The Rise of American Fundamentalism 2006-2008

Fundamentalist Christianity has shown that it is not above using any means at its disposal to find converts, even if those conversions are essentially coerced – coercion itself being an ancient weapon in the Church’s arsenal – the means by which, after all, most of the Christian world was converted. The government will help people with nothing expected in return; when Evangelical groups have the reins, they require conversion as the price of assistance.

A noted example of this behavior comes from 2006. From the New York Times:

In June, 2006, U.S. District Judge Robert W. Pratt ruled that a faith based-program at a Newton, Iowa prison called InnerChange, operated by Charles Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries, unconstitutionally used tax money for a religious program that gave special privileges to inmates who accepted its evangelical Christian teachings and terms. “For all practical purposes,” Judge Pratt said, “the state has literally established an Evangelical Christian congregation within the walls of one its penal institutions, giving the leaders of that congregation, i.e., InnerChange employees, authority to control the spiritual, emotional, and physical lives of hundreds of Iowa inmates.” [See Americans United v. Prison Fellowship Ministries, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36970, June 2, 2006]

From appearances, the Religious Right was going strong. They had their man in the White House, they had their Faith Based initiatives and their war chests were filling faster than ever before. According to Americans United, Religious Right groups better funded than ever:

“James Dobson’s Focus on the Family took in $142.2 million in 2006, a $4.4 million increase over the previous year. Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council took in $10.3 million in 2006, an increase of over $900,000 over the previous year.”

It is unsurprising therefore that before 2006 the United States had come very close to theocracy but the midterm elections would take us from the brink. From TheocracyWatch.org:

Before the midterm elections of 2006, dominionists controlled both houses of the U.S. Congress, the White House and four out of nine seats on the U.S. Supreme Court. They were one seat away from holding a solid majority on the Supreme Court. As of January 1, 2007, dominionists will not control the leadership of either house of Congress, and the President will no longer be able to so easily appoint dominionists to the federal courts.

The midterm’s results were perhaps as striking as those of 2010: Five of the Republican Senators who were unseated on November 7 received whopping scores of 100% from the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family Voter Scorecards. Those Senators were: Conrad Burns (R-MT), George Allen (R-VA), Rick Santorum (R-PA), James Talent (R-MO), and Mike DeWine (R-OH). Rick Santorum was the number three ranking Republican in the party. Santorum and Allen both had Presidential ambitions, and as we all know, Santorum has been busy in 2011 trying to realize his, to the extent of finishing second in the Iowa Caucus.

But all was not rosy; the Religious Right still controlled two branches of government: On June 25, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation that executive orders may not be challenged on Establishment Clause grounds by individuals whose sole claim to legal standing is that they are taxpayers. Both of Bush’s appointees, John G. Roberts and Samuel Alito, sided with the majority. So much for “We the People.”

Some, like the Economist earlier, drew the wrong conclusions from the Midterm results and were quick to pronounce the Religious Right dead.  On October 30, 2007, the AU Blog, The Wall of Separation reported:

On Sunday, The New York Times unleashed two more Religious Right obituaries: Reporter David Kirkpatrick wrote a cover story about turmoil in the Religious Right for the Times Magazine, and columnist Frank Rich gloated over the so-called death of the Religious Right on the Opinion page.

From October 19 to October 21, 2007 the Family Research Council convened a summit of several hundred conservative Christian activists in Washington, DC called the Values Voters Summit. The mission of the meeting was to conduct a straw poll on who is the best choice for religious conservatives. According to Christianpost.com:

“The FRC head opened the event by listing the key issues for value voters – restoring a culture of life, upholding marriage as between one man and one woman, promoting pro-family values, protecting religious freedom, and supporting the nation’s defense and responsible foreign policy.”

It was not as though the Religious Right was down and out. Despite the results of the midterm, they were still a powerful and influential voting block. According to the Washington Post, February 3, 2011 “Sixty percent of GOP caucus-goers in the 2008 presidential election described themselves as evangelical Christians.”

We met Jo Martin in an earlier article and saw her reaction to the Christian takeover of the GOP in ’92. In ’08 there was “home-schooling mom Kim Pearson of suburban Polk County” who “didn’t take much notice in 2008 of Huckabee’s ample record of increasing state taxes and spending when he was governor of Arkansas. Like other Republican caucus-goers who catapulted Huckabee to victory, Pearson was charmed by the candidate’s Christian faith and his stances on such social issues as abortion and same-sex marriage.”

To claim today, as has Ralph Reed, that the Evangelical vote is more nuanced and encompasses more than social issues is rather humorous. Kim Pearson sounds a great deal like the average Evangelical voter at the 2012 Iowa Caucus, where issues like abortion were important to them than the economy – an attitude that fits in well with the GOP’s agenda.

On October 3, 2008, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued President George W. Bush, Jim Doyle, Shirley Dobson, chair, National Day of Prayer Task Force, and White House Press Secretary Dana Perino at a Madison, Wisconsin federal court, challenging the federal law designating the National Day of Prayer

AU’s Feb 2011 Church & State reported:

“ADF lawyers organized a May 2008 meeting with Grassley’s staff to demand that the electioneering restriction be lifted and to insist that religious organizations be kept free of any significant new governmental oversight. Among the attendees were representatives of the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the National Religious Broadcasters and others.”

