Fists of Fury


During my youth I was witness to one of the great schisms in fundamentalism. True friends broke fellowship and preachers raged from their pulpits. Universities changed courses and people in church vestibules around the country murmured soft and low of the scandal of it all. I’m speaking, of course, of whether or not martial arts were permissible for Christians or a gateway to the occult.

Here is the controversy in a nutshell. On the one hand some fundamentalists agree that there is no better feeling than walking around knowing you could wipe out your entire neighborhood, provided of course that you witness to them first and give them a chance to get saved or at least throw a few gospel tracts on their mangled bodies after the fracas and then calling them an ambulance. Fighting fundamentalists do love to fight.

On the other side, however, are fundamentalists who stand opposed to most forms of martial arts. Not, as you might think, because they are pacifists — far from it! They have no objections to boxing matches, wrestling bouts, or professional hockey. What they fear is that once you put on those foreign looking clothes and start bowing, meditating and learning how to pronounce “qi” that demon possession just can’t be far behind. It’s all just so very un-American that it’s better to be wary.

I’ve even heard testimony from fundamentalists who claim that once they got saved they completely lost the ability to 360 degree spin kicks or stop someone’s heart from beating by clever use of pressure points. The fact that their fried chicken intake tripled during the same period is irrelevant. It must have been that the demon forces that they were channeling with Power Rangers moves during those sixth grade playground fights just completely left them once they received the Holy Spirit. Makes complete sense.

So on and on the fight raged between sides causing a very different set of memories for people from different fundamentalists camps. Some can recall watching a martial arts ministry guru using a sword to slice a watermelon that was lying on the stomach of their youth pastor. Others only recall sermons against Bruce Lee, the Karate Kid, and pretty much everything Asian in origin. Kung Pao chicken sounds a bit martial-arty; best to abstain from the appearance of evil.

Martial arts are a slippery slope. Next thing you know women will be able to defend themselves against men and people might start getting physically fit. It’s easy to see why many fundamentalists aren’t too keen.

107 thoughts on “Fists of Fury”

  1. Oh I remember hearing this from som Fundy relatives. My 17 year old son has a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Our church is starting a Yoga class this Wednesday.

  2. The widow of a former pastor of my childhood church was very critical of one of her husband’s successors because he was a Black Belt and taught martial arts classes for kids in the fellowship hall. All that Oriental stuff . . . it’s a slippery slope, y’know.

    1. If it’s not American, it must be wrong.

      Which is why IFB missionaries go and plant churches that look just like Western churches, and why they have very limited success.

  3. I just read the link about fundies who are opposed to martial arts. The writer says that we must choose between the self-control that Zen meditation offers and the self-control that comes with submission to the Holy Spirit.

    Riiiiight . . . that same self-control and submission to the Holy Spirit that leads him to refer to certain people (ostensibly fellow-believers) as “scum.”

        1. The Blessed Quietness (misnomer??) guy is the same guy that used to run the Balaam’s Ass website. He doesn’t like anybody, apparently.

        2. Yeah, this one is a doozy for FWOTW. He’s a lunatic! The usual interracial marriage is of the devil, KJV is the bestest thing ever (including the words in italics, he’s careful to tell us!), women who dress up attractively are whores and they should never work outside of the home, etc. etc. crap is all over that site.

          But then he takes it even further: supporting Israel is evil, all other Christians are wimps, it’s wrong to try to help or be kind to nonChristians or those who reject God, and the NIV is proven by its alternate translation of Isaiah 14:12 to be “the work of damnable blasphemers who were inspired from the toilet of hell.” Actual quote.

          There’s just so much hatred on this site. Everyone and everything is evil and must be separated from lest you become DEFILED, because as we all know Jesus never ever spoke with or ate with or conversed with adulterers or crooked tax collectors or thieves or power-hungry religious figures or prostitutes or…

          Oh wait.

          Also he is totally not racist and racism is totally evil and all, but them “Black” people and Zionists, amirite?

