It’s time for Christians to declare jihad on Christian Fundamentalism

I’ve finally realized (as some have suggested here) that for years I have been dishonest.  In order to help rectify this I’ve decided to change my tag line. Though it’s always said “Sharp Iron: testing the mettle of conventional religion”, my focus has really been on questioning the validity and the intentions of Christian Fundamentalists. I never seriously wanted to take Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists to task (enough Christians were already doing that) but did so occasionally to throw the odd bone to my Fundamentalist critics.  I wanted to be perceived as being fair. But I have dropped the charade and my new tag line now reads: “testing the mettle of Christian Fundamentalism” (which if you think about it, is a much simpler task than the previous one).

Over the years my opponents often accused me of being just as intolerant as those I accused of intolerance. I no longer waste my breath trying to point out the fallacy inherent in this argument. But I am not going to pay lip service anymore to the idea that there is value, perhaps hidden, in the theology and politics of the Christian Fundamentalists. I strongly feel that Fundamentalist of all stripes are allowed, by the Constitution and just plain civility, to voice their skewed opinions but there is no reason for me to pretend that they might edify  me or anyone else.

I know this because I used to be one of them. I believed all that they believe. I was once a Right Wing Christian Fundamentalist and believed that all those outside of that particularly narrow interpretation of the faith were destined for eternal damnation, that other religions were evil, and that all people needed to convert to Christianity before they died. I shared their paranoia: that there was a great conspiracy of non-Christians (the media, the United Nations, homosexuals, Muslims, Liberals, socialists, communists, the Supreme Court, New Agers, environmentalists, feminists, secular humanists etc.) out to destroy America and the ‘true’ Church. I believed that God uniquely favored America and that only the ‘right’ Christians were his means of recovering the country from perdition. I believed that everything and all one needed to know was in the Bible. I believed that the End Times were near (or hoped that they were) and was proud of the fact that I was among those who would avoid the promised violence and suffering. I was a utopian longing for a return to a strong (and mythical) Christian Nation: a Christian Dominionist.

So, I know what they believe. I also know their character. They are not bad or evil people.  On the contrary, most of them  are good people, well-meaning yet led astray by ‘false prophets’.  Up until recently, I never took them as a serious threat to America (and consequently, the world).

But in these recent difficult times Christian Fundamentalists have developed an ever stronger voice and this voice is angry. Their words are divisive and at times violent. They leave no room for dissent. Insulting and ridiculing those who disagree with them is the order of the day. They make broad political statements that are not grounded in facts but in their theology. And they are influencing large segments of the voting population: they are putting like-minded people in office and on the bench and exerting political pressure on our leaders.

Just as I could no longer tolerate my own fundamentalism, I will no longer pretend to tolerate theirs. Because they are always controversial and frequently entertaining, the media (including bloggers like me) gives them extraordinary exposure, helping them  grab hold of the insecure populist mindset of America. They have essentially become the face of Christianity to the non-Christian world.  If we are in any way concerned about this, if we can imagine any danger from this, then we need to drop the tolerance card and confront them wherever and whenever opportunities arise.

In the same way that they demand all Muslims denounce Islamism, it’s time for  all Christians  to rigorously denounce the Fundamentalists (and their version of Islamism: Dominionism) who claim to represent our faith. We need to be intolerant of the intolerant. It’s time to declare jihad on Fundamentalist Christianity.

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  1. #1 by 1sttime0ffender on September 9, 2010 - 4:08 pm

    Yeah I have seen those signs in places. Around here the porn isn’t advertised. Once you get closer to metropolitan areas you will see the titty bars signs starting to pop up

  2. #2 by anon on September 9, 2010 - 9:45 pm

    Thankyou all for your responses…….
    So this was about identity…not spirituality?……perhaps looking for certainty?
    what is an authentic Christian?
    here in the East, people are pretty comfortable with “myth”—but maybe we mean different things?—how do you define “myth” and why did you feel it cannot contain “truth”—–(that only “literal” readings point to the truth?)

  3. #3 by Carol on December 4, 2010 - 11:37 pm

    Wow, wish I had read your blog before I bothered responding to one of your comments on the hocorising blog. It’s time to declare jihad on fundamentalist Christianity??? Talk about a cowards declaration of war on people who will not fight back??? Fundamental Christians are an easy target, for cowards! Fundamental Christians have developed an ever stronger, angry voice???? Most Christians I know are not angry. They are just trying to live their lives in peace. Many are out there voting now, because they realize we are losing our freedoms.

