What the Hell is Christian Fundamentalism?

Jerry Falwell

“When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.

Barry Goldwater
Washington Post, July 1994

 

If what the once and former Senator Goldwater said is true, pucker up and start blowing pecks at pundits.

If you are not familiar with the man known to some as Mr. Conservative, you are invited to take a minute to reflect on his life.


We have all heard talking heads proclaim that in today’s political climate, President Gipper would be considered a tax-and-spend liberal bedfellow, but what of former Presidential Candidate Goldwater? If the “nuclear madman” who rejected the New Deal and backed school prayer called the Religious Right the death rattle of American politics, consider just how far the political pendulum has swung in a mere two decades. (For chronological perspective, consider that the Goldwater quote above occurred the year Silvio Berlusconi first became prime minister of Italy. It hasn’t been that long—unless you’re an Italian magistrate.)

In a recent article in my “X-Rated Bible” series, I stated that “nearly one-third of our nation’s voters are members of the Christian Right.…” Several readers asked to know the source of this fact. They were not accusing me of inventing a fact. Their comments were more along the lines of: Holy cow, that many? Are you sure? Sigh.

The source was the 2013 Economic Values Survey released in July 2013 by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI)/Brookings Institution, which states that 28% of Americans identify their “religious orientation” as conservative (versus moderate, progressive or nonreligious). The full report adds that 38% of Americans identify themselves as theologically conservative, and 29% as socially conservative.

The United States is the third most populous nation on our Little Blue Planet. 316 million scions of Uncle Sam and climbing. Nearly five percent of the total global population.

If nearly one-third of U.S. voting adults are armed-to-the-teeth, seething Christian fundamentalists who would prefer a totalitarian theocratic regnum of Emperor Franklin Graham over the Enlightenment-inspired federal democratic republic that thus far has served as best it can Emma Lazarus’ tired, poor and huddled masses, then indeed we might be on the cusp of Darwinian deep doo-doo. (Guess what? We are.)

Actually, readers weren’t the only ones who wondered about PRRI’s 28% figure. I thought the number might be too low. After all, I live in South Carolina and sometimes go days without meeting anyone who votes Democrat. Well, that’s not quite true, but my current state of residence has a Republican Governor, Republican State House, Republican State Senate, two Republican U.S. Senators and a 6-1 Republican U.S. Representative Delegation. Sometimes my neighbor’s Shih Tzu even seems to be yipping invectives about Obamacare.

All this made me think that it might be worth remembering what led Barry Goldwater, of all people, to mouth off about the Radical Right. Where the hell did all these fundamentalists come from?

There are a lot of terms used to refer to “my way or the highway” Christians in the United States. The Radical Right. Christian Coalitionists. Ultraconservatives. Christian Radicals. Bible Thumpers. Evangelicals (see below). Creationist Dittoheads. A few others come to mind which I will save for the next time I am alone on the treadmill catching up with the political enemy via Fox News.

The term “fundamentalism” itself has a rather interesting history. It appears that the term was coined in 1920 by Curtis Lee Laws, the editor of the Watchman-Examiner, a clarion for the Northern Baptist Convention. Following the Convention’s first meeting in Upstate New York, Laws wrote: “We suggest that those who still cling to the great fundamentals and who mean to do battle royal for the fundamentals shall be called ‘Fundamentalists.’

Finally someone had coined a fitting label, of pride or derision depending on one’s point of view, which could be applied to a certain type of militant Christianity that goes all the way back to Plymouth Rock. Society swallowed Law’s neologism whole.

The term “fundamentalism” really reached public consciousness two years later in a sermon delivered by Harry Emerson Fosdick at Manhattan’s First Presbyterian Church on May 21, 1922. The message was entitled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?”

Fosdick’s sermon is no less powerful today than it was 90 years ago: “Their apparent intention is to drive out of the evangelical churches men and women of liberal opinions. … All Fundamentalists are conservatives, but not all conservatives are Fundamentalists. The best conservatives can often give lessons to the liberals in true liberality of spirit, but the Fundamentalist program is essentially illiberal and intolerant.”

