The more I interact with fundamentalists, either in church or on the Internet, the more I become convinced it is a disease of the mind. Having been a fundamentalist myself I can honestly say that you aren’t in your right mind when your caught in its throes. As a fundamentalist you close your mind to anything but what a 2000+ year old text says. How can this be normal? It’s like confining all your thought to the works of Archimedes or to Shakespeare (that might not be bad) or to Michelangelo and refusing to accept information past that point. However, it is so thrilling to, all of a sudden, “wake up” and realize you’ve been deluding yourselffor many years. You realize that the fundamentalist church/religion is designed solely to keep those delusions fresh and ever present so that you will quickly fall into line if you have doubts. Hell is an ever present threat. It’s brainwashing, pure and simple. Why? Because of two mental tricks foisted upon the weak of mind and ingrained over time:
1) Never trust your mind or your spirit
2) If it’s not in the bible (Koran, etc.), don’t trust it.
Right there you are guaranteed to become a spiritual robot, willing to take orders from those who will proceed to tell you what to do and how to interpret the bible. If you never trust yourself and believe that “satan” is trying to lure you away when you read other things, then you have successfully stunted your growth for the rest of your life. Is it any wonder that fundamentalists are stuck in the adolescent stage of life? Is it any wonder they cry and bawl if they don’t get their way? Is it any wonder that when faced with opposition, they cajole, threaten, and when these tactice won’t work, they become violent and hateful? There’s nothing more evil than the false smile and “God bless you” of a fundamentalist who won’t accept reason.
Fundamentalists are usually people who have had rough lives and are looking for unconditional love. Every fundamentalist talks of being “saved” from drugs, alcohol, depression, suicide. Rarely does a fundamentalist come from a happy family. Why? Because happiness does not need the remedy fundamentalism provides: a tightly knit group of like minded people who resist the “outside.” Fundamentalists cannot cope with the world as it is. They must invent an ideal world that shelters them from chaos. In a way it’s admirable that we can divert our attention this way to try to “heal” ourselves, but it is only a tiny, tiny step to full fledged mental health. It’s not a cure but a band-aid. Its effects should be temporary, but some never grow out of the mindset and choose to remain in ignorance. The fundamentalist worldview is basically an ideal. It doesn’t exist in the real world and indeed cannot exist in it.
It’s very, very hard to change the brainwashing of fundamentalism. This is why trying to reason with them doesn’t work. But it can be done through self education. The fundamentalist can change if they allow themselves to realize that their worldview is not real, that the false god they worship does not exist, or that the promises that the church keeps teaching them do not work. One has to pull oneself up by the bootstraps so to speak and realize the damage they’ve done to themselves and to their families. But it takes a huge mental effort and commitment to change. Thank the true Divine that I had a strong enough will to fight it. Others have too. Fortunately, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are perfectly rational, progressive Christians out there waiting to help heal you.
This Christmas season I want to thank all the fundamentalists out there who posted to my blog. Some of you are loving, generous people and are undogmatic about your religion. But others of you have made me realize that I cannot live in the fundy fantasy-land any longer. I’ve got a renewed spirit to start the New Year without any type of fundamentalist religion in my life. I’m officially detoxing from from the fundy religion. I’ve got a renewed sense of my faith in the Divine that includes all people of goodwill and open hearts and minds and a sense of Godde, who is big enough and merciful enough to forgive all people in Christ as promised. I am no longer going to waste my time perpetuating patriarchy inherent in fundamentalism. I’m not longer wasting my energy worrying about the state of my soul after death. Whatever happens after death happens and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. I’m going to spend my time helping to make my corner of the universe better for every creature, animal or human.
Blessings to all of you.