        3. I remember when Pope JPII died he dressed up in bright clothes like a clown and went and danced in the street holding a pic of Pope JP upside down because he told his family that he would be so happy when the guy died he would do it and he did. He has pics on his site of it. Really? Since when are we to rejoice at the death of anyone? Being a Catholic I found it hurtful and disrespectful but even if you arent you dont rejoice in dancing for the death of anyone.

        4. The IFB apparently missed another verse:

          Ezekiel 18:23
          Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, β€œrather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

          Because THEY sure take pleasure in the death of anyone they consider to be wicked.

      1. And on the β€œwhat do you believe?” page he refers to others as β€œblithering idiots,” says he believes inter-racial marriage is wrong…

        Does he use the Ku Klux term “Miscegenation”?

        …and so are vegetarians.

        In which case he would agree with Zed from Zardoz and the Velociraptors from Jurassic Park.

        1. “In which case he would agree with Zed from Zardoz and the Velociraptors from Jurassic Park.”

          Non-sequitur notwithstanding, this is the funniest comment I’ve read all day. πŸ˜†

  4. Our kids participated when they were much younger. It’s a discipline of respect and focus. The physical training was intense. The master of the dojo was a positive influence on our kids and they speak fondly of him to this day….and he is a CATHOLIC. Gasp! I preferred him as a role model over most any other adult in our IFB church. He was an honest, loving family man who poured his heart into his students.

    I would highly recommend martial arts for any child who struggles in school, has difficulty focusing, and/or needs a positive outlet for excess energy. Our kids had a fantastic experience. More than I can say for IFB camps they attended.

    1. It doesn’t have to just martial arts, they can always join the football team. My son is not iton sports so much, but he needed some outlet, so we took up shooting and knife throwing.

  5. This makes me think of Yoga. I’m kind of torn on the issue. Maybe my SFL family can help shed light on the issue for me. Yoga IS the term for one of the supposed paths to Hindu “salvation.” So should Christians practice yoga? If Christians practice yoga, shouldn’t they just call it “stretching?” Just like when a Hindu takes a bath (even in a temple), they don’t call it “baptism,” just “taking a bath” or perhaps “ritual cleansing” if it has spiritual implications. Thoughts?

    1. You don’t convert to Hinduism and lose your faith in Jesus just by contorting your body around in an exercise regime, just as eating meat that has been offered to idols does not make you an idolater.

      1. Right, I agree with that, but is it actually “yoga” to just contort your body, or is it just funny looking exercise?

        1. Yoga is a combination of exercise and meditation. Meditation is completely independent of any religion. It is simply putting yourself into the state you fall into naturally during the moments when you are just waking from a refreshing sleep. Meditation shuts off the background chatter we all have in our minds–worries, self-reminders, questions, etc.–and produces a quiet, still, but alert frame of mind. What you do after you reach that state is up to you. Me, I just stayed there for a few minutes and came up out of it refreshed. (I have kids now, so it’s a lot harder to find the time and privacy–even though I could really use the refreshment these days!) Christian mystics meditate in order to reach for unity with God–this is a very old practice, probably as old as Christianity itself. Hindu mystics do much the same, but in a different religion.

          If you want to try meditation, but the Hindu background of yoga makes you uncomfortable, consider historic Christian meditative practices such as using a candle flame for a focus or saying a short Bible verse or prayer while focusing on breathing slowly and deeply. It’s arguable that Gregorian chant, which is paced to the human breath, is intended to help people reach the meditative state. But hatha yoga, for example, doesn’t require you to do anything religious at all; you just sit properly, close your eyes, count your breaths, etc. It’s so simple that I taught myself how to do it out of a book when I was a young teen.

          As for the exercise part of yoga, if it does your body good, do it, and if it doesn’t, don’t.

