Controlling The Flow of Information

Fundamentalists fear a widespread and unregulated flow of information more than any other single thing. Any source that cannot be monitored, regulated, and censored must be demonized, castigated, and forbidden. Always.

In the past, maintaining power in a church or organization was a much simpler affair than it is today. Whatever a pastor said in his own church was unlikely to make it to the ears of anyone other than his congregation. He was free to rant, rave, posture and prevaricate to his heart’s content and nobody was the wiser.

The foibles and follies of churches, schools, and other ministries was kept a family secret. Anyone who talked about them would be punished. Anyone who wrote about them would be shunned. And who would listen anyway? Ex-fundamentalists didn’t exactly have their own newspaper.

Then the Internet happened.

Today if you ask the average fundamentalist their view of the internet the words “filth,” “lies,” and “gossip” will inevitably emerge in their description. The Christian’s position on the internet should be akin to a group street preaching in a red light district. Blast out your message but don’t stick around too long or look too closely.

Thankfully, today’s fundy pastors are finding it harder and harder to hide in the darkness and control the flow of information. What’s said in church on Sunday night will be on You Tube by Monday morning. A church’s high crimes and misdemeanors that would have never made it past the local papers now sail around the world in a matter of seconds.

The fierce light of public scrutiny has come to fundyland and its colleges and approved media outlets are running scared.

46 thoughts on “Controlling The Flow of Information”

  1. Awesome! I agree whole heartedly. I used to ask Why are we afraid of the truth? That did not make me popular in fundyism.
    I know why they are afraid of the truth now. It contradicts them.

  2. Another interesting thing that I’ve found. Now that the internet is established as a valid source of information and a mainstay conservative, and Fundamentalists have been embracing it ever so slightly. One thing that is striking is that most fundamentalist blogs don’t allow comments. Striking when you compare that to open blogs or forums where anyone can post.

  3. To piggy back on what Mark said…or, the blogs close the thread when too many people aren’t talking “the party line” and are making more sense than the people who started the topic in the first place. I hope they’re quickly learning this is a battle they won’t win. They’re so unused to their sermons and writings being deconstructed, they really don’t know what to do. Here’s a big hint: If your theology can’t withstand deconstruction, it’s probably not worth believing.

  4. At colleges (like Golden State Baptist College, for example), the internet is extremely restricted. Students aren’t allowed to have Myspace or Facebook, and have to get special permission to have a personal blog (they pretty much frown on that, though).

    The same goes in the Christian schools run by these churches. All of the adults are just ranted at every week about the wickedness that goes on in blogs and social networks.

  5. Yup, spot on. The only one allowed to use the internet at my ex-fundy church was the pastor. He used it to order fundy materials and look up new conspiracy theories to insert into his sermons every week.

    My parents’ current fundy church frowns on Facebook and any other kind of online social networking. Fortunately my older siblings have them anyway or I’d never know what was going on with them.

  6. Fundyism-Truth…. Oil-Water….light-darkness

    To borrow a phrase regarding fundys and truth: “YOU can’t handle the truth.”

    Fundys fear truth because it exposes their anti-intellectualism and slaughters their sacred cows.

  7. I remember one pastor preaching a whole sermon at those in the congregation that argue about doctrine on blogs. He specifically preached against a certain doctrine that I had been discussing on my blog (I was about 18 at the time, and I got REAL nervous thinking he found MY blog). As it turned out, some former member of the church just so happened to be doing his own internet research about stuff, and had an interesting email exchange with the pastor.

    Once we found out what was really going on, we started having secret meetings with the former member and found out all the dirty stuff that was going on behind the scenes at church.

    Unless you’ve been involved in a Fundy church, what I just said sounds like something completely crazy and insane.

  8. One of the true marks of a cult is control of information that members receive and to “correct” the information that is suspect.

  9. In my experience fundie leaders fear outside info and differing perspectives cause it always destroys their ideology. Fundamentalism exists because close mindedness is propagated. Rarely have I seen someone that can entertain different perspectives stay in fundamentalism… that is why the outside world is so scary to fundie leaders.