(Linguistic Note: The term “evangelical” as Fosdick used it would not have had the unpopular connotation accreted upon it today. The word literally is Greek for “good news,” or “gospel,” and indicates a type of Bible-based Protestant Church generally in opposition to the institutional authority of the Church. Yet follow that thread nine decades forward and see how a reticence for institutional religious authority has resulted in so many off-the-wall Evangelical politicians that, were I to provide you a full list of them, my keyboard would crack in half. Next consider the irony that Fundamentalists somehow find a reticence for institutional religious authority compatible with a lust for institutional political authority. Forget the keyboard; my head is about to crack in twain.)

Fosdick exhorted his parish to consider that a major segment of American Christians were utterly resistant to incorporate all of the new scientific discoveries and anthropological truths that were popping up left and right—including of course that Scientific Whore of Babylon, the Theory of Evolution (my words, not his). He called these innovations the “new knowledge,” which was butting heads with “the old faith.”

Although Fosdick called on his flock to act toward Fundamentalists with “intellectual hospitality,” ultimately a Presbyterian investigation about the controversial homily led to Fosdick being relieved of his post. But no matter. He was hired thereafter as a minister at John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s nearby church. (Talk about a billionaire bailout.)

To my mind, here is one of the seminal statements in Fosdick’s sermon: “It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement.”

The hallmark of Christian fundamentalism is a literalist, static hermeneutic, versus the “rounded” and context-driven interpretative process of progressive (then “modernist”) Christianity.

Here we might recall that the verdict of the Scopes Monkey Trial was July 21, 1925, within five years of the birth of the word “fundamentalism.” There was a major national debate raging in the 1920s as to whether the Bible should be interpreted literally or with a grain of salt; this debate had innumerable policy implications, including of course public education curriculum.  Thankfully, “grain of salt” won in the courtroom and in the court of overall public opinion. Eventually, and for the best, salt was removed from the table altogether. (Of course, some saltoholics in Kentucky think the Scopes Trial remains ongoing.)

Fundamentalist Christians of course rejected and still reject evolution. Progressive Christians examined the theory, realized its validity and synthesized it into their religious worldview. One century later, fundamentalist Christians have their laughingstock Creation Museum, while progressive Christians enjoy watching episodes of Nova with the family.


For what it’s worth, Fosdick’s progressive religious worldview had social consequences. He was an outspoken opponent of racism and a reviewer of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, amongst other saintly deeds. I wonder how many fundamentalists followed him down the path of a life devoted to social justice and mercy.

Okay, so fundamentalists are Christians who interpret the Bible literally? Well, in truth, every Christian applies a literal interpretation to at least some parts of the Bible.

Christianity is a rather unique religion in that it requires the adherent to acknowledge at least three events in history: Jesus was crucified. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus ascended.

The novelist John Irving perhaps sums it best in his classic novel A Prayer for Owen Meany: “‘If you don’t believe in Easter,’ Owen Meany said. ‘Don’t kid yourself—Don’t call yourself a Christian.’”

A personal belief in the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension is a core of orthodox (lowercase “o”) Christianity. This is where all Christians—glossolalia Assembly of Godders and bleeding-heart liberal Episcopalians alike—meet to shake hands. (Yes, there are many who consider themselves followers of the teachings of Jesus who do not acknowledge these three events of history. But I side with Irving: these individuals are not “Easter Christians.”)

Beyond a core belief in the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension, Christendom is divided into many separate paths of hermeneutic literalism and roundedness, intolerance and tolerance.

What sets Christian fundamentalists apart from the rest of Christendom is a giant leap from a personal belief in the Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension to a political dream of a theocratic society wherein all citizen-subjects must bend a knee to a literalist interpretation and application of the Bible. They have a word for this in some parts of the world: Sharia Law. Ask around. See how that’s working for our global neighbors.

Unfortunately—tragically—nearly one-third of our fellow citizens fall somewhere in the shadows of the previous paragraph.

So how did we get from the Roaring Twenties to Sarah Palin? Oy vey.

With the remaining space, it is impossible to do justice to a century-long religio-political movement with ties all the way back to Luther’s 95 Theses. At least Luther wasn’t so ridiculous as to suggest, as some fundamentalists do, that Jesus turned the water at the Cana wedding into grape juice, not wine. While I am myself Roman Catholic, I shall pause to libate Luther for his learning: “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!”

