In an age where people are likely to have more friends online than they do in their own neighborhoods and tweet more than they converse face-to-face, fundamentalism still provides a genuine sense of old-fashioned community with people you can actually see. And in a fundamentalist community you’ll see an awful lot of them since your church, your school, your work, and your social circle will likely involve the same exact same people.
Yes, the rules of the group may be strict and arbitrary. The leadership may flawed and autocratic. Nevertheless, fundies are some of the most fiercely loyal people to their bretheren and sisteren that you’ll ever meet. It is loyalty that extends no further than the border of separation that holds back the evils of the outside world but it is unswerving to those inside.
If you’re a fundamentalist brother who’s hungry, they’ll feed you. If you’re a sister who is in need they’ll give you a place to stay. If you’re a fundamentalist in the company of those of like mind you’ll never be left alone (no matter how much you may sometimes wish you were).
When I was a fundamentalist I was the recipient of fundy friendship and generosity on too many occasions to count. For that I’m truly thankful.
For fundamentalists, the following is the “Christian Bill of Rights”
I. You have no rights.
For unlike the Founding Fathers they idolize, fundamentalists will claim that since our only reward as sinners is an eternity in hell that even once we are redeemed we still have no right to expect any freedoms at all in this lifetime. After all, we’re in the Lord’s Army and soldiers give up all their rights when they enlist. (Well, other than the ones outlined for them in things like the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the Geneva Convention but let’s not nitpick)
Life? Only the unborn and old people who liberals want to euthanize have a right to that. Everybody else should fully expect to be a martyr or die of a wasting disease on the battle…er…mission field.
Liberty? Liberty is only the freedom to do ‘what you ought’ so nobody should expect the right to choose anything that’s not in the rulebook. Just shut your face and follow orders, soldier!
Pursuit of Happiness? What are you, some kind of pansy? There’s no happiness in a war! The only happy soldiers are the ones on posters that we use to sucker others to join up. Now pick up that sword and get back into that Sunday School room.
Of course this lack of rights only applies to the unwashed masses who sit in the pews. The commanding officer who fills the pulpit has the right to be followed unquestioningly and make others pay him for the privilege to be told what to do.
You may never ride in the cavalry but you know your place and have zero expectations of making it out of this with your imago dei intact. Yes, sir.
Although there are exceptions, fundamentalist churches areÂ predominantlyÂ full of (and I’m generalizing here) middle aged white people who like to watch reruns of the Lawrence Welk show. This lack of diversity comes as no surprise given the uneasy history of fundies with race relations. If you managed to get all the way through Christian high school and Bible college without having ever been taught why Martin Luther King Jr. was important in American history, you might have been a fundamentalist. After all, nothing bad ever happened in America prior to 1963, so whatever he did couldn’t have been that necessary.
Although it is less frequent nowadays, there are still some fundamentalist institutions that are overtly racist in their practices. For example, Maranatha Baptist Mission still carries in its Purposes, Precepts, Policies, and Practices booklet a prohibition both against interracial marriage and interracial adoption. There’s a sick irony in sending out international missionaries to bring the peoples of the world into the family of God while forbidding them to bring any into their own family that aren’t the right skin color. (Pardon me while I beat this drum again, but Pensacola Christian College has supported missionaries from MBM and had its President to speak in their services while this policy was in place. Mainstream? Hardly.)
More popular in the last decade, however, is a subtler more insidious ethnocentric approach to bigotry. It shows up in things like blaming Africa for the ‘demonic’ forces of rock music and condemning ethnic styles of dress. Although much of the racism has been forced underground by the winds of change and political expediency, the roots are often still there. Bob Jones University may now not officially prohibit interracial dating but it’s still a hotly debated topic among parts of the student body.
It stands to reason that a group of people who assign moral values to cultural norms would have issues with those who are different from themselves. Fundamentalists evidently espouse the theory that the more like Jesus a person becomes the more they will dress and act like a middle class white suburbanite. By this shall all men know that we are His disciples.
The “lunatic fringe” of fundamentalism is never quite as far away from the “mainstream” as those who claim to be the mainstream would have you believe. Since guilt by association is a favorite game of many fundies, I’ll beg your indulgence while I try my own hand at it for a moment.
Consider Tony Hutson, son of former Sword ofÂ the Lord editor Curtis Hutson. A few minutes spent listening to the Tony Hutson One-Liner Podcast will reveal a slew of crazy rants that attempt to pass for preaching. Don’t miss the story on apologetics that ends with a recounting of an alleged conversation where Curtis Hutson tells Tony “boy, you’re even more ignorant than your mama.” Um…amen?
Yet for all of this craziness, he still maintains close ties with Sword of the Lord. He has a listing at the top of their Tenessee Church Directory and routinelypreaches at SOTL conferences. Meanwhile, the Sword of the Lord has grown increasingly close to none other than the “mainstream” fundamentalist organization Pensacola Christian College who from all accounts puts quite a sum of money into keeping the Sword afloat. To emphasize that tie, SOTL Editor Shelton Smith will be preaching at the PCC Campus Church from Jan. 18-22 of this month. There is no stronger endorsement in fundyland than letting a man fill your pulpit.
Hutson->Smith->PCC. Is there really a “mainstream” of fundamentalism when crazyland is never more than a hop skip and a jump away? Discuss amongst yourselves.
A silly blog dedicated to Independent Fundamental Baptists, their standards, their beliefs, and their craziness.