Insulation

The fundamentalist community has strong walls and high gates to protect itself against the world around it. In order that fundies may soil themselves as little as possible with the evil that lurks outside the sacred bubble, they attempt as much as possible to replicate every facet of secular life in fundamentalist hues inside this shell.

In short, the fundamentalist organization will attempt to become everything to you who are held in its dread sway. They are your church, your employer, your schools, your social sphere, your sports team, your library, your music publisher, your landlord, and oh, so much more.

This creates the happy circumstance where, to many people, leaving fundyland means not only losing your church but also your children’s education, all your family friends, your job,  and maybe even  your house. Many are those who grunt and sweat under a weary life in fundamentalism because they have no idea where they would go or how they would live if they left.

How do you get a job in the outside world if you know nobody there and your qualifications only exist inside the fundamental sphere? Would you risk consigning your children to the deviltry of public schooling if leaving your church meant that they could no longer attend the one they are in now? How do you make friends of the evil people in the cold, cruel world?

Hopefully one day you’ll find out that the pay is better, the people are nicer, and life is so much sweeter outside those walls. The only difference between a castle and a prison is whether you’re trying to keep the people out or in.

68 thoughts on “Insulation”

  1. “How do you get a job in the outside world if you know nobody there and your qualifications only exist inside the fundamental sphere?”

    And how I am feeling the pain of that right now. The same government rules that won’t recognize my fundy Bachelor’s degree as valid will not allow me to get a Pell Grant because I have a Bachelor’s degree.

  2. I know a family that’s been deeply affected by this… although it’s not quite a “good fundamentalist family” (they live in the inner city with a single mother, a gang-associated older brother who is currently in jail, and the two oldest daughters have run off with various boyfriends more than once, not to mention one of them has a baby), the mother has had it so drilled into her that public schools are the worst of all evils (because, of course, the Baptist church they attend has a Baptist school) that she refuses to send them there. Unfortunately, she can’t afford to pay for her children to attend the Baptist school, so they’re “homeschooled”.

    I’m pretty sure you all can figure out what that means. It means one of the girls could barely read before she was nine. It means the youngest boy has autism, but has never been diagnosed and therefore gets no help, because he was never in a school where someone could recognize his condition. They did briefly attend the Baptist school, but they were still so behind, I doubt they’ll actually be able to pursue higher education. The mother could send all of her children to a decent public school for free, but because she’s had it so drilled into her that it’s eeeeevil (trust me, it was NOT a personal choice on her part), she won’t.

    *sigh* Not to say I’m better than her or anything, but I’m very glad she allows her kids to come to the Sunday School at my church (a non-denominational gathering of Christians to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that seeks to follow the Bible’s teachings as closely as possible). It’s funny, because she really isn’t a good “fundamentalist Baptist”… except for that one area of her life.

  3. @Darrell, Fuuny you should quote The Last Castle, one of my favorite movies. That picture right away reminded me of it. I like it because of the study in leadership. Redford’s character is a well known general who was court-martialed because he disobeyed a command resulting in the deaths of some men. He shows up at the military prison run by a fundy preacher played by Gandolfini…no, wait! He’s just an arrogant colonel who manipulates the inmates (sheeple) psychologically, is surrounded by his own security force (deacons, or college militia)), has the inmates building a pointless wall in the yard (rules), and takes out anyone who defies him (church “discipline”). The closest he has ever been to a real battle is the civil war artifacts he keeps in a glass case., and when he hears the general point that out to his aide, he burns with resentment.

    The general, on the other hand, seems to attract the respect of the inmates. He has an aura of dignity and command; they find ways to salute him. He treats the men like soldiers they *were* and expects the best of them, yet he refuses to be considered of any higher rank than any other inmate. He is a man of honor. He acknowledges that he did indeed commit a crime and deserves his punishment and does so with humility (never happen in fundyland). In an attempt to expose the criminal behavior of the colonel/warden, the inmates take over the prison. They rally around the general who skillfully organizes them into an effective small army…

    My goodness, Darrell, I never would have seen this movie as an expose’ on fundamentalism if you hadn’t pointed it out. Where do we gather to build the trebuchet?

