“….and then I asked a corner preacher, I couldn’t hear him for my youth. Some people get religion. Some people get the truth. I never get the truth. I never get the truth.” — “Looking out” Brandi Carlile
This is the part of the story where I describe for you the doctrine of the Independent Fundamental Baptist. I am going to list these things in bullets for you. I am not going to get into the chapter/verse this is all drawn from because I really don’t care to. I do believe that the Bible has been so abused over generations to manipulate people that I approach the thing as if it were the Ark of the Covenant itself. Meaning, in the wrong hands, it’s an incredibly powerful weapon. And there are damn good reasons I feel that way:
Independent Baptists believe:
- King James Version (1611) Only — meaning, they believe this version and this version alone is the holy, inerrant, **Infallible**, word of God. They believe in a literal reading of this book.
- I’ve often wondered at this, especially later on in life once I spent some time studying history and political science.
Despite King James being rumored to be Bisexual (George Villiers), he was a Protestant King, head of the Church of England, and married to Anne of Denmark until her death.
But why this version? I don’t believe for second their claim as to “best translation” of the scriptures. King James wanted a return to Absolute Rule for the throne. Even then, the powers of the monarch had begun to wane (Remember the Magna Carta from highschool?) . Wealth and power had started to distribute itself thanks to an emerging ‘middle class’ thanks, in part, to exploration of the world and the slave trade.
I think his political ambition has more to do with why they chose this version than any other ‘translational’ issues they may have.
- They preach Separation Theology — “Come out and be ye separate sayeth the Lord”
From a literalist standpoint, this is the verse (among others) that fundamentalists use to draw their people ‘out of the world’. Also, it pulls them away from Christendom as a whole as well, even among other sects of Baptist.
Yet, it’s not just the withdrawing of their people that occurs. They vilify ‘the other’. From the government (local, national, international governing bodies such as the UN), Hollywood, the music industry, culture, education (especially higher education and secular universities), The Catholic Church (and all other sects of Christianity for that matter), and all other unsaved people, including old friends and family.
The above mentioned and more are a threat to fundamentalism. Other ‘ideas’ that may cause their members to second guess literalist interpretation of the Bible and the absolute authority of the Pastor and the rules of the church.
- Extra-Biblical Teaching — This is cultural preferences taught as Biblical truth but can’t be found nowhere in the Bible or is purposefully misread. aca
Racism can be found here. I was taught in my church, in the early ’80s that it was sinful for white men to marry black women so on and so forth. That the ‘intermingling of the races’ was against God. ***Note: I was living in Detroit when this was being taught to me for those of you who still feel the south has the market cornered on ignorance.
As a matter of fact, the issue of Abortion, once thought to be a “Catholic” issue was used as a shield to undo Civil Rights Legislation concerning African American people in the early 1980’s with the rise of the Moral Majority and The Religious Right.
The Southern Baptist Convention was actually formed in a response to the anti-slavery movement that predated the Civil War. However, often times culture influences theology. Racism is a problem within this country and it’s a problem within these churches as well. This was one of the reasons, as mentioned in my early blog, as to what began to put the cracks in my faith because I actually went to school and lived around, people of color.
Sexism can be found here. The submissiveness of women to their husbands can be found here which is not only present in churches, this is a cultural phenomenon which also impacts the faith. Women not wearing pants, women not working, women being not allowed to speak up in church, have any sort of leadership role, etc. It is in this space that opens women (and by proxy their children) to predation. It is a peculiar place that women are put in. Men are all powerful in this institution except when it comes to sexual indiscretions. Then they become wimps who can’t control themselves and its all the woman’s fault for ‘influencing the man of God’.
This is where things get really twisted with the next bullet point.
- Purity Culture — Lord, okay, here we go. The twisting of sex and sexuality is absurd and has disastrous consequences.
