I'm not a fan of religious people. So sue me.
Although never a fundie, a few years ago my view of faith and religion was considerably different. My brush with hyper-fundamentalists rocked my world. I've realized that "fundament" makes up nearly two thirds of "fundamentalist" (for those who are curious, here ya go).
Keep in mind that I'm not including following Christ in my assessment of religion. Two entirely different things. Two entirely different mindsets. Two entirely different hearts. One focuses on the exterior, the other on the heart. One attempts to change from the outside-in, whereas Christ changes from the inside-out. The former is the one I've come to loathe. I find it repulsive. I find what it does to people repulsive. I find those who promote it...well...let's try "dangerous".
The irony is, the P/QFers I encountered had, by and large, become "disillusioned" with "organized religion". Those were the exact words of my ex's grandfather. I can only conclude that his disillusion doesn't extend to UNorganized religion, because I don't think I've ever encountered a more religious individual - and as always, that isn't a compliment.
The fact is, my ex's family could be very happy, healthy, productive, and (most of all) decent people...if they weren't so freakin' religious.
The above is a phenomenon I'm seeing over and over - religion making otherwise decent people do very indecent, manipulative, and abusive things to those who they should be selflessly loving, encouraging, supporting, and serving. Hardly a week goes by where I don't learn of a couple of new situations like the one my ex and I were in. Emotional abuse masked with religion, manipulation masked with religion, attempts to control and dominate the lives of others masked with religion. All from people who, if not for the religiousness of their lives, would probably be otherwise very decent people.
(Read about the experience of one young couple on this new blog)
I've seen this religiousness literally prefer to foster an environment of emotional ineptitude, nourishing weakness in those considered subordinate - specifically to create the illusion of strength where none really exists. A generation of parents only as spiritually strong as the last Gothard seminar they attended, the last Vision Forum conference attended or book read, or the last P/QF speaker they heard at a homeschooling convention. In other words, only as strong as another human tells them a particular formula for living will make them, caught up in the fervor and fury of what amounts to a sociopolitical religious multi-level marketing scheme. Heck, just like all of the rest of the MLM schemes, these come with their own products and paraphernalia. If you'll think about it, most all of the P/QF types are peddling something or other on their websites and blogs.
I've seen this religiousness raise the bible to deity. The bible is worshiped by many (if not most professing) Christians. It's a black and white issue for them. Seems there's way to much gray for me to just sign off on it mindlessly. While I love the bible as we know it, I don't worship it. You may say I need "more faith". I say, "In what? Words on a page? Or in groups of men who, all throughout the last two thousand years, have determined FOR me what is and isn't holy writ? When Paul said, in 2nd Timothy 3, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness", was he talking about 2nd Timothy 3?
It seems to me that the downfall of the Pharisees was their worship of the Law rather than the God that gave it and the Christ it pointed toward. They saw it as a living entity that gave them life, when the Law (without a Messiah) could only bring them death. They even felt liberty to speak on it's behalf, manufacture law where there was none, and control the people through their narrow, and self-righteous, interpretations. Woe to them. Does this sound like any certain cultic movements we all know and loathe? Woe to them, too.
When "the bible" becomes deity, it becomes law - and it's lawyers use it only to prove their own righteousness by their adherence to this law and to control others. When "the bible" becomes law, it becomes spiritual death - and it renders people who should be abundant in life and spirit through Jesus Christ as zombies speaking spit-shined Christianese and offering meaningless "God bless yous".
Did Jesus teach us that "the bible" was the Word of God?...Or, does "the bible" teach us that Jesus is the Word of God.
I've seen this religiousness make men into power hungry spiritual tyrants, whether over the flock or over their own families, leaving their subordinates and children as pawns in ridiculous power struggles. Seems religiousness forgets that not all men are natural leaders, with those that are usually having their own weaknesses, and those that aren't continually compensating for their inability to lead, and doing so very poorly and destructively. All to fit a rigid form. I've seen this religiousness make women slaves to their own womb, thinking that God created them specifically to mother as many children as their reproductive system can spit out. Seems religiousness forgets that not all women want to be mothers, and still others are biologically incapable of having children. Formula.