    They say it’s cause sin is too attractive – in reality anything but fundamentalism is attractive. They paint all other Christians as wrong and carnal. Then if you ever meet a real Christian it is like “wow they love Jesus more than my fundie Pastor, maybe he’s the carnal one.” That is why any independent thought or differing ideology is killed with ferocity and vigor.

  10. The only place I ever experienced this was PCC. And was genuinely baffling how so many people could think it was fine (probably was less than 50% of students were fine with it, but the % was absurdly high). I’ll never understand those who willfully choose to be manipulated & deceived. I just don’t get it. Especially in local churches. It just doesn’t compute to me.

  11. We’ve been to China a few times. Communist China has the very same views and restrictions on the internet…

    just saying.

  12. I recently heard of a pastor instructing the students getting ready to return to Christian colleges not to engage in any debates. If someone challenges your position on any of the issues, just tell them “God already settled that” and refuse to debate it with them. What a great way to ensure that your congregation doesn’t get wind of how weak and baseless the positions are that you’ve taught them over the years!

    Of course, that will eventually backfire with a lot of those young adults. Funny that you post that now, shortly after I heard about that. It’s just another way to control information (or try to) when people are exposed to the “outside world” for a time.

    Come to think of it, if BJU/PCC/et al are the “outside world” from your point of view, that’s a very scary thing.

  13. Good observation escapee – my mother once shocked the folks in the fundamentalist sect I grew up in, by comparing it to Maoism, especially in the Maoist practices of public confession of imagined thought crimes etc., the practice of spying on your neighbour etc.

  14. “The foibles and follies of churches, schools, and other ministries was kept a family secret. Anyone who talked about them would be punished. ”

    Conversely, if you cross a fundy pastor’s will in some way, he may think it’s perfectly O.K. to publish your personal struggles, real or imagined, to every other pastor and institution you have anything to do with. It starts with a minor misunderstanding and by the time the story gets back to you through the fundy telephone network, you’re surprised to find out you’re a thief and drug addict whose marriage is in trouble.

  15. I unfortunately have to disagree with something here. It’s not only the fundys that do it. I will concede that they are pretty much the worst, however; our own government will do the same thing when they feel that there is a threat. The fear is a loss of control or power. And the illusion is that they have it.

  16. It’s not only the fundys that do it.

    I’m trying to figure out where anybody said it was.

    In fact, someone already pointed out that governments (namely China) already do on a regular basis.

  17. Information control for Fundys – If it’s in the Sword of the Lord, it’s good enough for me!

    It is still amazing to see how the typical IFB rants about “heresies” on the internet, then in the next breath reads an email, or a blog post, or something from the internet to prove their point.

    “YOU can’t handle the truth.” – LOL!

  18. “It is still amazing to see how the typical IFB rants about “heresies” on the internet, then in the next breath reads an email, or a blog post, or something from the internet to prove their point.”

    LOL, how true is that! I can’t tell you how many email chains I get from Fundy friends & family that spout some crazy conspiracy theory, false story, etc. They don’t like to be criticized and have falsehoods spread about them on the internet, but they have no problem not fact-checking what they do chose to send and talk about. It’s definitely ironic.

  19. @ Louis
    I’ve said for years that its comparable to Maoism. Public confession, the break apart of the family – no privacy allowed, book burning, cultural revolution, etc etc

  20. Many years ago someone sent The Preacher an anonymous letter expressing concern that there was obvious inconsistencies between what he preached and how his daughter behaved in church with her boyfriend… among other things.

    He launched an all-out investigation to expose this ‘slanderer’ and bring him/her to accountability. He called suspects in one-by-one and interrogated each one to see if he could intimidate the culprit to confession. To this day, no one knows who it was.