I’m going to let Nadia Bolz-Weber have her say in this: From an article entitled The Lutheran Pastor Calling for a Sexual Reformation the New Yorker February 8th, 2019: “Purity culture equals rape culture,” she told me, by placing the onus on women. “It says to young women that your bodies aren’t your own and you can’t be a sexual being until you are the property of your future husband.”
Earlier in the article she states that, “The hypocrisy of purity culture, she argues, has recently been exposed through the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, as survivors of sexual violence within the Church speak out about abuse.”
Expose after expose over the years from local and national news papers, magazines, and television have been present in the media that should have had the weight the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church had and still continues to have throughout the known world.
The reason I feel it isn’t is that this country has historically been anti-Catholic. To some people, including fundamentalists, Catholics aren’t even Christian. Here in our country, an historically protestant country, the scandal is perhaps too much for people to bear so, to the detriment of people, it’s ignored. It’s a phenomenon that happens to ‘those people over there’.
Yet, here are a few recent examples that it is, in fact, happening here:
Spirit of Fear | Fort Worth Star-Telegram (star-telegram.com) : This is an in-depth look at sexual abuse inside the Fundamental Baptist Churches across the country.
Let Us Prey: Big Trouble at First Baptist Church — Chicago Magazine : This is an in-depth look at the sexual abuse surrounding the church of former pastor, Jack Hyles in Hammond, Indiana.
LGBTQIA — The abuses directed toward people of this community cannot be overstated. From the insertion of the word “Homosexual” in the Bible in 1946 during the height of the Red Scare to a purposeful misreading of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, gay folks have been absolutely tormented and made victims of cultural and religious abuse.
From barbaric pseudo-psychological conversion ‘therapy’ to disowning children and sending them out into the street, this is a major problem. According to statistics provided by Lesly University, “… up to 40 percent of them identify as LGBT. Because LGBT youth represent only 7 percent of the total youth population, there is a staggering disproportion of homelessness among these populations.”
From my perspective the church has been so catastrophically wrong on the issues of women and race that even if they were right about homosexuality, myself included, who’d believe them? A fool, that’s who.
Authors note: It isn’t just gay youth that are sent to homes like this to be ‘converted’ back to the ‘faith.’ Correctional homes for children, run by ministers with zero government oversight exist throughout the country for decades. Most notably is the famous “Christian Alamo” case where the late Lester Roloff ran a home called The Rebekah Home for Girls, in Corpus Christi, Texas that was so bad, so abusive, that the Attorney General of **Texas** shut it down.
There are others. So many others present in the United States where children are victims of horrendous mistreatment. Here’s an Article by Huffpost entitled Abuse Allegations Still Plague Religious Homes for Troubled Teens .
See why ‘the world’ and in this case, as oddly enough has become the case overall in America lately, as to why the “Media” is the “Enemy”?
- Rejection of facts, science, psychology, ad nauseum.
From the famed Scopes Monkey Trial concerning Evolution, to psychology, Climate Change, to COVID-19 inoculations (as well as Anti-Vaxxers period) and everything in between can be found here.
While the Anti-modernist, anti-science view isn’t enough to send them back to live like the Amish (because the Amish don’t have Cadillacs and wealth and other modern amenities that make them comfortable) this filters into our marketplace. Don’t believe me? Look at Social Media concerning any of these issues, read the comment section. Have you ever gotten into an argument with some obnoxious opinion on such matters?
These ideas threaten a literal reading of the Bible and, in turn, the foundation Fundamentalism is built on. Rational thought takes a back seat.
- Cancel Culture -its not just for liberals on Tik-Tok. These folks started it. Or, can you say, Dixie Chicks?
Figurative Book Burning can also be found in this area as well — banning of art, fiction, movies, or any other work that is not explicitly Christian. Even more… Their type of Christian.
This evokes memories of my childhood when my own father would, ‘come under conviction’ and go through our house sobbing, with a garbage bag, and tossing out movies, music, and any other ‘ideas’ outside of ‘approved’ media.