    2. Our church was anti-martial arts, and anti-yoga. So I grew up and enrolled my kid in karate (it was good for him), and I’ve practiced yoga on and off for nearly twenty years. When I make the time and effort to practice regularly, it really does make a difference in my energy levels and reduces my anxiety.

      However, my understanding is that it’s the meditation aspect of yoga that gets the fundies all riled up–yoga done properly is more than just contorting your body; it’s a mental discipline as well, and the idea of allowing yourself to “empty” your mind invites the possibility of demon possession. At least, that was my teenage, Gothard-flavored take-away of the issue.

      1. So do Christians do yoga “properly”? I guess I’m more comfortable calling it “stretching and relaxing” than yoga. I wouldn’t call spiritual struggles Jihad, I wouldn’t call Heaven nirvana, and I wouldn’t call a vacation to the middle east a haaj, so why would I call stretching then relaxing yoga? Again, I don’t have a problem with Christians doing the poses or what not, I’m just hung up on the terminology.

        1. lol @ relaxing yoga after literally just finishing a p90x yoga workout.

          Not that yoga *can’t be relaxing. Just that it isn’t always. Sometimes it flat out kicks your butt.

        2. It’s my understanding that there is a relaxation period between yogic exercises, and that the positions are all accompanied by a form of meditation. Trust me, the downward dog, bow, and plow look anything but relaxing. :/

    3. The history of yoga is pretty messy. What we call “yoga” is a fairly modern series of exercises with a historical gloss that were intended to make Indian youths more fit and confident. It was created during the British control of India, so this was a big thing. See Meera Nanda and Andrea Jain.

      I think that the closest you can get an ancient form of yoga is a mention of certain postures that are comfortable during long periods of meditation. That meditation was what was going to lead to enlightenment, so I’m guessing that this is what Christians should be worried about.

    4. DanCDow, I used to be torn on the issue, as well. Now, I’m all “to the pure, all things are pure” and enjoy yoga very much!

      However, if you are looking for stretching and toning exercises without the spiritual influence that yoga does, Pilates is a great substitute. Be warned, however, that Pilates was my gateway drug to yoga. πŸ˜‰

      I’m often described as flighty or bubbly, so I personally find the meditation aspect of yoga extremely beneficial when it comes to my daily focus ability. It helps me coalesce my random thoughts and be more purposeful in my activities, rather than constantly bouncing from one thing to another.

    5. It’s a slippery slope to evaluate our practices based on the origins of their names. Roman Catholics practice “confession”, but protestants don’t have any issue with the topic of confessing sins. I know it’s not a perfect comparison, but I think the idea applies. I don’t have any problem doing Yoga. Not just the stretches – breathing techniques and meditation are really healthy. If what I’m meditating on is good, pure, and true (a la Philippians 4:8) I don’t see any problem with calling it what it is. πŸ™‚

      1. It’s dangerous to evaluate anything on its origin.

        MENSA’s founder was a Eugenicist. Are all members of members Eugenicists because the founder was? No!

        The Rhodes Scholarship was created as a way to expand the British imperialism. Cecil Rhodes was quite the racist. Are all Rhodes Scholars people who want to take back the US under the rule of Great Britain? Doubt it.

        The circus had a horrible origin too. So did ballet when the original dancers were basically whores. Are all ballet dancers whores? No!

        And this is why I hate when pastors preach against yoga, rock and roll, etc. They look at how it started and preach that its original stigma will always remain.

      2. Molly,
        I see your point, and I mostly agree with you. You said, “It’s a slippery slope to evaluate our practices based on the origins of their names.” My contention is that the word yoga didnt just originate from a hindu practice. That’s what it IS. If it’s not hindu, it’s not yoga. Maybe the word will take on a new connotation in the near future, and maybe to some it already has, but it is as much linked with hinduism in my book as baptism is with Christianity.
        “I don’t see any problem with calling it what it is.” Neither do I. I call it stretching. πŸ˜‰
        Stretch away!

