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As many of you know, I had an uncomfortably close experience with fundamentalism in my college days at Carolina.  I was tricked into joining a hypercharismatic campus ministry in my freshman year.  They were able to wheedle me in because they hid a lot about who they really were so as not to scare people off.  They did this because they no doubt knew they'd be run out of Chapel Hill on a rail if their true nature was known--but they were too cowardly to take their medicine.  

I only found out just how much they hid when I pretended to have "seen the light" and become a 200 percent rabid fundicostal just like them in my sophomore year at Carolina.  I was hoping to get enough dirt on them to get them booted off campus.  On my first day as a "Trojan fundie," I ran into a couple of gals who had been among my closest friends in that outfit.  Earlier that year at "See You At the Pole," they'd tried to wheedle me back in, saying I was experiencing "lack" and "unfulfillment" as long as I wasn't a fundicostal.  I let out a belly laugh and suggested, "Why don't you do something more productive--like studying?"  So naturally, as part of my act I felt like I had to "apologize" to them.  When I "apologized" to one of the girls, she said that she knew it wasn't really me, and now that I had gone from slamming them at every turn online and on campus to coming back where I belonged, I was just like the Apostle Paul.

It's been 16 years, and I find the lack of proportion to be just as staggering now as it was then.  You mean to tell me that merely speaking out against you is the same as actually killing Christians?  I've spent most of the last 16 years trying to understand fundie culture as part of a book I'm working on about my experience in that Christianist cult--and even then, this makes absolutely no sense.  It made even less sense considering that these guys found it perfectly acceptable to deceive people about who they were and created a culture in which the most disreputable tactics were considered acceptable in the name of getting people saved--including hectoring people even when they said they didn't want to listen.

That, friends, is the persecution complex in a nutshell.  And it's the kind of thing we have to deal with when looking at the religious right.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 06:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Much more widespread than that. (8+ / 0-)

    I grew up as a Missouri Synod Lutheran. One of the things that bothered me as I grew up was this duality of "Eveyone else is unsaved, foolish, and wrong so we must convert them - and we will be persecuted for it because everyone else is unsaved, foolish and wrong."  They made it out to be a badge of honor. I gave it a shot with my "unsaved" friends. Did not go over well.   Atheism is much more neighborly.

  •  Where do you think these people get (0+ / 0-)

    their ideas about being aggressive about people who "don't want to listen"?

     Read Matthew 11:20-24, Mark 6:11, Luke 10:10-15 and John 15:6.  Jesus was open about not only voicing his distain for people who didn't take to his messages or preaching, he was not above condemning whole towns to eternal flames for being uncooperative or unsupportive of him.

    •  well to be fair, none of the Gospels were (5+ / 0-)

      contemporaneous with the alleged historical Jesus and two of the Gospels were written by men who never met him,  Authorship of the Gospels is disputed as the inclusion or exclusion of the many Gospels written in the First Century was pretty arbitrary and it was not until the Second Century that names and authorship was ascribed.  Mark, the oldest dates to around 66CE and has the least "miracle content"  the farther from the events historically, the more fabulous the tales.

      Jefferson even tried once to parse out the "true words" from the later glosses and produced two versions of the Gospels over time

      •  I don't even think that "Jesus Christ" was a real (4+ / 0-)

        person who walked the earth. And I have spend years not only studying the bible, but also the history of the texts and the church that created them.

        I was just looking at this from the point of view of a believer (I'm not one anymore).  People tend to look at fundamentalists as some kind of aberration in terms of "what Christianity is all about" or what Jesus was like. Too many Christians see this character as all goodness and light... the turn the other cheek, love one another, community organizer.  But the character also has a dark side, as representative by his unecumenical hell threatening nature.  So when one criticizes the fundamentalist's view or reflection of Jesus, I feel the need to point out that the texts actually support their views.  

        Most liberal Christians really don't like to hear that, but if one honestly reads the gospels, I don't see how you can miss it... or skip over it and pretend it's not there.

        •  if we accept as a given that Jesus was a (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          journeyman, irishwitch

          historical person, which would not be hard to believe as various wandering prophets and rabbis were the norm in the First Century in Palestine.  After all, there were about 13 "Messiahs" who lived during this era and many were convinced that they were living in the final days.

          Problem with the Gospels is they are not "historical" documents as we think of them such as Herodotus, Livy, Plutarch or Sallust.  The authors were more interested in maintaining a nascent faith than in historical accuracy, making these more theological works than historical documents.  Also, the original documents are long lost as the Gospels appear to be composite documents, blending two or more earlier documents.  This is seen by the similarity between the Gospels so that if the authors did not "crib" from each other's documents, they all referenced the same source materials.

          Therefore the issue is not really if the texts support the fundamentalists' views but how accurate these documents are in reflecting the original views of a historical Jesus ben Joseph. The Jesus Seminar has dealt with this exhaustively
          http://www.westarinstitute.org/
          http://virtualreligion.net/...  

          •  Excellent points all. n/t (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            entlord

            Ceterum censeo Factionem Republicanam esse delendam.

            by journeyman on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 11:24:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Well, this diary was about fundamentalists (0+ / 0-)

            being pushy and aggressive with their view, so my comments were addressing that.

            However, there were many more pagan "messiahs" too.