  4. Every teenager debating whether they will go to fundy college or not needs to read every post on this site.

    The message of Freedom in Christ needs to permeate the fundy circles and liberate those shackled by guilt, fear and athoritarian leadership.

    May God help the hurting youth trapped in these cults with no way out and may God have pity on the souls of those adults who manipulate the sheeple for their own benefit.

  5. But on the inside you have the satisfaction of being “right” and knowing you’ll be “rewarded”. Who needs happiness?

    need to see The Last Castle again, thanks for the mention

  6. Wow, so true!!! Being that I’m experiencing all of the above at this point in my life it’s nice to know there’s a few other people out there who understand what it’s like to “escape.” Nothing like culture shock in one’s own country. *sigh*

    @ Mike- “The message of Freedom in Christ needs to permeate the fundy circles and liberate those shackled by guilt, fear and athoritarian leadership.”
    Right on. It just makes me sad! 🙁

  7. Sad but true, this reminds me about my trip to the east/west German border in the early 1980’s. The fences and obsticles were designed to keep the people in. Guards would shoot anyone going west. The fundy design is to keep people in. More like a fishing lure. Going in you don’t see the danger, and leaving causes even more damage. Thank God, he heals us.

  8. so long as there is control to be had, to be wielded over others there will be fundyism.
    There ar those who do it with the best intentions treating their people like children who need a firm hand… the rest do it for the power it gives them. Lord Acton’s Axiom is a applicable to the Fundy leadership today as it was to the Pope in his time.
    “I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” -Lord Acton

  9. “This creates the happy circumstance where, to many people, leaving fundyland means not only losing your church but also your children’s education, all your family friends, your job, and maybe even your house. Many are those who grunt and sweat under a weary life in fundamentalism because they have no idea where they would go or how they would live if they left.”
    Somebody needs to start a fundy halfway house where people can detox and and get support while they find their footing.

  10. its like prison…i would meet guys who couldn’t survive outside of prison. In prison…your life is dictated to you and you come to rely on the 3 meals a day and some time in the yard…you feel safe there. And i know a lot of guys who committed crimes when they got out just so they could go back. Institutionalized.

  11. @Pita – “Somebody needs to start a fundy halfway house where people can detox and and get support while they find their footing.”

    You’re on to something here…Someone to love these people like Christ is what is needed.

    Also, assistance could be given so that disenchanted christians would hopefully not throw the baby out with the bath water. (Meaning – Just because christians have been hurtful to them doesn’t mean that they should abandon God and his love altogether)

    @Culture Shocked – I am sad too. I definetely feel your pain. I have been there and still deal with it daily. It’s awesome though knowing that Christ can deliver us…even from religion.

  12. @Pita
    Somebody needs to start a fundy halfway house where people can detox and and get support while they find their footing.

    I sure could have used that. Losing your income, friends, church, family, identity and employability in one day is pretty shocking. Especially when you are trying to do what is right.

  13. This phenomenon @ Pensacola baffled me. I never could figure out how after even 1 semester you would think it was a good idea to stay around on staff or faculty. Have realized that while I def had fundy parents, was BLESSED to not have gotten sucked into these authoritarian tyrants “dread sway”. I just feel bad for people that are genuinely totall trapped. I wish there were some kind of halfway house for them like the commenter said. It’s a really tough transition once you are in that deep & that dependent.

  14. Darrell & Other Participants:

    Although I managed to post some half-way intelligent comments on your forums, I am taken aback with the level of insight by you and your participants offer on Fundamentalism in the U.S.

    Help me out here:

    When many (like me) in the urban midwest think of Fundamentalism, we think of Moody Bible Institute in Illinois or Liberty University in Virginia. But the flavor and tenor of the discussions here leads me to think that there is whole different and (very pervasive) brand of Fundamentalism that I have not seen directly.

    I am life-long urban midwesterner and have seen many things in Protestant Evangelicalism that certainly mirror what you see in Fundamentalism in the south. Hence, many of my observations on the absurdities in Evangelicalism can be easily applied to the IFB ilk. But…. I get the feeling that the Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton (Evangelical Mecca of the Midwest) and very conservative Southern Baptist stuff really is different than what you folks have seen and dealt with, or is it? For instance, I was with an Evangelical Church for 20 years , but the KJV Only thing is new to me.