    The irony? Every time he preached, he detailed his accounts of various wrong-doings at the hand of members-past and present-careful not to give their names, but leaving no doubt who he was talking about. He considered it a cowardly crime for someone to send him an accusatory anonymous letter, but his duty as the ‘pastor’ to do the same from behind the sacred pulpit.

    Now, the internet gives poetic justice to his victims by virtue of the cyber pulpit!

  21. I have been taken off of everyone’s email list. I no longer get fundamentalist spam which is nice. It was easy to accomplish, whenever I got an email from one of my fundy friends I would just hit Reply All and include the link to Snopes that debunked their nonsense.

    You can’t handle the truth! LOL

  22. It is ironic that IFBism is similar to the Roman Catholic church prior to the Reformation: don’t question, just obey what we tell you. The printing press helped change that. The Internet is the new printing press. Only it is better. It is free, anyone can use it, and it is world-wide in scope. This is why IFBites and governments hate it. The Internet is second only to the invention of writing in importance. The information battle has entered its most significant phase since it began in Genesis 3:1, “Yea, hath God said….”

    All hail the Internet! Cockroaches, run for the dark!

  23. @outside of fundyism I’ve done the reply to all snopes things before. I usually get about 1 or 2 replies saying “thanks for correcting the record, I’m so tired of hearing the same old BS too”. Don’t get many of them anymore even from fam.

  24. “It’s not only the fundys that do it.”
    Do we really want Churches to follow the standard set by the Government? Do you suppose that Fundys are intentionally trying to emulate The Federal Government? They claim to be better than everyone. I turns out that they are on the same page as BIG BROTHER.

  25. Great post! I was thinking about this very topic yesterday.
    A big part of the problem is the fact that the medium of the Internet, especially in the form of the blog, is so foreign to old-school guys. They just don’t get it, so even when they try the Internet, they shut off comments on their videos or their articles rather than try to put forward their ideas in the way that follows Internet etiquette.
    That being said, fundies on the Internet are no different than fundies in real life conversation. They try to shut down all debate with platitudes and straw men rather than honestly deal with the issues being discussed. That is true on this site and on every blog and forum site I frequent.

  26. I had an IFB pastor would consistent use sermon illustrations about a person he knew who did …. and know they are no longer in church or following the Lord. The pastor would never use their name, but in our small church everyone knew who he was talking about.

    If that was not bad enough, if we discussed our IFB concerns with a brother or sister, then we were ‘hit’ with the Proverbs passage about ‘sowing discord among the brethren’.

  27. not saying i argree, because i don’t , but many bussinesses, hospitals, ect will not alow their employees to have facebook and myspace.

  28. Are you talking about blocking access to it at work, or telling the employee they can’t have it at home either?

  29. @ Darrell, I have a friend in Florida who teaches for a local district that does not allow her to have facebook at all. I guess it’s purportedly so she doesn’t become “friends” with her students. Personally, I found that restriction out of line. If they want to say teachers can’t friend students, fine, but I don’t think a business has any business telling employees that they can’t even have a facebook account.

    1. I am a school teacher and we are presented with this choice all the time. We have not been told, “You can not have a FB or MS account.” We have been told to be damn sure we don’t post anything inappropriate on the account (if we choose to have one.)

      I personally don’t have an account, and a big reason is that I do not want to deal with my students truing to “friend” me. I know teachers that have accounts and are friends with their students on FB, and I (personally) think this is wildly inappropriate.

      Our teachers union sends us newsletters, and often included in them are stories of teachers/ administration that have been let go due to graphic content being posted on their account. If you can ensure that your account can stay squeaky clean, I guess it’s cool to have one. But the small off chance that someone else will mess my wall up, post a picture of me, ect is too risky, and I don’t want to lose my job over it.

      1. I actually think it is a very sensible rule to forbid teachers from becoming Facebook friends with their students. There is a very strong risk it could cause problems. However, to say that teachers cannot have use Facebook at all is going too far.

  30. Good post, Good comments.
    I wonder if the real reason that churches are so restricted in China is the competition to government control rather than the spiritual concepts of God and faith?

