believe that is the way to good management.

  9. “Look good. Be beautiful. Spare no personal cost. Do whatever it takes no matter how impractical. And if all else fails, fake it if you have to.”

    So, so true.

    While certain places like BJU often meant “beautiful” quite literally (at least as much as one was able), usually that is metaphorical: “beautiful” meant always looking flawless and holy and calm and spiritual and godly, never crying, being upset, being afraid, being confused.

    BJU actually used the term for a long time of being a “show window.”

    The toll of keeping up that flawless exterior is high.

    1. This passage of Scripture immediately came to mind:

      Matthew 23:25-30 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

      Sadly, this is true of some, but thankfully not all…

      1. It breaks my heart for some people I know: they are very, very zealous, but their focus has been shifted from Christ’s glorious gospel to works and rules and standards.

        I do know some whose strict personal standards are matched with humility of spirit, gentleness, love, and a gracious attitude, but this sadly is not seen as much as pride and hypocrisy.

        1. I have seen the same things and have pastor friends that are the same way. It is very sad and much of the time they do not want to hear anything that differs from their own line of thinking, even if it is not biblical! I have learned to keep my mouth shut with some and to just quietly separate from others.

        2. Looking to Jesus wrote: “I have learned to keep my mouth shut with some and to just quietly separate from others.”

          I so see what you mean, and so agree with your practical conclusion.

    2. Doesn’t help that their definition of “beauty” is incredibly shallow.

      While doing research for a paper on Orthodox icons, I was astounded to find that Beauty is a deep, central concept in their theology, for icons and their beliefs as a whole. The idea that Beauty means completeness, wholeness, and right-ness as opposed to just looking good.

    3. I am reminded of a piece of dialogue from a Irish comedy series about priests, called “Father Ted”

      Fr. Ted: “What was that sermon about?”
      Fr. Dougal: “Sorry, Ted, I was concentrating too hard on looking holy.”

  10. IF you guys think the “appearances” issue was bad in the IFB, you should have been in Bill Gothard’s ATI.

    Training centers all across the globe with red-carpeted lobbies and beveled columns with mirrors and white furniture with the plastic covers on it (which I pointed out was tacky and was told, in horror-struck tones, that it was a better testimony than letting the cushions get ripped or stained).

    Being forced to wear navy and white along with 1,000 other students and sing in a choir so our parents could weep with joy at how much utter control they had over our lives.

    Constant guilt-tripping that if we did not have “light in our eyes” that “the world” would not “see Christ in us” (a/k/a embrace all of BG’s teachings and give him $$$). Not having “light in our eyes” meant that we had unconfessed sin in our lives that was darkening our countenances. Guess who got to decide whether out eyes weren’t bright enough. (Hmm, spell check says that unconfessed is not a word. I never knew that before.)

    1. How ironic– in the larger culture, plastic covers on the furniture is sort of a universal symbol for being tacky and nouveau riche, if not white trash.

      1. There’s a lot of commonality there. Trying to radically remake people’s natures usually looks the same, whether it’s for the Kingdom of “God” or the Kingdom of the Dear Leader. The secret here is that remaking human nature is God’s business alone – and He does it retail, NOT wholesale. As a loving Father, not a Dear Leader.

  11. “What Would Other People Think?” — the question that ruled our lives.

    Sometimes it was the tyranny of what other Christians would think if we dared express our liberty in a way they didn’t like. Other times it was what would an unsaved person think.

    “You and your sisters were goofing off and being loud in the restaurant. All the other patrons saw us praying before the meal. Now they’ll think Christians are rude, they’ll never listen to a Christian testimony, and they’ll go to hell when they die.”