    Help me out here…..

  15. @pastor’s wife
    It has been about a year. I am glad to be out. I had to decide not to be bitter and to keep my focus on God. To be honest, I am not healed of it yet but I feel that I am healing. Thank you for asking.

    @Adam
    I do not know about the rest of the posters here but I am referring to Southern IFB ism. I grew up in it, then saw the light and left.
    Although, the urban mid-west is the home of one of the worst examples of IFBism, Hyles Anderson College near Chicago. Hyles has a lot of influence across the country and world due to their college.

  16. Liberty and Wheaton were seen as too permissive in my circles. Not sure how they viewed Moody. Southern Baptists, conservative or not, were all written off as compromisers. (I was from New England.) My church supported Cedarville (back in the 80s), Baptist Bible College, etc.

    As far as KJV-only, at age 20, I sat next to my boyfriend in Sunday service at BJU and realized he had a NASB and though, “Oh, no! He’s one of THOSE guys!” I really thought he was not as good of a Christian as I was because I’d been taught that only the KJV was the Word of God.

  17. @Adam @Pastor’s wife it’s not entirely souther or rurla. Hammond, IN isn’t exactly rural. Lots of places like Northland that aren’t southern. Pillsbury finally closed. The level of authoritarian control varies, but is still strong in lots of them.

    Seperate though. I find it amusing that fundies will mock the altar rails of Methodists/Lutherans/Catholics, and yet without exception almost all at least colleges will build intricate security systems & walls to keep the students/staff/faculty IN, not to keep out threats. Not sure why Walls/fences are OK on the border but not at the altar. I probably have a good idea, but not really sure what fundy justification is.

  18. I think I must have come from one of the more narrow minded groups/church. Attending BJU, Moody, Northland and even PCC was inconcievable. Considered libral and basically ungodly. (Truly!!) When you are raised in such a mind set, “we are good and everyone else bad” it’s very hard to escape. Even when you see things that you don’t agree are biblical.

    I am a MK and also, served on the mission field as an adult, as well as, experiencing other different types of culture shock. But, there’s none like “fundy shock.” I just have to keep going back to who I am in Christ and preaching His love to myself. It’s very hard to verbally process because basically nobody has any idea what I’m talking about.

    @MikeW – Yes, thankful for the Fathers promises of healing! Prayers to you as you deal with it daily.

  19. @Adam

    The colleges and groups that you list, Moody, Wheaton, even the SBC were all preached against in the IFB group that I grew up in.
    At my fundy college we had to take a class on Ecclesiastical Separation where we learned the reasons we were not to associate with those groups. I.e. They were “liberal” “compromisers” who did not believe the Bible and were probably not even saved. We learned a bit of the history of these groups but mostly we focused on why they were wrong and why we were right.

    There are certainly paralells to the more extreme aspects of Evangelicalism in regards to some characteristics. However, fundyism is whole other breed in when it comes to Separation and some other doctrines.

    Many fundies feel that if you do not use the KJV you are at best a compromiser, many will question your salvation. Some even teach that it is impossible to be saved while reading another version or hearing another version preached. The mind boggles, I know.
    A couple of examples: I was once uninvited to speak at a church because I answered honestly that I possessed a non-KJV Bible when asked.
    I participated in services where we destroyed NIVs publicly. Where the preacher railed against the evil in all non-KJV Bibles.

    FWIW this is from my experience. Others on this board may have had different experiences.

  20. JessB–a question on the Pell grant. I was a few credits short of graduating from a fundy school, and I’ve never finished them (a fact my mother laments). Do you think I’d still qualify for a Pell grant since I don’t actually have a Bachelors? After hearing accredidation talk the last few years, I’ve begun to wonder if those missing credits might actually be a blessing.

  21. I just found this blog yesterday (I lurk on Camille Lewis’ blog from time to time since she was a former professor of mine and saw her link to this place) and just wanted to say that this is the most awesome combination of hilariousness and awfulness I’ve come across in a while. As a BJU graduate, I commend you on the great reading material! I don’t think about my fundy days much at all any more, but this place is pure awesomeness.