To continue following the trail from Senator Goldwater to the contemporary Radical Right, I highly recommend Dr. Sara Diamond’s wonderful, eye-opening article, “On the Road to Political Power and Theocracy.”

Also worth considering are many societal milestones like Engel v. Vitale, Abington School District v. Schempp, Roe v. Wade, the hippie countercultural Jesus People Movement, Carter’s “lust in his heart,” Reagonomics, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family, Jim Bakker’s satellite and Tammy Faye’s hair, Swaggart’s tears, Oral’s tower, Falwell’s belly fat, etc., et al, which, when all thrown together, sound and look a bit like a Michael W. Smith remix of “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

Phew.

I find it interesting that the Public Religion Research Institute found that 79% of self-identified religious progressives say that being a religious person is “mostly about doing the right thing,” whereas 54% of religious conservatives say being a religious person is “primarily about having the right beliefs.”

In the end, perhaps the most distinct difference between religious progressivism “the new faith” and religious conservatism “the old faith” is the concept of doing versus believing.

Or, even more simply:  Practicing rather than Preaching.



Arik Bjorn

Arik Bjorn lives in Columbia, South Carolina. He was the Democratic Party / Green Party fusion candidate for U.S. Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of South Carolina. Visit the archive for Arik’s campaign website, and check out his latest book, So I Ran for Congress. You can also follow his political activities on Twitter @Bjorn2RunSC and on Facebook. And be sure to check out more from Arik in his archives!

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  • Jennifer Read

    “Jesus rose from the dead” and “Jesus was resurrected” is tautology.

    • The Author

      Completely acknowledged, and thank you for catching the error. It instead should read: “Jesus was crucified. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus ascended.” We’ll get it corrected. Thanks!

      • The Author

        It has now been corrected. Thanks again, Jennifer!

  • dm

    What a bunch of crap. Firstly, Christianity isn’t a religion, it is a way of life, it is following the teachings Christ. Secondly, all Christians are not the same and cannot be lumped into some generic group. Get your facts straight. How dare you compare following Christianity with sharia law!!!! Are you for real??? I used to enjoy this column but lately it has become just as bad as the republicans at mudslinging, hyperbole and christian bashing. You want to compare us to sharia law but how about comparing you and your column to Hitler because you are bashing all of Christianity, trashing us and marginalizing us. According to you we are ignorant and don’t know how to vote properly, ( for the COUNTRY’S best interest and not just our own). We should be laughed at and ridiculed. Maybe if you get back to facts and respectfulness for your readership, and maybe some of that tolerance Progressives are supposed to have , I may come back but you are no better than or maybe even worse than the republicans because you should know better if you are a progressive and have truly studied the Bible as you claim.

    • CrowFace

      Firstly, religion – noun: “an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to the supernatural, and to spirituality.” Seems that Christianity fits quite well it into that definition, if not, you might as well say the sky is orange. Secondly, did you even read the article in it’s entirety? It never once occurred to me that the author was bashing Christianity at all, he is merely addressing the problems with Christian fundamentalism. Read the article again and you’ll see that Christianity itself is NOT being compared with Sharia Law. It’s sating that far-right Christian fundamentalists who seem to desire an American theocracy, is akin to Sharia Law, which is also a theocracy. Lastly, I call Godwin’s Law. That is all.

      • The Author

        Thank you, CrowFace. You saved me from having to type a reply myself.

      • jeczaja

        And by the definition, free market fundamentalism is a religion, with a supernatural Invisible Hand.

      • Edward Kirby

        “Read the article again and you’ll see that Christianity itself is NOT being compared with Sharia Law. It’s [stating] that far-right Christian fundamentalists who seem to desire an American theocracy, is akin to Sharia Law, which is also a theocracy.”

        Indeed. When I read about Sharia Law and what it demands from the people that live under it, I can’t help but think about the Mosaic books of the Bible; Leviticus, Deuteronomy, et al. Most famously, the repression of women, of course, but also the minor parts about growing the beard uncomfortably long, dietary restrictions, clothing requirements, and so on.