        1. I see your point, and I don’t feel the need to argue it. I just meant to communicate that I don’t worry about names “infecting” my practices any more than I think that a deck of tarot cards is inherently evil. A name is just a series of letters, like a deck of tarot cards is a stack of paper. I wouldn’t use that deck to try to tell my future, and I wouldn’t use Yoga to try to reach “enlightenment.” I just don’t want to imbue power to a name. πŸ™‚
          Again, though, I respect your view. I just wanted to clarify mine. πŸ™‚

        2. Molly. Well said. Good point. Speaking of origins, and tarot, did you know the origin of tarot? They had nothing to do with clairvoyance until about 350 years after they were invented as a game. I guess in the same way, yoga has been around for much longer than its been used as a hindu religious practice. I think I’m beginning to see the light.

  6. I don’t think I want to know where you find your “sources.” That “Blessed Quietness” link is all kinds of unreadable crazy. 😯

    1. I really like this quote from that site: “Karate IS a spiritual exercise to its masters, even it [sic] diddle head Christians don’t think so.”

      Yikes. I dug a little deeper into his website and realized he lives just up the highway from me. Why are there so many fruitcakes in Texas???

        1. Clearly you haven’t been to Claxton, GA, which boasts two, count ’em, TWO fruitcake shops, the Claxton Bakery and the Georgia Fruit Cake Company, both of them backed up by impressive bakeries. πŸ˜€
          Personally I hate the stuff. πŸ˜›

        2. Yeah, I guess calling him a fruitcake is kind of insulting…to the fruitcake. Especially those yummy-looking delicacies πŸ˜€

          Still, this reminds me how random strangers I see at the grocery store or in the park could easily be total whackjobs. They’re everywhere!

        3. I can’t stand fruitcake. I loved Johnny Carson’s take on fruitcake, which he voiced on The Tonight Show years ago: that there’s actually only one fruitcake in the world, which every successive year gets passed at Christmas from one person to another because no one will eat it. :mrgreen:

        4. Hey, I have actually ordered from that place! Their fruitcakes are closer to being edible than anyone else’s, I think.

        5. @Weary Pilgrim: I’m willing to bet that you’ve only eaten teetotaler’s fruitcake. Teetotaler’s fruitcake is made by taking a classic American fruitcake recipe and removing the booze. The booze in which the fruitcake quietly marinates for weeks or months while wrapped in a clean cloth, until a heady aroma arises as the first slice curls away from the knife. I don’t even like to drink, but I will happily get tipsy on genuine old-fashioned fruitcake. But our weird attitudes about alcohol have made teetotaler’s fruitcake the norm. It’s a darn shame.

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of martial arts being evil. In fact, I belonged to a church that was very pro-Chuck Norris (my pastor was closely linked to his family, in fact), and we’d occasionally have preacher-tainors who were also some-kind-of-belts come in and perform by whacking concrete blocks with their faces or something similar.

    Yoga, now, that was a whole other ball of wax. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve heard that people who do yoga will end up demon possessed. Thing is, I think it’s complete nonsense to think a Christian could be demon possessed anyway and certainly due to a form of exercise (and in its most basic form, yoga IS a form of exercise).

    1. I agree about Christians not being able to be demon-possessed. Bill Gothard / ATI was OBSESSED with demon-possession and all the 1980s satanic-panic nonsense. There was this speaker, named Jim Logan (once described to me as the Stephen King of the fundy world), who used to come and tell stories of kids who did horrible evil acts like listen to rock music and the next thing you knew, hooded figures were appearing to them floating in mid-air with glowing eyes and blood was oozing out of their walls. (No kidding, that was an actual story he told.)

      1. Oy, that reminds me of the time they dragged our youth group to see a speaker who talked about backmasking. He even played a tiny clip of a Beatles song, backwards–just enough to try to convince, of course, but not enough to “infect” us with rock music demon cooties. How does that work, anyway? You’d think if it’s demonic, even a tiny clip could make you levitate and your head spin, right?

