Gangland Christians

Take down the signs and crosses on the fundy church and put up instead a banner that reads “Post-Christian.”

For Independent Baptists talk about the Christian God; they still wave around the Christian book; they still use Christian words like “sin” and “righteousness” and “grace” but many, many are not Christian. Christians follow the example and teachings of Christ above the teachings of a culture stamped Made in America.

The fundamentalist church has left off being a church and has become instead a gang of people attempting to find self-worth and self-empowerment through the practice of dominating others.
The local church is in a perpetual turf war against all comers with weapons of words to protect its power and possessions.

When someone is declared “saved” they mean “has passed initiation and is now wearing our uniform and displaying our colors.”

When these people say “biblical” they mean “the rules that make you one of us.”

When they talk of soul winning they mean “recruiting the strong and preying on the weak”

When they bestow the title of pastor they mean “The leader of the pack. The man who declares himself strong enough to keep us safe and make the outsiders tremble.”

When they call someone “apostate” or “heart-hearted” or “bitter” it is the sign that the protection is lifted and that person it is now the duty of every member to exact cruel justice on them.

Fundamentalists may mock the Southern Baptists or others as being social clubs instead of churches. Many apparently don’t realize that the club they have joined can be far more dangerous.

156 thoughts on “Gangland Christians”

    1. Darn it! But yeah, this is about right. Even the treatment of women as property is similar to what gangs do. No thanks, I do not need a gang.

        1. “Secure Sockets Layer”, website encryption standard. Basically used when people have logins and passwords on websites. Not sure what Darrell has running on SFL, but if he says he doesn’t use SSL, no biggie. Maybe the servers somewhere do.

        2. Stuff Sally Likes?
          Stuff Sadists Like?
          Stuff Satan Likes?
          Stuff Scarecrows Like?
          Stuff Scorpio Likes?
          Stuff Scottish Like?
          Stuffed Stomach Lumps?

          Oh the possibilities!

        3. Stuff Scorpio Likes?

          A well stocked beverage cart and “eager” flight attendants. πŸ™‚

        4. Maybe we can take up a Special Offering for this. I might be willing to donate, as long as no gays touch the funds.

        5. nico – I am submitting my letter of recommendation for you into Darrell. Time to get you off probation.

        6. I’m but dust, a worm, not worthy to even stoop down and unloose the latchet of the sandals of the good people here. So I feel profound thankfulness, as one of the needy raised from the dunghill.

          But we’ll have to see what Darrell says. It might be just as well to keep me on the short leash.

      1. When I click on a recent comment in chrome it is an HTTPS link and has always been an unsigned cert on those links. That has been the case since recent comments came back for me. I use Chrome almost always.

    1. True, and the sociopaths somehow are in great supply. What’s the name of the book, if you don’t mind saying on this forum?

      1. No, I don’t mind. But I’ll try not to advertise. It’s called SCHIZOPHRENIC CHRISTIANITY, and you can get it on (by Jeri Massi). It describes how sociopathic pastors are cultivated and elevated in Fundamentalism, and how they make entire churches sociopathic in action.

  1. Great piece of writing, Darrell.

    “When they bestow the title of pastor they mean β€œThe leader of the pack. The man who declares himself strong enough to keep us safe and make the outsiders tremble.””

    This is, of course, a zoologist’s definition of an alpha wolf, and it is sadly apt as applied to a great many pastors and churches.

    1. If I hadn’t seen it with my very own eyes, I would have not believed it to be true as a general rule.

      My former fundy CEO fits that definition well.

      Never again.


  2. “When they bestow the title of pastor they mean β€œThe leader of the pack. The man who declares himself strong enough to keep us safe and make the outsiders tremble.”

    Exactly. Every successful (lauded) IFB pastor is either a rageaholic or a perversely manipulative narcissist, skilled at dominating large groups of people into obedience to their own will.

  3. I’ve lived in some areas rife with street gangs (as they are commonly called), and despite all their thuggery and anti-social tendencies, many of them are more loyal to their own members, and sacrifice more for their own members, than many churches ever do.

    1. There’s a stickied post at Gentle Christian Mothers about the time one of the members got to talking with a gang member about glue sticks. The gang members used glue sticks to administer beatdowns because they produce maximal pain with minimal prosecutable signs. The member explained that she knew people who used them on kids in the name of discipline and the ganger looked ill!

  4. As vile and poisonous as I think IFB culture can be, I don’t think I can say that anybody who professes Jesus Christ as Lord isn’t Christian.

    Nevertheless, if your church culture maps this well to Scientology,* you really, really, really need to rethink your Christian walk. Like, stop, turn around, go back, and put up a sign at the entrance to this road that says, “WRONG TURN, WE WERE WRONG, DO NOT DO THIS EVER.”

    *Saved:Preclear. Committed, whether or not they realize it, to years on a treadmill of attempting to meet impossible and nonsensical standards while being milked for every hour and dollar the higher-ups can wring out of them. Alternatively, somebody who made one visit, signed the wrong document, and now is in for years of annoying junk mail and phone calls from a bunch of people they don’t actually want to ever hear from again.

    Biblical:Tech. Sold as an infallible and comprehensive list of the right things to do so that life will always be free of trouble and maximally productive of good. In practice, a bunch of stuff made up by some guys who needed butts in seats. The good and true things that are found in the Tech/preached as Biblical are never original to the people who claim to be the only true interpreters of them, and come from texts and traditions that otherwise fly right in the face of what the teachers of Tech/Biblical living tell people to do.

