Unwritten Rules

Although fundamentalist preachers in the same camp will inevitably sound the same, look the same, and have the same basic approach to ruling their congregation, they do tend to come up with their own list of things-that-are-sinful-because-they-annoy-me to be followed by their church members. Although this list of unwritten rules will be well known to the local congregation it stands ready to ensnare any unwary visitor from another sect of fundamentalism.

If you happen to be in a position [ed. as I was for years] to travel about the country and visit numerous fundamentalist churches, you’ll as often as not unwittingly run afoul of these unwritten rules. The result can be anything from shocked silence to an obligatory two hour lecture from your hosts on why exactly that thing you innocently did or said was so completely unacceptable.

It may be something as simple as using the word “date” in a courtship-only church or mentioning that you play the guitar in a piano-only gathering. Maybe you let slip that you once read a book containing “magic” or perhaps you foolishly visited the local K-Mart which is managed by the same guy who owns the local liquor store and has therefore been therefore labeled by the pastor as a a den of iniquity and unsavory coupon policies. Upon these confessions, awkward silences abound.

When faced with conversations with fundamentalists who are not of their own group, even hardcore fundamentalists know that it’s best to just avoid doing or saying pretty much anything. If asked a direct question, preface every answer with “You know, that’s just one more thing I love about your pastor…”

250 thoughts on “Unwritten Rules”

  1. Yep, Darrell, you’ve definitely been to the church I grew up in.

    I feel sorry for the new members. I want to give them some of my old yearbooks from the Christian school and a church directory and tell them to pay attention to the adults in leadership, what they wear, their facial expressions, everything. That’ll be a good start.

  2. what is even more fun is being at a church or ministry that has various kooks from all sorts of fundie stripes represented. Some don’t believe in wearing jeans and other don’t believe in shopping at any grocery that sells liquor! I always just laughed it off but those who want to please everyone will find themselves in quite a fix!


    1. My ex-fundy pastor let it be known that he wouldn’t go to any restaurant that sold alcohol, I always wondered where he got his groceries.

      Oh yea he used to love to tell the story of someone trying to dodge him in the grocery store that had some beer or wine in their cart.

      Of course this was after he got tired of driving the 200 miles to buy his groceries in amish land.

      1. Maybe your pastor needs to move to Tennessee. Still have blue laws, nothing stronger than beer can be in the supermarkets, and all kinds of weird rules meant to discourage drinking (but only ends up with people bringing in stuff from neighboring states).

      2. This avoiding restaurants that sell alcohol amuses me because I am acquainted with an attorney whose job is mostly dealing with restaurants having problems with their licenses to sell alchohol. Most restaurants lose money or break even on food, and only make their profits on drinks. Therefore, the restaurants that don’t sell alcohol (with the exceptions of fast-food joints and places only open for breakfast or lunch) are mostly sleazy dives and topless joints that are too disreputable even for the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. So you might want to ask that pastor about which restaurants he DOES go to …

        1. You’ve hit upon the what’s called the “bar-restaurant ratio rule”. If the restaurant is known more as bar then it’s off limits. Or if it has a bar in the middle and is sort of the focal point of the place, the restaurant is still off limits. But if the bar is off to the side or not the focal point of the restaurant then it might be ok. But the best is to have no bar and a big buffet.

        2. Ironically, they’re still too cheap to pay a decent price for the food or tip the waitress to support the godly-non-alcohol-selling place.

        3. Lol, I remember going to an local Irish restaurant called McGuire’s Steakhouse and Pub with my family one year for my birthday and the entire family making sure to refer to it only as “McGuire’s Steakhouse” if we were cross-examined on our celebratory eating habits at church.

      3. Boycotting restaurants that serve alcohol is just an excuse; the real reason for avoiding good restaurants is that the person is just a cheap bastard. I knew a BJU grad who celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary by taking his wife to McDonalds. He later got grilled by many members of our church. Even his son, who was killjoy attending BJU, was upset. But this man had an excuse for avoiding any other alcohol free restaurant. Roy Rogers was founded by a movie star. Asian and Italian restaurants often had idols (statues of Buddha or Mary) Buffet restaurants encourage gluttony (This man was fat). Coronel Sanders was immoral in his youth, etc…
        But he had been embarrassed enough. By the time his wifeÒ€ℒs birthday rolled around, he had taken her to a nice seafood restaurant. He even spoke about it during testimonial time.

        1. I hope it wasn’t the Red Lobster on Wade Hampton, that would have gotten him excomunicated by the BoJo police for going to an off-limits restaurant.

      4. When I was in high school, my friend and I had a rare treat and went out to dinner together. I got in big trouble when I got home when my dad found out we went to Bennigans. I think he pictured us bellying up to the bar, I mean the whole restaurant is a bar right?

      1. yep! I heard that from a few hyper-fundies when I was younger. “The Devil’s Denim”

    2. @Linmi – Yea I have heard stories of waitresses dreading to work on Sundays because the “christians” would come in after church and stay for an hour after they had eaten their meals “fellowshipping and drinking coffee” running the waitress silly and taking up her table, and then give a cheap tip, what a testimony.

      1. Worse, the ones who do all this and then leave a tract that looks like paper money on the outside as a tip. Because after making the waitstaff hustle for bread, it’s the Christian thing to leave them stones instead!

        1. What a Christian testimony that is. πŸ™

          As for tracts themselves… I don’t have a problem with them usually. But I do have a problem with tracts made to look like money.

        2. My in-laws are “those people.” They’ll leave $1 and that stupid tract that looks like money. Needless to say, we ALWAYS pay when we go out to eat with them. And he’s so difficult to the server that we always tip at least 30% to make up for it. Then we discreetly remove the tract while leaving the table. It’s just too embarrassing after his behavior.