The Religious Right would never stop fighting and scraping for every advantage they could get in order to keep control of the White House.

It is easy with hindsight to see already back in 2006 the origins of the Tea Party movement. From New York Times, “Crashing the Tea Party” by David E. Campbell and Robert D. Putnam:

“Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today was a desire, back in 2006, to see religion play a prominent role in politics. And Tea Partiers continue to hold these views: they seek “deeply religious” elected officials, approve of religious leaders’ engaging in politics and want religion brought into political debates. The Tea Party’s generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.”

The Democrats had managed to stifle the Bush administration for its final two years, preventing further severe damage to American democracy and to the First Amendment, but as Evangelicals would demonstrate in the ’08 election, they were capable in their desperation of embracing rhetoric – and candidates – more extreme than any American voters had previously encountered.

READ ALL THE ARTICLES IN THE SERIES:

The Antecedents of American Fundamentalism 1606-1925
The Rising Tide of American Fundamentalism in the 1940s and 50s
The Cresting Tide of American Fundamentalism in the 1960s
American Fundamentalism in the 70s – The Rise of the Moral Majority
The Rise of American Fundamentalism – The Year 1980
The Rise of American Fundamentalism – the Reagan Decade
The Rise of American Fundamentalism 1990-1993
The Rise of American Fundamentalism 1994-1997
The Rise of American Fundamentalism 1998-2001
The Rise of American Fundamentalism 2002-2003
The Rise of American Fundamentalism 2004-2005

37 Replies to “The Rise of American Fundamentalism 2006-2008”

  1. Once again, where to start with this can of steroidal “worms” you’ve opened once again! Gawd, Hraf, don’t you SLEEP? Yet, who can sleep when “Freddie the Furtive Fundamentalist” keeps creeping around up and giving you nightmares? I digress…

    Ever read Kevin Phillips’ “American Theocracy”? I’m re-reading; he WAS a Republican strategist/economist for 30 years. The book has a dedication that says “This book is dedicated to the millions of Republicans, present and lapsed, who have opposed the Bush dynasty and the dis-enlightenment in the 2000-2004 election.” A republican with “facts”
    sounding the alarm in 2006…who knew?

    I read last night… (p. 213): “By 2005 the Southern Baptist Convention announced that Cleveland had been selected as it’s national “Strategic Focus City” for 2006-7. Backed by a budget of $2.5 million, thousand of volunteers from all over the country converged to win converts and start new churches. Before long,local Christian conservatives announced the “Ohio Restoration Project”, a plan to marshal Baptist, Pentecostals, and Catholic leaders as so-called Patriot Pastors to take control of the Republican party and elect born-again politicans…”

    This is just one of many examples of how Christian Reconstructionist have united with the GOP, breeding clerical “intimacy” within a region in order to establish political authority and govern a community.

    I think we need a “model” a way of breaking up regional religious dominance, similar to breaking up of the banks. American needs to develop a system to rid ourselves of this corruption and rebuild the barriers between church and state by breaking up this monopoly. So far, no brilliant minds or leaders have come forth, so, it’s up to us to do the work cuz’ they ain’t gonna’ help us or do it for us…

  2. Sleeping can be hard when you delve too deeply into this stuff, as I dare say you know, and I can only give a bare bones account in these articles. I haven’t read that book yet – one of many I’d like to get to on the subject. I don’t actually sit down to write on this subject so often but when I take a look around at what happening, there is always something along these lines that needs to be talked about. I agree with you, by the way, with regards to the need for a new model.

  3. The truth is that before the 2006 election, they were so close to getting us they could taste us, and they pronounced us delicious. You know what happens when a maneater finds long Smithfield delicious. It doesn’t give up till it’s shot.

  4. HA! And all this time I thought they were like Freddie Kruger! “They” keep resurfacing as “born again” from the grave and like flesh-eating zombies, they seek prey in a stealth mode…hence furtiveness is their “byword” (note the hair, clothes, nails, the pearls…the teeth).

  5. Dear Lord, save us from your followers.

    The fundies are not Christians following the teachings of Jesus; they are Old Testament Christianists, who cherry pick select biblical passages which support their opinions. There are no entrance exams, no competency tests to pass; all that is required is a profession of faith, which leaves the percipient sitting in judgement of his own case. In short, you don’t have to know much about Christianity–you only have to think you do.

    And when one wanders off into supernatural “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin” land, into beliefs untethered from reality and not weighted with historical and/or scientific fact, then there really is nothing to prevent one from drifting off beyond the ozone.

    What better hunting ground for grifters, con artists and power hungry predators?

  6. thanks for the information.. for years i have been wondering how Bushes “faith based initiative” passed constitional muster vis vis the first amendment.. now i know

    On June 25, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation that executive orders may not be challenged on Establishment Clause grounds by individuals whose sole claim to legal standing is that they are taxpayers. Both of Bush’s appointees, John G. Roberts and Samuel Alito, sided with the majority. So much for “We the People.”