        When I see these news articles about state legislators proposing bills that forbid the implementation of Sharia Law on one hand, while suggesting that the Bible should supersede the Constitution in every court of law, I can’t help but wonder if these lawmakers ever even read the Bible. In effect, the only difference between the proposed Christian Fundamentalist theocratic laws and the Sharia laws is the former calls the deity “Jehovah” and the latter calls the same deity “Allah”.

        For all we know, the same priest from the same Neolithic hunter-gather tribe may have written both of them some 3300 years ago.

      • meatwad_SSuppet

        Actually the neolithic preacher(s) made up three versions, the torah, bible, and koran. It is a good thing that when they did make it all up, they had no idea about Hawaii and other very beautiful locations on the planet.

    • 1JudgeNotLestYeBeJudged1

      dm (I think the missing initials are u and b) What the heck are you talking about? Christianity isn’t a religion? hahahhaha… You must have been drinking the “grape juice” when you wrote this rant! I
      guess you’re rewriting history and negating dictionaries, the work of Jesus (a Jew), his followers, all the Biblical theologians, writers, editors, philosophers, officials, established religious traditions, meanings, etc.? Where by the way, did the author “BASH CHRISTIANS?” Read the works of Martin Buber a 20th century Jewish philosopher and religious writer who had great influence on Protestant and Catholic …thought” and glean the meaning of “Understanding based on ‘dialogue’.” Although and unfortunately there’s probably no use in trying to explain anything to you –as tapping at a closed door only gets a person’s knuckles sore. To the author…I’m keeping this piece as it helped me distinguish, describe, contemplate what’s gone so crazy these last decades between the old fundamentalists versus the newer ‘cult-ish’ ideologists (generous using the word ‘ideologists’). Seriously, I’m in a Religion 101 class and in a forum discussion online, when describing the three main Western religion’s understanding and views regarding the concept of evil, I referred to the familiar Christian view: per Ibid “Thus the Christian maintains neither the monist nor the dualist solution of the problem of evil while holding it [evil] at both subordinate [to God] and perverse.,” and went on to say that I am also graced with free-will as a human and can think and I think that sometimes evil was the description (referring to evil persons) given to people who perhaps had/have mental illness, etc…the point I was making was that all these views, interpretations, scriptures, etc., are spiritually inspiring and not a “how-to, step-by-step, DIY” book…the works are opinions, recanted old stories and interpretations, none of which replace what we really know as good and bad, right and wrong…in the real world people suffer mental illness due to causal factors…they need helped, not judged or persecuted…here’s a reply I got (NC) A female classmate replied to my post (mind you-she’s in a Bachelor’s of Psychology degree program) “Would you consider mental illness evil? I believe that the reason mental illness exist is because man (Adam) disobeyed in the garden. Because of Adam’s disobedience sin entered into the world, and prior to his disobedience there
      was no sickness, no mental illness, man would have lived forever. I believe regardless of whether we define a person’s actions through a medical term, the root of it is still sin, evil.” –NO KIDDING. What do you do??? I shake my head. Thank goodness my instructor chimed in and had to literally explain things to her as though she were a small child who literally believed in the boogie man or something. Blind faith? Her pastor must be a powerfully convincing man.

      • The Author

        Thank you, Judgenot. I think you said everything that needed to be said regarding the “grape juice.” And I love the Buber reference. Sadly, there are people who are unable to process information critically, such as DM. But I think you are on the right track!

      • Pat Durkin

        but “the flesh” would tone down the insults
        if it’s wrong for them…

    • Jeff Billman

      “What a bunch of crap. Firstly, Christianity isn’t a religion, it is a way of life”

      And with that, I stopped reading your comment cold turkey. Literally, I have no idea what the next word was after “life”. Which is fitting, because you have no idea what the next minute is “after life”. And all your protestations about how “Christianity is a way of life” and “this is a Christian nation” may be for naught after you’ve taken your last breath. Meanwhile, the world will little remember another tyrannical fundamentalist who made life a little bit worse for the rest of us, who are satisfied just loving one another and trying to make this world a better place in the short time that we’re here, whatever comes next.

      That, sir, is what a REAL “way of life” is. It does not depend upon correct comprehensions of ancient, ambiguous texts, or uttering magical incantations of “accepting” and “believing upon” historical figures who left this world nearly 2000 years ago. Sure, if you want to do all that, you’re welcome to do so, but a “way of life” is what you’re doing to and with your fellow man when you’re NOT doing those things.