    Soul winning:Body routing. Getting people into the building so that money can be gotten out of them. People being soul-won/body routed are referred to with insulting language out of their earshot (in Scientologese, “raw meat” or “wogs”).

    Pastor:Clear. One who has attained to the height of the mountain of nonsense and, no longer having to push crap uphill, feels free to kick it downward. (In Scientology, however, Clears still have the Clear Pope, David Miscavige, who feels free to beat people up.)

    Strong Preaching:SRA or Severe Reality Adjustment. Screaming at people who don’t realize they can just leave (unless you’re at the kind of church/org that will actually station people at the doors to keep you in!).

    Apostate/hard-hearted/bitter:Suppressive Person/low on the tone scale/fair game. Anybody who points out the Emperor’s naked butt or complains that all their years of being saved/preclear got them health issues, bad dreams, and a pocketful of nothing.

    1. Love this! I’ve studied the effects of scientology for a long time and often have been surprised at the similarities between it and IFB.

      Revival services produce “wins” and BT’ s are exorcised.
      The KJV had been word cleared.
      Church staff often makes little more than Sea Org members
      Getting “the call” and attending some two bit bible college I’d like joining staff and/or sea org.

      Yeah, it’s is a cult!

    2. Anyone who’s at all interested in this subject should read “Going Clear,” by Lawrence Wright. It’s now out in paperback and also available as an e-book (Wright says the e-book has been especially popular with people who don’t want the Scientologists to see them reading it).
      “Going Clear” isn’t perfect, but it’s the most extensively researched and well-thought-out work on the Church of Scientology that I know of. It isn’t just about Scientology: Wright uses Scientologists as a case in point for an examination of religious groups and religious belief (he has written in the past about several other religious movements).
      Wright comments (correctly, I think) that Scientology has been under-reported and under-examined by journalists, in part because the group is notorious for harassing anyone who writes about it in anything other than glowing terms, with lawsuits, stalking, threats, and sometimes with physical violence.

      Here’s a review:

      1. I knew zero about Scientology until reading “Going Clear.” It’s an excellent read, and yes, Scientology seems to utilize similar, if more severe, techniques to manipulate adherents.

        It goes w/o saying though that the Christian faith is based on Scripture and tradition, and Scientology is based on the writings of L Ron Hubbard, a madman.

        1. I’m not so sure LRH (as the Scientologists call him) was mad as we usually think of being mad (e.g., schizophrenic or grossly delusional). It does seem clear that he was narcissistic, power-hungry, and sociopathic. He was a habitual liar, but that goes with the preceding. Anyhow, his religious pronouncements are more calculating than deranged, and his behavior was more amoral than compulsive. He said in the 1950s that he planned to get rich by starting a religion and recruiting “celebrities” to it, and he proceeded to do exactly that.

          And, yes, Scientologists hold that everything LRH ever wrote or said– and he wrote for hours every day for decades– is sacred scripture. They have copies of his complete works buried under mountains in airtight vaults.
          (They also have several apartments ready for Hubbard’s expected return, with fresh bedsheets, clothes, his favorite brand of cigarettes, booze, etc., in waiting for him to come back to earth from wherever he went when he “died” [as non-Scientologists say] in 1986.)

          Some of LRH’s more outrΓ© doctrines, about extraterrestrials and whatnot, are shown only to high-level initiates (Thetan Level 7 and above, in Hubbard-speak), who have already proved their loyalty and paid large sums of money for “training” and “auditing.”

        2. @Big Gary: Nevertheless, most of them are on the Internet. Go to xenu dot net, if you haven’t already, and be prepared to have your face stick like this: 0.o

        3. Yes, Jenny I., I meant to mention that many of them have been leaked by now and can be read on the Interwebs. The official Church of Scientology doesn’t acknowledge that those are the genuine documents, but almost everybody seems to agree that they are.

        4. “…It does seem clear that he was narcissistic, power-hungry, and sociopathic…..”

          So LRH was an IFB pastor?

        5. I don’t think Hubbard was ever an IFB pastor, but he probably could have been if he had wanted to.

  5. Very well put. Here is a funny anecdote. In all my years in fundamentalism I actually did not hear a single sermon from the gospels. I did hear some topical sermons that began with a verse in the gospels, but nothing “expositional” or a sermon series through a gospel. Maybe it was just bad luck on my part. Anyway, Jesus spent most of his ministry explaining that what the contemporary religion got wrong was a heart issue. He was always explaining that it was not the form (simulacrum) that dictated righteousness, but the root (fons) and end (telos). Motivation matters. Interestingly, this seems to be the major theme that fundamentalism can’t quite grasp.

    1. They spend all their time in trying to root out sin in their lives by focusing on telling the members how sinful they are.

      They don’t realize that they need to teach more about Jesus and his love and grace. That is the only true way to get rid of sin in our lives… Jesus. Not by works of righteousness, but by Jesus. His message is positive. The message from Fundy pulpits is generally negative.

    2. A couple of months ago, I led my College and Career Sunday School class through a verse by verse study of Matthew 5,6, &7. The Sermon on the Mount.
      Jesus teaches attitude and motive for actions. Like Dr. Fundystan stated, heart issues over outward actions. I wish I had understood many of these things many years ago. Topical sermons don’t hold a candle to good exposition. I think that also goes back to motive vs. action. Most IFB preachers are like Jonah. More concerned with what they want than what God actually calls out in Scripture.

