Category Archives: People

Doing Your Best

I wonder, have you done your best for Jesus? I know that we live under all that grace nonsense now (my, how I miss a good old-fashioned stoning!) but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good guilt trip now and again about your works or lack thereof. Jesus is keeping score.

Did you waste a precious minute today? Did you spend ten minutes goofing off when you could have been praying? Did you need to eat at that restaurant (and leave no tract with your tip!) instead of giving the money to faith-promise missions? Obsess, my friend, obsess.

Never forget that God only values you for what you can do for Him. And by “Him” I mean me, of course. Do you have any experience driving a bus? No? What about using a toilet scrubber? Be careful or your wood, hay, and stubble will make quite the bonfire on judgment day.

You’ll never be good enough no matter how hard you try — so try harder! Have you done your best? The answer is always no. Now get back to work.

Famous Fundies: Bill Gothard

In 1961, a fundamentalist named Bill Gothard founded the Institute in Basic Life Principles and later masterminded the Advanced Training Institute home study program. These programs have forever changed the lives of thousands of people. Some of them have since managed to piece back together some shreds of their sanity; many more have not.

Gothard is not only embraced by IFB types, he has more than his share of charismatic type followers as well, but there has been a significant part of fundyland that venerates him as a prophet — while some like David Cloud think he’s the devil. Such is the way of fundyland.

If you’ve ever been told that your children’s Cabbage Patch doll was causing them to suffer Satanic attack and mental illness (which may or may not really exist), you’ve probably met either Gothard or one of his followers. He also subscribes to many standard fundy themes such as rock music being able to damage your heart with its ‘unnatural rhythms.’

Having never been married or had children, Gothard is, of course, a self-proclaimed expert on both marriage and children — lots and lots of children. The Quiverfull movement finds strong support in Gothard circles with the celebrated Duggar family as its most visible followers. Bill’s teaching is that families should pop out as many children as physically possible without regard for health risks or economic improbability. However, it should be noted that according to Bachelor Bill sex itself should not be had during the wife’s menstrual cycle; seven days after the cycles; 40 days after the birth of a son; 80 days after the birth of a daughter; and the evening prior to worship1. Animal sacrifices after childbirth are evidently optional although one might imagine highly encouraged if coming in the form of fried chicken.

The key word to understanding Gothard is “Authority.” He has it. Your pastor has it. Your dad has it. You don’t. Sucks to be you. In the Gothard world Authority isn’t given in different spheres but is structured like military ranks. Therefore in an ideal home the dad will have the authority over his children (even if they’re 43), but the dad takes orders from the pastor who can by spirit-led fiat decide what’s best for you and yourn. It’s for your own good. No, really.

One can only imagine the years of deprogramming that it takes to free people from his teaching.

$3 bill picture found at

Paramilitary Christianity

Fundamentalists love comparing themselves to soldiers and the Christian life to war. Go to a fundy church for a few weeks and chances are good you’ll hear at least one sermon illustration involving soldiers, combat heroism, and a Christian in basic training who shined all the boots that were thrown at him (one can only imagine by Communist spies) as he prayed. If you’re a fundamentalist evangelist or preacher who has served in the armed forces and has good war stories to tell, your future is bright indeed.

It only stands to reason that fundamentalist would not only honor and respect the armed forces but actually imagine them to be a perfect representation of what Christians should look and act like. They love the uniformity, the short haircuts, the perfect posture, and the shiny, shiny shoes. They relish the idea of troops who are willing to follow orders from their leaders without question. They bask in the thoughts of a righteous army with very large guns blasting away the unholy denizens of evil empires.

Perhaps it doesn’t really occur to them that the aim of Christianity is to save people, not use Gospel foot soldiers to blow them into spiritual smithereens. Fundies may never ride in the cavalry but they’re in the Lord’s army. Yes, Sir.