        1. Howcum the only backward spinning record players ever made are always in the homes of Fundy preachers? Is there a special hidden section in the Christian media shops for them? Are they handed out when you graduate from BJU? Just asking. πŸ˜›

      2. My Pentecostal next-door neighbor once told me I “had a demon.” She wasn’t being mean or accusatory…she was just stating, matter-of-factly, what the Lord had supposedly revealed to her the first time she met me. πŸ˜†

        I will let you know when my head starts spinning. :mrgreen:

      3. @Deacon’son, I think those kids would have to have been doing something a heck of a lot stronger than rock music to see stuff like that… πŸ˜‰

  8. I credit a lifetime in the martial arts for enabling me to combat the bullying, threats, and bluster I got once I started documenting clergy sex abuse of children in Christian Fundamentalism. Yes, from the time I got saved and started attending an IFB church, I was hassled and told that I was engaging in paganism, Satanism, occultism, etc. Many of the men who warned or condemned me have since been brought up on charges of molesting kids, have wrecked their marriages with adultery, and have been shuffled around Fundamentalism to hide their gross sins.

    The fundy fear of the esoteric is strongly rooted in its own gnosticism: the cootie theory of Sanctification. That is, you get cooties of Satan if you engage in anything, however innocent or innocently, that was founded by people who were not Christians. All graeco-roman sports are exempted of course, unless they detract from church attendance.

    1. “The Cootie Theory of Sanctification”

      All graeco-roman sports are exempted of course, unless they detract from church attendance.

      As is Football, Pro Wrestling, and MMA Cage Fighting. “I CAN BEAT YOU UP! I CAN BEAT YOU UP! I CAN BEAT YOU UP!”

    2. I’m with HUG. “The Cootie Theory of Sanctification” needs to be added to the SFL glossary. It’s that good!

      1. well, throw in a little platonic dualism and I’m right there with you. Its why I preach the gospel to the fundies, they have been influenced by evil pagan philosophies of The World!

    3. Fundies are not the only ones who subscribe to the Cootie Theory.

      I used to correspond with a guy who was a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. Pre-DISCLAIMER: I do NOT think he was typical of the Eastern Orthodox at all. He was suffering, I think, from an acute case of Convertitis. It happens. A lot of converts to Catholicism get it, too.

      Anyway, this guy once told me that his tiny Orthodox congregation was looking for a place to worship. A local Catholic priest offered to let them use his parish church building for Divine Liturgy, Vespers, and anything else their little hearts desired, as long as it did not conflict with Catholic services. But the congregation’s Orthodox priest (also a convert) refused. He did not want his people “tainted” by a church interior that routinely housed the “heterodox.”

      I am not making this up. Thankfully, it really isn’t typical. Most Orthodox priests, even converts, would have considered this guy crazy to pass up an offer of a free worship site.

      Anyway, at the time, I wrote back to my correspondent, “Oh? So we Catholics have cooties now, do we?”

      He was not amused. He was kind of humor-challenged in general, to tell the truth.

      Ever since then I have been acutely aware of the special contaminating power of Catholic Cooties.

      1. Interesting story. I do know that Orthodox believers are OBSESSED about the sanctity of the altar, so maybe there was a grain of truth in his attitude.

        1. You’re probably right. His statement did not exactly warm the cockles of my heart, however. Let’s just say that I did not sense a whole lot of warm, fuzzy, ecumenical bonhomie emanating from my correspondent’s keyboard. πŸ˜†

          Of course, it’s possible that the church building in question was one of those Our Lady of Pizza Hut Spirit-of-Vatican-II(TM) “wreckovation” monstrosities. In that case the cootie-averse Orthodox priest may have simply been expressing an aesthetic objection. :mrgreen:

          (But actually, I asked my correspondent about that, and he said no, it was a perfectly lovely church building. It just had cooties, thass all.)