      After reading these comments, I have reflected some. I can remember multiple series through the Epistles, Revelation, Psalms, and the Prophets, but not through the Gospels. The occasional series on parables, topical birth and death, but not a true through the Gospel series. I do know a pastor that did, but he preaches at one of those liberal, no rules Calvary Chapel churches. Not only that, he uses the NASB and sings CCM. Hmmmm….They also seem to truly care about each other and the community around them. What’s up with that?

    3. Was your church deeply dispensational? A strong emphasis on dispensations has led some preachers to compartmentalize Jesus’ teachings as being for the kingdom and for Israel and thus not for the church age. What an incredible shame!

  6. Oh! The parallels! The similarities! The agony of reality intruding upon our comfortable notions of Normal and True!

    That the Local Church should be similar to a Gang is not to be tolerated! Time to denounce them from the pulpit, withdraw fellowship, shame them and drive them into conformity!

  7. I agree with Greg, the brush is way too broad. Perhaps Darrell is confusing a local church (which must be evaluated on an individual basis just like individuals are to be evaluated) with the excesses of a movement.
    Broad brushes tend to create the same type of errors that are being brushed over.

    1. By what metric, James? How many standard deviations need to fall under the description before it becomes too broad, let alone “way” too broad? Have you thought this through? And what about “a little leaven”? Given the fundy penchant for separation, how many churches in the movement need to fall under this description before it requires separation from the brand movement? Given the improbability of every audience member of this blog agreeing on an acceptable metric for the broadness of a metaphorical brush, I think you might be better served to say something like, “I have experienced some fundy churches that are not like this.”

      1. Thanks Dr! Your reply is kind and I believe the last sentence in your reply to me is my point.

        1. If Darrell had to wait to get approval from all the readers that a given post is applicable for everyone, then SFL would not exist.

        2. I’ve been reading for a pretty good while, commenting for months now. Darrell has never, ever, asked for my approval before posting.

          It’s starting to really chap my ass.

        3. “..chap my ass.”

          Hey, none of that gay stuff here on the main blog nico. We have a private room set up in the Forums for that. πŸ™‚

      2. I picked my words very, very careful when writing this.

        If any particular group doesn’t fit this description then I’m glad for it.

  8. I love the juxtaposition you used comparing some fundamentalist groups to gangs. When people ask the question, “why would anybody be a part of that group?” The same exact answers apply to gangs as they do to Fundamentalist group.

    1. The fact that he’s Pope is enough for Fundies to discount whatever he says.

      But this is really a very radical statement that Pope Francis is making. Specifically, he’s distancing himself from the hard-line reactionary and exclusivist policies of his immediate predecessor, Benedict XVI, and identifying with the more inclusive and welcoming stances of John XXIII and Paul VI.

  9. “We only kill each other”-Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel. The same can’t be said for churches. I grew up in el barrio. I grew up with stone cold gangstas. I prefer their company. At least they are honest about what they are and what they do.

    1. That’s funny. I remember working on a construction crew when I was just out of college. It was a cash job and most of the men were ex-cons. They were very honest about their depravity, addictions, and struggles. A great deal of them were also church goers. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that a great deal of churches offer comfort, hope, and the gospel to everyone, regardless of “class”.

      1. I worked 20+ yrs. in mostly residential construction. Lots and lots of ex-cons, drug users, rough-and-rowdies. But deep down most of them –the non-violent ones, anyway–were really cool people.

        My saw-man was an ex-con (drug offenses) who had been raised as a Christian. When he got mad he’e yell, “God DAMN it!” Then under his breath, “Sorry Lord.” It always made me laugh.

  10. Random comments:
    I remember being a police officer in Dallas, TX in the 80s when gangs really became prominent. We had to learn how to deal with gangs while on patrol.

    Sociologically, I tend to agree with a lot of what Darrell wrote.

    Street gangs were (*and probably still are*) characterized by intense loyalty to each other, to the point of death. I have NEVER seen such loyalty expressed among the *members* of the IFB or Evangelical social groups.

    IFB and Evangelical gangs are characterized by loyalty to their ideology and to their leader.

    Certain street gangs are extremely loyal to their geographic turf. Incursions into the area by rival gangs can lead to shootings. “Turf” for the IFB is the flock. They call out-migrations “sheep stealing.”

    Other street gangs are united by their mission. Usually this mission involves illegal activity, e.g., drug trafficking. IFB & Evangelical social groups are also characterized by a sense of mission.

    Leadership in street gangs is achieved by displays of strength.

    Leadership in IFB is achieved by:
    1. Pedigree (both biological & earned at Fundy U.)
    2. Power of persuasion & personality
    3. Ability & willingness to *deal with* those who oppose them–by exiling them from the group & consigning them to hell. This is the leader’s ‘display of strength.’

    And, as mentioned in the thread above, both IFB (and to some extent, Evangelicals) and the street gangs tend to view females in a diminutive light.

    1. BJg, I lived in Dallas then, too. The 1980s and early 90s were the peak years of gang activity in Dallas (and, not coincidentally, of the crack epidemic). The total refusal of Dallas’ oligarchy to face the problem was one of the key components of my political education.

      1. In those years I worked Oak Cliff. My beat was centered around Beckley & I-35 and areas just to the east, and up to the Trinity River bottoms. The city (back then) denied that we had a gang problem (you’re spot on) but those of us on the streets knew it. Frankly, the crack cocaine epidemic scared the hell out of me. I worked one killing where a young man’s brains were blown out by a 12 gauge at close range, all to rob him of a revolver and a hand full of crack.

