Introduction: Fundamentalism the Growing Danger
Note From The Author
When I began writing the words you are about to read, George Bush the elder was in office. At that time Christian fundamentalism was a dirty little secret mainstream Christianity tried to keep hidden. While it was prevalent throughout American, it was a relatively silent and mostly ignored. I could see the fundamentalist’s grab for power looming on the horizon in the words and actions of Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson. However I didn’t think it would ever actually achieve what it set out to do. I underestimated them. Today they are among the most powerful political forces in America threatening several of our freedoms. They have become so well entrenched that many of them are already becoming complacent as though they had always been in power.
I have tried to keep this document up-to-date; however, I will have to beg the reader’s forgiveness for any I missed. I believe the content of this document to be far more important now than it was in the 1980’s. It should be obvious that all the influence of the religious right only has power as long as Americans fail to see Christian fundamentalism for what it is; a badly deluded and dangerous cult. Once the public truly understands the nature of fundamentalists and what believe, they will fail.
I present this material in the hope that it may shed light to some poor individual who may be about to consider these individuals as intelligent or legitimate. I assure you, Christian fundamentalism does not deserve any consideration except as a threat to liberty, freedom and logic.
Before you get started, I must warn you that I am an Atheist and many of the arguments I give against fundamentalism could also be used against Christianity and theism in general, however this book is not intended to be a philosophical debate on the merits of theism versus atheism. This work is much too short to do such an argument justice so the reader will be disappointed if that is what you are looking for. However I do plan on undertaking this massive work at some point in the future. If the reader wants to read such a book I highly recommend Atheism: The Case Against God by George H. Smith; Prometheus Books; 1989.
Fundamentalism, A Serious Threat
Religious fundamentalism is now predominant in our world news. It is no longer possible to ignore because religious extremists have more recently become much more violent and politically active. In the last 20 years there has been a huge increase in Muslim terrorism that currently has America’s full attention.
The threat was made real beyond anyones wildest imagination on September 11, 2001 when 19 Islamist terrots attacked the United States resulting the the deaths of 2,974 with 24 people still missing. If anything it should show to all willing to see that absolute belief in an eternal reward coupled with absolute conviction that the beleiver is right results in catastrophy.
But there are extremists in almost every religion and the Christian variety have also caught the headlines as well. In 1999 Christians were expelled from the Holy Land for trying to force the Second Coming to occur by committing violence. I could also mention the Jonestown mass suicide and the Branch Davidian cult in Waco, which were both Christian fundamentalist sects. More recently I could cite the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, who have gained notoriety for protesting at the funerals of American soldiers displaying signs with disgusting slogans such as “God Hates Fags!” and “America is Doomed!”
It cannot be denied that fundamentalists and fanatics of all types are growing in numbers and power all over the world and in the U.S. as well.
Christian fundamentalism has become much more important to all of us since 1980 when they decided to get political and change America to fit their view. That they want to have a voice and get involved is fine. In America everyone should have a voice in the laws and policies that maintain our country. The problem is that this group desires to impose their beliefs and rules on the rest of us with no concern for the constitutionality of doing so. In fact 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee boldly pronounced that the constitution should be amended to fit his interpretation of the Bible. And thousands applauded the idea!
Do not be fooled! Just because Barak Obama won the 2008 presidential election, do not think for a moment that the fundamentalist assault on the Constitution is over.
Why is this happening now?
There are several forces in the world today that are contributing factors to the current spread of fundamentalism.
1. A reaction to the complexity of scientific theory
Science has grown so complex that laymen can’t understand it. This leaves the average non-scientist empty and a ripe target for misinformation. At the same time science and technology are changing the definition of what is possible and performing such huge miracles of their own that these same disillusioned people are led to believe that anything is possible. Intentionally or not, scientists and philosophers have ignored and alienated the general public by hiding away in their ivory towers and showing contempt for those who of us who are not part of their privileged class.
This forces the average man or women to look elsewhere for an explanation of how the world works. This provides ample opportunity for corrupt leaders to gain power by focusing the publics anger on the educated calling them the “liberal elite.” They are also able to proclaim religion and myth as fact in a technologically advanced society.
2. The perceived failures of technology
Science and rationalism has also taken a beating from several scientific debacles that have been in the limelight. I am referring to the many problems in NASA (exploding space shuttles and crashed space probes) and failures in the medical community (bacteria becoming immune to antibiotics and an inability to make enough flu vaccine). Mainstream media has focused on failures while ignoring successes because it makes a more sensational story and because they are under pressure from the right to only report stories they approve of. The faith in progress and technology that was prevalent for most of the 20th century is long gone. In its place laymen have returned to superstition and mysticism.
A good example of the current distrust of technology and science can be found in the Right-wing propaganda campaign to discredit “Global Warming.” They use scientist’s hesitance to make absolute claims to justify disbelief in anything they say.
3. The old boundaries no longer apply
At the same time that science is distancing common people from rationality, modern medicine and genetics are opening new possibilities that require a reexamination of old moral values. The boundaries of life and death are blurred so that without religious guidance people feel adrift with no moral compass. They long for a return to simpler times where values were well defined and right could be divided from wrong with little effort, thus fundamentalism with its simplistic “black and white” view of the world satisfies the need to feel in control like no other solution. Religious fundamentalism and conservative movements in general get their momentum from people being too lazy to think for themselves.
Outsiders often assume that fundamentalist movements only attract the uneducated and ignorant, but this is far from true. Fundamentalists draw from all walks of life encompassing all professions. They have their own radio networks, television stations, schools and universities where reality can be distorted to fit their world-view without ever hearing a dissenting opinion. In my hometown, there are two local television stations and six radio stations broadcasting the fundamentalist philosophy, not counting the cable networks and satellite broadcasts available. The mass media has been infiltrated to such a degree that unless we wake up soon, theirs will be the only voice you will hear. All fundamentalist groups have one trait in common, an absolute intolerance for any other message beyond the one they deliver.