Reviling Christian Fundamentalism

cross.pngIn every era, some group must be especially singled out for hatred and ridicule. Some group must serve as the butt of our jokes. Some group must be blamed for our troubles. Some group must be identified as the enemy of the state. In this era, that group is Christian Fundamentalists.

A Personal Story

I came of age during the sixties. Then “Jesus freak” was the the favored expression for Christian evangelists, and the mass media taught everyone to dread being nagged by such a creep. Unfortunately, it was not until latter I realized the nature of the lesson I had learned.

When I was a college student, I once participated in a small group discussion on the merits of the Christian belief. How the group came together I no longer remember. Exactly what I said I have forgotten. I just remember saying that Christians believe in the Bible because that is what they wanted to believe; nothing exists that proves Jesus was God. As I understood it then, wishful thinking is all there is to faith.

The next day, when I was sitting alone in the dining hall, a young lady, a participant in the discussion, offered to join me at my table. Reflexively, I gave her a frosty reception. She left, obviously hurt, and I was shocked and mystified by my own behavior. What possessed me to turn down the offer of an attractive young woman to sit at my table? What was I afraid of? I was sitting alone; I would have enjoyed her company.

Why do we revile the Christian Fundamentalists?

Why do we revile Christian Fundamentalists? What do Christian Fundamentalists believe that we should find so repugnant? What is Christian Fundamentalism? Encyclopedia Britannica (here) briefly describes Christian Fundamentalism this way.

In keeping with traditional Christian doctrines concerning biblical interpretation, the mission of Jesus Christ, and the role of the church in society, fundamentalists affirmed a core of Christian beliefs that included the historical accuracy of the Bible, the imminent and physical Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and Christ’s Virgin Birth, Resurrection, and Atonement. Fundamentalism became a significant phenomenon in the early 20th century and remained an influential movement in American society into the 21st century.

The Encyclopedia Britannica article describes the history of conflict between the millennialists (Christian Fundamentalists) and the modernists over church doctrine. At the end of the article, Jerry Falwell (recently deceased) is identified as one of the leading spokesmen for the Fundamentalist movement. What did Falwell preach? As the founder of Liberty University, here is one of the reasons (see here for the source) Falwell offered for attending his school.

An uncompromising doctrinal statement, based upon an inerrant Bible, a Christian worldview beginning with belief in biblical Creationism, an eschatological belief in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational coming of Christ for all of His Church, dedication to world evangelization, an absolute repudiation of “political correctness,” a strong commitment to political conservatism, total rejection of socialism, and firm support for America’s economic system of free enterprise.

Falwell apparently had no compunctions about extrapolating his religious beliefs to his political beliefs. Apparently, some view that by itself as a hideous, unforgivable sin. Further, Falwell believed in biblical Creationism. How unscientific! Yet any Christian must take what the Bible says quite seriously. For example, the United Methodist Church, hardly a political action group says this (here) about “God’s Word”.

We say that God speaks to us through the Bible, that it’s God’s Word. This authority derives from three sources:

  • We hold that the writers of the Bible were inspired, that they were filled with God’s Spirit as they wrote the truth to the best of their knowledge.
  • We hold that God was at work in the process of canonization, during which only the most faithful and useful books were adopted as Scripture.
  • We hold that the Holy Spirit works today in our thoughtful study of the Scriptures, especially as we study them together, seeking to relate the old words to life’s present realities.

The Bible’s authority is, therefore, nothing magical. For example, we do not open the text at random to discover God’s will. The authority of Scripture derives from the movement of God’s Spirit in times past and in our reading of it today.

All Christians believe God speaks through the Bible. In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis shows us how much Christians share in common about their beliefs. Lewis’s work systematically covers such topics as divinity of Jesus and His resurrection, virtue, sexual morality, marriage, forgiveness, sin, and faith, hope, and charity.

Do not almost all Christian recite similar versions of the Apostle’s Creed? Do not all Christians pray as Jesus taught (Matthew 6:5-15)? Then why are Christian Fundamentalists singled out for revilement? Well, I do not believe Christian Fundamentalists are singled out for revilement. Instead, I think Christian Fundamentalists serve as a straw men for battering the Christian faith itself.

For those who would be their own god and set their own standards of behavior, Christianity offers a resounding repudiation. The Christian example proclaims that God has set standards for us to live by. Whether a fundamentalist or not, the example set by a believing Christian shames those who do not practice Christianity. The Christian need not offer any judgment; the conscious God gave each of us judges us, and we find ourselves found wanting. Pride demands retribution.