        1. I know that neighborhood. For a while, I worked on 12th Street just off of N. Beckly, in what used to be a bank building (the Dallas Can Academy is there now). Some friends of mine had a residence/mission to the east of I-35, off of Cedar Crest Blvd.– that neighborhood was actually much more blighted than the one near Beckley and 35.
          During another part of that time, I worked on MLK Blvd., 2 blocks from Fair Park. That area was more or less in a state of total savagery at the time. The police mostly didn’t bother going there– at least, that’s how it seemed to me.
          I also lived near Bonnie View Rd. and Ledbetter (Loop 12) for a year or so. That wasn’t the worst neighborhood in town, but it was probably in the bottom 10.
          Somewhere in there, I moved to the Munger Place area of Old East Dallas. The social contract was more functional there, but that neighborhood, too, was massively neglected by the Dallas power structure, except when they wanted to bulldoze it to build luxury developments.

        2. BG,
          My dear wife was born & raised in Old East Dallas, off Ross Avenue. I policed that area for a while, and was shot at 1805 N. Bennett Ave in those apartments. It was a great area to work. I still love Old East Dallas. I’ve not returned since 1999, but my wife has, to visit family, and it seems that urban renewal is really happening there. As for the crack epidemic, I’m so happy to see that it’s faded. I was afraid that we were going to lose an entire generation of inner-city kids to that epidemic. Thanks be to God we did not.

        3. That address on Bennett is about eight blocks from my apartment in East Dallas. A friend lives in my old place now that I have moved to south Texas.
          I drove by that part of Bennet many times on my way to work.
          Another place I worked was in the Brannon Building at Bryan and Peak, upstairs from the Bangkok City Restaurant. I saw many wonderful things and many terrible things in that neighborhood.

    2. As to the role of female persons, the wolf pack analogy applies nicely. Competition between gang-adjacent and church females is very much like the competition between female wolves in a pack. The alpha female is normally the mate of the alpha male wolf/ pastor/ gang leader. Other females jockey for the number 2, 3, and 4 spots. And child care tends to be relegated to more subordinate females.

  11. There are no less than three Baptist churches within under a mile of each other right near my host. One is IFB and the other two are very conservative.

    The gang analogy seems spot on. Their miniscule, insignificant differences that they separate on could be seen as their “turf”.

    1. Indeed. When I built houses for a living I had the chance to ride a lot of country backroads here in south GA. One day I was driving to a new job way back in the sticks. I passed a little church just off the paved road: Friendship Baptist Church. About 2 miles later I passed another little church: New Friendship Baptist Church. It doesn’t take much thinking to figure out why an area with probably 200 people tops needs two Friendship Baptist churches!

      1. The second one should have been called the “Friendlier Than Thou Baptist Church.”

        1. πŸ™‚ At first I thought maybe it was the same congregation, just a move of location. But no. Both churches were functioning. Saving the lost, no doubt.

        2. Probably over nothing much. Maybe over the best use of the $236.17 in the charitable fund. Or the use of Comic Sans in the bulletin. Or that the church leadership would not excommunicate Uncle Cleatus for his “medicinal” use of corn likker. Or maybe they couldn’t agree as to what makes a “Real Christian.”

        3. The IFB church I attended growing up was started due to a split. The original church voted to build a fellowship hall. The members who thought that was worldly and unbiblical (the apostle Paul didn’t need a fellowship hall, haymen?) started their own church. Years later, when my family was there, they built a sort of shed without walls so we would have a covered place for our homecoming dinner on the grounds. Fried chicken gets soggy in the rain, ya know. Apparently, fellowship is not the issue…the sin is in having walls around it!

  12. That’s why Catholics aren’t real Christians; they have too many extra rules

    1. Hi Jane! I asked this question before of another person, but received no answer. So if you don’t mind, may I ask you? Can you explain to me, in detail: What is a Real Christian?

      1. It seems much easier (and a lot more fun) to describe what one is not. Wouldn’t you agree?

        You can’t be in a gang and go the heaven, right?

        1. So you have no answer?

          I’m starting to think you should change your handle to Jane Poe 24601. It’s hard for me to tell if you’re for real or not! πŸ™‚

        2. Oh, and I did get your point. But I am not asking what right SFL has to judge the Christianity of gangland fundies–I’m asking What is a Real Christian? Surely someone who condemns hundreds of thousands of Catholics to hell could come up with some kind of sufficient answer.

        3. There are actually something like a billion Catholics in the world, aren’t there?

        4. Not my conclusion in the least. I don’t believe in hell. So, back to the question, about which you are being very slippery: What is a Real Christian?

        5. In their mind you are either a Christian ( which most fall into) – then there are the Bible-believing Christians ( as if the rest of us don’t believe the Bible). I think a real Christian is someone who believes Jesus is their savior, loves God and loves their neighbor as themselves.

        6. This is the second time in the last 2-3 days someone mentioned being a Real Christian (gays are not, Catholics are not). I just assumed there would be more detail available on such an important topic as this. I hoped it would be easy to answer so basic a question.

          Your’s is a very open-ended definition. Not much detail as to what it means to believe in Jesus as savior, what it means to love God and neighbor. But I like it. Maybe precisely because of the lack of detail. I truly appreciate it!

        7. The traditional answer would be anyone who believes the ecumenical creeds. I like the addition of “love God and neighbor”, since Christianity isn’t about a set of knowledge, but about a way of living.

        8. Doctor, I like this answer as well. Non-creedal types (such as fundies) might not appreciate it. And then there is the problem of the creeds themselves. For example, that pesky filioque clause added to the Nicene Creed by the Western Church caused a problem or two, mutual excommunications and whatnot. But still I like it. Especially the loving God and neighbor thing.

