Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dear God, Please Save Christianity from Christians

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.


  1. Excellent post Lewis!! I wish more were willing to speak the truth like Frank Shaeffer did in the clip. Also the part about prayer in the schools had my daughter and I cracking up but I realize that line of thinking is not funny really, it is downright dangerous and a threat to true Christianity.

  2. 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.
    Excellent article.

  3. I hate bumper stickers, but I own one now. It reads, "Jesus called. He wants his religion back."

  4. When I saw the website of the Bradrick "who needs FEMA when you can have us?" organization, and then saw the list of names on the link you just posted - I genuinely shudder.

    Years ago their agenda was much more subtle. Now it's obvious they desire complete takeover.

    I hate hate hate hate that I ever had anything to do with any of those people, and I hate that even today, people assume that I am still that sort of Christian.

    Thank you for your continued determination to expose this dangerous crap. Thanks for your courage.

  5. ahahaha Lewis, I recognize more names on that IAEPA thing than the ones you're pointing out. And I have pictures from their "training." haha long story as to how I got those. But the Botkins in particular looked so ridiculous. Made me laugh.

    But thank you for posting this.
    I'd never even thought about your points on the public prayer. So true.

  6. That reminds me of this that I read earlier today:
    Yes, it is very frightening. It is not just crazy, it's creepy too.

  7. I like how there is not a single woman on the IAEPA testimonial page. Do they not accept women or are they just afraid "real men" won't sign up if they admit they do?

  8. I would recommend the writings of Jeff Sharlet for more on how the RR has a plan to 'take dominion over the culture.'

    Here are a few good articles (neither by Sharlet) about a few who are bought into the plan: Perry and Bachmann.

  9. Lewis, brother, before you bolt, check out Lutheranism or Episcopalianism, both very un-extremist, and a life long Lutheran, I've never been expected to check my brain. Anywhere.

    Some of the best arguments against prayer in schools, etc., have been from Lutheran clergy/leaders. Have hope!

    God loves you, so do we all.
    Mama Junebug

  10. No worries, MamaJunebug. I'm not abandoning my faith. Just allowing it to change, and hopefully, nurturing its overall growth ;)

  11. In fact, Christians can pray publicly at school as well - so long as it's not coercive, disruptive, or teacher-led (which could be coercive, and certainly would seem that way to many students). But if a group of kids wants to meet up every day before school starts to pray, they're good to go.

  12. Heh heh, I escaped to a Lutheran congregation, Mama Junebug. Thanks for keeping the home fires burning, so to speak, so weary pilgrims can rest.

  13. I can strongly relate to this post. Anymore, I almost feel like I have to apologize when I say I'm a Christian. "I'm a Christian, but I don't ..."
    I still plan to homeschool my children. But more and more, I want to distant myself from the religious legalism that has ensnared so many homeschool families. I know and love many of them dearly (and I must say that the majority I know are trying to do the right thing), but I want nothing to do with the legalistic requirements that the conservative Christian homeschooling movement has placed on people.
    Jesus did not come to up the legalistic ante, but to save us from sin - and legalism is one of the biggest he fought against.


  14. ROTFL at this comment:

    "Please keep that in as well as the paintball drills, that was wonderful!"

    And seriously, attempting to disable selection and right click on the page? That is soooo 1999. Next thing you know, their website will only be available through password protected PDF files :-P

    The reason we see this crap go on is because so many people are as dumb as sheep. The Bible doesn't say "All we like sheep". Sheep are the dumbest animals and shepherds historically were the lowest of all trades... I don't think the metaphor is far off.

  15. Dear Lewis,

    I came across this blog earlier in the week, and I had to get the Kleenex while I was reading "The Joke was On Me."

    I'm an Australian, and fortunately our Religious Right isn't as pervasive as it is in the US. But it's growing in influence all the time - and we need to stop it. I've called attention to some of the more insane groups (like the charming "Catch the Fire" Ministries) and people have said, "ah, they're small. If we ignore them, they'll go away." But they aren't. Thankyou, as a Christian man, for contantly calling out these whackos.

    And, can I just say after reading part 13... YOU'RE STINKY!


  16. Lewis;
    i haven't been commenting of late, because A) i'm sick as he-- and am having surgery at the end of the month, so i have NO patience for B) blogger/blogspot refuses to let me ACTUALLY log in, stay logged in, make a post... i've tried to make several posts, but it just would work. i'm hoping it will today - and if not, i'll go ahead and post under my LiveJournal [which i hate to do, because i can't get notification of responses that way, but...]

    being not-Christian, and being on the outside looking in - it was these types of people, extreme Fundamentalists who don't even follow what JESUS said to do - that kept me from considering conversion when i was younger. they terrify me. i've mentioned before that the US is not and never was a "Christian" nation [in the sense that, say, England is a Christian nation, in that it has a national church - but ALSO in the sense that the US is Contitutionally called upon to allow and protect ALL non-harmful forms of religions - "harm" being described really as "breaking the law"] but these guys either don't get that, or don't care. they lie to their children when the homeschool them, telling their kids that this was once a "Godly Nation ruled by Christian notions" - which isn't strictly UNTRUE, but isn't strictly TRUE, either.
    maybe it's because i'm Cherokee, and i KNOW the history, the caustic history, of fanatical Christianity and how it will stop at NOTHING to remake all in it's image - while never once acknowledging how it isn't CHRISTIAN in the truest sense of the word. NOT Christ-like. what was done to my ancestors is NOT Christ-like, and what they are trying to do NOW is NOT Christ-like.

  17. Today's article at Christianity Today's Her-meneutics is on point here. It points out the difference between education and indoctrination, and explains why indoctrination does not produce genuine faith.

    (Google won't let me post under my account today, for some reason)

  18. That's a GREAT article, Kristen. Thanks for the link.

  19. denelian -- your view is really unpopular, but it NEEDS to be said. Even up here in Canada. My buddy was working with teens from First Nations and it was really eye opening. There is a lot not in the history books that NEEDS to be said.

    The only nation that could ever be "Christian" is probably one that is a theocracy. The last theocracy I know of ended when a guy named Saul became King. :-P

    > At this point, I'm not entirely sure Christianity can actually be saved from Christians.

    @Lewis -- it shouldn't be saved. Let it burn under its own failings. Do you really want to save a religion from itself? You're writing content that is encouraging people towards life and health. That is real life. I think any new movement of love and grace that is free and whole needs something obviously defining with no tie to perverse legalistic trappings.

    Just like Catholicism of the medieval period went through changes and Protestantism was born, so also mainstream "Christianity" needs to go through the same changes. I wonder if the new Foxe's Book of Martyrs is going to start with books like "Quivering Daughters"?

  20. Well, Lewis, I revisited this post today, and tried to click on your link to the iaepa web site, only to find that my IP address is blocked by them. What kind of comment must I have left on their web site to get blocked?

    So, can you tell me who they are and what secrets they must keep from the likes of me? Very curious.

    OH, haha, I can google them just fine. It's the gun training people. It seems going there from YOUR blog is what is blocked. I can get there just fine from my web browser.

    Here's the link for anyone wanting to check it out:

    Copy and paste in your web browser, then try to go their student testimonials for the good stuff.

  21. Oh wait, now I get it. My IP address is blocked from the new website they are creating. Goodness, but they are paranoid. I am quite sure I never left a comment there. Wonder how they found my IP address and decided I was dangerous enough to block.

    Brown shirts, anyone? I swear it is getting scarier and scarier out there in the land of the religious right...