Fundamentalism Redux

First—why does the Cobb library have a sep­a­rate cat­e­go­ry for “Christianity—Controversial lit­er­a­ture” in their cat­a­log? Is that an offi­cial Dewey des­ig­na­tion, their own thing, what? I’ve nev­er run across it in any oth­er sys­tem before.

I’m into one of my peri­od­ic Christianity/theology/apologetics/church his­to­ry binges. “Bed­time read­ing” last night was Lost Chris­tian­i­ties: the bat­tles for scrip­ture and the faiths we nev­er knew by Bart D. Ehrman. It’s a fas­ci­nat­ing look at the var­i­ous scrip­tures used by dif­fer­ent fac­tions of the Chris­t­ian church in the first few cen­turies before the canon­i­cal Bible was assembled. 

I think the ancient lit­er­a­ture class kicked off the explo­ration this time. In any case, I always learn some­thing inter­est­ing. I was going to do my sec­ond pre­sen­ta­tion for the reli­gion & psy­chol­o­gy class on par­ent­ing as a spir­i­tu­al prac­tice, but I think I want to talk about fun­da­men­tal­ism instead.

The book I was try­ing to recall ear­li­er was Under­stand­ing Fun­da­men­tal­ism: Chris­t­ian, Islam­ic and Jew­ish Move­ments by Richard T. Antoun. Cobb does­n’t have a copy, so I’m going to look for it elsewhere.

The fol­low­ing are excerpts from a cou­ple of good arti­cles I found while look­ing for the name of Antoun’s book.

Why The “Fun­da­men­tal­ist” Approach To Reli­gion Must Be Wrong by Scott Bidstrup
Fun­da­men­tal­ism is var­i­ous­ly described by var­i­ous authors, but to me it real­ly boils down to a rather sim­ple test: In my view, a fun­da­men­tal­ist reli­gion is a reli­gion, any reli­gion, that when con­front­ed with a con­flict between love, com­pas­sion and car­ing, and con­for­mi­ty to doc­trine, will almost invari­ably choose the lat­ter regard­less of the effect it has on its fol­low­ers or on the soci­ety of which it is a part.

Reli­gious Fun­da­men­tal­ism As Men­tal Ill­ness by Jason R. Tippitt

This sort of reli­gion brings out the worst, not the best, in human nature. Instead of putting us “clos­er to God,” this sort of reli­gion reduces us to some­thing less than admirable. Here are a few exam­ples of what I mean:

* Appeal­ing to base instincts. Homo­pho­bia, racism, and sex­ism have all been giv­en the divine seal of approval by fun­da­men­tal­ist Chris­tian­i­ty. Prej­u­dice is approved; dis­crim­i­na­tion is promised a heav­en­ly reward. Hate is, blunt­ly, a sacra­ment in many Chris­t­ian sects. Revenge fan­tasies are fueled by the teach­ing that the redeemed will one day lis­ten glee­ful­ly to the screams of souls damned to eter­nal tor­ment — the souls not only of mur­der­ers and rapists but also homo­sex­u­als or mem­bers of oth­er reli­gions (even oth­er denom­i­na­tions of Christianity).
* Dis­cour­ag­ing achieve­ment and fos­ter­ing depen­den­cy. “He who hes­i­tates is lost,” goes the proverb. I won­der how many oppor­tu­ni­ties have slipped past peo­ple who were too busy wait­ing for divine inter­ven­tion? Many are the prob­lems allowed to spread because the faith­ful have opt­ed to pass the buck to God. With reli­gion offer­ing the prayer exit, why do any­thing? You real­ly don’t even have to be moral — you can do as you please dur­ing the week, then con­fess on the Sab­bath and have a clean slate.
* Sup­pres­sion of knowl­edge. The Big Bang hap­pened. Sev­er­al mil­lion years lat­er, evo­lu­tion start­ed to hap­pen (and still is). Peri­od. But fun­da­men­tal­ists are still try­ing to sub­sti­tute the Gen­e­sis cre­ation myth for real sci­ence. In the past, reli­gion just as firm­ly insist­ed that the earth (which was flat) was the cen­ter of the uni­verse, with the sun, plan­ets, and stars all orbit­ing it (this com­ing from the same self-cen­tered yahoos who declared us the pin­na­cle of all creation).
* Need­less suf­fer­ing of the ill. I list this sep­a­rate­ly from the Cre­ation Sci­ence idio­cy because while those peo­ple’s ideas are alter­nate­ly amus­ing and frus­trat­ing, this is a mat­ter of the (par­don the quite unin­ten­tion­al pun) gravest import. Jeho­vah’s Wit­ness­es are pro­hib­it­ed by their reli­gion from receiv­ing blood trans­fu­sions; Chris­t­ian Sci­en­tists can’t receive any med­ical care at all (believ­ing that since we don’t real­ly exist, our ail­ments are all an illu­sion). When you add in the peo­ple who’ve died after han­dling snakes or falling on coals or trust­ing faith heal­ers instead of doc­tors, you’d have enough dead bod­ies to declare reli­gion a plague. It would be easy to laugh at these peo­ple and say “They asked for it — at least it’s culling the weak from the gene pool,” except these damned fools invari­ably end up mur­der­ing their chil­dren through their negligence.

Cur­rent Mood: 😕curi­ous
Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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