        9. I think I would say “Apostle’s Creed”. The creeds did start to get pretty clunky. My family is Armenian Apostolic, which was an official state church before Rome. Anyway, the Armenian delegation walked out of the Council of Chalcedon because they thought the wording had become so Platonic and philosophical in an attempt to delineate Christology that it denied the “plain” reading of Scripture (yeah, so plain that it took 500 years to work out). So yeah, even the creeds have issues, but I think they are a good start.

        10. I think the creeds are a good start as well, Doctor. I mean, you have to start somewhere, even if things aren’t perfect. Everyone makes a big deal of the Big Rift of 1054 between East (Orthodox) and West (Catholic). It was a big deal. But the first major church schism was just as you mentioned, over the Council of Chalcedon. None of these old wounds have yet healed over, though there are attempts on all sides to work things out. Unfortunately, however, stubborn “fundamentalist” Orthodox, R. C., and so-called Oriental Orthodox or Non-Chaldedonians resist union.

          Why can’t we all just get along? πŸ™‚ It comes down to the question, What is a REAL Christian, doesn’t it? Or so it seems to me.

      2. Explain to a 14 year-old girl, who has been sold and swapped between men for most of her life, what the term “fatherly love” means. Any definition you may try to provide will be fraught with contradiction and, justifiably, provoke pain and anger.

        If you dislike my definition of how my father loves me, if you find liars and hypocrites who make my same claim, does that alter the reality of the love that I experience?

        At risk of sounding a bit Freudian, how do you define a mother’s love? It is either a really important question or a really stupid one, but I doubt someone’s skill at defining will affect my opinion.

        From that standpoint, I don’t have a better definition of a real Christian. It really is much easier and much less painful to point out the ones that aren’t real. That is why my self-appointed job is to point out fakes.

        1. From that standpoint, I don’t have a better definition of a real Christian. It really is much easier and much less painful to point out the ones that aren’t real. That is why my self-appointed job is to point out fakes.

          Ah, now we’re getting somewhere! So, as self-appointed Grand Inquisitor, Scathing Determiner of fake and real, it is your call as to who is or who is not a Real Christian.

          Which was my point, after all. 40,000 Christian denominations, everyone of them with a different idea of what is a REAL Christian. Should we now adjust that number to 40,001?

        2. A self-appointed grand inquisitor almost sounds ridiculous. Good thing those I’m criticizing are such evil people, otherwise it might require pause for self-examination.

        3. Of course, I always thought Jane Doe was deceased. Never thought I would be chatting with her.

          Totally different experience from talking with Jane Dough, mind you.

        4. πŸ™‚ You’re very good at deflection. You *did* say you were self-appointed to point out fakes, so yeah, I also found that a little ridiculous.

          Really, I get what you’re saying–or at least I think I do–and I can appreciate it. You think Darrell too easily and broadly condemned all IFBers in his post. So you make broad and easy condemnation of all Catholics to show the absurdity. Or maybe you really do think all Catholics are not Real Christians? Or maybe not?

          At any rate, it seems you are unable or unwilling to answer the question, What is a Real Christian? I don’t blame you. The question is far more difficult than it seems on the surface. I couldn’t answer it myself, not in a way that was satisfactory to me, which is why I was asking. From all the indirect answers you are giving, I assume we agree on its difficulty.

        5. Extending the subject of deflection, could you define fatherly love? I’m sure anyone with half a brain could poke holes in your lousy definition. Is that a problem with the concept or the author? Maybe, as we seem to agree on, the complexity of the subject. It would be much easier to make a really long list that describes what a loving father should do and not do in every situation.

        6. Yes, since I’m generally working with only a quarter of a brain, anyone with half a brain is going to easily outpace me. πŸ™‚

          Anyway, I’m not aware of any serious debate as to what makes a Real Father. I can’t recall any bloodshed over the subject. Yes, of course there will be some people who have differing opinions, but as far as I know all sane, normal people would agree on the general outlines of what makes a Real Father. I would even suggest that your hypothetical 14 yr.-old girl would be able to come up with something worthwhile of a definition–maybe something like, A Real Father is a father who does not intentionally harm his child. Yes, that definition would be colored by the girl’s experiences, knowledge, etc., but it still is a point every normal person would affirm.

          But Real Christian? Over 40,000 Christian denominations strongly suggest that very little agreement exists.

          I guess I’m wondering how it is that you seem have been “self-appointed” to stop in every once in a while to make cryptic comments, to the purpose of showing that Darrell and the SFL readers are guilty of the same regrettable attitudes they are condemning.

          But if you come here to judge SFL attitudes, because you, you alone, have developed the ability to sniff out Fakes from Reals, yet cannot give even give a start of defining what makes a Real–well, I can’t really take that very seriously. In other words, what I’m wondering is: what makes your criteria of Real Christian any better than SFL’s criteria?

        7. Fatherly Love? Well, there are several definitions in the Bible.

          One of them is the ability to cast the first stone at your child in the public square as you kill your child for being rebellious.

          One of them is the ability to beat the snot out of your kid (aka “chastening”) so they will do what you tell them without question.

          I actually like Jesus’ definitions better. A Father will not give his child a snake to bite him when the child is hungry. A Father will want to give good gifts to His children, regardless of whether or not they are deserved. Paul tells Fathers not to provoke their children to anger — which rather disagrees with some of the Old Testament admonitions.