The Culture War

The art of war comes instinctively to us. When we war we isolate and attack in force what we perceive as weakness. Which Christians set themselves apart? Which Christians are most easily attacked? The uncompromising stance of Christian Fundamentalists set them apart. Their dogmatic adherence to biblical Creationism leaves them open to mixing religion with science.

Nonetheless, all Christians must remember our foes attack Christian Fundamentalists first because they are Christians and second because they are fundamentalists. Thus we must stand up for the right of Christian Fundamentalist to choose and practice their own religious beliefs.

We must not forget the obvious; our foes do not share our values. We cannot assume our foes believe in religious freedom. We must look at their deeds as well as their words.

For too many, the hatred of Christianity is visceral and intense. Because what Christianity teaches about right and wrong differs from their own beliefs, many find Christianity deeply offensive. Because it is a Christian value, Christians invented freedom of religion, and these people do not respect Christianity. These people would eradicate Christianity. They would teach our children Jesus is a myth, and they would replace Christian values with their own.

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32 Responses to Reviling Christian Fundamentalism

  1. Well done.

    Lately, I’ve seen the term Fundamentalists dropped for Evangelists. It’s a matter of connotations.

  2. Citizen Tom says:

    Arguments over politics and religion do have brutal effects on language. When enough people distort the meaning of a word, the use of that word changes. The term “Fundamentalists” is only one such example. Because they have so devalued the term “liberal,” Democrats now want us to call them “progressive”, and these days hardly anybody wants to call themselves “gay”.

  3. Teresa Beau says:

    “The long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives and continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats.”

    — Rep. John Hostettler, (R-IN)

    “Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely! In broad daylight! Openly wearing the symbols of their religion…. perhaps around their necks? And maybe — dare I dream it? — maybe one day there can be an openly Christian President. Or, perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.”

    — Jon Stewart

    I’m so sick of HEARING Christians imply that they are doing God’s work. People “who walk the walk” don’t need to “talk the talk.” “Christian” is a made up word for some “believers” whose main goal seemed to be persecuting others (i.e., the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, etc.). I think Christ cries tears of blood for what is done in his name! Calling yourself something at the top of your lungs and actually living up to being “Christ-like,” which should be the goal, are two completely different things. I wonder how often Mother Teresa felt it necessary to profess to everyone that she was a Christian. No one’s persecuting Christians, just objecting to their constant attempts to discriminate against others and force their so-called Christian judgment on the rest of us.

    The Bible talks about loving the least of your brothers more times than you can count, and it references “gays” in one obscure, antiquated, crazy section. Yet that’s what “Christians” seem to be focused on more than anything else. That and abortion, which everyone agrees is a barbaric, unnecessary procedure that would be obsolete, if not for the “Christians’” refusal to acknowledge reality and a tiny piece of latex. “Christians” care more about covering children’s ears from hearing the truth than the suffering of all of these unwanted children.

    Raised a strict catholic, I gradually became disenchanted with the actions and messages of the Catholic Church. However, this new breed of “Christian” is an animal I don’t recognize, and frankly, they are a little scary – something akin to the righteous fervor of the KKK during the civil rights movement – they insist that they, and they alone, have God’s mandate and drown out all reason and truth, in their frenzy to “Christianize” our country and force their strange version of morality on the rest of us. If you have the audacity to question their “Christian” authority with the actual teachings of Christ, you are a blasphemer or heretic. Are there no voices of reason out there in the vast darkness where reason and truth have been left to rot?

    I pray for these “Christians,” and my respect for Christ and my own spiritual beliefs make that term seem shameful to me. I think of myself as a humble, flawed student of Christ who strives to emulate his grace and love for all of humanity.

    One last thought, the foremost theologians will all agree that the Bible is an historical document, in many ways bogged down in the time it was written, which is made obvious by the fact that there are no references to electricity, jets, computers, space travel, etc. The divinity that is inherent in the words on the pages is FAITH. FAITH is not a tangible, absolute ideology we can strictly interpret or in someway enforce, it is a lesson and a gift. My only point is that there is a fine line between faith and fanaticism and an even finer one between righteousness and persecution. In these times, we have extremists who corrupt the Muslim religion, and I fear we are on the same path. The Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Salem Witch Trials were not so long ago . . .