    • JohnFMayer

      Why Hitler? Always Hitler. Seldom apt, certainly not here, since Hitler never bashed Christians; he spoke very favorably of Christianity. I have a German WW II belt that has upon the buckle, “Gottmituns,” or “God is with us.”

    • TrentC

      People like you strongly argue, by their actions, that Christianity is a rationalization defect, or magical thinking, the way you deny the obvious and complain about things never said.

    • Rodney Levenduski

      Obviously you are a member of the intolerant and ignorant Christian Taliban. In my opinion, anyone who is trying to form a One Religion Theocracy in the United States is violating the constitution which allows freedom of religion. That makes you a traitor pure and simple. To check on the validity of your post you should spend some time in a Theocracy. I believe a good example would be Iran, or maybe Saudi Arabia.

      • David K. Ward

        Wow, so many strawmen here i dont even know where to start…lmao…

      • David K. Ward

        “trying to form a One Religion Theocracy in the United States” The idea that Christians want the a theocracy is a strawman. Most if not all would never think of such a thing. Now, there are certainly a minority that would. Those i would stand shoulder to shoulder in opposition and so would most Christians. Christianity has to be a free choice or it is not real.

    • David K. Ward

      dm, perfect answer here. The author ends up being the thing he hates. Simply jaw dropping that they cannot see it.

      • Pat Durkin

        more a mirror…

    • David K. Ward

      DM, the focus was strictly on fundies, not Christians at all. Calm down.

  • Suzanne Lehman

    Not going to sound off as loudly as “dm” but, as a practicing Catholic, I would have self-identified as religiously conservative. That religiously conservative faith includes heavy doses of social justice as witnesses by the food pantries, homeless shelters, school, housing, and medical clinics and hospitals begun and still run by fellow Catholics (such as yourself).
    As the good pastor Fosdick clearly states, “not all conservatives are fundamentalists”. And, to follow your numbers, 54% of the 29% who self-identify as religious conservatives make a statement that might identify themselves as having fundamentalist tendencies (belief vs. action). Which renders your statement that “nearly one third of our fellow citizens fall somewhere in the shadow of” fundamentalism patently FALSE. It’s actually more like 16% (54% of 29%).
    If you need help with the math in the future, just let me know and I’ll help you to not mislead people.

    • The Author

      Suzanne, my statement at the end of the piece with a nod to “practice what you preach” was not intended to be an algorithm. I should hope the average reader would be able to discern the poetic license being taken there.

      The kerygma at the heart of the article is that nearly one-third of the nation leans toward Fundamentalism and all the ridiculous and dangerous political trappings, historical and contemporary, that go with it. I stand by that. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • Dale Mulkey

      nest time ask me before you post so we can help you not come across like a stuck up self centered bitch

      • Suzanne Lehman

        You’re right. The last sentence was inappropriate and uncalled for. Please forgive me. I will not post before caffeine again.

    • meatwad_SSuppet

      You clearly have something backwards. The ConServing faithful do not help the down trodden as you think they do. That would be the ‘bleeding heart’ faction that helps others. The rhetoric coming from the ConServing faction is “get a job bum”. Just look at how they wish to gut education and every other “social” program going. You need a new source for information Suzy and avoid those that have been lying to you.

  • Francine Valentina Arrington

    the main reason for fundamentalist desiring all to follow their beliefs, is they are not so sure themselves about what they believe. But if everyone is believing the same thing, they it must be the right one. It’s called follow me, I have no idea where the hell I’m going, but if you follow me we will get there together and no one will be able to blame the other. Or just stupid, following stupid.

  • jeczaja

    Well, then, let’s practice what we preach. I assume we agree Jesus meant this literally>”Love one another as I have loved you?” That goes for our cranky brethren and sisterns who have a low tolerance for ambiguity. BTW, NO ONE takes the Bible literally, as evidenced by the fact that most guys still have two eyeballs (If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.)