        2. Oh my gosh, post vatican-II churches can be SO UGLY!! One of the art professors at the University of Dallas, Lyle Novitsky, was responsible for some of them. He pioneered the “etherial light floating down from windows you can’t see in the ceiling” look. And the circular sanctuary look. A politics professor commented that the whole “infused with light” obsession of 2000s Christianity (e.g., Thomas Kinkaid, airy churches) was an exponent of “God is in all of us” new age thinking. Don’t know if I agree with that but it was an interesting thought.

      2. Converts to Orthodoxy can be complete asses. I know. I am one. A convert, that is, not an ass. Well, I can be an ass too, come to think of it.

        Anyway, when I converted I was attending a small Orthodox mission with no place of our own. Guess where we met? An independent Baptist church! No joke. We set our stuff up on Tues. night for Wed. vespers (they had such a poor turnout for Wed. prayer meeting they had canceled it long ago), had Sat. vespers, liturgy EARLY on Sun. morning, then took everything down and set things in order for their services. Some of the Baptist members complained about us (pagan idol worshipers that we are), but the old pastor, God bless ’em, stood up for us. He said he didn’t understand us, but he felt our hearts were in the right place. We met there for 2-3 yrs. Maybe it was just an economic thing with him, since we were paying rent, but he seemed genuinely friendly toward us.

        At any rate, I’m not afraid of your cooties πŸ˜€ . Your correspondent was probably ex-fundy–the exclusionist, separatist, I’m-right-and-everybody-else-is-a-hellbound-heretic attitude is not easily overcome, even with conversion to another faith tradition.

        1. A local SBC church (which recently merged with another SBC church of similar size) wasn’t using their sanctuary — they preferred the gym. So a Spanish-speaking Catholic church is now using the sanctuary. Unlike the merged SBC church, they are always packed out.

  9. I’m speaking, of course, of whether or not martial arts were permissible for Christians or a gateway to the occult.

    Since Mike Warnke, Johanna Michaelson, Constance Cumby, and all the other Larry-Moe-Curlys of The Satanic Panic, ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING HAS BEEN A “GATEWAY TO THE OCCULT(TM)”.

    When all you have is a hammer, EVERYTHING looks like a nail. When all you have is the Malleus Malefacarium, EVERYTHING looks like Witchcraft.

    1. Ohmygosh, I hadn’t thought about Mike Warnke in forever. He was a VERY big celebrity among our church members, so much that we saw his “act” in person several years in a row, and had all of his cassette tapes (yes, I am dating myself here :smile:).

      Then I read a few years ago that he admitted he made up just about everything he ever said…about everything πŸ™„ I may have believed some of his drivel when I was a kid, but now as an adult I can’t believe he had so many people fooled.

        1. replying for the first time because of Mike Warnke. That guy…I was a teenage punk/metal fan and SB and me and my best friend loved that guy. Meanwhile, we were listening to exactly the kind of music that he taught would cause demon possession.

          And then eventually he got exposed as a con man and grifter of the highest order. He should have been made to apologize to every kid with a Stryper record. (And then Stryper should apologize for the records.)

      1. The Congregationalist-turned-Charismatic C. Peter Wagner once wrote that Christians should be careful when traveling abroad because demons can attach themselves to luggage(!) and could conceivably be brought to the U.S. (Yes, THAT C. Peter Wagner, formerly of Fuller Seminary.)

        1. I’m much much more worried about bedbugs on my luggage than demons. I think he may be confusing that Twilight Zone movie with real life.

  10. I ran a martial arts school for years πŸ‘Ώ πŸ‘Ώ πŸ‘Ώ and Darrell’s list of reaasons for a Fundy to be against martial arts doesn’t even begin to be exhaustive.