    I don’t think I’ve every seen it put quite as well as in “The Christian Paradox – How a faithful nation gets Jesus wrong”
    by Bill McKibben, Harper’s Magazine, Aug. 2005

    http://harpers.org/archive/2005/08/0080695

    Also, Philip Yancy’s book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” would sure benefit a lot of supposed “Christian’s.” http://www.amazon.com/Whats-So-Amazing-About-Grace/dp/0310213274

  4. Citizen Tom says:

    Teresa – When I read, I often find myself amazed at how the author does exactly what she criticizes others for doing. Yet she does not even seem to realize she is doing it. Consider your own words. When you insist others adopt your practices, it is not persecution; it is just common sense. In fact, when they oppose having your practices forced upon them, the opposition is guilty of persecution and discrimination.

    Religious freedom involves accepting the fact that people have the right to practice a diverse range of beliefs. Religious freedom requires a minimum of legal interference, that we only have those laws necessary to protect people’s fundamental rights. We cannot use the law to impose our beliefs on others and still maintain religious freedom.

  5. Teresa Beau says:

    What practices am I demanding others adopt? Christ’s? You’re confusing me. Either Christianity is based upon Christ, or some old testiment fire and brimstone, consecrating with blood, stoning adulterers nonsense, in which case, I’d just like for them to stop associating their judgmental hate mongering with Christ. When did Jesus EVER hurt, shun, or offer anything but kindness to mankind? Isn’t THAT the message Christianity should be furthering?

    Sure, people are free to worship a rock, a demon, or their own elbow, but not to distort Christ’s message without others calling them on it.

  6. Citizen Tom says:

    Teresa – If only you were willing stop at debating Christ’s message…. What was the last time Christians started a war to spread the faith? Decades ago conservative Christian lost the battle over blue laws and other such frivolous nonsense. Yet you and others have to have a straw man, somebody to accuse of hypocrisy. So you label the people who disagree with you Right Wing Christians, Christian Fundamentalists, Christian Conservatives, or some such thing. Then you dredge up apparent imperfections and attack. And this is so easy. Nobody is perfect.

    Unfortunately, you and others have an agenda. We call the battle over this agenda the Culture War. Here are some of the issues: public vs. private education, the educational content in the public schools, public funding of abortions, welfare programs, homosexual marriage, pornography, divorce, parental authority, gun rights, the secularization of government and commerce,… With respect to each of the issues, I believe the Democrats want to impose their beliefs on others. These beliefs are based upon religious/moral attitudes and often defended as “rights”. Unfortunately, Democrats seem to have great difficulty distinguishing between rights and privileges.

    Here is where I think the difference between us lies. If I want to keep my religion a private matter, that is my business. On the other hand, the government has no business either forcing me to keep my religious beliefs a private matter or forcing others to adopt my beliefs. If the government does anything, it should stop us from FORCING our beliefs on each other. We keep church and state separate by not permitting government to establish OR NEGATE religious belief or practice.

    Carrying the secularization government and society to the point where it negates religious belief is pure idiocy. Yet that is
    where we are headed. Consider your own reference.

    http://harpers.org/archive/2005/08/0080695

    Doesn’t McKibben begin his article by demonstrating the ignorance of Christians? Whose education system do you think is responsible for that?

  7. Teresa Beau says:

    “If the government does anything, it should stop us from FORCING our beliefs on each other. We keep church and state separate by not permitting government to establish OR NEGATE religious belief or practice.”

    Then we agree! Do you support Bush’s “Faith Based” Initiatives office right there IN the White House funding the furthering of certain “Christian” values? Cause the Supremes just sided with Bush (well, maybe not technically, since their decision technically said individual tax payers don’t have standing to sue for this (reversing earlier Supreme Ct. opinion).

    Faith IS personal, and that is my point. How come it’s only personal and should be kept separate from government when it’s not furthering your Neo-Con agenda? As soon as fundamentalist/evangelicals, whatever you want to call them, stop being being duped and used by the right, this baseless hypocritical whining will continue I suppose. *rollseyes*

  8. Citizen Tom says:

    Teresa – I support limited government. I do not have much use for government-run welfare programs. However, if I have to pay for government-run welfare programs, I see little reason why our government should distinguish between hiring secular or religious bodies to pass out welfare benefits.

    The issue is the establishment of religion. To avoid establishing a religion, should our government annihilate religious practice?

    Faith is a personal matter, but the practice of religion is a public matter. The members of almost every religion try to spread their faith. Even atheists try to spread their beliefs. Usually, atheists try to stop other people from spreading their faith. Consider the communists.

    Christians have the Great Commission ((Matthew 28:16-20)). Do remember how Peter and John responded when they were ordered not to preach?

    Acts 4:18-20
    Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

  9. J. Eugene Norton says:

    Why are some Fundamentalists now also becoming Environmentalists, trying so hard to save God’s wonderful Creations? Is it not enough to just try saving our poor wretched souls? What is so wrong with just letting our children inherit Hell on Earth?