    1. I have often wondered why fundies think that “doing things that prevent people from getting saved” has any relevance at all on someone else’s salvation. As if someone is standing before God and is asked why they never put their faith in Jesus Christ and the answer is, “because one time I saw some kids in a restaurant and they were misbehaving.” Fundies don’t actually think that God would say, “oh, okay then, sorry about that, come on into heaven.” They still think that unbeliever would go to hell. They also don’t think that God would turn to the believer who misbehaved when they were a kid and say, “oops, can’t let you into heaven now. You were a naughty little girl, after all.” They still think that the believer would go to heaven. So, in the final analysis, what difference does it make, really?

      1. I remember being told in youth group that Marilyn Manson once came to a Baptist youth group as a teen, but never came back because people did not welcome him. So if we did not properly welcome people they might never come back, die a Christ-less death later on, and spend eternity in hell.

        Way to put the weight of the world on our shoulders!

        Matthew 23:4
        For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

    2. That question ruled our family as well. I think it ties in nicely with my mother’s narcissism and her terror of others thinking we might not be perfect (hint: we weren’t).

      And even though I hated it as a kid and I know how awful it is, as an adult I still find myself worrying about what others think about my own family and me. It’s not really tied to fundamentalism since I’m not in that world any longer, but it’s a hard thought habit to break. I just try to be aware of it and let my kids be kids–fortunately they are good kids ๐Ÿ™‚

    3. …never realizing how they condemned their children to living in hell on earth, stifling under all these extrabiblical rules.

  12. Another issue with the “appearances” obsession is that it assumes that “the world” will automatically know we are Christians in the first place. So, that begs the question, how are they supposed to know that?

    I think, as I understand the Bible, it should be because we have the fruits of the spirit and thereby come across as different from unbelievers and, at the appropriate time, are thereby given opportunities to speak of Christ and his Gospel. Fundies, in their arrogance, believe that when people see the length of their hemline and the behavior of their children and the bumper stickers on their car and the gold embossed KJV on their Bible, they will automatically KNOW that they are in the presence of THE SAVED. That is really a convenient life philosophy, because it absolves you from any need to actually love your neighbor as yourself. After, all, “he that knoweth that his neighbor hath been saved and his house and yet believeth not is condemned already for the wrath of God abideth on him whose faith is not straightened in his bowels as he looketh upon his neighbor’s garment.”

    I remember my mother once, in a rare moment of self-reflection, told me that the Lutheran chorus, “They will Know we are Christians by our Love” should be sung in the IFB church as well. (My parents used to be Lutheran before their descent into fundydom.) For once, I agreed with her.

      1. The whole album is pretty good. I give it both thumbs up. (If I may throw in a purely digressing unpaid plug)

  13. “What Will Other People Think” is definitely arm-in-arm with the Weaker Brother argument, ๐Ÿ™ just another reason not to drink, cuss, smoke, play cards, dance, have mixed swimming, wear pants if you’re a woman (or a kilt if you’re a man) kiss in public, admit you ever get sad, lonely, or upset over anything but sin, play rock, jazz or even classical on your radio,…
    No doubt we can all add to that list. ๐Ÿ™„

  14. Ah yes, fundamentalists keeping up appearances. I’m reminded of my fundamentalist aunt: pristine house, gobs of makeup, phony smile, phony friendliness in her voice, and a soul full of cattiness, coldness, and bigotry.

    1. Yeah, the kind that always thinks that it is “just so sad” that other people are not as great as she is.

  15. It’s all about appearances dammit!
    I mean one little slip, one wrong word and “BAM!” you’re “UNQUALIFIED!”

    Then the blood of everyone who saw you fall is going to be on your hands! You will give an answer for all the people you condemned to hell because of your bad testimony!

  16. when my mom and I used to go to walmart, we would wear pants. Well, I would wear pants. Mom was afraid of offending someone. I was raised to believe it was okay, so Mom let me wear them, but she liked to be “safe” when she herself went out in public by wearing a skirt.
    Anyway, we would work a buddy system where one of us was always on the lookout for Pastor, a frequent Walmart visitor. I would have to duck and hide if he were spotted, to avoid having him see me in pants.
    Mind you, this particular pastor never preached against pants. I give him that credit. But everyone in the church just wore skirts to church services and activities, and nobody really knew what he believed about the issue one way or the other.