    I’m afraid you need to look over your other shoulder to the left. I’m sure you will realize the stronger, angry voice you hear is the haters on the left, not fundamental Christians.

    Interesting name Christian Beyer. I’m sure your parents were hoping you would live up to it!
    But then we all fall short, it took me 13 years to realize that religion and rules will never satisfy, it’s all about a relationship with the person who died for me. So in spite of unfaithfulness on my part, I can know that he is always faithful.

    You must be desperate trying to drum up jihad on Fundamentalist Christians!!!!

  4. #4 by Christian Beyer on December 5, 2010 - 12:11 am

    Hello Carol. I welcome your input. But did you actually read the post? Because you just provided us with a great example of what I am talking about. The problem is not with Christianity or Islam but with extremism. Jihad is more accurately about internal struggle, sort of like repentance. Christians and Muslims both need to repent of their fundamental extremists. But as a Christian, I can’t do penance for Islam. And remember, I used to be a fundamentalist.

    You aren’t so far off about my name. There are many times I am ashamed to be attached to it.

    • #5 by Christian Beyer on December 5, 2010 - 12:40 am

      Sorry. You did read it.

      The angry voices are the ones we hear protesting the building of the Islamic center in NY and new mosques throughout the US, and those who demand the President and others prove they are Christian or insisting that the religion be taught in science classes or that Christian prayers, symbols and traditions be supported by the government or liking Democrats to Nazis or cheering on those who publicly burn Qurans and telling homosexuals that they will burn in hell and that anyone who objects to these things is a “hater”.

      Of course, not every one of those angry voices is a Christian fundamentalist, there are some opportunists in the mix and even a few Jewish folk like Geller and Horowitz. And then there’s Glenn Beck, who most fundamentalists wouldn’t consider a Christian, since he is a Mormon.

      But you are right. The people on the ground, they are probably more afraid than angry. It’s their leaders I have the bigger gripe with.

      • #6 by Carol on December 6, 2010 - 5:06 pm

        Christian,

        I am a very strong conservative, and a Christian with a lot of questions. I was raised Seventh Day Adventist, who like Muslims believe everyone is going to hell except those who believe the way they do, and in the S.D.A. case they are specifically focused on Sabbath Keeping. I do not hear Christians I am around calling the Democrats, Nazis, or cheering publicly burning Qurans, or telling Homosexuals they will burn in hell.

        I’ve often wondered why liberals have such a problem with Christians disapproving of their actions, but they have no problem with Muslims killing people for the actions Christians disapprove of. Most Christians believe in living and let live and let God do the judging and assigning people to hell. They believe that verse where God says “Vengence is mine”, and most Christians I know do not believe it is their place to kill anyone who does not agree with them. But Muslims as far as I know (and I did buy a Quran, and read looking for such a verse) do not have a verse that says to leave the judging and sending to hell in a ball of fire from a homemade bomb, people who do not agree with them (Infidels). You don’t hear of Christians plotting and planning to kill as many people as possible, but Christians are the evil ones, and Islam is the religion of peace. One of my cousins died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 because of the teachings of the Quran, so I guess I may be a little jaded.

        I realize Christians have killed for many reasons in the past, but it was not anyone who had a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is the ones who use religion for power. I’m sure that will continue, because for some reason, when you have no relationship with God, power is your God, and you will do anything to keep it.

        I also have a problem with the leaders in this country presently. I have never seen so much class warfare, and demonization of the rich. I am reading a novel by Ayn Rand “We the Living”, and it is giving me the creeps, because she lived through the takeover in Russia by the Red Army. Even though it is a novel, I think she is describing the living conditions that were actually what was experienced by the people of Russia. It really bothers me that it looks like the left is trying to bring socialism to this country. Even Fidel Castro recently stated that it was not good for Cuba. I didn’t need to hear Castro say that, to know it to be true, just by how many people are trying to get the hell out of there, and risk their lives to come to this country.

        Christian it is not just Republicans and Conservatives that are protesting the building of the Mosque in NY, it is also Democrats and liberals.

        I also consider myself a fundamentalist Christian, and I would never try to judge whether Glenn Beck is a Christian. From what I have heard him talk about on the radio and TV, I would say he IS a Christian. He speaks about a personal relationship, not what Mormanism teaches.

