A Small World

Although Baptist fundamentalists make up less than 1% of the overall population of America, you’d never know it to hear them talk. How many pastors have we heard introduced as “one of the most influential men in America”? How many times have we been told that some church of 300 or 500 people is at the forefront of the battle to bring the entire nation back to God? Yet somehow with all this influence, the powerful fundy church with its amazing pastor can’t even manage to get the liquor store down the street to go out of business.

The accolades of power and prestige that both fundy churches and pastors heap to themselves range from the ridiculous to the outright hilarious.

– “Adviser to the Governor and State Legislature” (He met them once at a fundraiser along with 632 other members of the clergy.)

– “Books and Tracts have influenced Christianity greatly” (Except that nobody who doesn’t shop at the church bookstore has ever bought a copy of any of them. The missionaries who received complementary copies in lieu of Christmas presents have long since used them for kindling.)

– “One of the most dynamic and powerful churches on the West Coast.” (Also one of the most oblong and unceremonious. I mean if we’re just going to throw around meaningless adjectives let’s go for broke.)

– “Reclaiming their town for Christ.” (And they’re doing it one zoning board battle at a time. Take that, heathen politicians!)

Most fundamentalists just seem to have no clue that the average non-fundy has never heard of their church, its pastor, his alma mater, and their preacher’s fellowship. And as long as they are refusing to have any meaningful relationship with non-fundamentalists, it’s going to stay that way in perpetuity. Delusions of grandeur would seem to be a requirement to be a somebody in fundyland.

169 thoughts on “A Small World”

  1. Oh no you don’t. I see what you’re up to. And I am NOT biting on the easy setup here. Nope. Not gonna do it. Now if you’ll excuse me, which way to the breakfast bar?

    1. I’ll bite. They certainly did countless times. Can you say, “Big fish in a small pond?”

      “Delusions of GRANDEUR would seem to be a requirement to be a somebody in fundyland.” And the grandeur the better!

      Fundy Rules #35 and #60 would apply.

  2. I know you’ll all be glad to know that they go over to China and do the same thing! Only their churches are smaller (have to fit in a house) and the surrounding neighborhood is even bigger! (1.3 billion)

  3. “Most fundamentalists just seem to have no clue that the average non-fundy has never heard of their church.” — so true. My husband went to our town’s government and asked them what they knew of our church. They knew NOTHING! We’d had zero impact on our community! Not that we thought we did. We knew we were small and never had delusions of grandeur as described in the post. We were happy running our church programs, being friendly to visitors, and hoping our church members would invite folks to come to church.

    “And as long as they are refusing to have any meaningful relationship with non-fundamentalists, it’s going to stay that way in perpetuity.” Yup. We’re so excited that we’re not living that way anymore. It’s awesome to be part of things and not hiding in our bunker anymore!

  4. I am amused by the number of people I have met in my day to day life who have never heard of Bob Jones or Pensacola or any of the ‘great’ IFB churches or schools out there.

    When I was young a new Fundamentalist Baptist church came to town. We listened to the Pastor on the radio it seemed like everyone everywhere was talking about this new church in town. It was a great new work. They were shaking up things! We certainly talking about it in our little circle but after we got out I was surprised to find out that no on the outside gave the place a second thought except to note there was a new church in town and after it was no longer new no one paid any attention to it at all. :mrgreen:

    1. In Pensacola itself most of the people who live there think that the guys out preaching (read that screaming) at cars from street corners are PCC students.

      They’re actually Ruckmanites but PCC has such bad PR in the town that nobody knows the difference.

      1. In fairness to “the heathens”, PCC does send out all those Christian Service drive by’s to go play some basketball & hold a bible teaching lesson in minority neighborhoods. Isn’t such a long leap to assume the same kids are screaming at traffic as well (although we know it’s Ruckmanites, it all looks like the same crazy behavior)

        1. Exactly. Compounding the issue for “the heathens” is that when the service workers and/or street preachers are not available, there are always those little white pvc scripture signs adorning the front yards of homes and businesses, the billboards adorning I-10/Hwy 29, and the magnetic bumper stickers – all of which are KJV-only of course! PCC would have to hire a brilliant PR machine (read: a secular firm from outside of the Pensacola area) to contend with this, and there are some barriers to that. The accusation of an unequal yoke comes to mind right away. Plus the desire to “keep things local.” I’m sure you can think of more….