  7. Kevin Phillips does indeed offer a good background on the subject, especially since he was one of the pioneers in the application of The Southern Strategy. A more entertaining read on the same subject is PARADIGM SHIFT. I do not strive to be a totally serious author. I consider myself a nerdy entertainer, although PS is my most serious book. The political mess we have today could not have happened without the economic mess laying the groundwork for the crazies to gain influence. Thank you for your support.

  8. I just started your book this morning. Love the timeline, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.

  9. I look forward to your quoting The Grateful Dead after you have reached the end: “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” I hope you enjoy the rest of it! Hint: The two timelines are probably the most engrossing parts, the long articles are the most informative, and the parodies and Top Ten Lists are the most fun.

  10. Here are the problems I see with this article. Consider the alternatives:

    “James Dobson’s Focus on the Family took in $142.2 million in 2006, a $4.4 million increase over the previous year. Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council took in $10.3 million in 2006, an increase of over $900,000 over the previous year.”

    The writer failed to suggest just what remedy should be taken to prevent a religious organization from fundraising from freewill donations. How about a law: “No religious group can ask free-minded, willing donors for contributions.” Now that should fly through the “shall make no law” amendment.

    “The FRC head opened the event by listing the key issues for value voters – restoring a culture of life, upholding marriage as between one man and one woman, promoting pro-family values, protecting religious freedom, and supporting the nation’s defense and responsible foreign policy.”

    Horror or horrors! We can’t have people going around suggesting that traditional marriage is a good thing, or that the family is a worthwhile social entity, that religious freedom is worth fighting for (Sorry, Gen. Washington, you just wasted your time, money and a few thousand lives), that we might need to watch our national backsides, because there may be a rogue nation or two who may not like us, or that foreign policy should first and foremost be based on a concern for our national security.

    “ADF lawyers organized a May 2008 meeting with Grassley’s staff to demand that the electioneering restriction be lifted and to insist that religious organizations be kept free of any significant new governmental oversight. Among the attendees were representatives of the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, the National Religious Broadcasters and others.”

    Most certainly, we need to be sure we have the CIA and the FBI watching those subversive Christians who are trying to suggest that people should vote their convictions. What we need instead is a cadre of government paid community organizers to canvas the cities and get out the vote to be sure the wrong people don’t do the same.

    “For all practical purposes,” Judge Pratt said, “the state has literally established an Evangelical Christian congregation within the walls of one its penal institutions, giving the leaders of that congregation, i.e., InnerChange employees, authority to control the spiritual, emotional, and physical lives of hundreds of Iowa inmates.”

    By all means, nothing could be more dangerous or antisocial than a group of felons getting together to study the Bible, learn job skills for a return to life “outside,” and considering how to be the kind of spouse or parent that a family can be proud of. A much better lifestyle can be offered by the Aryan Brotherhood, Mexican Mafia, Texas Syndicate, Black Guerrilla Family, Nuestar Familia, Neta, Mexikanemi, Barrio Azteca, Crips. Those are the kinds of social group we really should be supporting. They teach such social skills as how to make shivs out of toothbrushes, how to hide dope in your rectum, how to order hits on rival gangs outside via smuggled cell phones. I say we round up all the preachers, pastors and priests and put THEM in maximum security. We can’t have seditious slogans around suggesting we should “love your neighbor.” Nuke’em all.

    Contrary to what this writer and others want to believe–and have others believe, the Constitution nowhere mentions either “freedom OF religion,” or “freedom FROM” religion. It, in a genius of simplicity, says only “The Congress shall make no law respecting (meaning ‘with respect to’ or ‘having to do with’) an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It simply says that Congress can’t take sides, either for or against either the establishment of religion or exercising ones belief or participation in religion.

    For the record, I am an ex-Baptist minister who now considers himself an agnostic, as to religion. I left the “church” because I no longer believed its theology. I don’t particularly care for the methods many evangelical Christians use in “witnessing” (what the writer calls: gathering converts), and, in discussions and conversations with Christian friends and family, I suggest that often their methods are a turn-off and counterproductive to their cause.

    This does not mean I oppose everything the Christian community does or believes in. Under the Constitution, they have every right of free speech–just as does the NAACP, or less desirable groups such as the Aryan Brotherhood–to espouse their cause.

    As for where God got mixed up in political matters in American politics, I’d suggest the following:

    The Declaration of Independence: “to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation…. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,”

    It’s true that this is not necessarily a “Christian” assumption, but neither does it exclude a Christian assumption.

    Then, there’s this: In June 1787, when the debate among the delegates to the Constitutional Convention grew too heated for any hope of common consent, historians tell us that: ” With the oratory degenerating into threats and accusations, Benjamin Franklin appealed for daily prayers; in his customary gray homespun, the aged philosopher pleaded that “the Father of lights . . . illuminate our understandings.” Franklin’s appeal for prayers was never fulfilled; the convention, as Hugh Williamson noted, had no funds to pay a preacher.”

    If the Freedom From Religion group’s aim is to remove all mention of God or religion from our history, even our government’s history, they have a lot of history to re-write–not that they haven’t been successful in some fronts already. Then, what to do with the chaplains in the Congress and all branches of the military.