        Best Wishes Christan. I am sorry you are ashamed at times to have the name Christian. The person you were named for, was willing to go through hell, so we don’t have to . The next book I hope to read is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas. He’s a man that went through hell, because he wouldn’t deny Christ, when the Nazi’s took power in Germany. I’ve always wondered what I would do, if and when it came down to trying to hide that I am a Christian, or taking whatever treatment is the going thing for the regime in power. I’m beginning to think I may find out, since it seems the only polically correct groups, to continue to demonize are Christians and Jews.

        Carol

        • #7 by Christian Beyer on December 6, 2010 - 7:28 pm

          I am sorry about your cousin, Carol. That was a terrible thing. But he was killed by crazed religious fanatics, not by Muslims, not by Islam. I know more than a few Muslims who believe that those who are violent and vengeful are not true Muslims. I think it might make sense to take these people at their word, because it is no different than when you say that those Christians who are guilty of murderous acts were “not anyone who had a relationship with Jesus Christ”. Just as you say that Beck is a Christian because he acts like one (I would heartily disagree with that statement though) even though most fundamentalists believe Mormonism is a cult.

          Can you imagine for one moment that there are Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan who feel as much pain as you do, perhaps even more, when they lose family members to coalition “collateral damage”? If you lost a child, or a spouse or cousin because a US drone hit the wrong house or some scared Marine fired upon the family station wagon, believing it posed a threat, would you graciously accept our explanations and our apologies? I know I wouldn’t, if I were in their place, not for a moment.

          To them America is not great, it is not exceptional. The man and woman on the ground in Afghanistan sees no difference between the US and the USSR. We are both big and powerful and we have both attacked their country for reasons they did not understand or necessarily accept.

          Don’t misunderstand me – I have been a conservative American for over 35 years. Weaned on National Review, I used to subscribe to the Spectator and Common Cause, I voted for Reagan, Dole, Bush, Bush. I used to listen to Limbaugh when he was only a couple of radio stations. And I thought that all liberals were morons or dupes, that the Democrats were just communists in disguise (because lets face it, the Republicans are true socialists, its just that they use tax dollars to prop up big business). After I converted to Christianity, accepted Christ into my heart, turned my life over to Jesus and became born-again (all legit actions, if not a bit cliche’) I could not imagine how a ‘true’ Christian could be a Democrat. To me, Pat Robertson, Dobson, DJ Kennedy etc were preaching the true Gospel.

          The funny thing about faith in Jesus, though, is that the more I listened to Jesus’ teachings, the more I seriously compared my life to his, and how he said I should live, well, the more difficult it was for me to remain a conservative, Christian or citizen. I still don’t live up to Christ, but I have definitely changed my direction.

          You state “I have never seen so much class warfare, and demonization of the rich”. I don’t know if that’s true. Maybe because America has never seen such a disparity between the rich and the middle class since long before the Revolution. And never has there been such a large segment of society called the rich. And never have we seen so many people become rich for such a variety of inconsequential and trivial reasons that have little to do with ingenuity or hard work. For every Bill Gates or Steve Jobs out there we have a thousand millionaire hedge millionaire fund managers or over-bonused corporate executives who contribute nothing to society but, as we have seen, are actively engaged in bringing our economic structures to the ground. Oh, and all these rich people are not the job creators the Republicans are going on about. In the process of pleasing Wall St. and their own bank accounts they have done nothing but move as many American middle class jobs overseas as possible.

          I am a firm believer in Capitalism. Nothing works better. But it ain’t perfect. And it ain’t Christian. Even John Locke struggled with that, but Glen Beck won’t be telling that to anyone (if he knows it).

          • #8 by Christian Beyer on December 7, 2010 - 11:47 am

            By the way, I couldn’t let this go: “it seems the only politically correct groups, to continue to demonize are Christians and Jews.”

            The Christians pretty much have to take fist prize when it comes to demonizing Jews, at least as far as we in America are concerned. In fact, there was no such thing as ‘anti-Semitism” until many in the early church took great pains to separate the faith from it’s Jewish roots along with conveniently forgetting (to this day, I think) that Jesus was a Jew.

            I’m not so sure that there are many politically active Jews (outside of Dennis Prager and the aforementioned Geller and Horowitz) who would be convinced that Christians and Jews are playing on the same field.

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