    Not only were there the Fundy parents who interrupted my classes CONSTANTLY with statements like “But remember children, the Bible says…” or “But remember children that person may not be saved” or “Excuse me Sensei but having boys pair up with girls for excercises will lead to lust” 😯 😯

    Then the REALLY crazy stuff began….. By the way, Fundy parents are absent when it comes to paying their bill. They believe as a Christian I should be teaching their child for free or almost free since we are “Brothers and Sisters” in Christ. Very Convenient. :mrgreen:

    1. Your comment about the Fundy parents believing they shouldn’t have to pay their bills because “you should be doing this only for the glory of JAY-zuz” got me musing; somehow that logic never works the other way. Just try stiffing one of them on a debt, any debt, and you’ll be sued faster than you can say “People’s Court”. πŸ™„
      My mother once heard the comment, while she was trying to deal with a Fundy-minded antique dealer over a late payment: “This isn’t about Christianity, this is business!” 😯 ‘Nuff said. πŸ˜›

  11. I remember the days when Jack Hyles would go “On Tour” two things to expect when he came to your church:

    1. He’d tell everybody how FBC Hammond was the best IFB church in America then make fun of your congregation.

    2. He’d kick over the microphones and throw them across the auditorium like he does here:

  12. Bill Gothard didn’t take a position on martial arts. (Left-it-Behind is correct that he opposed yoga . . . and homeopathy . . . and a host of other “new age” health practices.) Then, one year at Gothard’s Knoxville Conference, he had one of the martial arts evangelists come and perform. It was super super controversial within ATI, as I recall. Some people were really angry that he did that.

    My mother (yep, another “my mother” story) subscribed to a bunch of pulpy raggedy “Christian womanhood” magazines in the 90s (e.g., Crowned with Silver, Created to be his Helpmeet, etc.). I recall one of them published an article by the sons of one of the editors who exposed how karate is really a secret way to invite demons to enter your soul and so on and so forth. He actually had pictures supposedly illustrating how different karate hand “positions” are used to invoke various demons.

    1. Just a shout out from another ATI tortured soul. And to think that almost ALL of us grew up to reject the Kook-Aid our parents happily drank and told us we were “rebels” to reject it.

      1. I didn’t realize how cult-like ATI really was until I got married. (I was looooong out of ATI by that time, myself.) My mother repeatedly pressured my fiancee to attend a Basic Seminar and claimed that she just “wanted her to understand how I was raised.” Of course, the real reason was that my mother honestly believed that as soon as my fiancee sat under the powerful teaching (and awkward slides) of BG, that she would immediately convert to the ATI way of life and stop doing sinful things like wearing pants and working at a Christian school and generally pissing my mother off. My mother actually told my fiancee that she wasn’t right for me because she went to public school!! (Yeah, the film Monster-In-Law is pretty much the story of our life, minus the happy ending.) It was really creepy to realize that my mother honestly believed that just attending a Basic Seminar would magically metamorphosize my wife-to-be into the kind of person my mother wanted. That was the moment when I started calling ATI a cult.

        I say all this because today’s post is about the obsession with Eastern religion and demon possession, but IFB and fundy groups (like ATI) are just as harmful and spiritually manipulative.

  13. Dean Blakney was the king of karate evangelist back in the day…cut a water mellon in half off my stomach while he was blindfolded…

  14. My fundie friend wanted to learn yoga. Her mother said no. I told her mother that yoga would no more turn her into a Buddhist than a kosher meal would make her Jewish.

  15. I kinda wish he would just hide his light under a bushel. Because there’s already enough crazy crap on the internet.

  16. A friend of mine at BJU was denied permission to attend a martial arts class in Greenville because it would involve touching men.

    1. That rule always fascinated me. I feel like there would have to be so many exceptions. Are BJU girls not allowed to fly lest they have contact with a male TSA agent? What about male doctors, dentists, chiropractors? Are they only allowed to see females for medical issues?