  31. I always thought it was odd how warm and fuzzy BJU admins were to the Chinese govt. How many times did I hear in chapel “We have an exchange program with the Chinese govt because they like the way we do things here!” Oh? Really?? It may not necessarily be true, but it’s not really a good thing.

    This entire conversation has been clarifying for me. So thanks you all. . . .

  32. @thpreach

    I work for a hippy tech company and before that for a hippy university so my experience isn’t exactly the norm. But I’ve always worked for companies that allow my private life to be my private life. They also don’t mind me checking FB or Twitter at work. But my wife has worked at a bank and now public schools. It is much different there. Neither blocks the person from having accounts and using them, but both tend to block the person from accessing it at work. The former I believe is more of the norm…rather than saying you cannot even have an account, and the latter is pretty common.

    I wouldn’t work for a company that thought it could tell me what I can and cannot do away from work. Brings back too many bad memories.

  33. Public Universities have to deal w/ Freedom of Speech issues aren aren’t allowed to BLOCK really anything. They can limit bandwidth to various sites & types of sites, which still allows the speech to occur, but that’s about it.

  34. When you limit what your people read or watch, you can say whatever you want and they don’t know if you’re right or wrong. Such pastors say, “CCM is shallow and worldly,” but if their people listened to it, they’d find much of it that is Scriptural and uplifting as I did. Such pastors say, “Anyone who is missional is preaching another Gospel,” but if their people looked up the doctrinal positions of some of the people being villified they would discover how orthodox their beliefs really are. For me, of course, the first step was simply reading the Bible itself. Pastors said, “Being emotional or passionate in your worship is wrong. You must be solemn and formal,” but then I read the Psalms. The house of cards started to collapse.

  35. Brandon said,

    “It is still amazing to see how the typical IFB rants about “heresies” on the internet, then in the next breath reads an email, or a blog post, or something from the internet to prove their point.”

    What’s amazing to me is that IFB folks are even allowed to own a computer or even a TV set! I would think those things would be “Satan’s eyeballs” to Fundies!

  36. If you’re old enough, you may recall that Jack Hyles used to preach that using the internet was a sin, apart from necessary email. During the late 90’s, it was argued by many of his flying monkeys that nobody should have a web site or go looking through web pages.

    My clash with freedom occurred, oddly enough, over Dr Who stories. I’d been gone from BJU Press for about 8 years before I tried my hand at writing Dr Who fan fiction. Within a year, I was getting a thousand hits a month and had a regular readership. Then one day one of the ladies from the Press asked to come over, so I said ok. And she came to my place and told me they objected to my Dr Who stories. I was stunned.

    So, smiling and in a very good natured way, I told her as nicely as I could that I didn’t care. It was clear that she had been prompted to tell me stuff she didn’t want to say, but she made herself stumble out the rest, that maybe they would pull my books from the shelf if I kept writing stories about Jo getting kidnapped in intergalactic casinos, and the Doctor drinking beer. So I told her, “I don’t get royalties. I don’t care. Pull the books off the shelf if you think you should.”

    She dropped it right away. We actually had a nice conversation after that, and the books were never pulled off the shelf. By the time I started documenting church abuse cases, I guess they’d already realized it would be useless to pursue the matter with me.

  37. I know for a fact that my old IFB church had people who worked as Facebook spies. I said something entirely true about the folly of having double standards, and within 24 hours, I had been ordered to remove what I wrote and ordered to meet with the pastor before Wednesday service. Because I was still running the Stupid Minion OS, I complied.

    Now, Pastor was not on Facebook, so he wouldn’t say how he found out. But, he luckily gave me his copy of my status update, and it was in an email message from one of the deacons. At least I knew who to block and unfriend.

  38. This is disturbing, imo. Children as young as K-4 are punished with “palm pops” ” which are 1-3 “pops” on the palm of the hand with a ruler, given by the teacher.

  39. In light of what’s happened rescently with Jack Schaap eliminatung craziness he has spouted there needs to be a redux post of this.

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