  10. Citizen Tom says:

    J. Eugene Norton — I do believe you answered your own question, “God’s wonderful Creations”. Why would any believing Christian treat “God’s wonderful Creations” with disdain?

    That man has responsibilities to care for the earth is actually a very old concept. Environmentalism is merely our latest conception of how we should carry out this responsibility.

    Genesis 1

    27 So God created human beings in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

    28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

    29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

    31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

  11. J. Eugene Norton says:

    Clearly, Christiandom is now under severe attack here and in Europe; but only the Fundamentalists have gone to the trenches, to try save it. Those who would destroy Christianity, do so by insidiously dividing Christians against themselves. The Fundamentalists, politically united, are their most dreaded adversaries. Unlike other Christian religions, they fight to preserve their dreadful traditional Christian majority values in their government, the Commandments of their God.
    But then, why are so many of them now becoming such staunch Environmentalists? Do they believe that there are common human goals ordained by their God?

  12. Citizen Tom says:

    J. Eugene Norton — I am not certain what you think is wrong with environmentalism. Are you referring to the fact that some silly people seem to be trying to turn environmentalism into religion? I hope most people have a more practical view of the matter.

    Environmentalism is not a competing religious belief. Consider what environmentalism involves. Environmentalism is about maintaining the Earth’s ecosystems so our own wastes do not kill us or make us sick. For example, when you flush a toilet, your waste leaves your home. Untreated, your waste can contain pathogens that might make others sick. Where hundreds, thousands, and millions flush their toilets and spew untreated human waste into the environment, the water is fouled and dangerous. So we build sewage treatment plants, and we require standalone dwellings to have septic systems.

    God made the Earth available for our use. If we despoil it, we cannot survive. Moreover, such foolishness would show great disrepect for God’s gift and creation. Unfortunately, pollution is no small problem. We spew many different types wastes into the environment. We must figure out what we must do to protect the Earth, and then find the will to do it. To succeed in such a complex task, our Christian beliefs are essential.

    The self-interested individual will never find environmentalism entirely profitable to his personal enterprises. Such a person will always find an excuse to push off the burden of his wastes onto others. As each of us tends towards selfishness, we will only succeed in protecting the Earth from ourselves when we each understand the importance of God’s great commandments.

    Mark 12:29-31
    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

  13. J. Eugene Norton says:

    Why are so many Fundamentalists now suffering from biophilia?

    Environmentalism can be very profitable, spiritually as well as economically, because it is in such great demand throughout the World. But few seem to be in it for the money.

    Are you going to write a review of Hedges’, “American Fascism”? This book is all about you. The majority who read it think that they now know all about you. . Have you read the existing reviews of “American Fascism”? That too is talk about you. How well do you understand your enemies? If you are willing to fight for what you believe, then you must start by using your name

    You know the Bible by heart. Are you going to make the transition from quoting it to just living it? Will you be able to fight your enemies on their own terms, and prevail against them?

  14. Citizen Tom says:

    J. Eugene Norton – Your own position seems rather ambiguous. Where do you stand? What is wrong with Christians taking an interest in the environment? Our schools have been teaching the importance of caring for the environment for years. The mass media constantly talks about the subject. Isn’t inevitable that someone would make the connection between Christian stewardship (of God’s gifts to us) and environmental stewardship?

    As for myself, I doubt that I qualify as what most would call a Christian Fundamentalist. I consider the Bible the inspired word of God, but I don’t think the Bible is a work of science. The creation story, for example, was written for people who lived thousands of years ago. At that time, the scientific method most certainly did not exist.

    Unlike Christian Fundamentalists, I concede that the Theory of Evolution may be close to the truth. I do not know, however, if the Theory of Evolution is correct. I do not think we currently have the capacity to prove we evolved from apes, much less microbes. So I disagree with both the people who argue that Creationism is a fact and the people who argue that the Theory of Evolution is a fact.

    My concern for Christian Fundamentalists is that the group is being increasingly targeted for unreasoning discrimination. When such a thing happens, the normal temptation that most of us suffer is to avoid the situation entirely. None of us want to suffer collateral damage as an innocent bystander. In the long run, such a strategy never works. A mad dog does not respect anyone’s innocence.

    I am not familiar with “American Fascism” by Hedges. I do not know if I will review that book, but I expect I will review some books that sneer at religion. Within the next several days, you can expect one such post.

    I do not put my name on this blog because this blog is not about me. I am not into this as an ego trip, and I am not trying to prove anything (about me).

    Although I am somewhat familiar with the Bible, I do not have it memorized. I just wish I did. Living the Bible does involve quoting it. Consider the following from Matthew 28.