    Finally, the writer’s ploy of painting whole groups with the brush of unpopular labels is no less that stooping to the low level of argument used by propagandist for centuries. I refer to the labeling of all conservative Christians, or even the activists among them, as “dominionists.” That term has a very specific reference, and it is no more accurate to use it to denigrate an opponent than to paint all Muslims as terrorist, or all libertarians as anarchists. There are dominionists among us, but not everyone who carries a Bible and believes its teachings is one. For a good discussion of dominionism, see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/01/5-facts-about-dominionism_n_945601.html

    You guys know the Huffington Post, I believe?  And, yes, I was surprised to find this article there.

  11. I must give your propagandist army credit where credit is due.
    Your ability to always keep garbage from politicususa on diggs homepage is truly remarkable.

    Of course, this may just be because digg sucks, but I digress.

  12. Sort of contradictory, wouldn’t you say:

    First: Lord protect us from your followers”
    then: those from whom you want protection are not really the Lord’s followers. Hmmmm?

    Then, the second paragraph: I would think you’d want these miscreants absorbed in debate on angels and pin heads, where they waste their energies on useless dogma and leave the politics to the enlightened.

    As to “entrance exams, no competency tests.” What would yo say are the entrance exams or competency tests for
    ACLU, Center for American Progress, NARAL, NOW, Citizens for Strength and Security, Patriot Majority Fund, UNITE HERE, Progressive Majority, et al?

    Finally: “who cherry pick select biblical passages which support their opinions” are rife among all groups, in all ages of all persuasions–the article under discussion, not excluded. It’s a poor excuse for debate, no matter where it is found.

  13. once again here you are. I suggest you look up focus on the family and find out what a bigoted group of people they are. In fact they are called a hate group by the Southern poverty Law group along with several other “fundamentalist” groups. These articles on fundamentalism are not about the Christians, perhaps one like yourself, who goes to church on Sunday believes in Jesus etc. etc. etc. these articles are about people who are attempting to put their ideas into play in the government through people like Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann and yes, even Ron Paul.

  14. “I think we need a “model” a way of breaking up regional religious dominance, similar to breaking up of the banks. American needs to develop a system to rid ourselves of this corruption and rebuild the barriers between church and state by breaking up this monopoly. So far, no brilliant minds or leaders have come forth, so, it’s up to us to do the work cuz’ they ain’t gonna’ help us or do it for us…”

    I can give you several models–from both sides:

    In Germany, it was called The Third Reich; in Russia, the USSR and the Central Committee; in China, The Great Leap Forward. On the other side, it was called The Crusades, and The Inquisition.

    What did it produce? Mostly bloodshed and chaos. Thankfully, in the US it produced the First Amendment.

  15. By Jove, I think you’ve got it!

    A rational response without name-calling or anger. You make me proud. :-)

    No, I neither call myself a Christian, nor have I been to church in over 30 years. I just know the hearts of many of those whom you castigate as dangerous. Just as I believe many far-left proponents of a socialized America have a deep-seated belief in what they suggest (even if I disagree), I also believe that many (not all) of those who suggest a return to some of the personal and family-centered moral principles that Christianity has at its core are likewise driven by heart-felt concern for the nation.

    I see see a disturbing dichotomy in the rhetoric of many who demand we not lump all Muslims into a category as terrorist, while at the same time find it easy to lump all conservative Christians into a fundamentalist group and then further morph them into the dominionist pile.

    Tell me(i’m speaking generically) why the ideas of these people are dangerous and forget about personalities. If the ideas are indeed evil, as shown by specific examples and results, then we may agree the person likewise operates from misplaced loyalties.

    The easiest thing in the world for like-minded people to do is to get in a group and invent epithets and invective for those with whom they all disagree, or whom they all dislike. In music, it’s called harmony, and it’s pleasing to the ear–of the participants. What’s harder is for a classical cellist to get with a blue grass fiddler and a hard rock bass guitarist and come up with a concert that will gather an approving audience. (BTW, Itzhak Perlman, Willy Nelson, Yo Yo Ma, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, et al have been able to do just that–to international acclaim.)

    I have no problem with someone who disagrees with a specific action of a specific person and speaks out forcefully against such actions. I part company with them, however, when the animosity is spread wider to include all members of a larger group from which the target person comes.

    I’d like to think I can be wrong without being stupid, ignorant or evil.

    The danger in flame-thrower, nuke’em all dialogue is that the baby gets thrown in the sewer with the bath water. When debaters can only scream at each other, no one is listening and, often, the only perceived option is violence.

    I think we all love America; why can’t we at least tolerate our fellow Americans?

  16. It is difficult to know where to begin. I think you misunderstand the purpose of this article and the series of which it is a part, which is not to suggest solutions, but to recount events that have already taken place and relate them to the present.

    Second, Shiva is spot on. I am not talking about your average everyday Christian here.

    I’ll restrict myself to a few other comments: first of all, there is no such thing as traditional marriage, least of all in the Bible. The ancient polytheistic world even allowed same-sex unions.

    As for religious freedom, that, when used by fundamentalists, is a code word for Christian religious freedom – not Islamic, not Mormon, certainly not my own Heathenism. They are not defending the constitutional ideal of freedom of religion but advocate privileging Christian belief (and their own specific version of Christian belief).