        3. I worked with a woman once who had been a waitress. She said that one Sunday she had a couple that came after church and they actually told her “We aren’t going to tip you because we don’t believe people should work on Sunday and we don’t want to support you working today.”

      2. When I worked in the hotel industry we saw this all the time. Christian conferences were the worst. 4 women splitting a cobb salad with water and then no or a downright insulting tip. Also they were among the worst for being demanding and obnoxious and I say this in an industry that deals with demanding and obnoxious people all the time. They wanted their “tax exempt” status on things that they had no business asking for it with. They wanted discounts. They wouldn’t honor guaranteed numbers for room or meal bookings. Horrible clients in general.

      3. Reminds me of a fundy family that comes into the salon (always on Sunday). They’re the rudest family (kids included).

        1. Ooops, Hot Fuzz must have been posting earlier (I just got off work). I didn’t change the info in the comment box… the above was my comment.

          He usually only posts on his work computer.

        2. Yep. I call him Hot Fuzz or Sexy Pants or Sugar Butt or things-I-can’t-write-on-a-public-forum

  3. I’ve always loved the ones that are ANGRY you didn’t know the obscure rules they were enforcing on you who wasn’t a member, etc, and were baffled that you weren’t confessing & repenting for offending them so blatantly.

    1. @RobM, you’re not kidding! It’s so frustrating that these self-righteous people, all puffed up in their angry pride, are VIOLATING clear Biblical teaching. We are to be gentle, humble, going to the one who has erred (if indeed they have) with meekness. We are to think the best of others. We are to treat others with generosity and defer to one another in areas of liberty.

    2. They are angry because part of the whole mindset is that their standards are obvious to any truly spiritual person.

  4. Friend of mine ran into that at one church. She and her family (husband and two kids) were traveling with another family (husband and three kids) and were given a friendly bit of advice when they walked in with kids in tow that there was a nursery for the kids. Fine, a lot of places do that. The “Did anyone tell you we have a nursery?” hints became less and less friendly until someone pulled both wives aside and said that Preacher doesn’t like having kids in the auditorium while he’s preaching. Period. They promised the kids would be quiet and stayed in the service. The first time one of them got rammy, they all excused themselves out of the back row and into the lobby so as not to distract. When Preacher came out after the yelling sesion, he looked at the kids like someone had just deposited roadkill on his front doorstep, asked his wife, “What are *they* doing here?”, hurried across the lobby, and didn’t say a word to them the rest of the night.

    1. This is when Hot Fuzz would throw an arm around my waist to keep me from going after the guy and saying words he’s too young to hear.

    2. Matthew 19:14
      “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

      Matthew 19:14.5
      “But whatever you do, keep them out of the curch service!”

    3. I’ll probably land in hot water for saying this but I’ve always been firmly in the nursery-children’s church camp. I like kids well enough but I have a hard time focusing on the message with a fussy baby or bored squirmy 3 year old near by.
      Actually I knew a few moms back in my fundy days who looked forward to sending the kids downstairs. It was one of the few morally acceptable reasons for being shed of them for a couple of hours πŸ˜‰

      1. We had a cool thing in our church. There was a room that you could go into that still had view of the church service through a window. It was sound-proofed but had a speaker in there to hear the service. What was cool is that you could talk to the other moms while listening to the service.

        1. I would prefer that more churches have the “mommy room/cry room” option. The fact is that newcomers don’t know who is running that nursery. Since IFBs and many other conservative churches don’t do enough to protect children from sexual predators in their midst, these churches really need to consider adding cry rooms to new sanctuaries… oh, wait, that would be accommodating women and children and letting parents have control of their kids instead of the church, so that’ll never happen. 😑

      2. I like nurseries too, I think they’re a good idea to keep kids from getting bored, acting up & distracting the service. But if someone’s not comfortable putting their kids in the nursery at a strange church, then that should be fine.

        1. The babies shouldn’t be crying in church if both parent are Holy and sanctified. 2 Hesitations 4:14

        2. After all, we want to imitate Jesus and we all know that HE never cried when He was born. πŸ˜•

          Do I have a Bible verse on that? Nope! I do have a Christmas carol though: “The cattle are lowing; the poor baby wakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes.”

        3. That’s because He was watching the Little Drummer Boy while the ox and lamb were “keeping time.”

      3. Young children get activity packs in our church. We just let the really little kids walk up and down the aisles if they want to; that’s mainly what they need in order to stop squirming and whining. Mothers nurse on demand in the pews to keep the babies mostly quiet. (I wonder how many frantic babies in IFB churches are being denied food at an unscheduled time because their parents follow Pearl or Ezzo or some other lamb-eating shepherd.) Of course, it’s understood that children will be fed and dry when they arrive, that their parents will not stuff them with sugar, and that kids who just can’t deal will go to the playroom. Our church is very small, so that means that a parent has to go watch the child. It’s a season in life and it does end.

        1. Your kids and others in the service will be so blessed to have that experience. Love the idea of moms nursing on demand in church. My wife would love your church!

        2. Yea that sounds like a real good church, I like the idea about letting the little ones walk the aisle, during the service, that was usually all that mine needed.

      4. My church has something called the “family room” – the acoustics in our sanctuary would make kid noises even louder, so they have a room where families can see and hear what’s going on in the auditorium, and the kids have a table with some Bible-related activities where they can sit and work, and it’s actually very nice not to be distracted from the message while also allowing families who choose to worship together do so.

      5. Gosh with what I have learned about fundy churches and children, I would never send my kids to the nursery or to children’s church. If a church doesn’t have adequate safety precautions in place, don’t let them out of your sight.

  5. What’s the matter with these people? Can’t the distinguish between what the Bible says and a preference?

    I’ve heard of white-shirt only (colored shirts are “bad”), and I’ve heard preaching against certain color and types of shoes.

    I haven’t worn blue jeans in years, but that’s just a preference; I would NEVER claim I am more righteous than another – in fact, it goes against Scripture, which tells us to esteem other better than ourselves. I would NEVER tell another person that they must follow my preference in this area.