    The Great Commission
    Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  15. J. Eugene Norton says:

    Is it not for thoughtful readers to decide where I stand, Christian Blogger?

    Catholics and other Christian sects are fast losing ground to the Fundamentalists and Evangelists, as these older sects become increasingly permissive of violations to the Commandments of their God. Is the white race reproduction rate declining, because sacrificial killing has been implicitely condoned?

    The anti-Christian minorities rationalize to incite un-Democratic religious strife. Catholics are pitted against Fundamentalists. Both of these sects are feared and hated by the anti-Christian secularists; but the wrath of the Infallible Pope is feared too much to openly attack the Catholic Church. Who is fooling who? Who will protect the inciters when they are finally dragged out of their closets?

    When social and economic conditions eventually deteriorate intolerably will Christians violently turn against each other, or against their common enemies? Are the heavily armed members of the National Rifleman’s Association members of one Christian sect? How did the American Civil War come about? How did the Spanish Civil War come about? What was the outcome of the Dark Ages of Europe?

    Protestants and Catholics put a stop to their religious strife when they immigrated to America. When anti-Christian Marxist Communists became a threat, they very successfully rallied their members against them. In Russia, where Orthodox Catholicism was persecuted to near extinction, it is coming back. Do the anti-Christians somehow imagine that they are responsible for the decreasing popularity of Christianity in Europe and America?

    Would putting your name to a blog such as yours incite persecution? Is your adherence to the 10 laws of your God too politically incorrect?

    Environmentalism is an evolving Christian creation. What is wrong with Christians leading in the Environmental Movement? What is wrong with Darwin having been a Christian? What is wrong with the Human as 98% Chimpanzee, and as 92% Rhesus Macaque? What is wrong with being disillusioned?

    The most effective Human language is the language of science. When scientific principles are quoted, agreement is universal. When ideological dogmas are quoted, disagreement is universal. Do leading environmentalists speak in the language of science? Who can learn to speak in the language of science?

    The rules in struggle for Human survival are changing. What kind of humans will inherit the Earth; and what will they inherit?

  16. Citizen Tom says:

    So many problems! So many questions!

    In reality, questions are all science can offer us. The more science you know, the more questions you have. The more you appreciate the wonder of God’s universe, the more you appreciate the limits of human reason.

    That I think is why the most effective Human language is love. As Jesus told us (here), there are really only two commandments: (1) love God and (2) love your neighbor.

    Are the rules for Human survival changing? I doubt that very much. We still depend upon God’s mercy and love; the key to our survival still depends upon our willingness to follow His commandments.

  17. J. Eugene Norton says:

    I happened into your blog site by accident; and enjoyed briefly conversing with you, and seeing the World through your eyes. Now, I must return to my explorations.

  18. Citizen Tom says:

    J. Engene Norton – Thank you for visiting. Feel free to stop by any time.

  19. J. Eugene Norton says:

    If you want to reach me, you are welcome to use my email; just identify yourself as Citizen Tom.
    I finished watching BBC’s “Planet Earth”, last night; I think you might enjoy it.
    I will try to keep in touch.
    Take care.

  20. Pingback: WHO SAYS THE DARNDEST THINGS? « Citizen Tom

  21. I enjoy reading your posts at DailyWhackjob. I used to crush the liberals there with impunity until whackjob banned me. He couldn’t win in an argument, so he did the liberal thing and prevented me from posting there. But heh, about 99% of what you say there I agree with, so it’s all good.

  22. Citizen Tom says:

    Thank you.

    I do hope Whackjob does not ban me. I am not trying to crush anyone, and I doubt that was really your objective.

    The problem with debating politics and religion is that these subjects can get a bit too personal. At the same time, in spite of the complexity of both subjects, we can begin to think we have all the answers. When someone points out how truly ignorant we are actually are, that can be rather difficult for some people to accept.

    Yet such is the nature of conservativism. Consider how we justify limited government. Conservatives point to our greed, our ignorance and our incompetence and say: “Since none of you knows what you are doing, would you mind letting me keep my money and take care of my own business. After all, how could I do any worse?”

  23. John Keels says:

    This article is ridiculous. I am tired of christians acting like child victims at the hands of some fascist persecution.

    Christians have all the freedom they need in the US to practice as they see fit. They have it good here and a bed of roses to boot. What a bunch of whiney children.

    Go home and read your bibles but don’t bring it into the government and sure don’t tell me what I am supposed to believe. That is sacred to the individual to discover for themselves.

