My faith (and its associated practices) has changed dramatically in the last few years. Even in just the last year. The more carnage I see created by "Christianity", the less I want to be a part of it. There have always been elements of brain-dead fundamentalism that have turned me off, but as I've said here many times, my brush with my former future in-laws and their cohorts has brought me to the point that I've tried to meticulously search and examine myself, my beliefs, the practice of those beliefs. I don't want to be even remotely like them. Not because I find any kind of justification in not being like them. I just don't want to be anything like them. Not even a trace of them.
Some may call this "bitterness" or some other nonsense. To me, it's seeing through the fog of religion. I'd rather people not be the less for having encountered or interacted with me (knowing, of course, that you can't please everyone). I'd rather not take the things of genuine substance and beauty in the life of another and diminish or in any way devalue those things. Fundamentalism always leaves me feeling lesser, always seems to want to tag the substance of my life with symbols of empty "godliness".
I saw the paranoia and fear which is rampant within fundamentalism (particularly that from the conservative evangelical, neo-conservative homeschooling paradigm) firsthand in my FFILs. They were the most paranoid group of people, the most reactionary group of people, I'd ever, EVER, encountered. Even the most trivial perceived "threat" to their most holy family unit triggered a circle-the-wagons and dig-a-bunker mentality, panic-based, defensive-driven offensive volleys, floods of intellectual and actual deception and diversion, emotional dysfunctions and conspiracy theories galore. They considered practically everything a potential threat to "destroy their family".
I want no part of it. I want no part of its paranoia. I want no part of its fear. I want no part of its "God". It's its OWN god. It serves only its own belly.
You've heard me say before that I consider people from the P/QF crowd - neo-conservative Christian homeschoolers - some of the most dangerous people on the planet. I don't even begin to back down from that statement. I believe it more firmly today than I ever have. They don't worship God. I'm not sure many of them even have a "personal" relationship with Jesus Christ (regardless of what they profess). Their entire religion is a communal/familial relationship with a socio-political religious culture.
As far as their impact on society at large, it concerns me when I consider how much leverage this fringe cult has in the political sphere - usually because more mainstream, level-headed Christians fall for the Christianese-laced packaging of the extremist ideas. Throw the words "family values", "pro-life", and such out there, and otherwise well-meaning Christians will take the bait. The problem is, it's making Christianity stupid. Note that I didn't say it's making Christianity look stupid. It's not about perception. Evangelical Christianity is getting more and more stupid by the minute.
Last year, in this piece about the Religious Right, I wrote about how the RR seems to only be interested in winning the argument on many of its core issues. Concerning "prayer in school" (one of its most sacred cows), I wrote the following...
"They won't even allow our children to pray in school! They're persecuting Christians and trying to take away our rights!"
Who hasn't heard those sentiments? And there's not an ounce of truth or reality in them. What they don't allow is a public prayer, which ironically, makes the RR's opposition more like Christ than the RR is. Christ wasn't a big fan of public prayers, drawing attention to our religiosity, making social statements through prayer, instructing His followers not to pray as the religious leaders did.
The fact is, I prayed in school anytime I wanted. I still pray anytime I want, anywhere I want. Nothing, short of unconsciousness, can stop me. Prayer doesn't have to be a public spectacle. I don't have to speak in tongues, dance, prophecy, or heal a leper, and not a single soul this side of eternity even needs to know I've uttered a prayer. So I ask you, when a group of students (usually at their parents' or church leadership's prodding) think that the way they need to pray is to gather, en masse, around the school flagpole, drawing attention to themselves and intentionally creating controversy, are they really doing it to communicate with the Lord and reap the spiritual benefit, or are they making a sociopolitical statement and attempting to win a small battle and argument in the broader spectrum of the sociopolitical culture war? Are their actions more like Christ or more like the Pharisees?
I stand by what I wrote back then. The entire idea is based on fear and paranoia, but not a shred of fact. But, if you're a paranoid, fundamentalist religious addict, it's like Pastor Deacon Fred says, "Who needs facts when you got Jesus amen?"
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about some of the ideas of Michelle Bachmann, whose own faith and political ideas were heavily influenced by men like Francis Schaeffer (who, for a large portion of his life, was heavily influenced by Rousas Rushdoony - in essence he was a religious addict and fool). Schaeffer's son, Frank, having also been prominent in the evangelical movement a couple of decades ago, spoke out about the fringe and extreme nature of these ideas and beliefs in a video included in that post.
Today, on Facebook, someone posted this video of Frank Schaeffer from an interview on Rachel Maddow's show...
Pretty eye-opening. He's right. These people are religious nutjobs, and quite potentially dangerous in some cases. How nutty?...Today I came across this piece of lunacy. "What the...?!" Scroll down the page a bit and see if you recognize some of the names giving testimonials...and then ask yourself why?
At this point, I'm not entirely sure Christianity can actually be saved from Christians.
But it sure needs to be.