      1. You beat me to that comment. I used to feel like I had to preface the fact that I graduated from Bob Jones with some type of disclaimer so that people would know that I am not racist, I do not constantly yell about the world’s sin and wickedness, and I am not legalistic.

    2. Almost everyone that gets it out of me that I went to PCC never heard of it. Then I say they publish Abeka Books. It they are related to a christian school or homeschool they say, “OOHHH yeah I’ve heard of Abeka Books.”

  5. guessing the mog in the center of the picture doesn’t preach on obesity. 😉

    The other option is that the “outside world” has heard of the fundy church, and what they’ve heard is enough to REALLY scare them away!

    1. Obesity is not a sin, gluttony is. For the record, not all fat people are gluttons, and not all gluttons are fat. I know fat people who have medical issues that caused weight gain (illnesses where people take steroids) and I also know a couple of very thin people who can pack it away without ever gaining an ounce.

  6. When my mother worked for Roloff’s, the group was really well-known in the area (it was just after Roloff’s death.) Anywhere in Corpus Christi that we went, people seemed to know who Roloff was. So it sort gave people the idea that Roloff was really famous. But we were shocked to discover that even an hour’s drive away, Roloff Evangelistic Enterprises meant nothing. And if you got a day’s drive outside of Corpus Christi, he wasn’t even known in non-fundie churches.

    1. It’s the same thing with Moody Bible Institute. Growing up in Chicago, everyone knows who they are, even with their radio station. And while they are more organized and then most, I know live in Atlanta, and most Christians down here don’t know who they are.

    2. When I was a kid in Dallas, Lester Roloff was still alive. I wouldn’t say most people in Dallas knew who he was, but Texas people who read newspapers and followed TV and radio news knew of his many legal battles with state authorities.
      That’s not the same as being known for the excellence of one’s works, of course, but it’s one way to get your name out there.

      1. His rebellion against authority is now part of Fundie Lore and is known as, “The Christian Alamo.”

        One can hide a multitude of sins and abuse behind the curtain of Religion… 😈

  7. This picture speaks so many things. I can just look at it and see the story lines taking place. I don’t even want to say anything, I just want to look.

  8. There seem to be an abundance of teens and pre-teens, and only one male old enough to father children at that age. I’m going to go with: this is a quiverfull family that are also foster parents (the two aren’t supposed to mix, I know) and some adult sisters of the big dude’s wife in the middle. The littler ones are probably kids of some of the younger couples. Style points to the guy in the back wearing the salmon colored shirt with the white cuffs and collar.

  9. Here’s another accolade very similar to #2:
    -“Dr. Snodgrass’s books have been translated into 52 languages” (Chinese guy #1: “What’s that book say?” Chinese guy #2: “Use more than one page when wiping.”)

  10. “Reclaiming their city for Christ.”

    To quote from The Visitation, which city do you know has ever been reclaimed for Christ? Or even claimed? Did Peter ever take a city for Christ? Did Paul? No. Not even Jesus ever took a city for Christ. I understand the idea behind that saying, but it would be better if we focused on teaching the way Jesus did, without focusing on “claiming” anything.

    1. You’d be able to have actual biblical backing to claim you were doing your part to make a city a “city of truth” than to say you are claiming or reclaiming a city for Christ.

    2. Yeah, I’m with you. My church has recently gotten involved in a movement that is working to “claim Washington state for Christ,” and is already calling several counties “claimed.” I am very iffy and annoyed by that terminology. If a county is claimed for Christ, wouldn’t that suppose every single occupant of that county is a Christian? Otherwise, I don’t know how you could say that. I really hate stuff like this because I feel like it makes Christianity even more of a laughingstock.

      But I don’t have any issues with the group’s methods (lots of prayer and service to the community, and no door-knocking or tract-bombing), so I’m not going to think any worse of my church for getting involved. I just have a hard time wanting to myself when they use this kind of terminology.

  11. As a BJU grad, I wish my alma mater was less well known than it is; in fact, I grimace every time I see that one of the Joneses has been engaging with the media again, as it only raises the profile of the school and reminds everybody of its sordid racial past.

    1. A wonderful young couple saw our website a couple years ago and were interested in visiting our church so they gave my husband a call. They said, “We saw you were a BJU graduate. We’re a mixed race couple. Do you have a problem with that?” How humiliated we were that THAT was the testimony BJU communicated to them! I was so embarrassed that they even had to ask, and I wondered how many other people in our area were turned away for a similiar reason. Talk about putting up a stumbling block to the Gospel! (Our new website doesn’t mention our alma mater.)