  24. Red Defender? says:

    John Keels – I wonder if you appreciate the irony of your conduct. You came to Citizen Tom on your own initiative. You went out of your way to be insulting and insist that Christians silence themselves and listen only to your version of the truth.

    Christians have religious freedom, and you have religious freedom because Christians believe in religious freedom.

    Yet you may in part be right. Those who believe in Christ and joyfully suffer for His sake have been known to regard their lot as a bed of roses. They gladly accepted the prick of thorns for the beauty of knowing Christ.

  25. ln says:

    @CitizenTom,

    First, I will state that I am absolutely against fundamentalism in all forms, as I find it is in conflict with knowledge and social progress, and its attempts to suppress independent, rational thought is despicable. But hear me out.

    I think that it’s unfortunate that you find that people attack Christianity, and not fundamentalism. That is not the case at all. In reality, the goal is to bring that which was/is considered “sacred” and “holy” (for no apparent reason to people like myself) into the realm of objective scientific analysis and criticism. We want to ask questions like, “Why would we believe this? Is it true? Is it even rational to believe this? Even if we allow the leap of faith, is it even /ethical/ by modern standards to believe this?” We want the freedom to apply criticisms, such as, “This passage of the Bible is absurd, and does not apply today,” without receiving hostile emails, comments, and death threats.

    Fundamentalists fight such “blasphemies” tooth and nail because finding even one passage that doesn’t apply in the modern world tears their world view asunder (that the Bible is the infallible word of Yahweh). What makes us really begin to ask questions is, if their Bible is infallible and applies to the modern world, then what are they so bloody afraid of? What is so threatening about independent, rational thought processes that they must be suppressed in the name of what’s “holy” and “sacred?” Why must fundamentalists use dishonesty and deception to prove their point?

    What’s most important on our agenda is to keep the wall intact between church and state, and in fact, to build it stronger. We agree with the founders of this country that the separation of church and state is tantamount to religious freedom, and we believe that all people may worship (OR NOT WORSHIP) as they please. Fundamentalism threatens this very core principle, seeking to convert the nation to one of Christianity, and deceiving the public into believing that this nation was founded upon Christian principles. It was not. Therefore, its influence needs to be stripped away from it.

    Have you noticed the strong relationship between fundamentalism and dishonesty?

    My point is, we do not single out Christians, rather, we attack fundamentalism in all of its forms. The fundamentalists we attack most often just happen to be Christian because that is the dominant religion in the United States. If it were Buddhism threatening this well established principle, we would be attacking fundamentalist Buddhism with just as much fervor.

    Hopefully this has cleared up what seems to be a gross misunderstanding, and hopefully not an intentional distortion, of our position.

    Take care,
    LN

  26. ln says:

    I apologize for the double post, but I failed to address some other grave concerns and factual errors with your post.

    1. Religious freedom was not an invention of Christians. It first appeared in the Persian empire, implemented by Cyrus the Great. Cyrus was a Gentile, one of the first to be appointed a “messiah” by the Jews, and he died over 500 years before Christianity was ever founded.

    2. Why must you depict secularists as foes? To say that one is a foe is to imply that there is hatred, malice, hostility, between oneself and the apparent “foe.” Certainly, we can disagree, but to call everyone who disagrees with you an enemy? That sounds remarkably like, “If you aren’t with me, then you are against me.”

    Is that really what you think? That secularists are to be hated and reviled? Believe me when I say that we don’t have horns and cloven hooves; we don’t poke Christians with pitchforks; we don’t have a really bad sunburn covering our bodies. We’re just as human as you, and quite frankly, deserve the same respect.

  27. Citizen Tom says:

    LN – Thanks for your comment.

    Since I fail to see where I have asked anyone to hate anyone, I do not see any reason to reply directly to last question. I think is suffices to point out that the proposition upon which the question rests is straw. So I will let the wind blow it away.

    What I will do is address the first point you made.

    First, I will state that I am absolutely against fundamentalism in all forms, as I find it is in conflict with knowledge and social progress, and its attempts to suppress independent, rational thought is despicable.

    When I am against someone, it is because I am for something else. Because communists and Nazis suppress the freedom and rights of others, I am against communists and Nazis. I am not against communism and Nazism. Such are merely concepts; it is the practice of these beliefs that I oppose. What I wish to do is protect the rights of my fellow men.

    I have no quarrel with secularism. What I oppose are secularists who would impose their secularism (i.e., their belief) upon the rest of us. When Jefferson referred to the wall of separation between church and state, he spoke of a wall that protects the church from the state. He wanted people to understand that government should not be used to force the beliefs and practices of any religious group upon the rest of us. Jefferson said nothing, however, about protecting the state from the influence of religion. If any person wants to pray or praise God in public, for example, they have that right.