    1. My parents’ pastor went to the Holy Land with a bunch of church members, my folks included. My mom was steamed that they received a written dress code dictating the women wear knee-length or longer skirts so as not to offend the culture they were visiting. Apparently, enough people complained that “skirts” was removed & replaced with “modest, knee-length attire.” So, obviously, that particular pastor’s opinion is influenced by the congregation that pays his salary.

      I’ve often wondered what’s magic about knees. Why are those joints considered more potentially alluring than, say, knuckles or elbows?

    2. I wonder how many times fundies err on the side of the hyper-anachronistic and conservative because they honestly don’t know how their pastor feels about something. I remember the time my dad stopped by the pastor’s house and the pastor’s wife answered the door in sweat pants. It took SEVERAL YEARS, but eventually my parents decided that it was okay for my sisters to wear pants too, but only at home, because they still had not seen the pastor’s wife wearing them in public yet.

      (For the record, the pastor only ever actually preached against shorts on women.)

      1. Heh. When we visit churches, I wear heels, tight jeans, & a low cut top. If I get ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜ก ๐Ÿ˜ณ ๐Ÿ˜ฎ reactions, we know not to go back.

        Although the pressure to conform at Fundy churches is palpable. I still revert to wearing a skirt at my parents’ church.

      2. “…because they honestly donโ€™t know how their pastor feels about something.”

        Therein lies the problem…we alway fear what man thinks.

      3. well, I give that pastor of my teenage years a lot of credit for NEVER telling us where he stood on the pants issue or the KJV issue. The results were hilarious.
        we had many people in our congregation who had trickled over from Hyles’ church because of some of the problems there, but they still clung to those beliefs about clothing and bible versions. Nothing was ever said from the pulpit, but half the church went on reading the KJV and wearing skirts because they believed it was necessary, and the other half of the church went on doing those things so as not to offend the first half and cause a church split.
        Meanwhile our pastor just preached the word. I have a lot of respect for him–although the church did have a fundy element, he did his best not to contribute.

    3. I never knew until years later that my mother (as 5th/6th grade teacher (depending on the year) at the local fundy school) would wear pants outside of work, except for if she were going shopping or to something public enough she was more likely to be seen. I don’t think there was a policy on what they could wear outside of work, but I think church members apparently would report/complain if they caught you in unapproved attire.

      1. my mother was also a 6th grade teacher at Hammond Baptist schools. TO this day she still wears a dress everywhere she goes outside the home because she says it would be confusing for her students to see her in pants after all those years. She doesn’t want to contribute to anyone’s disillusionment–although she stopped teaching and attending there when I was born because of the hypocrisy and legalism. If any of her former students see her in public, she wants to be able to tell them why she left without them having a leg to stand on in their own minds if they choose to judge her for it.
        I don’t at all agree with this line of thought–but then, I didn’t personally spend years in the Hyles environment like she did, so I probably don’t understand it quite as thoroughly.

  17. If you have any inner struggle with perfectionist tendencies, the IFBx will ๐Ÿ˜

  18. The Fundy Bible College in my area also imported palm trees. They are literally 75+ miles from the nearest beach, but want that fun beach image.

    Lancaster does not have the same climate as the beach communities (where palm trees do well), it gets below freezing at times in the winter…even as low as single digit temps on the coldest nights. You can’t even grow citrus trees in Lancaster due to the winter temps.

    So why the expense and effort required to maintain palm trees?

    Image image image

    What a waste of money

    1. WCBC is in the middle of nowhere and it always seems to be crappy weather there. It’s always so windy. Ugh.

  19. ^^^^

    They are in the middle of a desert. Search google maps and see the satellite photos…Then compare them to their marketing pictures.

