Tag Archives: unwritten rules

Unwritten Rules

Although fundamentalist preachers in the same camp will inevitably sound the same, look the same, and have the same basic approach to ruling their congregation, they do tend to come up with their own list of things-that-are-sinful-because-they-annoy-me to be followed by their church members. Although this list of unwritten rules will be well known to the local congregation it stands ready to ensnare any unwary visitor from another sect of fundamentalism.

If you happen to be in a position [ed. as I was for years] to travel about the country and visit numerous fundamentalist churches, you’ll as often as not unwittingly run afoul of these unwritten rules. The result can be anything from shocked silence to an obligatory two hour lecture from your hosts on why exactly that thing you innocently did or said was so completely unacceptable.

It may be something as simple as using the word “date” in a courtship-only church or mentioning that you play the guitar in a piano-only gathering. Maybe you let slip that you once read a book containing “magic” or perhaps you foolishly visited the local K-Mart which is managed by the same guy who owns the local liquor store and has therefore been therefore labeled by the pastor as a a den of iniquity and unsavory coupon policies. Upon these confessions, awkward silences abound.

When faced with conversations with fundamentalists who are not of their own group, even hardcore fundamentalists know that it’s best to just avoid doing or saying pretty much anything. If asked a direct question, preface every answer with “You know, that’s just one more thing I love about your pastor…”