  22. @ Adam

    I graduated from Moody and grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago. It mirrors alot of the same “control practices” that Hyles Anderson and other fundy circles do but would mainly be rejected by HA (and other fundy schools of thought) because of they don’t adhere to KJV only. At Moody, we considered Wheaton campus life to be pretty liberal so you can probably see the pattern. When my mom was a student at Moody in the 60’s, HA and Moody actually collaborated on a lot of things (keep in mind that the NIV hadn’t gained the popularity it has to day yet – it had just been translated) but have since gone their separate ways. The KJV issue wasn’t the only thing, they felt Jack Hyles lacked proper exegesis on certain things and have distanced themselves accordingly. I had a HA devotee sit me down once and give the the speech on how Moody used to be good but now they were bad. Moody is accredited, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone going there (another discussion). In short, yes Wheaton and Liberty are pretty strict and conservative, but at Moody we figured we were just a little better cuz you can get a non biblical degree at those two, but at Moody every degree was ministry focused (good luck making a living). HA follows the same pattern and dismisses Moody as raging liberals, and the college in the basement of your 52 member fundy church, just might consider HA to be the breeding place for the anit-christ. Welcome to our humor.

  23. @Michelle

    Consider yourself lucky not to have finished. Out in the working world degrees from unaccredited fundy colleges are worth about as much as a used toothpick.

  24. Apathetic or whatever:

    Thank you for your feedback. It is becoming apparent that the brand(s) I am most familiar with are more watered-down compared to what you have seen and experienced. Yes, you are confirming my original hunch that Conservative Protestant Evangelicalism (often mistaken as Fundementalism) is a world away from the Fundamentalism you folks are discussing.

    Man alive, I am 36 years old (was in a an Evangelical church for 20 years) and I cannot believe I did not know squat about the pervasiveness of these groups…or the influence they wield.

  25. Joe,

    Your comments are insightful as well. The picture in my head is emerging. Thank You.

    I always thought it was the Word of Faith (Prosperity Gospel) movements that had the market share on make-shift theological or higher education. I see I am mistaken on that point too.

  26. “I am a MK and also, served on the mission field as an adult, as well as, experiencing other different types of culture shock. But, there’s none like “fundy shock.” I just have to keep going back to who I am in Christ and preaching His love to myself. It’s very hard to verbally process because basically nobody has any idea what I’m talking about.”

    I know what you mean. While I am not an MK, I have to preach Christ’s love to myself always, otherwise I get in this mentality where I think God is mad at me for anything, whether it’s sin, or whether it’s not sin, but just me being myself.

    Praise God that He not only loves me, but he also likes me, in Christ.

    The IFB church was always “the liberals never preach about hell and Jesus preached more about hell than heaven so bless God I’m gonna preach about hell cause I love you all but I hate hell (but secretly, I love talking about hell because it gives me an excuse to talk about homos and queers who are going to hell)”.

    #1 Jesus didn’t preach about hell more than heaven. If we are talking references to the word hell and heaven, then yes, but Christ spoke much more about heavenly things than he did about hell. And Paul, well, Paul was so liberal he never mentioned the word hell once (that I am aware of in the KJV).

    #2 All I ever heard was preaching about hell, getting right with God, fellowship with God and how I was never in it.

    #3 Psalm 5:5 and the doctrines built around that verse made me almost quit God – if God is angry with the wicked every day, and I sin everyday, well… where does that leave me? With an angry God that hates me and wants to turn me into hell and punish me constantly because I am a failure. Forget the fact that God is love. The emphasis in the baptist church was always “God hates. Does he hate you?”. The answer was always yes…

    Now, I must be fair here – I attended one baptist church that did not preach this constantly. But sermons that were recommended to me and that I listened to from visiting preachers or missionaries were generally along this line. It was like the pastor was afraid to say it, so he briefed the visitors on what to say.

  27. @Michelle,

    Yes, you qualify for a Pell Grant if you don’t have an actual Bachelor’s degree. You never graduated and received that diploma so you don’t have one. Of course, you also have to qualify financially to get a grant but you can determine that when you go through the application process.