    This marketing photo was severely photoshopped. They put the mountains right behind them. Chateau like almost! In reality, they are miles away from mountains. They are surrounded by flat desert – with enough winds to blow tons of tumbleweeds around a few times each year.

    Fake mountain view:

    Fake palm/tropical views

    More accurate image:

  20. This post hits home; even though we left a controlling IFB church years ago, the “what will other people think?” mentality is still with me and hard to shake. Especially when I venture out to give opinions and have them slapped down as stupid, uninformed, and/or cold-hearted.

    So, I’ve learned to think things privately and generally not speak my mind. But God, who is rich in mercy and grace, is helping me to overcome (albeit slowly) in this area.

    1. “…But God, who is rich in mercy and grace, is helping me to overcome (albeit slowly) in this area.”

      God is good…nice touch.

  21. There is a local Christian school that requires mothers of students picking up their kids, or dropping off I would assume, to wear skirts even if they just stay in the car. A teacher will actually stick her head in the car and check. This has led to moms having a car skirt that they just drape over their lap to make it appear they are wearing a skirt. ๐Ÿ™„

    1. That’s just stupid. What is it about these people’s obsessive need to control everything people do?

      1. They are so power-hungry! Their need for control runs counter to the Gospel’s message of freedom and of servanthood in which we serve one another in love, not make onerous, extra-Biblical demands.

      2. Because they come from the veiw point that there is their way of doing it or the wrong way. There is never any gray or possibility of different views.

    2. Oh Becky, I had a friend who did that. Except she would slip it on over her pants and was not afraid to exit the car either!

    3. I don’t usually drive a car with no pants on (in case I’m in an accident), but if I’m going to that school, I’ll make an exception. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

  22. This is my first post ever. I have been an IFBer all my life, but I read this blog because I want to learn other people’s viewpoints. I don’t agree with a lot of what I read, but it’s always educational. =) Anyway, this post hit home to me.

    One time on vacation we decided to drive back home from my uncle’s house on Sunday and just listen to sermon tapes in the car instead of stopping somewhere. My Dad suggested that we dress up anyway so my uncle and aunt would know we were going to have “church”. For once, my Mom and I talked him out of that! I love my father dearly, but in that instance he was far too concerned about keeping up appearances!

    1. Rebecca–
      Welcome! I don’t believe you are a real fundy. Your grammar and syntax are too good, and you know “a lot” is two words.

      I understand your TV post. We went through a period when I was young when we didn’t have a television. Now my folks watch almost anything. I’ve noticed a trend among some of my friends that grew up in “TV strict” homes. They tend to watch more TV than their spouses who grew up with open access television.

  23. Another example came to mind: We didn’t have a tv growing up until I was already off at college. When we would have company over, my dad would hide the tv in his office closet! He didn’t think it was a sin to have a tv, he just didn’t want others to know we had finally got one! Anyway, one time we had my cousins over and forgot to hide the remote! One picked it up and said, “Oh, so you have a tv now?!!” That was the last time we bothered to hide the tv in the closet. Again, I am not knocking my parents (they were excellent parents to me).

    1. My mom put our TV, once we finally got one, in the upstairs hallway. It was a little bit about hiding it, but primarily because she didn’t want it to be the center of attention in our living room.

  24. Is there some significance in the lack of blue in the image above? Reds and greens are there. No blue hue.

    1. My guess is that the picture was taken near sunrise or sunset, when the ambient light is tinted red.

        1. I thought it a great comment on the altered reality that Fundystan presents to its victims.

  25. God’s definition of different: Creative. Diverse. Having the collective beauty of unlike things. The orchestration of multiple “everything” for my glory.

    Fundy definition of different: Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

  26. From the Wizard of Oz:

    “I found myself in the midst of a strange people, who, seeing me come from the clouds, thought I was a great Wizard. Of course I let them think so, because they were afraid of me, and promised to do anything I wished them to.

