In an age where people are likely to have more friends online than they do in their own neighborhoods and tweet more than they converse face-to-face, fundamentalism still provides a genuine sense of old-fashioned community with people you can actually see. And in a fundamentalist community you’ll see an awful lot of them since your church, your school, your work, and your social circle will likely involve the same exact same people.
Yes, the rules of the group may be strict and arbitrary. The leadership may flawed and autocratic. Nevertheless, fundies are some of the most fiercely loyal people to their bretheren and sisteren that you’ll ever meet. It is loyalty that extends no further than the border of separation that holds back the evils of the outside world but it is unswerving to those inside.
If you’re a fundamentalist brother who’s hungry, they’ll feed you. If you’re a sister who is in need they’ll give you a place to stay. If you’re a fundamentalist in the company of those of like mind you’ll never be left alone (no matter how much you may sometimes wish you were).
When I was a fundamentalist I was the recipient of fundy friendship and generosity on too many occasions to count. For that I’m truly thankful.
27 thoughts on “Fundy Love Day 1: Community”
Off to a great start! It’s definitely the sense of fellowship and community, of people who genuinely love each other and will lend a hand, that has kept me going back to my parents’ church for so long after I’ve bailed on fundy doctrine. If fundamentalists do only one thing right, it’s this.
Even though I am more intellectual than emotional (ISTJ for those of you who know Myers-Briggs and 5 for those of you who know the Enneagram), I would say that probably the only reason that I stayed in Fundy-land so long was because of this. It wasn’t until I was offered the same community from non-fundamentalists that I was able to leave.
This is very true, until you find out that you were just someone else’s ministry, and that except for the brownie points that your ‘friend’ was earning with God and the fundy leadership, they really did not care about you. Fortunately, this is the exception and not the rule for most fundies I have known. Most are very warm and caring as long as you are a fundy. When we left, our fundy church, I only received one phone call from our ‘fundy friends’, one of my groomsmen. But those who leave fundyland are quick to restore the friendships. We have picnics and go camping together. Fake friendships happen a lot outside of fundyland for different reasons. Inside fundyland, it hurts more because you don’t expect it. The friendships formed in fundyland are pretty solid.
Regrettably, if you are too much an individual and disagree with those in charge, no matter how you go about it, you’ll find yourself on the outs in fundyland.
I love that you’re doing this! So often, all we have to say is negative (even though it’s usually justified), and we forget that these really are our brothers and sisters–those we are commanded to love in I John 4:7-12.
I definitely agree with this one. One of the hardest things about leaving Fundamentalism is feeling that sense of community will be lost. I have an athiet friend who described her “deconversion” like that–as a loss of family and community.
While that sense of community *can* be found elsewhere, there’s nothing like community as done in Fundyland. It’s truly the world’s most unique type of comaradarie.
I would like to adamantly & unequivocally say this is true! My grandparents were very much members of the IFB church that did the school I went to (we went to a diff IFB church, that this was also entire true of. But for over a decade of being shut ins, there wasn’t a week that went by that they weren’t visted (usually multiple times), but staff, friends, & others. They would bring food & stay and talk to & love my grandparents beyond my ability to describe appreciate in a blog post comment. 3 cheers for Fundy communities.
and PS, I know quite a few Fundies who still would welcome me to anything I needed w/o question if were to fall on hard times, or whatever. I know there are many who will shun those outside of fundamentalism, but I think there are still quite a few fundies who are willing to extend that community/love even to those who are no longer exactly fundies. Theoretcially IFBs should believe in Soul Competency or Liberty.
Yes Rob, I do agree with that. There are a few Fundamentalists who feel genuine grief at my point of view, but they welcome me anyway. You’re right.
100% correct. I went to visit my Mom and Dad’s church for her Mother’s Day (she doesn’t live in the same town I do, and even if we did, I wouldn’t go to that church, it is a BIG B Baptist), and the people there were so welcoming; the pastor there (a new guy who had NEVER met me) welcomed me, shook my hand, asked if there was anything he could pray for, and gave me a big hug. Yeah, he had just did a MOTHER acrostic with more email stories than Bible verses, but at least he was nice.
@BASSENCO’s first: very true. +1. You are community as long as you stay in line. Get out of line, and…
So long as you are “of” them then you are family.