      1. What if the female doctor was a lesbian? These people eat, drink and breathe sex, don’t they?

      2. So I studied Aviation at BJU for which you need a medical certificate issued by an FAA Certified Medical Examiner. Just so happens BJU could do this “in house” at the clinic on campus. I wondered how this was going to roll when I heard the examiner was female. I didn’t personally care, but I wondered just how far this exam was going to go. I already had a 3rd class medical to get my Private license before going to BJU–that was my first experience with “Turn your head and cough (while I try to probe your spleen through your scrotum)” and the anal probe 😯 . (Unrelated funny story there about how the doctor finally gave up.) So knowing the intimacies of the exam, I was way more curious and amused than embarrassed.

        It was a complicated dance:
        1. Doc plus chaperone nurse enter exam room.
        2. Chaperone nurse holds a sheet well away from her so there’s no possible way she can visually get boy cooties when I drop trou.
        3. Modesty sheet responsibility is transferred to me so the Doc has room to kneel before me.
        4. Doc’s hernia probing finger goes under the modesty sheet and comes at me blind, groping to find the appropriate … examination site.
        5. Chaperone nurse verifying that neither I nor the Doc are unduly enjoying our moment of togetherness.
        6. Head turned, gonads akimbo and cough apparently satisfactory 😑 , sheet duty is once again carefully transferred so I have hands free to cover whatever it was they didn’t want to see but were required to feel.

        I just thought it was funny at the time, not ridiculously sad.

        Don’t know if the FAA changed the rules just for me, but thankfully they didn’t probe the other place, though I have to wonder how it would have been done “modestly”.

    1. Daughter, I think. She’s formerly a Van Nattan. And the apple doesn’t look like it landed far from the tree. 😐

  17. Interesting is a very good word. He’s “…pressing on to the next calling in service to Christ’s Church.” However that works…pressing on to a calling? A mixed metaphor, or tragic misunderstanding? You make the call.

  18. Our church was anit-martial arts because it is “eastern religion”; you have to bow (we should only bow to the Lord); and touching the opposite sex is forbidden. One of the IFB pastors across the state was a black belt in karate, and we heard often why he was wrong for being involved in it.

  19. “Next thing you know women will be able to defend themselves against men”

    THIS. A fundamentalist’s worst nightmare.

    1. When the FFF was the only place to post fundy stuff, a bunch of the IFB preachers called me a “dyke” because I studied martial arts. I kept telling them: the fact that I can beat you up doesn’t make me manly. It just means that you’re a sissy.

      They didn’t like that either.

      1. Why are men with such foul mouths allowed in the ministry? It seems to violate clear Scriptural commands about what the character of an elder should be.

        1. Because, like the unjust steward, they are “too weak to dig a ditch, and too proud to beg.” So they pick a career where they have the Power of Position to mask their weakness, and where they can work as little or as much as they like, pulling sermons from the Web if they don’t read enough Bible during the week to be able to speak of what they have read and learned.

          My grandfather, a pastor for 50 years, used to call them “Mama-called and Daddy-sent ‘preachers’ … because the Holy Spirit clearly had precious little to do with it.”

        2. Apart from the atrocities I documented there, the FFF gave abundant evidence of the total depravity of Christian Fundamentalism. Foul language, racism, bullying, even threats were all over it.

  20. To everybody:

    Thanks for your discussions on this topic. You are demonstrating that it is possible to question something, and to take different views, without demonizing and separating from those who don’t believe the way you do. This is living out Romans 14 the way God intended, and I’m happy to see it. You make me smile.

  21. My mother, at one time, was a devotee of Bob Larson. I remember the day when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie was the topic of his radio show. That day, she learned that ninjas were more than the special weapons and tactics field of study in the martial arts. They were part of an odious death cult.

    Also, my younger brother who was a few months away from starting kindergarden took away from that broadcast the idea that meditation was prayer to the Devil. My mother concurred with him, because he didn’t feel the need to explain anything outside of a Judeo-Christian frame of reference. Certain things suspect were given the labels “that’s part of the Occult” or “that’s New Age”, and with no further details given, it became verboten.

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