  • mister_g43

    As a Christian, I’m sort of a weird hybrid. I lean more politically progressive, but I’m conservative when it comes to the Bible and Christianity. In my experiences with fundamentalists, it boils down to how one is to display your faith. In fundamentalist churches, the outward showing of faith is through appearances: what you wear, your hairstyle, how long your skirts are, how you didn’t drink, smoke, dance, cuss, watch bad movies, listen to rock music, or read anything other than the King James Version of the Bible. While looking good on the outside shouldn’t be downplayed, this doesn’t make you a Christian. To people like me, this is more akin to what the Pharisees in the New Testament were comparing themselves to ( and what they hated most about Jesus). To people like me, the outward appearance of a believer should be that of Jesus: compassionate, caring for all people, doing something about helping others, hating sin but loving the sinner, and showing the “fruits of the Spirit”– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). It shouldn’t matter whether I have a tattoo, wear my hair long, enjoy a good, ribald joke every now and then, or vote Democrat. That’s the difference between myself and a fundamentalist.

    • The Author

      Mister_g43, a really reflective and reasonable reply. Definitely down my alley. Might be a bit confusing to people who aren’t part of the faith community, but I really connected with these words. Bravo.

      • Steph

        Nope, I’m an atheist, and it’s not confusing at all. You’re my kind of people, Mister G.

    • David K. Ward

      i would call myself a Progressive Christian as well, but i would not even talk about the “women must all wear dresses, bee hive hair do, no make up…” folks. It would tend to lend them credence. I am so tired of my faith being torn down by Christians i dont agree with and by those like the author that want to paint us all with the same brush. I just wish we could all calm down, put away the hyperbole, and act like adults. Sigh, but you have the nut case fundies and the knee jerk left like the author always stirring the pot of hate.

      • Pat Durkin

        this is not broad brush, more like a mirror

      • David K. Ward

        Nope, more like empty rhetoric…

      • meatwad_SSuppet

        The point I would like to interject is the highest laws of our nation. The contemptible past supreme court which decided that the first words of our Bill of Rights only means that there shall be no state church is correct on one point, but completely in error in its limit. One can pass a variety of law(s) which have nothing but respect for various religious establishments. If the men that wrote those first words of the first amendment* actually meant what the supreme court decided, they were smart enough men to have actually spelled it out “no national church” which they did not.

        For example, the fundie idea of “Marriage is between one man and one woman” is one of those other laws that has respect for that religious establishment and no other purpose. To deny that fact is to show that you surely have the head buried in sand with the glutinous (sic o’ me) max held high.

        This ongoing attempt to make this a “christian nation” by these constitutional ignorants is sickening to the thinking population. The Treaty of Triploi clearly places their claims that “this nation was founded on christian values” (sick) where it belongs, in the liars arsenal of facts they have made up. It does not surprise me one bit that the followers of the bible would resort to lies. Their book is formed from lies.

        Even with all of the errors that it contains, the video titled “Zeitgeist” clearly proves that long dead hebrews made it all up by combining other cultures myths and legends into their own version with more hebrewish sounding names of people and places. The best part of their bible for me is found in the ‘old’ testament. Where it says (this is supposed to be big daddy creator-god speaking – recall jesus is not yet) “do not change one word of, NOR add to these words of God” (Capital G). Of course their training has the truth go right over the head of the christian(s). That the “New” testament is in complete violation of their “Old” testaments God command “not to change one word, nor add to those words.”
        You know, this means not to place an ‘and’ ‘if’ or ‘but’ into that text anywhere. Yet they have added how many books?? Compiling the sinful nature of their bible +ten thousands fold.

        It has me thinking that some of those christians, must know that they are really the followers of the great deceiver and are very happy to be the followers of that “cast out” devil they are warning others about. I digress, cast out or sent down from heaven, what is the difference really, the result is not being in heaven. Also their changing of the meanings of two simple words, father and son, also points to deception as the key to their faith. How many excuses have they invented to proclaim that a son of a father is equal to the “jealous” father. A real jealous father sob, is even more so if it is his son that gets the glory he himself demands from others. The behavior of those christians towards others and what they say, looks like they are deeply indebted to their devil(s) and work to promote it at very chance they can.

        Don’t believe me, just look at their behavior towards others they hate. Show that loving of thy neighbor by kicking them to the gutter??? Calling people bums etc., devils in pure form because they are knowing or unknowing servants of devils they’ve created.

