Theology

15 things not to say to a recovering fundamentalist

facepalm

There have been plenty of things I’ve heard since I left Christian fundamentalism after spending 14 years (more than half my life) in it, and most of them make me want to tear my hair out. So, I put out a general call for some of the gems you have heard, and here’s a few that I got back.

          1. “You just need to work through your bitterness.”– Teryn

Bitterness. It’s a good idea to pretty much never use that word in particular. Bitterness, in fundie-speak, is a tool to silence anyone who is being critical. If you’re accused of “bitterness,” it means that you are incapable of viewing any situation or person “correctly,” that you lack the capacity for love and grace, and what you actually need to work on is yourself. You’re imagining things, nothing bad is happening, and you have a screw loose. This is actually a form of gaslighting– convincing the person who’s being attacked that they’re just crazy– and we’ve been beaten over the head with it for years. Just because we’re saying things about the Church that aren’t pleasant doesn’t make us bitter. Just because we sound angry doesn’t mean we’re bitter.

          2. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” — Lydia

There are a lot of variations on this one, but it all boils down to this idea that Christianity is fine, it’s really just our personal experiences that we have to get over. And, I get why this one comes up a lot. For Christians who haven’t experienced either a) fundamentalism or b) spiritual abuse, their religion is one of the best, most wonderful, spectacular things in their life and they couldn’t imagine living without it. For us, though? It’s not even remotely the same feeling. When Christianity has been the weapon used to beat you, sometimes, throwing the whole thing out is the only healthy thing left to do.

          3. “You were never really a Christian.”Libby Anne

It’s the teachings of “eternal security” and “by their fruits you shall know them” taken one step too far. And, frankly, it’s codswallop. By any measure, people who grew up in Christian fundamentalism, prayed the sinner’s prayer, loved God, loved Jesus . . . they were Christians any way you look at it. Just because they’re not Christians now has absolutely zero bearing on if they were Christians then. The same thing goes if they don’t fit your particular criteria for what you think a “Christian” is.

          4. “If you’re not currently attending a church, you have walked away from God.”KR Taylor

People usually come to me armed with Hebrews 10:25 — “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together,” which is really just code for “real Christians go to church.” Which, seriously, asking some of us to go back to church is like asking a soldier with severe PTSD to go back to the battlefield, or asking a battered wife to go back to her abusive husband. You’re telling us that the only way we can be a “True Christian” is if we go to a building where all the other “True Christians” are once a week, and aside from sounding ridiculous, it’s inconsiderate and displays an astounding lack of compassion. If you’re telling someone who you know has been spiritually abused to get their ass back in church, all it means is that you haven’t been actually listening to us. If you were listening, you’d know exactly how hurtful and dismissive you sound.

          5. “You need to work this out with trembling and fear.”Dani

Also known as, “Are you sure you want to be asking these questions?” Questions, in many arenas of Christianity, make a lot of us uncomfortable. The unfortunate thing that I’ve encountered the most is that I grew up understanding more about the God of the Old Testament than a lot of “typical” Christians I’ve encountered since getting outside of fundamentalism. Questions like “is God really a genocidal megalomaniac?” or “How is it fair or loving to hold millions of people accountable for something they’ve never heard of?” are legitimate, but they’re also not easy. As fundamentalists, we tend to be intimately familiar with an angry, jealous, righteous God, and trying to figure out how that’s the same Person that is also supposed to be Love is hard. Beyond hard, at times. It’s downright impossible for many of us.

          6. “I wish people just knew that if they remembered how good Jesus’ love for us is, these things wouldn’t seem so hard!”Hännah

This one feels . . . empty. I’m super happy for all those people who have had amazing experiences with Jesus in their religion, but how good God or Jesus is doesn’t really change the fact that a lot of people’s lives are hell holes or that a lot of people who claim Jesus’ name have done some heinously evil things. And telling us just to ignore our “hardships” because “Jesus loves you!” is basically meaningless. It’s like splashing orange juice on a bullet wound. Sure, orange juice is awesome, and Vitamin C is good for you, but it’s not going to do anything to help.