  6. Wednesday nights the dress code was relaxed and the men could wear jeans, (sorry ladies) kinda like dress-down fridays in the workplace. You know I could almost feel less tension on those Wednesdays nights that I attended.

    1. Wednesday nights and sunday nights the ladies could wear skirts instead of dresses. Didn’t always wear hose on Wednesday nights either. I think the guys could wear jeans on Wednesday nights. Don’t remember, their dress code didn’t apply to me.

    2. We could wear denim on Wednesday nights too — long denim skirts! Just make sure the slit is sewn up to the bottom of the knee, and that the style is not too worldly…

    1. yep, i heard that too, from james knox (of jamesknox.com, which was FWOTW before)…”oh my word” was blasphemy because jesus is the living word. “oh my goodness” was blasphemy because goodness is one of god’s attributes, etc.

    2. There’s a thing at one of the local fundy churches (HAC camp, I think) where they say “Oh my soul” instead of any of the aforementioned interjections. I don’t understand the “logic” behind this, but I’m sure if I asked, they’d have a two hour explanation of why all the other interjections are wrong.

      1. And you can’t say “Oh, my goodness” because we have none according to Romans 3:23, amen?. And you can’t say “Jeez” because that is a nickname for Jesus, just like “Gosh/Golly” is a nickname for God, amen? I knew of members of a fundy framing crew who, when inevitably hitting their thumb with a hammer, would exclaim with clenched teeth “Bless God!” or “Glory!” And a missionary couple who would pray over the car after it was worked on in a secular auto repair store, begging God to take the “curses” off of their car because the auto mechanic may have said “Damn it” or (gasp) something worse, while working on their vehicle. ARGH!! Please indulge me while I show you how it is done: %$#%^&*()&^%$%#*&%#!@! πŸ˜†

    3. Yea and the guy that lectured you on “oh my word” probably said “God Help” 46 times during his sermon.

      1. Good point, and do you ever remember them saying someone is sitting on their “blessed assurance”?

        Yeah, that’s not an implication of something.

    4. I had friends who worked at BJU’s satellite education branch and they mess they heard on a regular basis was amazing.

      One of my favorites was someone who objected to someone saying “Wow” in a segment because according to them “wow” is derived from the oath “Christ’s wounds”.

      1. I’ve been chastized a couple of times when I wished someone “good luck” with something, because supposedly saying “good luck” invokes some pagan deity, or something like that.

  7. I’m convinced that the ultimate objective for a fundie preacher is finding more and more things to villainize. I mean, when he runs out of that, he runs out of material.

    1. It’s so sad too, because Jesus Himself and His Gospel is so amazing that they could talk about HIM without end. Instead, they quibble over minutiae when Jesus should be the focus of their sermons.

      1. Well, that would mean that they would actually have to STUDY the Bible, and we know that’s out of the question. πŸ˜‰

  8. at least three topics must be avoided at all costs when talking with new fundamentalist acquaintances: music (bach and handel are not even safe), bible translations (especially the kjv 1611 w/apocrypha, translator’s preface, and church of england reading calendar), and the 5 points of calvinism (depravity, grace, sovereignty, perseverance, and atonement).

    it is generally safe to talk about the weather, hunting, fishing, sewing, and cooking (non-alcoholic recipes only). brevity is the key to safe encounters with new fundamentalist acquaintances. the more you talk, the more likely you are to offend.

    1. Did anyone else get new roommates at Fundy U and do the awkward “how fundy are you” two-step around them until everyone relaxed?

      1. I didn’t have to, thankfully; I went to the heathen liberal Biola University. My friend at Fundy U did, however.

        1. At my liberal U, we had the uncomfortable moments util we figured out which drugs would be tolerated and were we willing to leave when the roommate’s girl came over for “Bible Study”. It was usually a give and take relationship – “I’ll tolerate your girlfriend coming over and you tolerate the room (and all of the clothes) smelling like pot.”

        2. I should probably mention that I meant the “heathen liberal” part sarcastically, since that’s what the people at my church think of it as (sadly)

        3. All I had to do at my fundy u was mention my church. It was WELL known there as my pastor preached during commencement week every year. It is one of the Granddaddy’s of the fundie world.

  9. Being a staff member at an IFB church posed many interesting land mines.
    The day I walked into a staff meeting with sling back shoes (those heels will tempt a man anyday) and a cami that had lace on it ( Had to be sure my bouse was 2 fingers from my collar bone) was a day I will never forget. Not only was I shamed in front of the staff ( unwritten rule..the pastor doesn’t like sling back shoes or lace on your cami.) a wonderful baptist memo went out after that as well..fun

      1. He probably liked wearing them, and made the rule cause since he “can’t” wear them, no one else can either.

    1. I was lambasted for wearing mules and with a denim skirt because it is a temptation to men, especially since I was walking up the stairs with a man following behind…. Sounds like we need separate staircases for men and women, amen? πŸ‘Ώ

      Guess what? I have no denim skirts any more and LOTS and LOTS of mules!! πŸ˜€

    1. Amazing and well written article. It explains perfectly what I’ve thought regarding that matter, but I’ve never been able to find the right words.

    2. This article reminded me of a time in my life where a set of circumstances came colliding into my world and planted me on my butt. It was as if Someone was saying I don’t want you going this direction, picked my up by the scruff of the neck, and forced me in a different direction. It wasn’t as if I was doing anything horribly wrong, just following the typical fundy ways I was taught unquestioningly. It gave me the chance to reevaluate what I really needed to do and go for it. It took a lot of bucking against what I was taught and other church/family members. I had to make changes that was best for my family and not what others thought were best for me.

      The article was so spot on to the are of overworking its members. The expectations sometimes are enormous, and if your a Preacher’s kid, it’s even worse, especially for someone like myself, who wasn’t too keen on being in the spotlight at all.