    You are right: Congress can’t take sides, and that is precisely what guarantees us our freedom of religion, protects religion from government interference and government from religious interference.

    And for the record, they did not recess to pray, as fundamentalists so often insist, and not because they lacked money but because they saw no reason to do so. Instead, they continued to debate – and compromise – very secularly, and produced the U.S. Constitution.

  17. …Well, you sure shut down any and all conversation on how to change business as usual. Way to go, Ace…

    (BTW, I have no idea what you are talking about except “Yew shut the hail up, Hitler, 1st Amendment, bloodshed, USA-USA-USA!” as your ideal “models” on how to solve the problem…Way to go, Ace.)

  18. No, they’re not driven by a concern for America. They’re driven by terror that God will cast them out because they didn’t “bear enough fruit” and that they “tolerated evil in their midst”.

    I belonged to them many years ago, and that is exactly how the preachers controlled the people – through fear. I remember driving to a nearby city and feeling terror that the “Rapture” would happen and somehow I’d be left behind, to try to survive as best as I could with people hunting me left and right (the sort of scenario they preached). That fear haunted me night and day, and as I’ve learned from other walkaways, that experience was common. The core of their beliefs is fear and terror… to the point of being programmed to not even question their preacher/minister/priest (because they’d be excommunicated and “Cut off from the vine and cast into the fire!”).

    The problem is, you’re asking us to tolerate people who have no concept of tolerance except “My way or the highway!”. Like I’ve said many times before, compromising or being nice to dominionists is like trying to arrange a compromise between ex-slaves and their former masters; any compromise means that the slaves loose some or all of their freedom.

    BTW… when the larger group controls and enforces their rules of behavior on the individual, what good is it to rail at the individual, when it’s the group that is at fault? Let me give you a scenario: what if you encounter a culture where pedophilia is considered normal and part of the “growing up” process? You’re probably opposed to it yourself (I would hope), would you attack every individual, or would you look at the group?

    (There have been a few rare cultures that were like that.)

  19. …”What would yo say are the entrance exams or competency tests for ACLU, Center for American Progress, NARAL, NOW, Citizens for Strength and Security, Patriot Majority Fund, UNITE HERE, Progressive Majority, et al?…”

    Real live academic degrees; degrees from actual accredited universities and colleges that have real academic standards that are “universally” accepted. Most all the organizations named also require 4 years plus experience for all administrative paid positions.

    ACLU requires a law degree from a “real” law school; they probably don’t look at applicants below 2nd tier law schools.

    NARAL requires professional training and/or education in one of the following: planning, public administration, business, social science, law, politics, project management.

    Center for American Progress, Progressive Majority, United Here all require a minimum of a Bachelors degree for employment.

    The next three are Unions hiring Ad agencies–irrelevant.

    Of course, folks like yourself take “competency exams” and don’t need no dee-grees, right?

  20. I’ve literally prayed “God, please protect me from your followers!”. I have good reason to fear them, as do many others. Do not defend them to me unless you’re willing to put your money where your mouth is – try to undo the real damage they did to us (including financial). There are followers such as the dominionists (the “Good Christians”), and then there are people who try to follow the teachings of Jesus.

    This is fact: the “Good Christians” drive people away from Christ and God, while they think they’re doing God’s work. They hurt innocent people and try to destroy anyone who resists them. Those are the followers we need protection from… sometimes literally having our lives or homes protected (Darla Kay Wynne can testify as to their violence and willingness to destroy, as can David Mullins, and many others, including myself.) You make fun of it, but it is a real issue.

    When we look at the scriptures in a scientific way, trying to understand the purpose of the author, the message being conveyed by BOTH the author and if it’s NT, Jesus (or Paul or Peter, depending on the book), the understanding of the language for the time (some of the parables had different meanings in their day than modern translations convey), and examining the messages in a holistic and comprehensive sense, we’re accused of cherry picking (especially when we emphasize the things that Jesus emphasized). When a dominionist/fundamentalist looks at and makes nearly their entire focus on five sentences (such as those used to hate gays), while ignoring the literal thousands regarding the treatment of the poor… I think that is typical and cherry picking is a good description. You’re doing false equivalence – the two cannot be compared.

    Plus, if you’re going to claim to be Christian, don’t you think you should put more emphasis on what Jesus taught and NOT on what Paul taught or what is in the OT? Doesn’t that make sense? Then why do so many “Good Christians” almost NEVER quote Jesus, but pull scriptures from the OT and from the Epistles and ram those down people’s throats?

  21. Ok, here, again, is my problem. Just who, specifically, are “they”? And just who are the fundamemtalists, or who, among the larger number of fundamentalists, are those who are guilty of the deeds you mention. Those who say that Islamists are terrorists and are part-and-parcel the blame for 911, are guilty of grossly assigning guilt by association. The same is true when it’s “those fundamentalists.” Or those right-wing nuts.

    I too was born, raised, Sunday Schooled and College trained and Seminary tutored in Southern Baptist churches and collages. I left due to a rejection of the theology. I did not spread my rejection to those who had loved and nurtured and taught me much more than religion. I see more anger and personal animosity in lashing out than mere difference of opinion.