        With all that said, I prefer the intent of the first amendments first words. Keep religious established traditions and goals OUT of th laws we all must “obey” at gun point. Your fears of sharia law coming would be mute if they honored the intent of the authors of that bill of rights. I see no fear shown for any noahide laws coming, which ARE here already. Double standards and hypocrisy, that is the fundie way.

        Edit-opps, I forgot the post note asterisk
        *Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,

      • David K. Ward

        Thanks for that. I almost forgot what i sounded like 23 years ago…MSS, when someone stereotypes another, there is only one thing that it can really mean. It really means that the one doing the stereotyping is taking a shortcut to reduce the validity of others. I look at Liberals and see kindred spirits that truly want to help others. Just Mother Theresa spent her life. I have worked in rescue missions and work with a church now that is community service focused. Stereotyping others is just a shortcut way of eliminating any “goods” the opponent has associated with them. It is the tool/weapon of weaker creatures that i do not assume you really want to be.

      • meatwad_SSuppet

        No I wouldn’t want to be like M.Theresa, she was a monster. It seems like a stereotype to you, but your kind rarely takes notice of the truth of the preacher types and “workers” of ThaT church.

      • David K. Ward

        And there you go making my point. Mother Theresa fed Thousands if not millions. And that is a bad thing to you? Sad lil world you live in.

      • meatwad_SSuppet

        That’s your point?? Hitler fed the jews in the camps so there. Typical. Ignore their crimes for the small amount of good they pretended.

      • David K. Ward

        Well at least you can admit they did do a lot of good. Look, i dont have to hide behind a pseudonym and make outrageous claims. Even the author says that in his opinion at worst 1/3 of Christendom wants to impose “sharia law.” i dont think it is that high. And we are still just talking about a portion of a portion of the population. I dont like PC nazis telling what to eat, drink, say. “Live and Let Live” should be brought back. As for your ludicrous accusations i have concluded i am arguing with a troll. Se la vie…

  • Pipercat

    Great piece, especially for this site. Thanks for making me look things up! A precise opinion such as this helps a, “less than theological novice” like me.

  • Deane

    I don’t really like the tone of these articles or the way they are used here as a way to bash Christianity and Christians. But the basis of the article is right, that christianity does not logically translate into some sort of rightwinged theocracy. But that is indeed how certain people in US fundamentalist churches think. But take Christinians outside of the US and the politics change radically. Personally I have more in common with Obama than Bush, or Palin, but frankly I don’t think Obama is half way progressive enough. But I am a Christian too, of the type that no fundamentalist could possibly deny.The fundamentals of Christianity do not make you a bigot or a rightwinged fundamentalist, nor a brainless follower of various political and socially backward ideologies. At its core it means that the individual has an authentic and living relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit.

    My political vision is closer to the US constitution than anything else – the belief that men and power tends towards corruption, and we have to balance and moderate the exercise of power through the constitution. This means that the state has to be neutral and there to serve all its citzens equally. For this reason we have to allow gay people to marry if they want it. However, don’t think I am a liberal Christian, I am not. I am what is considered a conservative Christian. Its just that I do not believe that our biblical mandate as Christians is to impose some sort of “Christian State” on the non Christian world. Jesus actually said that his kingdom is not of this world. That means – it is not an earthly political kingdom, but a spiritual one. The mistake is to think that a “spiritual” kingdom is just an idea, it isn’t. It has form, actual power and substance, but it is spiritual not political – so it means that literally sickness is healed, depression replaced by hope and joy, broken relationships and emotions are restored, people freed from addictions, oppressions on people removed, people are set free from poverty, and ultimately that people come into a relationship with their Father in heaven who is a good and loving Father, and into eternal life. That is the kingdom that Jesus preached, not imposing some rightwinged medical system on America that only benefits the insurance industry. Come on! If you want me to write an article here I can to show what this means. I just want my liberal friends to understand that Christianity isn’t their enemy. This tribal division over politics and religion is an American thing. Its a preculiarity of the USA, unfortunately, and is not replicated in other countries, and contienents.

    • Pat Durkin

      I agree, for the most part, but at some point this stuff needs to be called out, seeing the sickness in the Church is not he same as being anti-Church

      • David K. Ward

        I see the corruption, many in Christianity do. What we dont do is blindly, mindlessly condemn everyone we dont 100% agree with.