          7. “Why do you have to criticize the Church? Do you hate Christians?”Boze

Probably more than a lot of these, this one makes me want to tear my hair out and beat my head against the wall. I think this is another example of the Christian persecution complex gone crazy.  There’s this perception that Christianity is under constant, brutal attack on all fronts, and it’s a battle we’re all gloriously and nobly fighting, but it’s going to overwhelm us at some point and then everything will be terrible. This results in any form of criticism whatsoever being perceived as an “attack.” If what we have to say about the Church isn’t all happy-happy-joy-joy, then we should just stay quiet because we’re just making Christianity look bad. To ex-fundamentalists, this is a line we’re more than familiar with. Defending the reputation of the organization at the cost of actual people is a line we know by heart.

          8. Quoting Jeremiah 29:11. Or Romans 8:28. Or pretty much any hand-picked verse about God working everything out. — Abi

Proof-texting. If there’s one thing that a lot of Christians, but fundamentalists in particular, are exceedingly good at, it’s this. Most of the pastors and preachers I’ve heard are the Kings of Taking Verses out of Context and Making it Sound Good. First of all, using verses like Jeremiah 29:11 (“I know the plans I have for you”) is bad hermeneutics.  Also, throwing single verses at us isn’t very helpful, and is really just frustrating. When Bible verses enter the conversation like this, it usually means that whoever we’re talking to is done listening, and they’ve decided the most helpful thing they can do is use a trite cliché we’ve heard exactly 164,455,795 times before.

          9. “You’re hurting the church. We need unity, not division.”

If I had a nickle.

It’s related to the “do you hate Christians?” comment, but this one is specifically an order to shut up and color. Criticisms of Christianity are not sowing division, just to be clear. There are all kinds of things that sow division– like telling the people in Moore, OK that they should be grateful that God deigned to destroy their homes, or covering up child molestation by pastors in your churches for over 30 years– but standing up for the broken isn’t one of them.

          10. “I’m a/my church is fundamentalist, and I’m/we’re not anything like what you’re describing.”

I run into this sentiment a lot. In fact, when I put out my request for this on twitter, one of the people who responded said “I’m a fundamentalist. Please don’t throw stones.” Which, was just . . . ironically funny, but also made me sigh. I use the words fundamentalist and fundamentalism to talk about a specific Christian movement, and I use the accepted term to describe it. I know a lot of people who claim the label “fundamentalist”– in fact, one of my best and dearest friends does– who don’t actually fit. There is a difference between traditionalism, religious conservatism, and adhering to “fundamentals,” which is really just Protestant orthodoxy, and fundamentalism. I’m using the term as it is modernly defined.

However, there are a lot of people who are fundamentalist and fit exactly what I’m describing, and still say this. Which, just . . . boggles.

          11. “If you are truly seeking God in this time, he will lead you to the Truth.”Trischa

And if I’m led to believing in universalism? Or atheism? Or neo-paganism? Somehow, I don’t think they’ll believe me, because “Truth” usually means “whatever I think the Bible says.” The catch in this statement is “If you are truly seeking.” And they get to determine what “truly seeking” entails. If I don’t eventually end up agreeing with them, welp, I must not have been truly seeking!

          12. “Fundamentalism isn’t really Christianity.”

Oh, boy. I get this one so much, and I’m never entirely sure how to respond to it, because damn. What do they think Christianity is then? It’s a pretty big religion, and it’s got an awful lot of denominations. If believing that Jesus is God, literally came to earth, was crucified and resurrected and now sits on the right hand of the father, and he did all of this to save us from our sins doesn’t qualify you for Christianity, I’d like to see what does. Fundamentalism is an especially pernicious sub-culture in Christianity, but it’s not something totally different. They believe a lot of the exact same stuff that most Christians do– which was a huge shock when I eventually figured that one out. But, they take the hard-edged stance that they’re the only true Christians. So, it’s always funny to me when a non-fundamentalist says the exact same thing a fundamentalist would say about them.