    I encourage you to apply to Liberty University Online for the following reasons:

    1. They are more likely to transfer the credits you have already received since they are a Christian college.

    2. They are accredited which means your degree will be worth something.

    3. It won’t take you long to get your real degree since you are almost finished anyway.

    4. They offer several different degrees that are completely online. You don’t have to go to Virginia.

    I hope it works out for you. In my case, I can’t even get into my local community college because my fundy high school was non-accredited and doesn’t even exist anymore. In the state’s eyes, I have an 8th grade education. I have to get a GED or Adult High School diploma in order to take even a single class.

  28. @JessB

    I am in the same situation! I was homeschooled so my high school diploma is considered invalid by most institutions. I was just researching about GEDs moments ago.

    I am in the weird position of having both a high school and college degree hanging on my wall that mean nothing.

    I do not intend to let it get me down. I fully plan to go get a real degree in something that interests me, something that I am good at. I know that sounds a bit self-serving but I believe God made me the way I am, with the talents that I possess for a reason. I do not believe that God would have given me these talents if he expected me to bury them and conform to the image that fundyism had for me.

  29. here are many different strains of fundies, all over the United States. One thing I have learned is that they all seem to hate each other.

    Many of the folks who visit this site are affiliated with IFB: Independent Fundamentalist Baptists. Don’t be fooled, though, there are fundies in other denominations, too. Btu the key identifying factor of Fundies is that a Fundy knows beyond shadow of a doubt that he is right, and everyone who disagrees is part of the evil

  30. Thank the Lord my college accepted my high school transcripts. My mom was worried when I got my diploma and it was only signed by the faculty of the school– hers was signed by the governor, principal, and someone else. And so was my roommate’s diploma.

    I’m the “liberal” of my group of friends at church. And yet, at school I’m one of the most conservative of most of the students and even of my friends. It’s like being in two different worlds.

    My pastor says that maybe after I graduate, the Lord will lead me to getting a one-year Bible certificate at a Baptist school. I truthfully told him it’s not likely to happen. I can learn a lot more about the Bible on my own without paying the price to attend one of those colleges. And without feeling like I’m being brainwashed or judged for making my own choices.

  31. @FreeToBeMe you definitely are not going to learn much Bible at most of those institutions. You learn to be submissive & obedient or get abused for not being so. Highly recommend against going for whatever he had in mind. There’s lots of great ways to learn about the Bible and great Bible degrees to get, they don’t come from places that try to cast aspersion on “secular” universities generally.

  32. Two random feathers on the wings of this topic:

    1) Endorheic basins: the Fundy idea of ‘being in the world, but not of the world.’

    2) The emphasis on sanctification has devolved into the easier process of building walls (and within, societies [churches], jobs [ministries], entertainment [whatever constitutes Christian entertainment, Cloud Ten productions?] and arts [Christian fiction] *shudders*) to ‘keep out the sin’ rather than the investing in the maturation of disciples in the ‘outside’ world in spheres of much-needed influence.

    Salt and light? Pshaw. They can come to the castle any time.

  33. @Tony, no, you cannot. That is what I was talking about in my first post. Even though Gov’t schools will not recognize your unaccredited degree, you are not eligible for a Pell Grant because you have a Bachelor’s degree. I know, it doesn’t make sense. The guidelines for Pell Grant state that if you have a Bachelor’s Degree (even if from an unaccredited institution), you cannot get a Pell Grant.

  34. @Apathetic, have you checked your local community college/state college requirements? In my state, if the home school is registered, a graduate can get into the colleges.

  35. @JessB
    No I have not. I need to do that soon. I know that my parents registered us as a Christian School. My problem is that my parents kept no records of my education. None. I have a photocopy of a transcript that is partially legible and that is it.

    @Adam
    I am glad that I could help shed some light on this subject.

  36. “God made me the way I am, with the talents that I possess for a reason. I do not believe that God would have given me these talents if he expected me to bury them and conform to the image that fundyism had for me.”

    It has taken me many years to come to this realization.

  37. “God made me the way I am, with the talents that I possess for a reason. I do not believe that God would have given me these talents if he expected me to bury them and conform to the image that fundyism had for me.”

    The typical fundy comments to this would be (but are not limited to)…

    – You are being selfish
    – You are not following God’s will (wherever it’s hidden)
    – You are walking after your flesh
    – You have not died to self (seems to be their favorite)
    – You are relying on your own understanding
    Ad nauseum.

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