          In any case, I cannot think of God as my Father. My father was gone half the time I was growing up (not his fault, military duties), usually angry, often abusive. We kids lived in fear. Not that mom was all that much better! But when dad was home, if we caught it with Mom, we caught it with Dad as well. Tenderness and gentleness were not on the menu. I have had to try to recreate in me a better kind of father. Mixed results, as my kids would tell you, but I think I have been moving in the right direction. And I have encouraged them to be better parents than I have been.

          Grace is not easy. But it is so much better than the letter of the Law. And a good Father should not be so concerned with legalistic pettiness, but on His relationship with His children.

        8. Nico, I suspect that Jane Doe is actually Poe. But the fact that she (?) gets under our skin demonstrates that the overtly fundy attitudes are very realistic.

          I should try my hand at being Poe sometime. Unfortunately, my writing style is so distinct that anyone could pick up on it right away!

        9. Maybe. Or maybe a troll. Or maybe a fundy that has been lampooned once too often at SFL. Or maybe just a concerned Christian sent by the Lord to show us all the difference between a Real and Fake Christian. At any rate, I always enjoy my discussions with Jane, even if we can’t seem to get anywhere with them! πŸ™‚

          Yeah, your writing style might be a little difficult to cover up!

        10. I’d guess that there are more fake loving fathers than there are fake Christians. Of course you would need at least two real definitions to validate that claim. But you are right, there are seldom armies or bloodshed over fake loving fathers. Must not be a big deal. I’m sure the number is less than 40K. Good thing these hypothetical 14 year olds are smart enough to figure these thing out on their own.

        11. I’m not sure you’re making sense anymore, Jane, and I don’t think you’re even trying to anymore. And I don’t think you’re understanding me. Or maybe you’re just being intentionally ornery. Or all of the above. Who knows? I *thought* we were talking about Real Christians and your near-miraculous ability and self-appointed role to sniff out Fakes. But when questioned, it seems you would rather talk about good or bad fathers.

          Are you suggesting that I don’t care that some fathers are abusive or that I think it’s no big deal? Jane, it was not the big deal we were discussing and I’m pretty sure you know that. We were discussing–well, nevermind. If you want to continue visiting SFL to judge us for being judgmental, be my guest! πŸ™‚ Discussion is good for the soul.

          If you would though, as you judge, just bear in mind that your hypothetical abused young girl is not a bad analogy for the treatment many (perhaps even most) of the commenters here have endured at the hands of fundies, their “spiritual fathers” in Christ.

        12. Nico, it occurred to me that the 24601 in Jane’s name is a zip code. It’s Amonate, VA, rural VA right near the W.VA border, and fairly close the KY and TN. This may say something…

        13. No, I think “24601” refers to Jean Valjean…..

          “Now Prisoner 24601 / Your time is up and your parole’s begun / You know what THAT means–”
          “Yes, it means I’m freeeeeee!”


        14. “If you want to continue visiting SFL to judge us for being judgmental, be my guest!”

          Thank you!

        15. (1) Fatherly Love – Can be hard to define
          Real Christian – ditto
          (2) Fatherly Love – Can be abused (requires judgment)
          Real Christian – ditto
          (3) Fatherly Love – Can be lied about
          Real Christian – ditto
          … -> …
          (1), (2) and (3) may shape ones opinion of its importance or existence

          Note: taste of berry blast cotton candy, also hard to define and can be lied about

        16. If you’re trusting me to connect these truisms to something important and pertinent to our discussion, you’re going to have to be a little clearer. As I mentioned, I’m pretty dense. I think we’ve already agreed about how hard it is to define things–even things we think we know quite well. Other than this, it seems we’re talking circles around each other.

          Going back to square one, the original article. I found Darrell’s assessment of “many” IFB churches as gang-like pretty accurate. Based on my experiences. I also think that those churches/pastors/Christians that act in the way Darrell describes have some work to do if they wish to be considered Real Christians, since they do not appear to be following some basic Christian teachings about how to treat other people. You do not seem to share that opinion.

          Perhaps you enjoy attending a church with a domineering, abusive pastor.

          Perhaps you enjoy rule- and fear-based religion.

          Perhaps you think those who leave the fold should be shunned and treated as the chiefest of sinners.

          I mean, it takes all kinds, I suppose, and obviously some people like this kind of religion; at least they continue to attend and support it. Since you are the self-appointed arbiter of Real and Fake I suppose I’ll just defer to your judgment. Or maybe I should trust my own judgment and steer clear of what I’ve found by experience to be harmful. What to do, what to do . . .

        17. I presume the “it tastes like chicken” answer causes anger and confusion too. Makes you wonder why people dislike chickens so much

    2. That’s funny. πŸ˜‰

      Catholic here. The minuscule amount of ‘rules’ that I adhere to now are so tiny in comparison to what I had to put up with when I was in the IFB is laughable.

      1. More rules = more Godly, Less rules = less Godly
        Or maybe it is
        More rules = less Godly, Less rules = more Godly

        That is the problem with dyslexai

        1. ***Fewer rules
          Proper grammar is next to godliness. 1Hesitations 4:19

          Then there was the dyslexic agnostic. He was wondering if there was a dog.

        2. There is a dog. Two of them. Small beasts who bark constantly. Then there is the white dog who lives the next block over. I never saw it until the fence broke. The white dog does exist.

        3. I suffer from lysdexia, at least partially. My children had it worse.

          Heh. Too bad that isn’t a speeding defense. “Officer, I thought it said ’53’, not ’35’.”

        4. Not necessarily smarter. Fewer-less is one of the things that fall into the “gnat-bite” category for me.

          The “rules equal godliness” dogma is one I grew up with. It is terribly annoying that such anti-biblical teaching is so rarely challenged by people who should be smart enough to know better.