    There are, among many fundamentalist sects of Christianity, people who count conversions as Indian fighters often did scalps, but not all conservatives are fundamentalists and not all fundamentalists are dominionists.

    It is also true that many preachers, particularly televangelists, spout a lot of apocoliptic fear mongering, but in 18 years of Sunday School, 4 years in a Baptist College, and 2 in a Baptist Seminary, plus about 8 years employed by the Baptist Sunday School Board and the Home Mission Board, never did I ever feel driven either by fear of hell or the rapture or of excommunication by my peers. There was a lot of political crap that went on that I did not condone and there were some deacons and ministers who were pretty much died-in-the-wool pricks, but their numbers were far out weighed by loving, nurturing, caring people whose interest in others went far beyond their church affiliation. These deserve better than to be lumped in with a mis-led group of zealots and dipped into vitriol in the name of protecting religious freedom. And,IMO, the only purpose such anger-driven discourse can serve is to invite violence and counter-violence.

    As for the hypothetical scenario you postulate, I hardly consider telling someone they may go to hell, as offensive as that may be, comes anywhere close to pedophilia. As for attacking (I prefer “opposing”), I would vigorously oppose that part of the group whom I knew to practice, promote and condone the behavior.

    Which, in fact, is my point. The behavior you describe, and that I, too, have seen, is limited to SOME fundamentalist, and SOME Christians, and SOME conservatives, but not all of any of those larger groups.

    My appeal is that you shoot with a verbal rifle and scope and not with a shotgun or Gatlin gun.

    As for the ancient societies

  22. The rise of the religious right is just one more thing we can thank Ronald Reagan for. It was Reagan who invited the Pat Roberston/Jerry Falwell crowd in, and once they got a taste of political power, they never left. They have since, largely, co-opted the Republican party and pursue the dangerously stupid idea that imposing their religion on America, will make all the worlds problems go away.

  23. Only the Assemblies of God (and their offspring) are worse than the Southern Baptists. However, the Southern Baptists are only SLIGHTLY better than the Assemblies.

    If the shoe fits, wear it. (And by the way, because you’re trolling here, you demonstrate just how much of a liar you are and just how bad your church is.)

  24. Very true, and I remember even back in the 70s and early 80s, preaching that if America would accept “Christianity” (Pentecostalism), all of the world’s problems would be solved. I’ve heard that theme since then, even in Episcopal and other churches. However, I must admit that most of the churches around here have been steeplejacked, or at the least have teams of steeplejackers at work trying to remake them into dominionist churches.

    What is scary is I hear and read now that a majority of those churches I knew back then (Assemblies of God) have now started saying that Jesus won’t return until they take over the world and “fix” it.

    Somehow I knew even back then (but didn’t allow myself to think the thought), that the very thing they were claiming the “secular humanists” were plotting, was the very thing they were either planning or seeking for themselves (projection).

  25. Curmudge, either you misread what I said or I didn’t say it very well. To paraphrase St. Augustine: Not all those in churches are God’s people, and not all God’s people are in churches.

    It was not my intention to lump all self-professed Christians together, but rather to specifically address those who prefer to emphasize O.T. fire and brimstone passages while shoving Christ’s teachings to the back burner.

    The second point I attempted to make was that when one follows an entirely faith-based religion–or for that matter, faith-based belief of any kind–there are no “reality anchors” to prevent flights of fancy into the ether. Hence we have people jettisoning their worldly goods so they can be ferried away on flying saucers. Or, even more tragically, following mad men like Jim Jones into mass suicide.

    And the third point I was trying to make is that this makes authoritarian followers ripe for the plucking by unscrupulous con artists, political operatives, and flat out loons. Such people don’t come with “Beware” tattooed on their foreheads, and they can become a force for some pretty ugly beliefs and behaviors.

  26. @ A walkaway:
    “Only the Assemblies of God (and their offspring) are worse than the Southern Baptists. However, the Southern Baptists are only SLIGHTLY better than the Assemblies.

    If the shoe fits, wear it. (And by the way, because you’re trolling here, you demonstrate just how much of a liar you are and just how bad your church is.)”

    I’m tempted to say that your ignorance of me and of Southern Baptists is exceeded only by your lack of a valid argument.” but that would be to stoop to a level I’ve been speaking against.

    So:

    Specifically, in 1,2 and 3’s, in just what ways are Pentecostals the worst and S. Baptists next?

    I’d like to agree or rebut, if only I knew what the topics are.

    Then, a correction: I’m not trolling here, I am joining in a discussion, just as you are–I just try to be a bit more polite and issue-centered. So far, the gatekeepers have been kind enough to allow a dissident voice.

    Finally, I don’t have a church and haven’t for over 30 years. I HAD a belief, which I shared with others in Baptist Churches. I no longer do either. Then, I’m at a loss to understand in what way am I a liar?

    Give me an instance and I’ll clarify.

  27. My, my. You guys just can’t let comment ride without an insult or two, can you. Jeesh!

    Your point is somewhat off center, as applied to me being a part of any Christian group, since “i aren’t one.”