          13. “Be careful you don’t lose your faith.”Hännah

People are genuinely concerned about us, and just want to make sure that we’re ok. However, the concept that we could be “ok” without religion, without Christianity– it’s a little bit too far outside the box for a lot of Christians. To a lot of the people I know, living without their faith would be pretty unthinkable. Thoughts like “I don’t know how people survive without Jesus” (which is a modern remix of “you can do all things through Christ”) are pretty common among Christians– and they mean it. To be honest, I’ve said that sort of thing on more than one occasion. But, let me assure you: we are just fine. For a lot of us, “losing our faith” was the best– and hardest– thing that ever happened to us.

          14. “I’ll pray for you.”Lana

And what they mean by this is “I hope God shows you exactly how wrong you are soon!” (Thanks to Angela). Also, please avoid this one. If there’s a more empty, meaningless phrase in all of Christianity, I’d like to hear it, because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist. When someone says something like this, what most recovering fundies hear is “I don’t care about your problems, I want to exit this conversation, and please don’t even mention the fact that you’ve had a bad experience to me ever again.”

          15. “Your critiques of Christianity aren’t valid, because you’re just confusing it with your fundamentalist background.”

And, for me, this is the one that makes me want to rage-stomp. Because yes, my background was pretty bad. Yes, the church I grew up in was pretty crazy. Yes, the easiest way I have of describing my experience is by calling the whole thing a cult.

However, fundamentalism is really just a microcosm of Christianity in general. It’s not that there’s anything about fundamentalism that is super off-the-radar crazy that makes it obviously bad. All it is, really, is a concentrated version of Christianity. Think of every single thing you’ve ever run into at your completely normal, run-of-the-mill Protestant churches, and I guarantee you that you’ll find it in a fundamentalist church. They’re not different, really, they’re just intensified. Because of that, my background makes me more qualified to speak about some issues, because I have more experience with more aspects of it than your typical church-goer. I actually know what some of these teachings do when they’re consistently enforced.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And . . . that wraps it up for me. What about you? What are some things you’ve heard that just make you go crazy?

UPDATE: I’ve written two follow-up posts. One is on the things you should say, and the other explains more about fundamentalism as a sub-set of Christianity.

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  • Janet

    “You’re conforming to the world.” That one.

  • This is a great list!

    Perhaps not in the same vein, but in response to any belief other than the fundamentalist’s belief: The Bible clearly says…

    Also a response I often used when I was a fundamentalist against anyone who was not: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” KJV, of course!

    • “The Bible clearly says” – I’m soooo tired of this sentence.
      I’d like to add another that I heard a lot when talking about experiencing God’s love and relationship with him in between non-fundamentalist contexts:
      “God writes straight with crooked lines. That doesn’t mean we have to make crookes lines.”

      • I think that the best response to such would be “which edition?”
        if you really think about it, the bible doesn’t say anything clearly, because all the versions are mutations of original Greek, and we can’t read that…I can’t at least…

  • Reblogged this on jkinak04.

  • Yay, I made it onto the list!!!

    This is a great list. I think a lot of people just really don’t understand what it’s like to be hurt by the church, and so they just really can’t figure out why people would critique it, but not hate it.

    Personally, I am still a Christian and still love God and the church, but I have given up just defending everything it does when it’s NOT RIGHT. But I also don’t think the church should just change on a whim to please people (even wounded people). But they should still listen and love and be there for broken people. So it’s a fine line to walk, and very few in American churches are doing it well.

    I think a lot of Christians in the American church lack a fundamental (haha pun intended) concept of humility. Of learning to listen to the pains of those who’ve been wounded, of really wanting to take advice, of really seeing people past theological differences, and truly desiring to change the things that need to be changed.

    A lot of Christians just see critique as persecution, and they get this weird hard-hardheartedness towards any sort of change or seeing their own flaws, etc. THAT’S fundamentalism at it’s core. It isn’t moved by the Spirit of God at all. It holds to a rigid standard, and it doesn’t care who gets flailed at its feet as a result. Grace is lost. Compassion is lost. Love is lost. It’s all about holding everyone to an unattainable standard, conforming everyone into cookie-cutter Christians, and crucifying those who don’t comply. (Hmm…Jesus talked a lot about stuff like this pertaining to the Pharisees in the Bible).