      2. Seriously.

        I’m attending an Episcopal church now after growing up in the SBC.

        After all the fear-mongering I heard about the creeds growing up, the catechism in the prayerbook is a lot shorter than the previous revision of the SBC’s Baptist Faith & Message (and dwarfed by the current one) and the Nicene Creed is shorter and less restrictive of personal variations of belief than the ‘what do we believe Christians believe’ aspects of the local church Faith Statement I grew up under.

        1. I’m using part of the Nicene Creed in my SS lesson series at the “somewhat-lite” IFB church I presently attend.
          I’m thinking of teaching through the whole Creed. At least until I feel I am no longer making a difference or until asked to quit teaching. I keep introducing ideas like worship format is cultural as opposed to Scriptural and that different translations are equal. And that it’s possible (and preferable) to live a godly life without a lot of silly extra-biblical rules.

      1. nico, I go to school on you. For a young guy, you’re exceptionally sharp. Maybe it’s just that I find myself in agreement with much that you say:)

        1. That’s awful nice, BJg. I’m not just being humble when I say I don’t find myself very young or smart–but it was kind of you to say so.

          And good Lord, man, if you agree with much that I say you’re worse off than you think!

  13. Generalizations paint with a broad brush. There are exceptions that are IFB. Our pastor has preached on the cross of Christ for several weeks. No browbeating over someone’s preferences, just pointing us to the cross. Sunday evenings we have been going verse by verse through a New Testament book, Wednesday evenings through an Old Testament book. We’ve had some women wearing slacks in the service with never a mention, an inter-racial couple came and were welcomed warmly. We even gave financial assistance to a non-church family in need. While there are many among the IFB who are completely lunatic, some of us just hold to Baptist doctrine and are seeking to obey the Bible and glorify God. (Some of us do not fit into any of the camps – Ruckman, Hyles, Chappell, or STL – we are just Independent Baptists).

    1. Randy, I would then say you are more moderate than fundamentalist. Really.

      You may choose to hold onto the label, but the fact is that Fundamentalist is indicative of a kind of intellectual and moral insanity that infects “faith”. If you are not so infected, you are really not fundamentalist.

      It is rather like being proud of being called diabetic. Diabetes is a disease. I wish I did not have it. I am working to try to reduce my dependence on medication. But no one in their right mind would want to be labeled a diabetic if they weren’t.

      1. We prefer ‘fundamental’ because we hold to what we consider the fundamentals of the faith.
        I have been IFB all my life and have seen it all. I think the seed problem is simply insecurity. Most ‘Fundamentalists’ can’t associate with anyone who disagrees in the slightest or is different in any way. The reason behind that is, “If I associate with them they can’t be that bad” and that opens the possibility that they may be right! If they’re right, I’m wrong. They can’t expose sin among leadership, because that may destroy ‘the ministry.’ Is God so feeble that He can’t sustain His work? If it’s destroyed, maybe God wasn’t in it. Our pastor even invites people who feel he has preached something in error to come to him. He will sit down and go through the Bible with you (without being offended by your question). He has even come to the pulpit and corrected himself when he has spoken in error. Maybe we should start a new group, IIFB (Intelligent Independent Fundamental Baptist).

        1. I don’t think it is an issue of intelligence. I know some really smart fundies (I once knew a Navy officer who had captained a warship and was also a fundamentalist Mennonite) and some really stupid liberals (trust me, I live in the crunchy-granola capital this side of Denver). It is more an issue of character and values. I grew up in fundamentalism, and the common thread is a false religion that promotes works and adherence to man made rules instead of following Christ and doing his works. I may disagree with fundamentalism, but I wouldn’t call them dumb (except the ones who are, but that hasn’t got to do with their bad religion).

        2. IIFB (Intelligent Independent Fundamental Baptist).


          I appreciate the idea, mind you! But I’m not sure it is possible. You see, if you have to come to a certain conclusion, then you are not using intelligence. You are still being told what to think.

          Before I left my IFB church, I told a deacon that I was working on going through the Scriptures to “prove” that what I believed was so. It alarmed him. He told me that was a good way to lose my faith.

          I asked why. After all, I said, if I believe something that isn’t Scripturally supported, it it important that I believe it anyway?

          But he was right. My faith changed dramatically. I discovered that much of what IFB churches “believe” has been created out of whole cloth, with no real Scriptural justification for it. The structure of fundamentalist belief is built on the flimsiest of evidence, tissue paper painted to make it seem like solid brickwork.

          Even “the Fundamentals” were not believed by the early Church! Not in the form we accept them. They were fully Christ’s Church, but they did not have the New Testament. They did not have fully formed doctrines. And, seeing that the early church was that way — do we need the fully formed doctrines, prepackaged as a set of “fundamentals” to be believed sans evidence?

          No. I think intelligence is a much too complicated thing for fundamentalism to handle.

          But the thought was amazing. Thank you.

        3. Personally I think Fundamentalusts are so called because the tend to preach through their fundaments.

    2. Thank you Randy.

      My church is much the same. We just had a sort of concert put on by our young people. Very conservative, but we have some amazing talent in the teen of our church. About half of the music was put on by another Baptist church in our area. They are less then 10 miles away. Our pastor has helped multiple men set up churches in our county, some of which are in easy driving distance of our church.

      We have women in britches, and men with long hair. There is never preaching or teaching against those things. Standards are considered to be personal and something a family chooses in conjunction with God.

