Storylines aren't as compelling without a villian. Superman needs Lex Luthor. Batman needs the Joker. Every dramatic television show or action movie breaks down into a good guy vs. bad guy, us vs. them formula. Rivalry excites the fanbase. Even professional wrestling figured this out a looong time ago (face vs. heel).
Ironically, in most of these instances, the good guy is created first, but it isn't marketable or appealing until an evil rival is birthed and an angle is created. The formula, now marketable, attracts followers.
Fundamentalism follows the same formula. Whether in Christianity, Islam, or any other fundamentalist sector, Great Satans and godless infidels are needed to stoke and energize the base. Fundamentalist Christianity has several Great Satans. Let's look at a few, starting with one I've been writing about recently...
Dating...No emotionally healthy, mature person is gonna choose a "model" for romance that gives someone else power over their choices and behaviors or allows someone else to dictate their private personal parameters for them. So, knowing this, the proponents of the courtship movement invented a boogeyman: The World's System of Dating (as if everything that isn't courtship falls into this category). *cue ominous music, or, just play some Lady GaGa* With TWSD comes rampant sexual deviance, as so much as thinking about being unchaperoned with a member of the opposite sex (emphasis on "sex") creates a volcano of hormonal activity that you can't possibly control! Emotional purity! Emotional purity! Human nether regions are drawn together like magnets with an irresistable sphere of influence, as horndogs and harlots, depraved humanity that you are, succumb to fleshly desires! And then, even worse, what if you fall in love?! Did you hear me?! WHAT IF YOU FALL IN LOVE?!!! OMG NO!!!!!!!!!!! Don't you know that TWSD can ONLY produce sexual promiscuity, broken hearts and lives, damaged goods, and a series of mini-divorces?!!!
You see, if all of that were actually true - rather than a figment of fundamentalist imaginations - courtship might actually look like the best option. But, courtship proponents need it to be true. They need an enemy, because their good guy can't stand on it's own merit.
Modern Psychology...This one is needed because it shines a light on a great deal of their BS and doesn't reflect well on their recruiting practices. Thankfully, advancements in modern medicine and science have given us incredible new insights into most areas of the human anatomy, including the brain. They're fine with the rest, particularly if they need a life-saving medical procedure of some sort, but they need to keep the human brain and psychological composition in a box, because "modern psychology" often proves fundamentalism illogical. My former future grandfather-in-law was always throwing off on modern psychology. What he was actually doing was making himself come across as extremely ignorant and insecure in his beliefs (which, at heart, he is). When you avoid learning so much as a parcel of information about an issue (because it's been labeled religiously taboo), yet you opine about it freely, there's one word to describe what you're doing: stupid.
Rapidly Decaying Western Society...Uggh. This was my former future grandfather-in-law's favorite. "Society is decaying rapidly to levels never known..." or "As we watch modern society crumble into sin all around us..." or "Sin is rampant in the world today like never before...", among many other manifestations of the sentiment. I once told him, "If I have to listen to much more of this I'm gonna need some liquor." I'm mean, from his vantage point, why even try? Why not just write a manifesto, send it to the local paper, then light yourself on fire on Main Street, ending it all in protest? I almost felt like "modern society" was some kind of virus to him, and if God didn't come and rapture him immediately away from this cruel, depraved world, he might catch it.
The fact is, we'd have to go a loooooooong way to reach the depraved levels of many segments of times past. Sometimes it may seem like things are so much worse now than 10, 20, 50 years ago, but they're really not. We just have so much instant information at our disposal. If someone robs a bank in LA, a guy in Boston can watch the car chase go down live on FOX, CNN, or MSNBC, or even on his freakin cell phone. Alcohol problems were as severe in the old days as illicit drug problems are today - you just didn't hear about it. Sexual promiscuity/adultery was as big a problem in the old days as it is today - it was just kept hush-hush. And the homosexual community isn't any larger now than it's ever been - it's simply more public and vocal. Hearts are the same as they've ever been - in need of Christ.
Government...I'm personally not a fan of big government. A friend's facebook status recently had a quote from the Gipper about the 9 most dreaded/frightening words in the English language, "I'm with the government, and I'm here to help." Fundamentalists, though, take the paranoia to Howard Hughes levels, from issues like prayer in schools, to the ten commandments in schools, to the destruction of the marriage institution, to the desire to pull their families entirely off the grid, if possible, in some instances. The government must become an evil boogeyman to give them all a common enemy and the motivation to carry out the 200 year plans and such. They say they despise big government, but let me tell you, you ain't never seen big government like what you'll see if the fundamentalists/dominionists/reconstructionists were to ever take over. They'd give themselves whatever liberties are necessary for them to live on the straight and narrow-minded way, but the rest of us, well, tough luck keeping any personal liberty that doesn't fit the fundamentalist agenda. Government meddling on a whole new level.
I could list more, but you get the picture.
What does it say about your lifestyle and religious belief system if you can only truly justify it, to yourselves and others, by demonizing everything else?(Steadfast Daughters crowd, please take note)
A few thoughts as I close this post...
If you need liberals to be evil, what does that say about your conservatism? (and vice versa)
If you need to direct hate at that which is innocent, what does that say about your ability to love?
If you need evil to abound, what does that say about your redemption?
If you need sin to abound, what does that say about your grace?
If you need a Hell to exist, what does that say about your Heaven?
If it weren't for Satan, would you still cling to Christ?