    “Just to amuse myself, and keep the good people busy, I ordered them to build this City, and my Palace; and they did it all willingly and well. Then I thought, as the country was so green and beautiful, I would call it the Emerald City; and to make the name fit better I put green spectacles on all the people, so that everything they saw was green.”

    “But isn’t everything here green?” asked Dorothy.

    “No more than in any other city,” replied Oz; “but when you wear green spectacles, why of course everything you see looks green to you. The Emerald City was built a great many years ago, for I was a young man when the balloon brought me here, and I am a very old man now. But my people have worn green glasses on their eyes so long that most of them think it really is an Emerald City, and it certainly is a beautiful place, abounding in jewels and precious metals, and every good thing that is needed to make one happy. I have been good to the people, and they like me; but ever since this Palace was built, I have shut myself up and would not see any of them.

    1. I just watched the movie over the weekend with my kids. And while a great deal of the punch of the book was removed, a few of the Wizard’s rather acerbic points managed to make it into the movie.

  27. Back then, I was an overwhelmingly naive 21-year old young boy.

    The son of an itinerant evangelist father & a gracious, but firm. Christian Elementary School Teacher mother, both parents were not especially thrilled when the decision was made, for their eldest son, to toss aside, a 4-year basketball scholarship, in exchange for paying to attend {a non accredited} PCC.

    Now, at 50-years old, both parents have passed away. Dad passed away, approximately six months after PCC decided to expel me from school & our wonderful mother, passed away in February of this year (’13)

    Last week, our immediate family was visiting friends in Orange Beach, AL & decided to drive over to Pensacola Beach for an extended 4-day weekend.

    Monday, after a late breakfast @ Cracker Barrel, about 5 miles north of the Brent Lane Exit off I-10, our 22-year old son & 13-year old daughter {out of the blue}, decided it imperative that, our family should take a brief drive through the PCC campus.

    Admittedly, there were a number of mixed emotions, after driving onto the PCC campus, early that afternoon.

    It had been 29-years, since last leaving PCC as a student & yet on one-hand, it seemed like only mere months had passed by, while conversely, attendance there, seemed to have transpired, in an entirely different lifetime.

    There were a number of guests on campus that day, because of PCCs summer high-school basketball clinic that, was getting ready to kick off that week.

    So we took a quick drive around PCCs mega-campus, sharing stories w our children, about how unique & unorthodox, many of the rules were @ PCC, for college students there {regardless their year in school or age}.

    Before exiting campus, I parked our SUV & left the truck running near Ballard Hall Dormitory, because my wife & two children, were not dressed accordingly & would have been escorted off campus, had they not remained in our vehicle.

    Amazingly & really hard to fathom personally, was the moment of entering into Ballard’s lobby, the same aroma from 29-long years ago, seemed to have been uncorked from a bottle.

    Two very quite & polite PCC students/sumer staff, associated w the high-school basketball camp, opened up the lobby door, so w little hesitation, I made a beeline to the second floor, in hopes of seeing my old room.

    The first room that I checked was locked, so I assumed that my old room, right next door, would be locked too {but it wasn’t}.

    The room was clean as a whistle w all the lights turned off, so I opened the door, and my eyes stated to welled up uncontrollably, for a number of reasons that, I passed off as being memories to numerous to categorize, to try & attribute it, to anything specific.

    I find the resource of this website helpful & I’m glad it is seemingly a viable entity, whereby, posts like this are starting to gain significantly, genuine traction, and in doing so, has & will continue, to ideally, challenge young men & women, to develop critical thinking skills.

    Develop critical thinking skills, in a way, to where Holy Scripture, will cease to be a mere rule book, and will be personally treasured as God’s precious Word, as it drives believers, into a personal relationship w Jesus Christ.

    On a scale of 1 – 10, ten (10) representing the number that, people acknowledge, if they are absolutely certain that, they would spend eternity, w God in Heaven.