      As to mixed race couples, my wife and I are of mixed race. I was looking at our Junior Choir (4th-6th grade) out of the 25ish kids , probably less then 1/3rd could be considered white. Most of them are mixed.

      So yes there are good people and good churches in the IFB realm. You just don’t hear about them because most of them are quietly going about their lives and business.

      1. And all the things you just mentioned have nothing to do with Jesus. They could just as easily have been written by a Muslim or a Mormon.

        I find that interesting.

        1. Because many of the things which are focused on in fundamentalism have nothing to do with Jesus. I personally think life for the Christian is pretty simple to define. Cultivate a relationship with God through study of His Word, and seek to glorify Him through our daily conduct. Simple to express, much more difficult to practice.

    3. Since the term “fundamentalist” has changed meaning to encompass the wild, wacky, legalistic side of whatever religion (it’s not just protestants) you might want to rethink calling yourself one. I believe there’s no coincidence that “mental” is part of “fundamentalism”.

  14. I have to say this post makes me deeply uncomfortable. Not because it’s too broad a brush, but because it treads on territory that I would as soon see left alone.

    For all their flaws, the fundamentalist does preach Christ crucified.
    They may have filled their doctrines with the rules of man. They may be terrible at living a Christian life, and they may even mock those who are better followers of Christ than they.

    But at the end of the day, do we have the right to say that anyone who preaches salvation in Christ is not a Christian, no matter how bad they may be at their faith? I hesitate to follow that path, because it seems to me far too presumptuous for us humans. The Lord knows his own; we need only follow Him and guide others to what He has given us to know.

    1. He didn’t say that fundamentalists are not christian. He said that many are not.

      I honestly believe that there are many people in any church who go to church and are religious, but have not accepted the salvation of Christ for themselves personally. So I would say that in any church there are people who are not saved.

      When you see the amount of criminal abuse that occurs and is covered up in fundamentalist churches, then I would honestly say that there is a very good chance that the perpetrators are showing by their fruit that they are not saved. The epidemic of this activity in these specific churches suggests that many in IFB churches are playing the religion game but are not themselves followers of Christ.

      Now, I know for a fact that some who are in IFB churches are saved. I know some of them. I do not think the ones I know are very mature christians, because they have personally seen criminal abuse covered up and are refusing to speak out or stop supporting the abuse enablers. But I do believe that they are saved.


      1. Well, for one, I actually don’t believe there’s such a thing as “saved” here. Christianity is a path we must walk to the end, not a momentary decision we make and are done with.

        As to whether the path they are on leads to heaven? It is certainly not the best path. It is certainly one full of more temptations than many other paths. Yet it is still one that at least attempts to point to Christ. I am wary of saying more of it than that – the Lord will know His own in the end. I have a hard time calling this or that group out as not Christian, merely because their sin seems greater than mine.

        1. That idea, that there isn’t such a thing as “saved,” is one that has been impressing itself upon me lately.

          It is profoundly uncomfortable, too.

          But all I have to is look at all the “saved” people who do such dastardly deeds demonstrating dedication to their deity to come to the conclusion that salvation doesn’t seem to save from much.

          Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” But it seems to me that if Christ only saves us in regard to the next life, but has no power to redeem the present one, then we are equally as miserable.

          Let those who proclaim “salvation” actually demonstrate it!

        2. Salvation as process. Thanks for bringing this up–I believe that, and it is a grand and beautiful ideal with wonderful implications.

          The problem is that everyone wants to define the process or rule out every other path but one–the one he or she happens to be on at the time, of course.

          Then again, it seems to be a no-brainer to look at some paths, paths that are noticeably harmful (spiritually, physically, emotionally, whatever) to its followers and say, “Brethren, these things ought not so to be.”

          But it’s a difficult thing, this defining of Real Christian.

    2. I’m going to go much more extreme than many here and assert that Fundamentalists do not preach “Christ crucified”. Their practical soteriology is based more on a prayer (right words, right time, right feelings) than the finished work of Christ. Their practical soteriology comes with the additional idols of a style of dress, a style of music, and a style of Scripture. Don’t believe me? Ask any fundamentalist about a hypothetical someone who “prayed the prayer” and then refused to bow to their man-made rules and left for a “liberal” church – would they be considered saved? Highly unlikely, especially if that person had teh gay or played teh devil music or smoked, etc.

      No, Fundamentalists do not preach Christ crucified at all. Despite how loudly they shout the phrase. They preach a false gospel, damnable heresy, adding to Christ’s simplicity.

  15. A little late to the party but I thought I’d give y’all a glimpse of what is considered a “Real Christian” in my little corner of farmland/marshland coastal Alabama.
    Note: this is solely based on my personal observations of/interactions with people in the area, and I have actually encountered one person here whose actions were in line with the teachings of Christ (according to my knowledge of such teachings)

    1. No britches on women
    2. Extreme long hair on same
    3. Women subservient to men and work outside home frowned upon
    4. Hair on men short
    5. African American people the result of the curse of somebody- Cain or Ham- can’t remember which one the guy said
    6. God-given Second Amendment rights exercised in the form of carrying guns in public- even in the grocery store
    7. Hoarding of incandescent light bulbs, as the energy saving ones are some sort of government plot to…I don’t even know what but the lady in the dollar store was seriously freaked out that I was buying them and tried to explain.
    8. Fearful of the government and of anything even remotely not ultra conservative

    I am neither a Poe nor a troll. Just giving an account of my personal experience. Make of it what you will.

  16. This was an amazing comparison to me! IFB gangs….except that real gang members would sacrifice and even die for fellow members. IFB gangs lie to you, use you & cast you aside. Sad.

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