  10. I’ve been around long enough to see the alcohol at restaurants rule go out the window. The argument now is all the chains and the better restaurants do it, so you can’t avoid it. I’ve also wondered how BJU can have a culinary arts program without alcohol? I mean, even if you don’t drink it, it’s impossible to prepare many recipes without it.

    1. The great thing about cooking with alcohol is that all the alcohol is burned off, leaving you with ONLY the taste.

      Vodka flavored cookies, here I come! (kidding lol)

        1. I never knew that. Not gonna stop me from using alcohol in cooking though 😈 I find adding alcohol adds wonderful flavoring to whatever dish I’m making.

        2. The best turkey I ever made was basted with white wine and butter (this was before I was a vegetarian). But according to that chart, after hours of baking, there wasn’t really any alcohol left … which is good, I guess, since I served it to my underage siblings.

          That was a GOOD turkey, too. Basted with wine and butter, and the cavity was stuffed with onion and apple pieces – the stock made from the carcass was very flavorful.

    2. It’s not impossible but some things aren’t quite the same. There are substitutes for wine in cooking some things though obviously it does change the flavor profile. I do wonder if they use extract with alcohol.

      1. Extracts are fine. Wine should be replaced with apple juice (white wine) or apple cider (red wine).

  11. Haha! This brings back memories. Once during a convention lunch session, my wife & a pastor friend went to eat, & we about went to a nice restaurant, but it did serve alcohol. Our friend couldn’t deal with that, so we began to search for another restaurant in the area. There wasn’t one til we got way out in the country to a greasier-than-normal greasy-spoon cafe & guess what? We all 3 got sick that night! We’da been much better off eating at the restaurant we chose! We wouldn’t have drank alcohol anyway!

      1. After reading that, I lost what little respect I had for Sam Gipp. I only had that respect because he was personable when I had breakfast with him. His preaching is shallow and rubbish and if you read that article, you got the gist of what he says.

      2. After reading that, I lost what little respect I had for Sam Gipp. I only had that respect because he was personable when I had breakfast with him. His preaching is shallow and rubbish and if you read that article, you got the gist of what he says.

        He thinks Church is about “getting convicted” and “being dealt with” and stuff… That’s already happened! I go to church to know Jesus. I already know I’m a wreck without Him, what is more condemnation going to do.

        1. I have a new phrase: “BULL GIPP!”
          …whenever something gets this Fundied Up and I read about it, I’m calling it for what it is, “BULL GIPP!” 😯

      3. He also says this about the pastor: “You don’t even have to love him.”

        However, the Bible says this: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34)

    1. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was trying to be humorous (although mislead). Sadly, that is not the case. πŸ™

    2. As I read further into that site… he assumes so much about people. “If you do this, then you’re like this!” without even knowing anything about them. He comes off as very judgmental; not at all showing Christian love.

        1. And I love how he follows it up with “Watch the Academy Awards and see” only to say 2 sentences later “not a dress with a plunging neckline or slit up to the armpits.” Wait–wasn’t I supposed to be watching the Academy Awards to see how to dress?

      1. Exactly. He was spouting off his own personal opinions as if they were what God would have everyone do; as if THEY were the only thing that was Biblical and all else heathen and disrespectful. πŸ‘Ώ

    3. Whoo! That guy doesn’t think too highly of himself, does he? Servant of the servants of God, indeed!

      1. That’s actually one of the titles of the Pope. Since Fundie churches don’t have an overall leader to look up to, every congregation gets its personal Man-o-God who seems to think he’s the equivalent of the Pope. Sheesh.

    4. I also like the point that “your pastor is more important than you are.”

      Also, that I must be “arrogant” if I don’t believe I need to dress up a certain way when I go to church. It’s funny how Paul and the other New Testament writers missed this important fact but this guy didn’t.

      1. In all his instructions on clothes, he forgot to say that if you have two coats, you should sell one and give the money to the poor.

      2. Wait a minute, don’t most fundy pastors get voted in by the church body itself? That’s the way it was in most fundy churches that I attended. Making that kind of statement was completely arrogant. I remember the passage where Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. I bet this man-of-god never did this once in his lifetime πŸ™„

    5. I was reading some other articles on Gipp’s website, and I came across a little known fact – America has been destroyed. But I bet you have no problem guessing who the destroyer of America was…Billy Graham, of course. Apparently, America’s spiritual health is the responsibility of one man…Billy Graham. So if you are not doing so hot spiritually, just blame BG. πŸ˜‰

      1. Unfortunately a lot of people at my church like him, so it’s really hard to hold my tongue whenever they admirably bring him, and others like him, up in conversation.

    6. What a self serving sanctimonious Prig this over inflated pompous windbag is! Folks take note “This is the very definition of a Fundamental Evangelist.” This is a successful evangelist because his agenda is to set the people straight on “How to behave in Church” and he exalts the so-called M-O-g to just one step shy of god-hood. This is what those so called “Pastors” want to hear preached to their people by the visiting Evangelist.

      Shyster Gipp knows how to manipulate the mere sheep in the pews so that they properly reverence their local deity. This cult activity is is built on the premise, “How can you worship god correctly if you don’t worship the man-o-gawd correctly?”

      This is a perfect example of “Elmer Gantry-ism.”

      And the sheeple have been so numbed by such poison as this that they take in and count themselves blessed to be in the presence of such annointed preaching and men-o-gawd. And all the mere pew dwellers said? …

    7. Ok, I know I’m posting on an old post now. But a lightbulb just went off! This man preached at my church! He came for some revival meetings. It was because of him I first started reading the kjv only.

      And until now, I’d half believed the stories my friends were telling me that ‘our church isn’t like that’ (meaning fundy) but it IS! SAM GIPP WAS INVITED TO PREACH AT OUR CHURCH. He came all the way from the US to Australia to do it!