If you are a visitor you are “potential” family.
If you get out of line you are demoted to in-law.
If you wake up and leave the cult then you beocme an outlaw. (1 John 2:19)
You have to overlook a whole lot of errors in order to be “in” with the family.
Don’t the Amish do this much better?
As someone who descends from Amish stock, I can tell you both “yes they do” and also “the Baptist have nothing on the Amish when it comes to punishing those who backslide.”
Hmm. True so true. I still have some pretty close and good friends from my old IFB church.
And ya gotta love those ol’ fellowship dinners amen?
@Darrell I have only heard stories of Amish shunnings. As bad as it can be to be excommunicated from fundies in *some* circles/camps. Amish shunnings are universally brutal as far as I know, fairly unprecedented outside of actual cults, and incredibly ungodly (IMO). I’m really really really looking forward to the rest of the week.
I very much disagree w/ easy believism, and lots of fundy doctrine, I’d be a bit careful accusing them of heresy. Even the Apostles did some pretty odd practices at times. I have a lot of bones w/ many fundies, but I would certainly hope to be sharing eternity w/ the Horton’s, Jones’s, etc, flaws & all.
Churches with that level of community DO exist outside of fundamentalism (I was a member of one for several years), but they are definitely harder to find.
I had it somewhat easy; my departure from fundamentalism coincided with my move to another state. I seriously doubt that very many people from the fundy churches I grew up in or my alma mater even know that I’m no longer a fundamentalist. As a VERY strong introvert, my natural tendency to listen and think before I speak means that I typically am not very outspoken in person. As long as no one asks me point-blank about my views on, say, Bible translations, alcohol, eschatology, baptism, etc., they’d probably never know that I disagree with them. While I do NOT like having to visit my parents’ church during the holidays and endure fundy preaching, I am very warmly welcomed when I do.
Meh. If community means drinking the Kool-aid and following every “divine” dictate of man, then I guess it is a positive. I’m fine without the “community” I grew up in and with.
@Brandon: I had the exact opposite experience going back to my old IFB church with my mother on Sunday. The only association I got was from the guy I’ve been going to school with who was only back for the same reason as me (Mother’s Day).
@Mark #2. Very sorry to hear that. I may have been more fortunate than most in fundy land, but I still claim a large part of what I learned/believe love to be I learned by meeting people in fundy churches around me on our way into & out of hospitals visiting members (not part of a visitation program), just when you hear someone is in the hospital you go & visit & pray w/ them. Profoundly moving & beautiful to have that many people voluntarily not just praying but coming to see sick people, shut ins, etc. It’s not just something for the friends of that person or family or the paid staff.
“…I would certainly hope to be sharing eternity w/ the Hortonâ€™s, Jonesâ€™s, etc, flaws & all.”
Me too. And Mother Theresa and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and … .
@Dan Keller! FO SHO!
Yeah, I used to say the same thing. Nearly word for word. A lot. . . .
We so want it to be true. We do. We really, really want that to be “community.”
It can be a wonderful community and you grow very close to them, especially when you see them Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and any other special church events. That makes it even more painful when they decide they don’t like you anymore. I truly loved the people of our church, but when they decided we weren’t fundy enough and left en masse for another church, they’ve cut us out of their lives, even to the point of unfriending us on facebook! It’s tremendously painful, and even more so seeing my children missing their former friends.
Ah, I can safely say that this was not my experience. I was hopelessly bullied in my church and Christian school for eight long years. I had nobody to turn to for help… not my family, not a sympathetic staff member, not someone on the outside. I didn’t learn the truth about what Christian community should be until I was over 30 years old. (Thank you, Dr. Bilezikian!) Even now, after quite some time out of Fundyland, I’m still very skittish when church is mentioned and have to work very hard to get to know people at a church.
sorry, I disagree w/ this to an extent. The “community” in the fundamentalism I grew up w/ is a bunch of fake people. All abuse in families was overlooked when I was growing up. . .abused children/wives, etc had NOWHERE safe to turn w/o being beat over the head w/ a Bible. . .or told to obey their parents or their husband. . .or their pastor. So, no, the community aspect doesn’t work for me.
Maybe that’s why I jumped from fundyism into the military. It has a strong bond between members.