    And one (1), representing the number that people acknowledge, if they are absolutely certain that, they would spend eternity, apart from God.

    Truth be known that, it is virtually irrelevant what Christian church or venue function takes place, when this question is asked in confidence, to a group, and those providing answers, do so honestly & without reservation, for what someone might think, then out of fear of ‘pride’, few provide TEN (10), as their answer.

    Now for those interested in knowing ‘the catch’, many will be surprised that, there isn’t a catch.

    You see, the only acceptable answer her is TEN (10).

    Because anything that comes in, under TEN (10), even those that, might suggest being an eight (8) or a nine (9), are approaching The Gospel of Salvation, in a way that, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary, simply wasn’t enough to pay for their sin, and they feel that they have at least 1%-2% of individual {good} works that, will help merit God’s favor when that day arrives.

    Honestly, when I stand before The Glorious Creator one day, should the question ever be asked…, what event, action or reason, merits my personal entrance, into God’s Kingdom?

    The ONLY answer that I would be able to provide is simply…

    I bring absolutely nothing w me & have absolutely nothing to offer God Almighty…

    …It is because of the unconditional love of Almighty God that, sent His Only Son to earth, to live a perfect & sinless life for 33-years.

    …Then He would be arrested, beaten, mocked & tortured, then crucified to a cross, where The Holy of Holiest of Royal Blood, was spilled out that day, saturating the tree that, held His lifeless body, where He was nailed to, and all the while, His precious innocent blood, continued dripping to earth, providing eternal redemption & forgiveness, from mortal sin.

    1. Thanks Jonathan. I left PCC 25 years ago and have never returned. Lately, I have been hashing over how it may have affected the rest of my life. I have been tempted to run into Griffin tower in a goofy cheep dress, and then run back out only wearing a bikini.

      Oddly I rarely open that pretty cloth and ruffle lined Bible that I lugged around campus when some boy trying to be a man wasn’t doing it for me.

      If I remember correctly, wasn’t it the religious leaders of the day that created the false charge to arrest Jesus?

      Oddly, I felt like I was seeing those Pharisees when I would go into the Discipline Committee or Dean’s office.

      Yea, I got the diploma, but I lost my trust in religious institutions. (not God) God isn’t up there sweating over what I’ll wear, the amount of makeup I use, or if I believe in the KJV.

      Like your Mom, I am recently widowed. I am glad I had a spouse that loved to publicly cuddle, hold hands, kiss, and brag on me. I got lucky or some would say God was looking out for me.

      1. Sorry to learn about your loss Kay. Have been a business owner now for over 20-years & several years ago, this business has helped start an outreach, specifically to help widows & orphans in their time of need: James 1:27

        Our website is still under construction:, but if you would like to communicate directly, you can send an email to:

  28. I love that show, “Keeping Up Appearances”. In many ways Hyacinth Bucket’s desperate attempts to prove her status mirrors the folly of Fundamentalists. She needs to believe that everyone expects her be the pillar of refinement she believes herself to be and can’t see that it’s farcical to those on the outside looking in and that they are humoring her.

  29. I have personally heard Beka Horton call those palm trees her “babies.” This was to a group of people when they were talking about making sure the trees stayed warm in the winter.

  30. As a graduate of Maranatha Academy in Watertown, WI, in 1990, there was nothing more inconsistent of โ€œKeeping Up Appearancesโ€ than being told we were not allowed to go to movie theaters (“what would people think”), but we were allowed to rent the exact same movie at a video store when it came out six months later.

    Even when I attended Maranatha I pointed out this hypocritical inconsistency, but it never seemed to dawn on people at Maranatha.

    Ironically, it was a cesspool to walk into a video store bombarded by salacious images.

    I suppose today the inconsistency would be to have a Netflex account but at the same time not being able to attend a theater to watch the exact same movie.

    Enough said.

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