      1. What’s even worse is all the people who don’t even ask, because they assume from the Bob Jones association that you are racists. You’ll never have the conversation with them, so they’ll never hear what your real views are.

    2. I had a boss once who was a graduate of Liberty University. I was still pretty fundy and he was definately my idea of a Christian. We got in an argument one time about his alma mater. I said, “Libery is a Christian Univeristy”
      “No it’s not.”
      “Yes it is! We used to play against you in Basketball at PCC!”

      “No it’s not!”
      “Yes it is!”

      He either really went to that college the whole time and never heard of Jerry Falwell or more likely, he graduated from Liberty University and didn’t want to be associated with Jerry Falwell.

      1. People can ignore whatever they want to ignore. When I was at Southern Methodist University, some of my fellow students insisted that our school was not church-affiliated. I don’t know how they explained the name to themselves.

  12. This is so obvious, it needs to be said. Good job Darrell.

    … The missionaries who received complementary copies in lieu of Christmas presents have long since used them for kindling…

    or for toilet paper.

  13. I know the actual story behind this picture and know the names of some of these people, however, I will hold out on telling the story because Darrell just might write about “the rest” here in the future. That is unless Darrell wants me to. Great pic!

      1. Thanks Dr. Dow for allowing me to speak in class. This picture was taken at Living Waters Youth Camp in Hayden, AL. This camp was featured on SFL not too awful long ago. The group pictured was the group who came to camp with Victory Baptist Church in Rockford, IL. The really big guy in the middle is the managawd at the church and the other big guy on the end in the salmon colored shirt is the youth pastor at that church which just so happens to be the managawds son. The camp has a guy on staff who is also the managawds son and just as big as the rest of the family.

        On another note, has anyone else noticed the awesome coordination of the ties in the pic? I personally love the tie with the plaid shirt and the tie with the stripped polo!

        1. I have been to that camp!!! That was the last year my kids went to camp. After they came home, they both said they would never go back. Our church goes back every year — without my family. Feel free to judge. Everyone else does. 🙄

        2. The tie with the polo (short sleeve, of course) was one of the first things I noticed! *facepalm* Speaking as someone who’s fashion illiterate, that’s bad. And if even I say it’s bad, you know it’s bad!

        3. The tie with the striped polo caught me too. The boy looks like he was forced to wear it. “What we’re about to take a church picture son! Where’s your tie? Here put this one on and smile!”

        4. As a testimony to their influence, I live in Rockford, IL and have been here for the past five years. I’ve never heard of this place. 😕

        5. Ok. couldn’t resist looking up the camp. From their guidelines for campers:

          CULOTTES AND DRESSES MUST BE WORN TO THE KNEE. WE PREFER THESE ON GIRLS.

          So guys, here’s your golden opportunity to wear culottes, although they’d prefer them on the gentler sex.

        6. @ Big Gary–I don’t know if the biggest guy always gets to be the preacher, but often the preacher is the biggest guy (and always in his own mind! LOL!), and CERTAINLY, you can’t be a mog without the white shirt and tie.

      1. Sorry my friend, when I started writing the explanation, your post was not up there until after I had posted or I would have shared the prayer request. Great idea! I see your posts on here often and like them. You should share your story on here sometime!

  14. All of my other comments have been taken already, so I’d like to point out that in the very front row there is a boy wearing a blue and white polo shirt … with a tie. That’s all I’m sayin’.

  15. My pastor is one of 4 men in America’s history who have shown up to preach during a hurricane! He was the only one there (except his wife and daughter), but he says he preached so hard the hurricane left the building untouched. They did lose a few shingles and his car was turned over by the high winds (I’ve heard that happens with KIA’s), but the Gospel was given!

      1. Pensacola claimed they prayed Hurricane Opal 20 miles to the east, so that we got the “light” side of the hurricane. Actually stated multiple times by Dr. Mutsch: The eye of the hurricane was aimed directly at 250 Brent Lane, and thanks to all the prayers of students, parents, staff, etc. The hurricane literally JUMPED (didn’t turn, it jumped) 20 miles east, and that all the weather people were baffled by this, and totally unable to explain it. Surprisingly, I never saw that version reported on the local or national news. Must’ve been a cover up.

      2. @CMG
        ROFL
        My former fundy preacher had services during Hurricane Frances 😯 Granted, we didn’t get the full brunt of it, but it’s hard to focus when the giant oak tree outside is bending rather close to the church window.