As a matter of fact, as a young man, my father approached me one Sunday after church and told me that if I threw out all my secular music (which I had stored in a shoebox under my bed) that he would replace it, dollar for dollar, for Christian music (that he knew I also loved). When I said no, he lost his temper. He snatched my box of music, which was on top of the refrigerator and began to cry and stomp them into pieces and then ordered me to throw them out in the dumpster.
Crying, I did so. Shaking, I did so. But I also salvaged what I could and, because I was starting to pull away from the faith, ferreted them off to a friends house for safe keeping.
Fear had given way to anger at this point of my life and I resented this more than words can say.
I still do.
- — Man of God / Authoritarianism.
The Preacher speaks directly for God and is not to be criticized or questioned. Not coincidental that many of the IFB kickstarters (like Jack Hyles) had military backgrounds. Their belief in order, subordination, and chain of command translated directly to their ministry, setting them up to grab their unchallenged place of power.
The pastor is the ultimate power (King) in the organization
The man, head of household is the next in line. He ‘Lords” over:
His wife and She:
In that specific order. That order must be maintained at all times or it all starts to fall apart.
(Luckily for us, my mother was really bad at following directions, but more on that later)
This power structure invites, as we know in political science as well as history (including 1776, Hello?!) , all sorts of abuse. And that’s how I want you to look at it. Fundamentalism is inherently political.
It is a clarion call to all sorts of abusers, sociopaths, sexual deviants, because they can hide behind the shield of faith, and, because of the power structure, are protected by this political formation. And while not all pastors or people of the faith are perpetrators of these heinous things, the atmosphere creates a perfect breeding ground for them so that when abuses are discovered, or an abuser is found out, it’s unfortunately way too late for them.
This is why I refer to the ‘cult’ as a feudal system. A kingdom inside a democracy that goes unnoticed by the public and, because of political leaders turning a blind eye, flourishes. And don’t let them fool you, the Independent in their name is also bullshit. While it is true there is no hierarchy, no Bishops, no governing bodies above the Pastor of his church, they are all ideologically linked together.
And perhaps even that is misleading, for as long as Jack Hyles was alive — he was their, for lack of a better term but one I think will suffice, Pope.
The key difference between Pope Hyles and say, Pope Francis of the Catholic Church is evident in that, The Catholic Church, for all it’s faults (and there are many) at least has a philosophical background going back 2,000 years and beyond. There’s an ocean of work, bodies of work, that you could spend a lifetime swimming through.
If you jumped into a pool of IFB theology, you’d break your neck.
- — Hell and eternal conscious torment theology
That’s the threat. Your soul is dangling over perditions’ flames vis a vis Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
This includes Rapture Theology (because kids aren’t really afraid of death, they’re kids so lets scare them with the idea that God is imminently upon them).
Guilt trip preaching and promotion of self-hatred… the flesh, depravity of man, “a wretch like me”, even our righteousness as “filthy rags” (Purity Culture). This is the belief that mankind, and anything he creates, is, was, or ever will be — abominable. That there is no inherent worth present in a person.
Authors note: My heart is broken over this. Reading it all like this, laid out this way, from experience and observation from living this life, it just comes back to me with one word: Unnecessary. Grief, despair, Loneliness, Violence, Judgement, Godless, Christ-less, merciless.
Yet this was my life. This was the world I lived in. Church should be a place of healing. A place of comfort. A hospital. A home. A place of refuge for the weary in heart, mind, and body. It should be a place where people gather to comfort each other, and share the good news of the Gospel. This should be a place to break bread, to drink the wine, to celebrate a new birth, and mourn a passing.
It shouldn’t be a place of ruthless ambition where words and deeds are always observed with a suspicious eye. It shouldn’t be a place of rampant abuse, lies, secrets, and fear.
That’s not a church, that — my friends — is a cult. I don’t believe Jesus Christ would have condoned any of this.