    8. Repeated again and again in this article: “You’re not that important!”
      Neither are you and your opinions/preferences, Mr. Gipp! Please don’t preach about humility when you show none yourself.

      “Ladies, find the most “feminine” pair of men’s breeches or skin-tight blue jeans you can find. I’m sure God will understand.”

      It always makes me laugh how many men there are in fundamentalist circles who seem to think they know more about women’s dress and looking feminine then women themselves do!

      “…you are going to the place that God may meet with you and you should humble yourself and dress so you won’t be embarrassed if He shows up.”

      Where did you get the idea that God was so very concerned about dressing up (in fundy approved dress) for church? Not the Bible, otherwise you would have given a chapter and verse. Where did God say that we needed “special” clothes when we go to His house? In reality, that’s just a church tradition.

      “[The pastor] is called of God to do what he’s doing. Even your doctor isn’t called of God.”

      Only a completely arrogant pastor or evangelists would be so full of themselves as to think that they are the only ones called of God to do what they are doing. How do you know that a doctor (or any number of “secular” careers) wasn’t called to do that by God? Unfortunately, this find of arrogance is very common among pastors, evangelists, and just preacher boys in general. I went to school with several of them.

      “Well, your pastor is more important than you are.”

      Again, please show me where the Bible says this. In the Bible I read (its even a KJV), God is no respecter of persons. He doesn’t see any person as being more important than anyone else, no matter their profession. In fact, Jesus spent most of his time with the outcasts and sinners while condemning the self-righteous religious leaders. Sound familiar?

      Sorry for how long it was, but arrogant, self-righteous guys like this (who then write articles about how arrogant people who disagree with them are) have turned so many lost people away from the gospel. One day they will answer to God for it.

  12. As an aside…in this article he says: “You will answer for it if your stupid phone goes off and disturbs a service and distracts the very person God is dealing with.”

    I don’t like cell phones going off in church either, but don’t I serve a greater God than that?

    1. If their god is not powerful enough to use the phone ring for the good of that person, I understand how they need to come up with hundreds of external rules to keep him happy.

    2. Hey the fundie god isn’t strong enough to overcome a house dog that might interfere with the soulwinner’s ability to close the deal so you should strangle the dog if necessary according to Hyles’ Soul winning stories. (I can’t find that post someone help me with that.) If that god can’t compete with a dog then there is no way he can compete with a fussy child or a errant cell phone.

    3. Sometimes cell phones ring because the phone’s owner was careless and forgot to turn it off. But sometimes they ring because of a family emergency or because someone’s job requires them to be on call.

      What a jerk.

  13. So, just random, but a colleague told a story. A 30-year old friend of hers was at her 23-year old sister’s bachelorette party – they were at a restaurant that served alcohol.

    Anyway, the 30 year old that had moved past the fundy upbringing ordered a glass of wine, and orders one for her sister.

    Wouldn’t you know it – an assistant pastor and his family walked in and sat next to them. Within five minutes the girls’ dad had called the 30 year old, married, out of the church, grown woman screaming at her about it.

    Yep, the assistant pastor had text messaged their dad that they were drinking wine.

    1. That’s just sad… wow. It’s sad when tattling becomes almost a virtue, is it not?

        1. Too bad that assistant pastor didn’t know the Bible well enough to know what it says to do when you see another believer taken in a fault (the asst. pastor would have thought drinking a fault): you are to go to that person in a spirit of meekness. It doesn’t say you go behind that person’s back and tell their daddy to stir up strife in the family. Hey, just a sec! I think Proverbs says that’s one of the things God HATES: the person who causes strife between brothers (or dad and daughter).

        1. Or if it’s something equally as serious, like if something illegal is going on, etc.

    2. That’s a great way to make sure your kids never come back to your church, or family gatherings ever again.

    3. Oh man, the tattling issue. Not much screws me up more than that one.

      I went to a church and school that was so against tattling that the “tattler” got in as much trouble as the person who was tattled on. (This turns out to be a convenient way of making sure serious issues were never reported.)

      From there, I went to none other than BJU, where “tattling” on the smallest and dumbest of infractions was a virtue.

      Either way, it’s just easier to zip the lip until one can get away from all of it… then let the world know how screwed up Fundamentalism really is.

      1. I was telling a family member who isn’t IFB about all the joys of the IFB church. They were shocked, and said it was really screwy and called it a cult.

      2. Of course even better was the blackmail version of “you can turn yourself in, or I will”.

      3. [QUOTE]where Ò€œtattlingÒ€ on the smallest and dumbest of infractions was a virtue.

        Either way, itÒ€ℒs just easier to zip the lip[/QUOTE]

        yes indeed. i just graduated last may from that school. there was only one semester where i had to watch my back – got socialed the first week for something πŸ˜•

        although, my last year at BJU was rather freeing – i was a townie, and could smoke my pipe and have a beer when i wanted. oh, and play video games rated above E. i think i kissed my (now) fiancée a few times as well … possibly not in a vertical position.

        1. Not much different than you’ve done it, just use less than and greater than symbols on either side of the command.

    4. She should have bought the assistant pastor a beer just the satisfaction of seeing a waitress bringing it to the table. πŸ™‚

      Jim K.

      1. Great idea! If I ever encounter a similar scenario, that’s what I’ll do– send him a beer and a shot of tequila.

      2. edit – “just for the satisfaction” – and I’d love to have tape rolling on the response.

  14. In Bible College:

    Always looked at with keen interest for the POSSIBILITY of sin:

    *The tape playing in your Walkman
    *WHERE you ate lunch if it wasn’t in the school cafe
    *IF you were walking too close to a girl off campus
    *IF there wasn’t a smile on your face 24/7
    *IF you had enough scruff on your face to be construed as the beginnings of a beard

    1. You were allowed a walkman? We weren’t allowed anything with headphones, since obviously we would only use that to listen to sinful music.

