By Danni Moss
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I don’t think I’m anti-fundamentalist Christians as people. I have way too many friends and family whom I love and respect still within that group. But the movement is taking some very dangerous turns, in my opinion. This is one thing I’ve observed in recent months that I find alarming.
In the course of my research I see a lot of articles and blog posts about fundamentalist Christianity. Having grown up within the fundamentalist Christian paradigm I’m well aware of the “they’re all out to get us” mentality fostered within that philosophy. Increasing public sentiment is openly turning against fundamentalist Christians. However, this sentiment has not appeared spontaneously just because “evil hates good.” Fundamentalists see persecution as affirmation of their godliness. But the cultural shift against the movement known as “Fundamentalist Christianity” is occurring in reaction to the excesses and arrogance of those who call themselves fundamentalist Christians.
The primary way fundamentalist Christians have made targets of themselves is through political action. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with political involvement; it is a basic right and responsibility of every adult American citizen. However, fundamentalist Christianity has virtually taken over the Republican party, making politics a “fundamentalist Christian” vs. “non-fundamentalist-Christian” battle rather than a struggle over ideals and how to promote the welfare of our country. Whether the fundamentalist leaders realize it or not, to everyone outside their rarified atmosphere they have made it all about their own religious particulars. I know fundamentalist believe they have a mandate from God to control this country with their own brand of right. This idea is alarming to everyone outside their paradigm.
They don’t see what everyone else can see. Religion and politics are both power centers. When one controls the other abuses of power occur. It goes both ways. In fact, that was one of the foundational issues in the formation of this country.
Look at history. Inside the fundamentalist subculture there is a lot of vilification of the Catholic church, Bloody Mary, and other religio-governmental abuses of religious freedom. However, they conveniently overlook the fact that this abuse of power is not limited to the groups they see as evil. The Puritans were just as bloody as Bloody Mary. John Calvin also burned people at the stake for not agreeing with his theology – stunning religious leader there. Why do fundamentalist Christians think they wouldn’t be just as guilty of misusing a power platform of their own? As a religious group they already can’t keep their affairs in order; having them in control of a nation is a very scary thought, regardless of what I may think of some of their specific values.
Another issue I see as far as the dangers of fundamentalist Christians gaining political power is that statesmanship requires particular experience, education, connections and major leadership skills. Religious values believed to be important to the country are not adequate qualifications to lead a nation! Religious leaders, especially fundamentalist leaders, tend to be poor leaders when compared to the rest of the real world. Not many of them could successfully run a large corporation, much less an entire country. The rate of abuses, embezzlement, imbalanced leadership, etc. in fundamentalist churches is alarming. Having this general type of person leading the country alarms me (not alluding to any specific accusations; I know of nothing specific against any fundamentalist Christian involved in politics). Not one member of the “religious right” that has been a front-runner is someone I would trust in that position. Some of these men I have known up-close (but not personally); others I have seen and heard just enough to know they almost certainly fit the same mold, especially when they uphold the former as role models to emulate.
I don’t think it is wrong for anyone to pursue a career in politics, regardless of their religious affiliation. What I find alarming is using religious affiliation is an indication of qualification for political leadership and as an important, even primary, identifier. To me that is obviously backwards, upside down and should be a sign that something is seriously amiss.