Almost every fundamentalist evangelist has a fish story that goes something like this…
Back in the summer of ’76 I was preaching a week of revival services up in a little town in rural Ohio. The pastor invited me to go with him to visit a man named Bob (or Jim, or Hank, or Bubba) who everyone in town knew as “Killer.”
Now Bob was a real sinner. He had been in the Hell’s Angels and he had been in Prison. He had tattoos and a leather jacket made out of the skins of his enemies. He hated preachers and he hated God and he hated Jesus and he hated apple pie and and he hated everything. He’d kick puppies and curse at small children and drink and do drugs and kill people. He was a honest-to-goodness sinner.
And nobody could ever witness to Bob…until I went to see him that day.
I looked him in the eye and I said “Bob, you’re going to burn if you don’t quit all that boozing and kicking puppies.”
And he looked at me and said “Preacher, I’ve just never heard anyone talk the way you do. I reckon I’ll get saved.”
And Bob got gloriously saved and joined the church and got baptized. He cut off all his long hair and stopped doing drugs and married a beautiful woman and had fourteen kids and became a missionary to the Congo where he is still serving today.
And I’d like to see anybody try to top that story about how I saved Bob.
Almost every fundy evangelist has got one of these stories but the details may vary. Sometimes it’s an old guy with a shotgun or perhaps a dying man in the hospital. One thing remains the same though, it always includes a rousing narrative about how the evangelist did what nobody else had managed to do. They’re a real wonderment.
Fundamentalist children who were born after 1954 may recognize these words…
“Ranger Bill, Warrior of the Woodland, struggling against extreme odds, traveling dangerous trails, fighting the many enemies of nature. This is the job of the guardian of the forest, Ranger Bill. Pouring rain, freezing cold, blistering heat, snows, floods, bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lions. Yes, all this in exchange for the satisfaction and pride of a job well done.”
Ranger Bill was just one of a host of children’s radio programs that began in the 1950’s and continue to be rebroadcast to the present day. Keys for Kids with Uncle Charlie, Story Time with ‘Aunt B’, Uncle Bob’s Nature Corner…the list goes on and on.
These radio programs taught lessons such as the evils of television, gambling, lying, stealing, and other various and sundry moral ills. All accompanied by the dramatic effects of an electric organ that would do any soap opera proud.
Don’t knock it. For fundy kids, Saturday mornings around the radio were some of the happiest times of the week.
Somewhere back in the beginning of fundamentalism (about two-thousand years ago, to hear them tell it) there was evidently a law made that if a fundamentalist church runs a Christians school, and if that school has a sports team it must bear the name Eagles, Crusaders, Knights, Warriors, or Conquerors.
Female teams will bear the name of their male counterparts with the word “Lady” affixed to the front to indicate the femininity of the players.
And these team shall bear one of the following colors: red-and-white, green-and-white, blue-and-white, or red-and-black. So shall it be without end, yea verily. So let it be written, so let it be done.
Fundamentalists may not care for Calvinists but they do tend to turn to them a lot for source material. One great example of a Presbyterian work that fundies adore is the McGuffey readers, published in the 1800’s by William Holmes McGuffey a “roving” teacher and Presbyterian Calvinist.
Look on fundamentalists’ bookshelves and more often than not there will appear the distinctive boxed set of the 1836 edition. It’s important to note the edition because the revised 1879 edition is a decidedly liberal revision of the text and considered to be an unclean thing. If the 1836 edition was good enough for Henry Ford, it’s good enough for every child!
Within these brown-backed tomes lie nuggets of truth in stories such as “The Greedy Girl”; “The Effects of Rashness”; and “Consequences of Bad Spelling.”
Considering the state of public education, maybe fundamentalists have something here. A lesson or two on spelling for modern children would certainly not come amiss.
Fundamentalists may not engrave the Scripture on the mantels of their doorposts but they do like to post it up just about everywhere else.
Nothing says “Howdy, neighbor!” like a big sign posted on the lawn bearing the message “BUT ALL THE WICKED WILL HE DESTROY” Or, if that isn’t forceful enough perhaps one with the words “THE WICKED SHALL BE TURNED INTO HELL” will get the point across.
In case you want to take your message on the go, these signs are also available as bumper stickers. Nothing will make someone think twice like a mini-van bearing the ominous message “PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD.”
Another option for those who just don’t have time to stop and chat is the ever-popular sandwich board Scripture verses which are a great witness while a fundamentalist is out protesting, street preaching, or just walking around the neighborhood.
Let your light so shine!