      • meatwad_SSuppet

        The really vocal ones do. I don’t see the liberal ones telling the homeless to “get a job bum”, have you.

    • meatwad_SSuppet

      You then would have been called a “bleeding heart” christian. The fair minded type.

  • David K. Ward

    Been a Christian for 23 years now. Been heavily involved in ministering to the poor, the addicts, etc. I have met so many people of all stripes. But i am just in awe of how you can write such crap and over-exaggerate the number of nut cases out there. Are there “Sharia law” fundies out there? Sure. How many? If i told you 5% of Christendon, even in the South i would feel like i was overstating the facts. Is there a problem, sure. But you have so grossly over stated it that you look absolutely ridiculous. If the rest of your writing is this atrocious, count me out…

    • Pat Durkin

      the issue is how loud “kooks” yell, and how they are driven to struggle for anti-Christian aims
      Also the way “I’m a Christian” has been turned into a brand, like the Apple- Apple or Nike “swoosh”

      • David K. Ward

        Such empty words and they mean so little.

    • Edward Kirby

      “If i told you 5% of Christendon, even in the South i would feel like i was overstating the facts.”

      Some 4 out of 5 Americans self-identify as Christians and, using your number, 5% of that would mean we are talking about 12 million people. Let’s assume they vote in numbers comparable to the electorate at large (although I think their numbers are actually much higher), and that would mean that some 4% of the voters are fundamentalists, many of whom favor a Christian theocratic state.

      In a time where Congressional districts are heavily gerrymandered with the aid of sophisticated voter databases, 4% is no small number. It could mean the difference between a state sending half their Representatives to Congress as Republicans and three-quarters. If enough red states do that — and they have — we have a Republican dominated House despite the fact that many more Americans voted for Democratic candidates.

      Also, Romney won both Georgia and North Carolina (31 electoral votes; over 11% of the total needed to win) by less than 4%. While it made no difference in the overall result *this time*, there is a good chance that some day in the near future, it will. [Had Obama won those two states, he would have had twice as many electoral votes as Romney; something the Democrats would have been crowing about for months.]

      Finally, there is the subject of primaries. That 4% discussed above gets doubled if we assume they are all registered Republicans. Given that the first contest is famously in Iowa, the fundamentalists have a hugely disproportionate say in who gets the Republican presidential nomination. [Or, as is the political wisdom about Iowa, who *doesn’t* get the nod.]

      It is no secret that the Republican party is dominated by fundamentalist policies for the past three decades, but what is not as well known is how little it takes (in terms of actual numbers) to achieve that dominant position. Conservative parties all over the globe are disproportionately influenced by fundamentalists. Look at Israel, for a good example of that.

      Many people say that the voters will never accept a fundamentalist vision for America, but we all know that’s not how things work. Will Rogers famously said that people don’t vote for, they vote against. Some day, because the economy is bad or taxes are too high or some other reason, there will be an election where enough people will vote against the Dems and usher these fanatics into power in Congress and the White House. At that point, all hell will break loose.

      • Edward Kirby

        Just to add:

        Jimmy Carter famously made Iowa the jumping off point for his campaign, and its been influential ever since. In that time — almost 40 years now — the political center has shifted dramatically to the right. I blame that on Iowa, and I blame Iowa on the fundamentalists.

        On the other side, it was FDR that made the New Hampshire primary famous, and his election represented four decades of liberal strength.

        Perhaps the time has come for a more randomized state primary schedule: 12 months before the general election, we should have a lottery that sets the schedule for primaries. No more “first in the nation” status for Iowa and New Hampshire.

  • Rita Jane Clark-Smith

    If I could live my life over again, I would be a televangelist/stage show preacher (i.e., Elmer Gantry style) and use God to become a millionaire. I would fool naive Christians so that they would give me their hard-earned money; or I would be a politician (i.e., bought/sold elected official) who takes money from everyone (especially Right Wing Christians). Years ago, I had a friend who worked at the Philadelphia Convention Center – he told me that the same people who go up on the stage and faint after a “Preacher” touches them are the same people who are carrying out the potted plants when the show is over.