            Just because their were wandering prophets and preachers etc. that lends no more credence to the existence of the person discussed in the gospels. Just because there were lots of ducks living in that part of the world at that time doesn't mean that Donald Duck existed either.

            In reading The Jesus Puzzle by Earl Doherty, I found that the Jesus character is a conglomeration of Old Testament writings with a bit of pagan biography thrown in.  He certainly was NOT who Paul was talking about, as Paul's "Christ" acted out his ministry on another plane of existence and did not have Jesus's biography.

            Richard Carrier is publishing a long awaited book called On the Historicity of Jesus Christ.   It is another in a growing group of biblical historical work that withdraws the idea that Jesus was a real walking talking anyone.

            When someone finds the actual  texts written by a Jesus ben Joseph, then we can debate what his "actual views" were.  So far what we have a proof of the character described in the gospels wouldn't stand up in any court of law.

        •  I've always wondered about Jesus killing a (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fishtroller01

          fig tree that didn't yield figs out of season. Petty, that.

          Cats are better than therapy, and I'm a therapist.

          by Smoh on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 10:43:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  He didn't try to hide his motives (4+ / 0-)

      He didn't want anyone's money -- he freely and abundantly distributed his wealth, and exhorted others to distribute theirs.

      He didn't want control over others, although he was clear that there were consequences for those who were too tied to material wealth, earthly power and social esteem to walk away from those tethers. Everyone he encountered was completely free to accept his message or not. He called forth no mob to correct those who would not follow him.

      He straightforwardly noted there are people who God does not call or draw to Him, then said his own business was with those called/drawn by God -- no condemnation, no judgment, no rallying followers to oppress those not called/drawn.

      He thoroughly trashed Leviticus -- what you wear has nothing at all to do with your relationship to God and neighbor; dietary restrictions have nothing to do with your relationship to God and neighbor -- you eat then you shit, and so what; burnt offerings are meaningless; let only the sinless cast the first stone; work, healing, travel, etc., on the Sabbath has zero to do with your relationship to God and neighbor.

      He was fully aware the scriptures could be cherry picked by those trying to condemn him, and jousted with them using his own cherry-picked verses.

      He welcomed the company and full involvement of women, slaves, and what may have been gay men without judgment.

      In sum:

      There is a universe of difference between Jesus and fundie / domionist / sectarian authoritarians.

      YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

      by raincrow on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 08:22:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Meant "being aggressive TOWARDS people..." (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, raincrow, Smoh
  •  This is the hallmark of authoritarians (8+ / 0-)

    in intimate relationships, families, business, politics, scout troops, sports teams, schools and universities, research laboratories, the military, religion -- every human institution.

    And without exception, the more entitled an authoritarian believes s/he is to impose her/his beliefs on others, the faster s/he retreats into a sense of being victimized when s/he is losing a power battle.

    YES WE DID -- AGAIN. FOUR MORE YEARS.

    by raincrow on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 08:28:54 AM PDT

  •  Hey, it's okay to use any tactics against the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Smoh, irishwitch

    Devil, you know. And everything is the Devil. Kids' books, toys, television, other Christians who aren't insane, other Christians who aren't insane in the same way as they are, etc.

    The persecution complex runs deep in most fundiegelicals. And it's fomented by their leadership as much as possible.

  •  Think of their communities (0+ / 0-)

    as insane asylums, in which it is necessary to believe that they are the sane and the rest of the world the insane, and it all makes a sad kind of sense.

    I've begun to think that Christianity is a fusion of the teachings of a misdocumented/misinterpreted Jewish mystic- Jesus of Nazareth- with a doctrine of socialism and community protection and authoritarian order involving the mentally and otherwise unwell and oppressed, created by Saul of Tarsus (who may have been bipolar).  'Liberal' Christianity tends to emphasize the first, softpedalling the problems of the tradition, and interprets the second through a lens of charity.  'Conservative' Christianity emphasizes the second and reads it through an authoritarian lens, reading or misreading the first to justify a set of essentially magical beliefs.

    Conservative Christianities have no internal safeguards against becoming a community of lunatics and full occultization of the belief system.  While varieties of it were national religions, communities tended eventually to balk at gross violations of common sense and grotesque anti-reality beliefs.  That has broken up and small(er) Conservative Christian communities attract in fruitcakes and run off into Cloudcuckooland quite regularly.  (The RCC being a prominent recent example.)  I'd argue that to be inevitable in the longer term for any such group, there being no internal corrective except the vague guideline that the group try to achieve Christlikeness.

  •  Every time one of my (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    irishwitch

    fellow Catholics moans about religious freedom, I point out that we are at church.  The doors are open and the pastor is preaching.  No one has arrested us as we arrived at church, nor have they come to our houses to purge all religious items and books.  They haven't even forced one of us to take birth control or have an abortion.  

    After that, I ask them exactly how is their freedom being taken away.  I generally get no answer at all, although some will get huffy and stomp away.  -

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 01:02:41 PM PDT

  •  The Unlikely Disciple: (0+ / 0-)

    A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University By Kevin Roose is  an  entertaining & disturbing look at Liberty University. The book lacks an edge; Roose, a Brown University undergrad,  was neither intellectually  prepared nor spiritually grounded enough to really resist the general affability of Liberty  students, & the very structure of the University limited his contact with women. But it's a good read.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 04:00:44 PM PDT

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