        And since the lights were off, the emergency light split his shadow along the wall: that was entertaining.

      3. I had the mis-privilige of being a camp counselor one summer. The evangelist preached the worst message on hell I’ve ever heard. He basically told all the kids that if they were scared of hell, they weren’t saved. He also said that hell was in the center of the earth and that you can hear the sound of drums because of the shifting of the earth’s plates. All of this came from his “scholarly study” on the biblical words for hell .

        As is standard fundy-fare, the counselors (myself included) stood in the back to await the convicted hordes as they retreated during the invitation. He delayed his 30 minute invitation just long enough to repreach his sermon during his 15 minute prayer. Rain began to fall on the tin roof of the chapel. He then proceeded to pray that God might stop the rain so that the invitation would go well. At that point the rain stopped. All of the other camp counselors were in awe of this evangelist’s ability to calm the storm. I turned my face toward heaven and said two words, “Why, God?”

        I have barely recovered from witnessing that mountebank’s false message “validated” by a “miracle.”

        He can’t exegete – he can’t do theology – he can’t preach – he doesn’t know how to truly impact people with God’s message — but he might make a good weatherman.

  16. After I left my life-long fundy church and started visiting one of those wicked, calvinist, mega-churches across my mid-sized southern town, I soon found out that hardly anyone (and I’m talking about godly, gospel-centered christians) knew who Rice, Hyles, Sexton, Chappell, PCC, HAC, etc even were. It quickly became apparent that all of these guys were only legends in their own minds and in the controlled minds of their people.

    The same goes for all of the major problems the fundies spend so much effort screaming and steaming about: KJV only, pants and shorts, CCM music, Christian schools, etc. I love that look of bewildered sympathy on people’s faces when I start talking about all that stuff.

    1. “I love that look of bewildered sympathy on people’s faces when I start talking about all that stuff.”

      I’ve seen that look. Sometimes I wonder what they think of me for having allowed myself to get caught up in such nonsense.
      😳

      1. @Sometimes I wonder what they think of me for having allowed myself to get caught up in such nonsense.

        Sometimes I wonder about myself for getting caught up in all that nonsense

    2. “The same goes for all of the major problems the fundies spend so much effort screaming and steaming about: KJV only, pants and shorts, CCM music, Christian schools, etc. I love that look of bewildered sympathy on people’s faces when I start talking about all that stuff.”

      ROFL. I know exactly what you’re talking about. People at my current fundy church thought my former fundy church was wacked, my non-denom friends think my current one is wacked 😆

  17. Yes, the small word of fundamentalism was the only “safe” place in my mind when I was a fundy. Outside of that small population was a big “world” with nothing but evil forces out for my undoing.

    When I finally left my old church, it was amazing just how un-scary the rest of the world became!

    And when I looked into Catholicism, it was amazing just how Christian the rest of the world (even outside of the states) actually was. 🙂

  18. All throughout Bible college I heard all about how great my school was and how it had a reputation among other (IFB) groups for the quality of education we received. It was a bit of a shock (and immensely amusing) to me to leave fundyland and realize that no one – not even other fundies, much less other Christians – had heard of the school.

  19. This may not be the case, but I would like to point out that it is *possible* that blue-polo-and-tie boy is aware of his non-conventional attire and is, in fact, a rebel. (Cue gasp)

    It was not unusual for the boys in my church to do something like this to show how “edgy” they were and to stand out.

    The edginess is debatable, but in a church where everyone of the male gender is tucked into crisp whites and patriotic ties, a popped collar here or a misplaced tie or chemically treated jeans can garner you the title of “rebel.”

    { I could tell the story of what kind of reaction my peers gave me when I started wearing pre-roughed up specialty jeans, but I’m sure your imaginations work well enough. }

    1. Haha, my parents were always so upset when my brothers would wear their hats backwards. They were so sure they were secretly wanting to be gangsta rebels.

    1. Gluttony is one of them Catholic deadly sins, we’re Babtust. Paul said to “Buffet our bodies daily.” That’s pronounced “buff aay”- like Poundagrossa. (If you said ‘Buff et’ folks would think of a wurldly singer.)

  20. What I hear when I see this picture: “Father Abraham, had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham. And I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s just Praise the Lord (and pass the potato salad).

      1. The bulletproof pulpit is absolutely true, as was the bulletproof glass shield preventing a clear shot from the balcony. That was the old auditorium. I have not been there since they built the new one.