      1. Jennie,
        NO! We weren’t, but I kept mine in the pocket of my trench coat so when I rode the busses and subways to work, I could entertain myself.

  15. Oh yeah: “oh my gosh”, “oh my goodness”, “geez”, “crap”, “bull pucky”, “He double toothpicks”, is a sorry means of expressing one’s self…do what I did in the men’s dorm in Bible College, call it (meaning anything) “a bunch of bull shit” and prepare yourself for the most stunned bunch o’looks you’ve ever seen in your life. As a matter of fact, you’ve just broken about EVERY unwritten rul there ever has been in said Bible College.

    1. How ’bout you can’t say:

      shut up

      Kind of makes conversations … interesting. “Man, that really inhales!”

      1. Some of the rules at my fundy HS were soley written because of my class. We started using the word FUDRUCKER (from the restaraunt) in various contexts, “mother fudrucker”, “mind your fudrucking business” etc… Fudrucker is now a banned word from that campus. I am rather proud of that.

        1. I did the SAME thing with a car load of cheerleaders from my fundy u.

          The collective gasp was heard around the world.

      2. Hmmm, I often rubbed the corner of my eye with my middle finger though. Some of the home-schooled rubes didn’t get it…but the instructor did on one occassion though…

      1. (this comment is fashionably late) …probably got those demerits from someone who thought they were big sh_ _. 😯 😈

  16. “And if you’re going to say ‘darn’or ‘heck’you might just as well say damn or hell – so, I do. Sometimes.

    1. Yeah, after I ripped loose with my “bull shit” in the dorm years ago, I’m sure I must have taken away someone’s ear-virginity…but to my surprise, no one ratted me out. It was loud enough to almost be heard in the girls dorm on the floor below us though.

        1. I’ve heard of Eye-Babies, but Ear-Virginity is a new one. 😯 πŸ˜€ 😳 No doubt some Martian is wondering if Fundies have very different sexual habits than the rest of humanity. πŸ˜†

        2. Just show them the “Polished Shaft” sermon. That will floor the aliens of every universe.

    2. lol, I wonder how many people have started cussing because of that “logic”. I know I did. My dad gave my the whole lecture in about 3rd grade because of saying freaking & “no duh” (which apparently comes from the Vietnamese word for shit or something). I’d never thought about where either came from, but figured if I was going to get in trouble I might as well just cuss.

      It’s something I try not to make a habit out of, but I think most people in fundy-land have probably let their words lead to a lot more sin in gossiping and tearing others down than they ever could by saying a few “4-letter words”.

      1. Same here, Raine. Now, I won’t cuss when I’m around someone that I know its going to offend, just out of respect, and of course, I don’t at work, because its not professional in my line of work.

        But, it just feels good to let it out every now and then. πŸ˜‰ At home, Hot Fuzz and I cuss like a blue streak. It makes things just funnier sometimes.

        1. Swearing: because sometimes “mother-father” & “gosh darn it” just don’t convey what you feel. :mrgreen:

  17. “Scripture . . . tells us to esteem others better than ourselves.”

    Exactly! I want to follow Scripture.

    Some people are really angry with my husband and I for the ways we’ve changed, but we are basing our changes on clear Biblical teaching. We’ve seen churches and individual Christians that treat people horribly when they unwittingly violate those unwritten rules, and we are finally willing to speak up and say, “Brethren, these things ought not so to be!!!” Love, compassion, humility, and gentleness ought to mark a believer, not just “holiness.”

  18. I actually remember another wake up call in regards to this. When I graduated from BJU I moved back to my home town, or close to it. I ended up with a job and place to live within two weeks, but before we moved we were living with my parents. First Sunday after the honeymoon we haven’t even gotten all of the bags out of the car yet and I could not for the life of me find my shoes (I’d done sandals or tennis shoes on the honeymoon).

    So I show up to church in dress clothes and sandals. I looked ridiculous, but hey I was there. I did not hear the end of it, and not in the joking, “ha you look ridiculous” kind of way. No everyone did the, “couldn’t find your shoes?” kind of like they do when you first start to grow a beard, “hey did you lose your razor?” It was obvious that I had offended the unwritten rule of proper shoe attire for Sunday morning. But their response was so offensive to me that I didn’t want to go back.

    Two wed later I was searching for an apartment with my wife. We had to do the hunting after my work so we were out most of the day. We drove all the way back to town and met up with my parents for dinner. I was in work attire (shorts and flipflops). Now my parents church is about 30 solid minutes from the church. So for me to go home change and come back simply wasn’t an option. My mother asked if I was going to church and I said, “I don’t have a change of clothes can I go like this?” her answer was, “probably not.” That was the last time I ever even came close to attending that church.

      1. Not the kind of church where everyone leaves there shoes at the alter to give to the poor either. What would they do with high heels and loafers anyway.

    1. @Mark,

      Sometimes when a person is hurt, he finds it tempting to seek out groups that offers him sympathy and refuge, even if it means leaving sound roots and foundations. He believes he is pursuing the truth but, in reality, is simply seeking to escape those that he believes have hurt him. Bottom Line: Be careful how you deal with your hurt.

      1. And, sometimes surrounding yourself with sympathetic people while separating yourself from your roots, helps heal wounds so that you can emerge stronger and wiser.

      2. Isn’t there a term for satire being so close to not-satire that the two are indistinguishable?

        1. Poe’s law – “Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” (Nathan Poe)

      3. @Theo, Have no clue if that is a genuine statement or not. But I didn’t “seek” anyone out. The Lord graciously led me to both churches I’ve attended since BJU and both have been great places for me to grow and learn more about real Christianity. I had to get away from my roots so I could figure out what was real conviction from the Bible and what was simple mindless following of tradition and “how I grew up.” It was a purging time that just about everyone goes through http://bjuaccreditation.org/?q=content/day-reckoning

        I think it is good and part of “growing up” that we must all do. Until you step away for a bit you have a hard time determining true convictions from mindless following.

