Sunday, April 22, 2007

Twilight of the Dominionists

Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

Do you know who the worst enemies of Xtain fundamentalists are? You can guess the usual suspects: Secular Humanists, Godless Liberals, homosexuals and their 'agenda', and last-but-not-least--those filthy hippie earth worshiping, tree-hugging Pagans (or do I flatter myself?). But if you picked any of them--you're wrong! It turns out that the worst enemies of Xtain fundamentalists--are THEMSELVES! That's according to Mary Ratcliff, who presents significant research by a social psychologist who focus on fundamentalists. It seems their Junior Xtian Soldiers have penchant for going astray:

...Ironically, one of their biggest how difficult it has been to keep their children in the fundamentalist camp when they grow up. Fundamentalists have invested a great deal into trying to make sure their children are not polluted by the sinful world. They've created a parallel mass media....They've put on huge rallies and concerts providing Christian entertainment and music. And they've created a separate press that publishes Christian novels and magazines. Indeed, home-schooling was started largely in response to the "godless" culture which was so seductive to the children of the Christian fundamentalists...

But even after such precautions, as they grow older, it seems many children abandon fundamentalism. Insiders typically blame the suspects I mentioned above. So they've reacted by redoubling their efforts at stacking the courts, state houses, school boards, and the federal gov with like-minded people. However, according to social psychologist Bob Altemeyer (who figured prominently in John Dean's excellent book "Conservatives without Conscience") such efforts have been failing:

...Bob Altemeyer found that fundamentalist families have a particularly poor track record in passing their beliefs down to their descendants.... "Christian fundamentalism has three great enemies in the struggle to retain its children, judging by the stories its apostates tell: weaknesses in its own teachings, science, and hypocrisy...For the first problem: when the Bible is actually read, the actual text causes problems for the discerning reader. "The Bible was, they said, too often inconsistent, petty, boring, appalling, self-serving, or unbelievable..."

Although may profess Biblical allegiance, Altemeyer found that few actually read the Bible completely; those that do find it's inconsistencies too great. Yuppers, the bible does indeed contain some appalling stuff. Hmmm. How about tossing your daughters to an angry mob--in order to avoid offending your guests? Or, sacrificing your son--to prove your love of god? How 'bout the bible teaching that pagans just can't get enough human sacrifice and like to make Sushi of their own children. (As some reading this will know, I'm not joking: I have talked to Xtains who think we advocate things like that! I'm so sorry to disappoint them.) And I've been at this for a few year now--and I still haven't grown my cloven hooves, DAMMIT!

Next, science rears it's serpentine head:

...for some, science makes too much sense ...for people who find the logic of science compelling, the decree from the pulpit to ignore and disbelieve science is too much....From its earliest days fundamentalism has drawn a line in the sand over scripture versus science, and some of its young people eventually felt they had to step over the line, and then they kept right on going...

Don't you hate it when science makes too much sense! regards to the third problem...what they learned from their families and from the pulpit was how valuable integrity and truthfulness was in defining one's character. And the implacable demand that one submit their belief and their reason to something they found irrational became too much...

For Fundamentalist, this third problem is perhaps the worst, especially when one escapes the cocoon-like confines of their communities. Then, several powerful factors come into play. Part of it comes down to the fact that for people who think dishonesty is a sin and hold themselves and others to a high moral or ethical standards, hypocrisy does not play well. Long term, sick people like Ted Haggard or Jimmy Swaggart and disgraced Dominionist apologists such as US Rep. Mark Foley take a heavy toll.

As the Yin and Yang symbol teaches us, an extreme always contains the seeds of its self destruction.

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