    Government derives its powers through the application of force. If government exercises the force of its powers morally, it is because the People impose their moral and religious beliefs upon their government. Because government acts in our name and exercises deadly power, it is utterly reckless for the People not to impose their moral and religious beliefs upon their government.

    In our era, when we have spread the footprint of government far beyond the imaginings of the Founders, it has become imperative we impose religious wisdom upon our government. But that has not happened. Too many Christians have been derelict in their responsibilities. Instead, we have many who would use government to force their supposedly more logical and rational thought processes upon others. These same people would make the practice of secularism the state religion and eradicate “religious” practice from an increasingly huge public square.

    These secularists would disguise what they do even from themselves. They call neither their beliefs nor their faith in their Truths religion. No. They would have us excuse their tortured logic as science. Yet science itself provides no basis for believing in unfounded Truths or forcing others to do the same.

    Cyrus the Great conquered people and then he let them practice their religion. Given the tenor of the times, I suppose that was generous of him. You might want to read the Book of Esther. Such religious freedom as that which Cyrus offered is fragile.

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  29. ln says:

    @CitizenTom: And thanks for your quick reply. The cartoons on the related post made me chuckle.

    //”Since I fail to see where I have asked anyone to hate anyone, I do not see any reason to reply directly to last question. I think is suffices to point out that the proposition upon which the question rests is straw. So I will let the wind blow it away.”//

    It is not a straw man argument. I did not say you encouraged hatred of secularists at all. I said that the depiction of secularists as foes in a culture war implies malice and hostility, and in many cases, hatred. In a war, instinct causes those embattled to dehumanise their enemy. The Bible justifies such an attitude, if you read Psalm 14:1-3, which states clearly that those who deny the existence of god are not only stupid, but they are “corrupt” and “do abominable deeds.” This argues that all atheists are immoral idiots. In the second paragraph of my comment, I asked you a simple question in response to the above premises: “Do you really think secularists are to be hated and reviled?” The reason I asked this is because that is the prevailing attitude among Christians, according to Gallup polls on American attitudes towards atheists. The polls indicate that atheists are the “most despised minority” in America. My point is, a simple “no” would have sufficed, and I would not have pressed the issue any further.

    //”I have no quarrel with secularism. What I oppose are secularists who would impose their secularism (i.e., their belief) upon the rest of us.”//

    This is perfectly acceptable, so long as Christians return the favor. Though I don’t believe that is the primary motive of secularists, I’m certainly agree with this notion. It is foolish to try to change someone’s personal beliefs, and really, isn’t of anybody’s concern except the believer himself.

    //Jefferson said nothing, however, about protecting the state from the influence of religion. If any person wants to pray or praise God in public, for example, they have that right.//

    Barack Obama stated it well. The role of faith is important in government, but its role must be limited to personal values and morals. We must discuss policy in secular, universal terms. We must rely on the facts, on reason, instead of faith when we draft our policies.

    It comes down to this. I don’t care if you pray in school; I care if the school forces me to pray. I don’t care that people are praying and worshiping in public, so long as they aren’t allowed — even encouraged in some cases — to harass or threaten me when I choose not to participate. I don’t care that someone says “god” in public, I do care that policies, both foreign and domestic, are being justified on religious instead of logical grounds (e.g., Prop. 8 in California).

    //These secularists would disguise what they do even from themselves. They call neither their beliefs nor their faith in their Truths religion.//

    The reason we do not call it religion is because it is not. Religion is based upon faith which by definition is irrational; science is based upon evidence and repeatable demonstrations of “why this seems to work in this way.” To say that science is based on faith is utter nonsense.

    //No. They would have us excuse their tortured logic as science. Yet science itself provides no basis for believing in unfounded Truths or forcing others to do the same.//

    Frankly, I don’t see how you’ve developed the idea that science somehow forces one to accept it. In fact, the basis of science is questioning, investigating, finding evidence, and providing logical proof about a theory. The key word here is evidence. The reason we give authority to a scientific theory is because it has been reviewed and approved by the most intelligent minds on earth. The grounds for legitimizing its authority is reason, not faith.

    The difference between religion and science is this: Religion takes what it believes to be truth, elevates it to the point of holiness, and never questions it again. It says to its followers, “This is the truth, and you must not question it lest you be a blasphemer or heretic.” Science does not believe in absolute truth, it believes in what is the most compelling and reasonable theory of how the universe works. If a repeatable demonstration can be given, if tangible evidence is present, if the math and logic works out, then it is accepted as a theory. (N.B. That is why scientists get really pissed when one says that evolution is “just a theory.”)