    Then, while I don’t put much proof of one’s worthiness into academic degrees, I do have a couple, one a BA,Cum Laude, and Phi Beta Capa, from a fully accredited university founded before the Civil war, and a second, a ThM from a fairly old, well established and fully accredited seminary.

    And, just to show I haven’t forgotten everything I learned about research:

    On the matter of “entrance exams”:
    The ACLU has 500,000 members, of which 100 are staff lawyers, 2000 are volunteers lawyers, which leaves 497,900 members who have — what kind of entrance exams? Actually it seems to be a minimum contribution of $35.

    Which is all a bit silly. We both know that public movements and political organizations or PACs usually have no other “entrance exam” than a person’s avowed agreement with the movement’s goals. Are you suggesting that churches should have some intellectual requirement other than a public faith-based commitment to the church’s tenets?

    Or, is there some minimum academic achievement level required in this forum before one is allowed to participate? I doubt it–given the level of reasoning–or lack thereof–in some of the posts.

  28. Slight correction: I didn’t suggest they recessed to pray. One historian reports that Ben Franklin, in the heat of both the June sun and a lack of agreement among the delegates, suggested that maybe they should have daily prayers. It seems Franklin’s suggestion was for a kind of chaplain for the daily sessions of the convention. This source further quotes Hugh Williamson, delegate from North Carolina, who in his notes about the meetings of the convention, said that Franklin’s appeal for prayers was not acted upon because they had no money to hire a preacher.

    I’ve been looking of an open venue into the notes of Mr. Williamson as a primary source, but so far haven’t found any online.

    Here’s my source for the quote: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_history.html

  29. The New Atheist movement will help to dim the fundie ardor over time.

    Wash.D.C., March,The Reason Rally, and then a week later. . .
    the big Ft. Bragg hullabaloo!

  30. Oh Curmudgeon, you’re just so well-versed, talented on so many topics, so way over the head of most here…you should probably find a better audience that will sit up and take notice of your vast knowledge…Perhaps “E-harmony” can help you find a devoted listener or two…

  31. All you have to do is do some reading to learn why the Pentecostals and the Southern Baptists are so bad. I suggest back posts on this blog, as well as at Talk2Action and there are other places that are equally good.

    I’ll give you a hint: Reconstructionism. How about a second hint: Rousas Rushdoony. And I’ll add a third comment: Native Americans (at least, those that I’ve talked with) consistantly identify the Pentecostals (especially the Assemblies of God) and the Southern Baptists as the most bigoted and racist groups around and the ones who made life hardest throughout their family’s history.

    In fact, IMO if a person was a Southern Baptist minister during the 60s (and earlier) in the south, that is a major strike against them. I’ve heard the saying “Burning crosses on Saturday night and preaching in front of them on Sunday”.

  32. If by the “New Atheist” movement, you’re talking about the ones who are militant and (verbally) attacking people who are theists, I don’t think so.

    In fact, all that will do is make them get harder and more obnoxious, and dig their trenches deeper. They view hostility as “persecution for Christ’s sake” and have been programmed to feel good about it, while becoming more strident and aggressive.

    The most effective thing that works against them (and admittedly it doesn’t work too well) is to be the antithesis of what they expect. They’re taught that atheists hate God and hate Christians, and that is the “real reason” why people get angry and hostile towards them. They’re taught atheists are amoral and immoral. They are taught that atheists are really miserable because they’re missing God inside. They’re taught a lot of bullshit, but they believe it.

    It confuses the hell out of them when they encounter someone who doesn’t fit their precious stereotypes. Sometimes it starts them to questioning what they’ve been taught.

    I might add that a hostile attack against the fundamentalists/dominionists may mask signals that the person who is trying to proselytize may be actually struggling with some serious and deep questions. An atheist who listens and catches those clues may indeed significantly help the other.

    (Plus, I might add that atheists have a lot of theist allies, and it does no good to offend or turn off people like us.)

  33. o

     “A Walkaway on January 10, 2012 at 10:12 pm
    All you have to do is do some reading to learn why the Pentecostals and the Southern Baptists are so bad. I suggest back posts on this blog, as well as at Talk2Action and there are other places that are equally good.
    I’ll give you a hint: Reconstructionism. How about a second hint: Rousas Rushdoony. And I’ll add a third comment: Native Americans (at least, those that I’ve talked with) consistantly identify the Pentecostals (especially the Assemblies of God) and the Southern Baptists as the most bigoted and racist groups around and the ones who made life hardest throughout their family’s history.
    In fact, IMO if a person was a Southern Baptist minister during the 60s (and earlier) in the south, that is a major strike against them. I’ve heard the saying “Burning crosses on Saturday night and preaching in front of them on Sunday”.

    First, Rushdoony and his Reconstructionist cohorts were nut jobs and had nothing whatsoever to do with Southern Baptists.

    Let’ s see if I can extrapolate from your post some things on which we can find common ground. First, I agree that Pentecostals, as a matter of belief are strongly given to the hell-fire-and-damnation gospel. In family matters, they tend to be more paternalistic and authoritarian. I also agree that their evangelism and proselytizing is often based on fear and intimidation. And, for the most part, I take serious issue with their missionary activities whose sole focus is on conversion.