      4. @Theo,
        you give THIS response to THAT story? I can only suppose that the method of delivery was supposed to make the message more receivable, but let me tell you someone who has not been hurt by this sort of behavior understood you:
        “Mark, you have left the church, source of truth and stability, for a group that offered you mere sympathy and refuge. This was wrong. You have put escaping pain above your duty to attend church, and you should be warned about the consequence of this.”
        1. Nowhere did Mark state in this message that he stopped going to church. You make that assumption, no grounds.
        2. By denigrating the pain of rejection, you have elevated the human institution and its arbitrary rules above a human soul.
        3. Implicitly, you approve of the church rejecting someone’s attendance at service purely on appearance, and equate the Truth with correct footwear.
        4. You confuse enjoying hang-out and vent time on a web forum with church membership. Nowhere in the post does Mark suggest that this was the last time he ever set foot in a church.
        5. You concluded with an aphorisitc statement which seems innocuous out of context, yet in context reveals the scolding nature of the entire post. Well played, I guess. πŸ˜•

        You’ve roped this dope for the last time. I’m convinced you are impervious.

  19. After reading most of the posts on this page and getting my Irish up over the anal retentive way Americanized Church is done by putting some of these goobers in charge… I am just wore out. Heaven help this crap we call church. If power was not concentrated in the hands of the few or the one then this dictatorial abomination of the so-called pastorate would not be happening. If Ephesian 4 was actually practiced then instead of 300 members and 1 minister… there would be 301 ministers! It is all about power and the lust for power over others. Empire building from the Castle/Church. There may be some sincere men in the pulpits across America but when they are handed that much power over their congregation, and are able to dictate what to think and how to act then it is a cult at best. The lecture series style of Preaching stunts the growth of the believers and makes them passive pew dwellers ripe for emotional, spiritual and mental manipulation… and the Pulpiteers make full use of that situtation and condition their sheeple to follow the voice of their (under)SHEPHERD.
    Someone show me where it’s done differently. Where when the word is expounded and exposited the people can ask for more detail, where another view other than that of the self-annointed, self-appointed M-O-g is allowed in the “service.” Fundies especially would die of shock, or just be dumbfounded if after 20 minutes or so into a sermon the man at the lectern would stop and say, “Does anyone have any questions?” grrrrrrr.

    1. Reading Darrell’s post really grieved me that there are churches full of Christians who treat other people like this. Where is the love? Where is the Spirit of Christ?

      1. Sometimes when a person is hurt, he finds it tempting to seek out groups that offers him sympathy and refuge, even if it means leaving sound roots and foundations. He believes he is pursuing the truth but, in reality, is simply seeking to escape those that he believes have hurt him. Bottom Line: Be careful how you deal with your hurt.

      2. PW, I’ve found the spirit of Christ in mainline. I’ve also found mainline to be more faithful to the core of the Gospel than other churches.

        1. That’s what I’ve been finding to be true. I just wish I would’ve figured it out earlier…

    2. And, Don, therein lies one of the reasons that I don’t currently attend a church. I don’t trust the leaders. And, working in a church didn’t help.

      1. I hear you loud and clear. My wife worked for a SBC, wannabe mega, church about 9 years ago and the underbelly of “ministry” is enough to sour anyone on Americanized Churchianity. Then follow that crap up with a Fundie Chaser… one needs their spiritual stomach pumped. 😯

        1. Yep, I worked for a SBC, too (not an independent but definitely a fundie). I saw enough there for it to seal the deal for me.

        2. Thankfully, I’ve always had my cosmetology license and just made that a full time thing and could leave the church.

      2. I’m soooo with ya — I don’t attend church if I can help it. And if it weren’t for my kids, I probably wouldn’t watch church online, either.

  20. Ug, using the word Γ’β‚¬ΛœdateÒ€ℒ in your post did terrible things to your Google adds, Darrell. πŸ™

        1. You got Zoosk? I got some “mature dating over 40” thing. Great…It’s not enough that I get email from the Hoverround people, now Google ads is calling me old, too. πŸ™„

        2. I got an ad full of pictures of men, so I guess that means if Google is calling you old, it’s calling me gay! :mrgreen: (I’m straight and married, btw.)

          On the other hand, one of the other ads was for a dating site for geeks, so that one had me pegged (if I wasn’t married).

        3. I saw all of those ads. Apparently I’m a geeky old swinger. You know, swingin’ both ways. πŸ˜†

  21. So…whatever happened to “Come, my yoke is easy and my burden is light”? My biggest gripe with the unwritten rules is that if Jesus came to fulfill the Law (the real one, written by God), then who are these people to make more laws? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of grace?

  22. So, I have a funny fundyland BJU story to share. I never have heard of this unwritten rule called “purity hair”… BUT apparently this is a real thing. My first week as a freshmen @ BJU was super stressful, so when I picked a church to go to on Sunday I pretty much just hopped on a bus (Not having ANY idea of where it was going but there were 3 buses so it seemed popular enough..). This girl sits next to me, and stares at me…. for an awkwardly long time. I tried to be friendly, and suddenly outta no where she asks me about my then chin length hair, which I was super self-consious about since two weeks before I cut it off for a cancer charity.)
    Fundyland Girl (whose hair is so long she is sitting on it) “Your hair is short.”
    Me “Yeah, its easy to take care of though”
    Fundyland Girl “Could I ask why?”
    Me “uh….”
    Fundyland Girl “My parents said you are not to cut yor hair until after your wedding night.”
    Me “Well, I got it cut for a charity…they make wigs for cancer patients.”
    Fundyland Girl “Oh. I’m sorry I made an assumption.”
    Me “Okay” (having NO CLUE what she is even talking about)
    Then, she explained this purity hair thing, and asked why I wasn’t at least wearing a hat to church.