      1. How about the bodyguards that surrounded Ian Paisley when he came to campus? Perhaps they were a little more necessary than the bulletproof pulpit was for Hyles. But I have often wondered: BJU was so intent on protecting its students, right? Especially the girls? Isn’t that why they had us sign off campus all the time and always state exactly where we were going to be and with whom? So why in the world would they have Paisley be on campus when he was supposedly such a target for the IRA?

  21. Usually I get one of two responses when I tell people that I’m from BJU:

    1. Do they really have pink and blue sidewalks?!?
    2. Where’s that?

    Whatever other people are hearing, in either case, ain’t much.

  22. Usually, I get one of two responses when I tell people I’m from Bob Jones:

    1. Are there really pink and blue sidewalks?!?
    2. From where?

    Either way, other people haven’t been hearing much.

  23. I put all the comments aside and just can’t stop staring at the picture. The artistic qualities and folk artiness are above comment. One thought just keeps reoccurring. Who weights more, the men or the women? This could be the American Mona Lisa.

  24. You know how you can tell they’re at camp? Khaki pants instead of dark pants. Who hoo. Non formal attire. Now lets go play some flag football while the girls go take a basket weaving class.

  25. I think it’s funny that the youth pastor is wearing a salmon colored shirt to show he is hip.

    At Liberty, all of the youth ministry majors grew goatees, shaved their head and got tatoos (all Christian themed) to show they were hip 😎

  26. Wheresah Dr. Phil Kiddah preaching aboutah the dangersah of alcoholah…..errr I mean gluttonyah!

    Maybe the Old Country Buffett should put the MOG in a real life commercial about the dangers of the their abundant food and the lives it impacts everyday! 😛

  27. This theme of being a legend in one’s own mind reminds me of an article by Lawrence Wright in the last issue (Feb. 14 & 21) of The New Yorker, about members of the Church of Scientology. (Wright is best known for writing about militant Islamists.) The Church of Scientology claims that it is transforming humanity in a way that will eliminate mental and physical illness, crime, and war. Wright says the church “… informally claims eight million members worldwide.” On the other hand, “A survey of American religious affiliations, compiled in the Statistical Abstract of the United States, estimates that only twenty-five thousand Americans actually call themselves Scientologists. That’s less than half the number who identify themselves as Rastafarians.”

    This strikes me as a paradigm of how churches (and some other social and political movements) see themselves from the inside versus how they look from the outside. Talk to your own evangelists, and you hold the future of humanity in your hands. Ask an outsider, and you’re somewhere less than half as influential as the Rastafarians.

    (No offense intended to Rastafarians, some of whom are friends of mine.)

  28. I actually didn’t know most of the people mentioned on this site until I got into college and had to find a new church. Then I ran into the PCC fans and the Bob Jones fans…

  29. Every time I think I’m too fat, there’s a fundy mog (or two) who makes me feel better.

    escapee–Pink and blue sidewalks? Seriously? Can the women walk on the blue sidewalks?

    1. No they were not painted pink and blue which was my husband’s point. But there were sidewalks that ONLY guys could walk on and ONLY girls could walk on, which was my point.

      1. Right, the sidewalks immediately adjacent to the dorms were off-limits to the opposite sex. I imagine they still are. But there really were pink and blue sidewalks at one time at Prairie Bible Institute.

      2. Exactly. It’s only a metaphor, but when when there are places on campus for which you’ll receive demerits if you walk there simply because of your gender, you might as well paint them pink and blue. And if they were pink and blue, it would be easier to remember which ones were off limits.

        1. yes, it would be. It would have saved me a few demerits as an innocent freshman walking on off limits sidewalks because I didn’t know yet. Oh those unwritten rules.

        2. Don’t forget about the separate staircases AND elevators in all the academic buildings. Thanks to them I used to feel violated when men got on elevators with me post-PCC.

        3. So using the same staircase as the opposite sex is also fornication?
          Wow, Fundies are the sexiest people on earth. Everything is sex to them.

  30. In my “growing up” Fundy days I used to think the world knew about us also. It was such a shock to find out the truth. My kids have been raised in a Bible and Reformed Baptist church. When my daughter was thinking about college, my Mom (lifelong Fundy) suggested PCC. I had to inform Mom that my daughter had never heard of PCC BJU or HAC in our church. My Mom said…”I thought you went to a Bible believing church?”

        1. No one expects the Spanish Inquisitions….

          Or George, in this case. He got me twice in a row a few posts back.

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