    I have the same problems with Southern Baptists efforts among the American Indians when their actions were of the same ilk. I left employment with the one of the SBC agencies because I disagreed with their conviction that every town needed a SBC affiliated church, no matter how many churches were there–even other Baptist churches. I finally parted company with the theology because it did not seem to parse with the inner life of SOME of the church members. This said, while there were, indeed, far out kooks to be found among both the leadership and membership of the churches and agencies, the vast majority of the day to day membership and leadership were loving, kind and caring individuals devoted to the care of their families and the larger community.

    I also know, that, even allowing for the misguided among those who worked with and among the Native Americans, there are thousands of Native Americans who owe their life and good health, and sometimes, education to the social activities provided by the SBC. I, as you have, have talked to those who have good stories as well as those who have legitimate horror stories.

    My issue with your posts has been your assumption, to use the Aristotelian pattern: I knew some Southern Baptist who were bad, Curmudge was once a Southern Baptist, therefore Curmudge must be bad. That not only is blatantly unfair, it’s just poor logic. By the same token I could postulate: I know some Native Americans who are alcoholics and who abused their family, A Walker is a Native American, therefore, A Walker must be an alcoholic who abuses his family. Both are wrong and not deserving of the brain energy of intelligent men.

    And this; ” IMO if a person was a Southern Baptist minister during the 60s (and earlier) in the south, that is a major strike against them. I’ve heard the saying “Burning crosses on Saturday night and preaching in front of them on Sunday”. Have you any idea how many “Southern Baptist ministers” there were in the South in the ’60’s? Most of the 40,000 were. How many cross burnings” I’m not sure, but I was there for 5 years, and there wasn’t one in the county that I know of. Someone somewhere probably has statistics, but I’m not privy to them. Can’t you see the unfairness and fallacy in this–especially when it’s prefaced by “I’ve heard them saying…” That’s always a signal for a grain of salt to go with whatever follows. If a man were an American Indian in the west in the 1840’s on, is that prima facie evidence that he must have raped white women and burned innocent children? If an many were in the US Calvary in that same period and locale, is that prima facie evidence that he pillaged Indian villages, raped Indian women and scalped Indian children.? If you are a professor or teacher, surely you can see the danger and fallacy in such lines of reasoning.

    To go a bit further, Southern Baptist, generally, are not charismatic, and as such don’t go as deeply into fundamentalism as the Pentecostals. It is true that in the late 1970’s and early ’80s, the more fundamental arm of the SBC took over, and, in my opinion, caused great harm to the image of the SBC. This, however, had nothing to do with racial issues. In fact, at about the same time, the SBC was encouraging both the integration of the local churches and the accepting of black Baptist churches into the SBC. One thing the general public often doesn’t know about Southern Baptists is that no agency of the denomination can tell any church or any member of any church what to do. Every one of the 40,000 or so affiliated churches is a free, democratic entity. Every member of every church has equal standing in voting on how much the church will spend and how it will be spent. I joined the church when I was 7 years old, and could vote on budgets, building plans and who would be pastor, right along with the 60 year old deacons. Not only that, but at an SBC conventions, its not just the pastors who vote, it is the delegates elected by all the churches–and, even then, the decisions are binding on only the agencies of the convention, not the churches.

    I’m only suggesting that because reports you’ve heard from those who have had unfortunate experience with some Baptists in very isolated settings, you have a skewed image of the majority of good folk who make up the local church membership. I think your conception (as reflected in your posts) is clouded by a guilt-by-association of just the label, Baptist, because of these influences.

    As for Baptists in the south during the civil rights era, not only was I there in my little spot in Yazoo County, but I went to school with many pastors-to-be, and traveled to many different states and conferences with pastors, professors and other leaders from all over America. Racism was never treated with anything but disgust, something to be avoided and opposed. I had friends who were all but tarred and feathered for their stance against the racial mistreatment by men like Ross Barnett and George Wallace.

    I do not condone nor will I defend the many misdeeds and even atrocities either committed or participated in by people who were Baptists. At the same time I will not denigrate or ignore the many good deeds done around the world by individuals who were Baptists, and many who were sponsored and paid for by Baptists.

    If you will do me the courtesy of not judging my character by unfounded assumptions drawn by my assumed association with possible scoundrels, I’ll promise not to lump you in with some of the worst elements of the broader community of Native Americans. The fact that you seem, for your own reasons, to have come close to hating me in a few short days does not give me the right to assume that all your associations are hate driven.

    I don’t want you, or any one else on this site, to accept all–or anything I say–out of hand and treat me like an oracle of Delphi. I would like the benefit of the doubt that I mean no harm and limit my opposition to only the ideas expressed. Who or what you are in your heart of hearts is not mine to even speculate on. I leave that to you, and if you so choose, your god, spouse, or therapist, or whom ever you choose to share yourself with.

    But when anyone participates in an open forum, unless there’s a big sign that says NO CONTRARY OPINIONS ALLOWED, I think your (psst, shiva, that’s the generic “your.” Right?) articles and posts are open season for any who wish to disagree.

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