    AWKWARD (x1000)
    To this day I still do not understand the virginity & long hair connection lol.

    1. Could it be related to the fact that it’s easier for really long hair to get pulled during, uh, stuff that married people do, so suddenly there’s a compelling reason to cut it? My wife had really long hair (not for any fundy reason – she just liked it that way) and a while after we were married, she donated quite a long section to Locks for Love. She was tired of me, uh, inadvertently pulling it too often. 😳

      1. They called it a “maiden’s hair” in my area, but the concept was the same. The married women who wanted to appear exceptionally holy never allowed a scissors any where near their hair, because a woman’s hair is her glory, and her covering, amen? πŸ™„

        1. My parents didn’t like us to cut our hair because of the woman’s hair is her glory, but they did let us from time to time. I remember my first hair cut around age 11. I got 10 inches off and it still was several inches below my shoulders.

          However, it was NEVER called “maiden’s hair” or “purity hair” or tied in to our purity. I’m so glad it wasn’t!

      2. @ Aaron “Could it be related to the fact that itÒ€ℒs easier for really long hair to get pulled during, uh, stuff that married people do, so suddenly thereÒ€ℒs a compelling reason to cut it? ”

        HAHA that just made my day!

      3. OTOH, experience helps. After 25 years, I don’t inadvertently pull her hair nearly as much. I do like longer hair, but NO NEVER would I make a connection with purity, virginity, or chastity. 😯

    2. If there is one thing dumber than preacherboys, it’s the girls that try to outdo each other to become the preacherboys wife. The insane doctrines they make up and argue about in their effort to appear godly put some of the preacherboys wackiness to shame.

    3. *head explodes*

      I can honestly say that “purity hair” is a concept I have never heard of before today.

      I know about the “just keep it long enough to be feminine” view and the “never cut the hair under any circumstances” view, but never the “grow it until you’re hitched and then you can chop it” view. There’s no Scriptural basis for that one for sure!

      I always wanted the longer hair, but mine doesn’t grow worth a flip. I keep it shoulder-length, layered, and full of henna and indigo. Low-maintenance. Too much longer, and it goes stringy. Ick!

  23. I worked at BJU Press for three years. Our clientele was like the living buffet of assorted nuts. We got complaints about everything, and nothing was a small matter. One competing Christian publisher charged us with worldliness because we used four color artwork. We could not even use the word “fantasy” to describe imaginative fiction. We had to call it “fanciful fiction” because so many of our readers thought fantasy was evil. Gosh, the complaints just went on and on, and most of the complainers threatened to never use our books again. I had an entire class of fifth graders write to me and each one complained because a character in one of my stories said “Mercy me!” and they somehow concluded that this was swearing. I wrote a singl eletter back to the classroom and told them that only swearing is swearing: to cuss you have to actually cuss. Then I told them that showing such disrespect to an adult woman was far more serious, and it was not their place as children to correct me for something I had written in good conscience. Their teacher was upset with me, but I let it go at that point. I just hope that, even though my reply may have stung them, that at least some of those kids grew up to realize how priggish that school was making them.

    1. A friend of mine who worked for A Beka once fielded a call from an upset mom who wanted them to stop putting clothes on the animals in their stories for young children because it was ‘humanizing them.’

      I suppose naked talking animals was a better alternative in her mind.

      1. OK, I’m going to make a sweeping assumption here, but if people would get out into the community, meeting people’s needs, challenging Satan’s strongholds, and spreading the Gospel, they’d have a lot less time to get all upset over children’s book illustrations.

        1. Yes, yes, yes. The work of God (the actual work of God: feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, comforting the lonely, etc.) is exhausting. If somebody has the time to nitpick the behavior of everyone they know, I think it’s a pretty clear sign that they need more of God’s work to do! πŸ˜‰

      2. Someone get that woman a drink or few of something with a kick. When she starts seeing some pink elephants, she’ll get the hint. πŸ˜‰

  24. Starbucks puts questionable saying on their coffee cups (a past ad campaign). Pastor said we should boycott them. Naturally, this leads to the church expanding the college’s coffee shop. Yet another opportunity for profit…sort of like (years earlier) when he preached against going to the local Christian bookstore because of all the bad (non-IFB) materials sold, then announced the opening of the church’s first little bookstore.

    Coincidence? I think not. πŸ’‘

    1. The quote caught their attention and the half-naked mermaid in their logo did not? I’m astonished!

  25. I revisited another unwritten rule this morning. In my Sunday School class I decided to decorate the bulletin board for Christmas by wrapping it all up in wrapping paper, tying ribbon around it, and putting a bow on it to make it look like a Christmas gift. However, I remembered the Unwritten Rule in church: no Santas!!!! I had to look around a little bit before I found wrapping paper that was pretty but not distracting, that definitely had no Santa, reindeer, or anything like that on it. Our pastor has never preached against Santa AFAIK, but I just knew somebody would have a cow if the wrapping paper on the wall might have a picture of him. 😯

    1. Sometimes my mom purchased a Christmas wrapping paper multi-pack, but if one of the rolls had a Santa on it, she would throw it out instead of using it. And we were so thrifty that we often shopped at thrift stores! But it was worth losing money to her to avoid all appearance of evil.

  26. Couldn’t say “darn” because it’s just shorthand form of “d**n.” I’m not sure how they repaired the holes in their socks.

    I think that the prohibition against slacks for ladies was that they tended to define parts of the bodies that caused men to have lustful thoughts. The church authorities cited some verse about women wearing men’s clothing, but the closest evidence that I could fine was “…the Lord is not slack concerning His promises…”

  27. I’ve always been amazed at the number of male preachers who seem to show an exceptional interest in (and knowledge of) women’s clothing…I wonder what they’re hiding in *their* closets (metaphorically and literally)?

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