    //Government derives its powers through the application of force. If government exercises the force of its powers morally, it is because the People impose their moral and religious beliefs upon their government. Because government acts in our name and exercises deadly power, it is utterly reckless for the People not to impose their moral and religious beliefs upon their government.//

    This assumes that morality implies religion, and that religion implies morality, which are both false. Those assumptions can be rendered invalid by a single moral atheist, and a single immoral religious person (e.g., myself as a moral atheist, and a priest who molests children as an immoral religious person). The idea that religion must be incorporated with policy is therefore false.

    //In our era, when we have spread the footprint of government far beyond the imaginings of the Founders, it has become imperative we impose religious wisdom upon our government. But that has not happened. Too many Christians have been derelict in their responsibilities//

    It sparks my curiosity that you first seem to support the separation of church and state, and then go on to say that it is the responsibility of Christians impose their religious views upon the state…

    Based upon the premises given in my response to the previous statement, there is no compelling reason why there is any imperative for religion to get involved with the affairs of the state or to be given any legitimacy within the realm of policy. The change in the role of government, to a federalist system, means that laws passed by the federal government affect everybody in the nation. This, in fact, solidifies the opposing notion that religion should NOT be incorporated with government because of the number of people that it will disenfranchise: all of those who do not subscribe to that particular religion’s doctrine. Passing laws justified only by means of so-called “religious wisdom” which from what you’ve written paragraph which only applies to Christians, instead of those based on reason and logic which applies to everybody, is ridiculous. How does this not contradict your suggestion that one should not impose his beliefs on others? Unless, of course, you’re suggesting that only apply applies if you’re not a Christian…

    //Instead, we have many who would use government to force their supposedly more logical and rational thought processes upon others. These same people would make the practice of secularism the state religion and eradicate “religious” practice from an increasingly huge public square.//

    Secular propositions have no god or scripture to find truth, and therefore look to reason and evidence. The track record shows that the latter brings us closer to truth than the former ever will. Because secularism is NOT a religion, the very suggestion that they are trying to make it the “state religion” is nonsense. That is exactly what they intend to avoid at all costs. The Christian fundamentalist front on the other hand, would seek to have Christianity the ultimate authority in policy (i.e. the “de-facto” state religion). Secularists do not worship reason and evidence, and they do not claim to have absolute truth (as stated before, no scientist will ever say, “this is absolute truth”). Unlike fundamentalist religions, if the evidence proves science wrong, the scientist will go with the evidence and abandon the discredited non-truths. (Evidence of Christian fundamentalists who do exactly the opposite lies in the Young Earth Creationism pseudoscience, and evidence of their motives to make Christianity the ultimate authority comes in attempting to force school districts to teach such pseudoscience as real science.)

    //Such religious freedom as that which Cyrus offered is fragile.//

    Fragile perhaps, but it does not refute the fact that it has absolutely no origins in Christianity. Even the religious freedom we see in the United States today is not a product of Christian principles, but rather, those of the period of Enlightenment. It is those very principles which we secularists seek to retain, the idea that reason and logic — not Yahweh, not the Bible, not religion — is what legitimizes authority. What frightens us is that we’re going down a slippery slope, and that is why we fight so viciously against the strengthening influence of fundamentalism, especially that of the Religious Right.

    Again, I must emphasize, it is not an attack on Christians, but rather, fundamentalism. It is not an attack on personal religious belief, but rather, the attempts to pass religious belief off as reasonable policy.

  30. Citizen Tom says:

    LN – Thank you for your reply. Your latest comment got held up for moderation. Sorry about that.

    The repeated “//” in your comment may be the problem. Not sure.

    Because I will be tied up, I will be unable to provide a satisfactory reply for a couple of days.

    So I will leave you with this thought. I was an agnostic for more than 35 years. I now think I was stupid to deny God. Although I thought myself smart and wise, I know now that I did not base my disbelief on knowledge. Instead, I based it upon pride and stubborn, willful ignorance.

    Many Christians believe this is an era without miracles. After the Apostles spread the faith, they believed miracles were unneeded. Based upon my own experience, I think that conclusion wrong. There is at least one miracle that continues until this day. It has sustained Christianity since Christ’s first coming. We call this miracle the Holy Bible.

    It was when I read the Bible that I was once again slowly drawn back to the faith of my childhood. When I contrasted my own beliefs with the wisdom contained in the Bible, I knew then I had been a fool.

    Anyway, I will reply more fully in a couple of days.

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