    • Daniel

      For me, the best part is when fundamentalists SAY that they’re doing what they’re doing in/because of love.

      You said it most accurately when you said “It holds to a rigid standard…” There is no room for grace, or even basic consideration of the situation; if they think it’s wrong, then it’s wrong. Period. End of discussion.

      Well said.

      • it makes themselves feel better by saying it’s out of love…which is why it needs to be pierced…

    • “(Hmm…Jesus talked a lot about stuff like this pertaining to the Pharisees in the Bible).”

      So, if you see the same Pharisees at church that you hear Christ preaching against, how do you then balance staying loyal to organized Christianity with remaining loyal to Christ?

      • Good question. First off, I have a deep love for the historicity of Christianity and the church. It has ALWAYS had flaws, it has made huge mistakes, and yet when you go back to its historic roots, there is something deep and beautiful at the core of what it stands for. I think a lot has been lost through the ages, but I do think God loves Christianity and the church, and is always trying to move to uproot and change things that need to be changed.

        For a while, I thought about leaving the church (not God, but the church/organized Christianity), but I just kept coming back to the fact that I knew there were people in churches who need honest, loving people to reach out to them. I so desperately wanted real people when I was in the unhealthy churches. And there was no one. What if there is someone who wants love, and I just leave the church and forget that there are people there who desperately want love and honesty in a church setting? Can I abandon those people? Since I’ve been in their shoes, I know I can’t. I’ve learned that I can awaken honesty and healing in others just be being myself and being honest and loving.

        Right now, I go to a fairly healthy church. Are they perfect? No. Do I agree with everything they do and say? No. But they are genuinely trying to seek God and love. But I stay because I want to love, to find those who are hurting and broken and need honesty. I stay to help heal others. I stay because I do believe In God, I do believe in Christ, and I want to spread the power of His healing love.

        I totally don’t judge others who need to leave the church for a while–or leave it permanently. I think we’re all on a journey, and God sees our brokenness and our questions, and He loves us through things. I have definite hope for the church, because I see things changing, I see the Spirit stirring in His people. And I think fundamentalists/super legalists/etc will just lose more ground because God isn’t truly there. (He’s there–but He’s there trying to expose the lies and the hatred).

        Plus, a lot of this is an American issue. Christianity in a lot of third world countries is vibrant and beautiful because they haven’t had the time to make it rigid with tons of rules yet (not that this is the case everywhere, I know, but it’s the majority). They’re just trying to survive day-to-day from poverty and others atrocities. They have a true hunger and thirst for God, a true grasp of His love, that is hard to find in America. A lot of religion in American is so lifeless now because we’ve lost the concept of God’s love and power because we don’t truly need those things. We’re pretty content with our consumerism and materialism, etc.

        (Sorry, long answer!!!)

    • wow!! you just summed up everything i have been thinking in an incredibly clear way!

  • Elmo

    I like the variations on the No True Scotsman fallacy. I’ll bet there are plenty more.

  • “You’re just looking for a way to justify yourself.”

    I got that one thrown at me (and I grew up evangelical, not fundie). It seems to extend from the idea that questioning = sin and that one couldn’t POSSIBLY be questioning if there wasn’t some kind of sin in their life they wanted to excuse or downplay.

    • I get that one a lot! One fundie told me that I am just wanting to suit my own preffernces.

  • Great list! Another one that get’s me is “Don’t ask ‘Did God really say that?’ That was what led Eve to the first sin!” (Wrote a whole blog post just about that one: http://redemptionpictures.com/2013/08/29/hath-god-said/)

  • I would also add that these are things not to say to someone who has been hurt by the church. When I was going through my period of doubt after a church left me beat and hurting, I heard most of these. My personal favorite was “You deserved what happened because you don’t have true faith.”

    • religious victim-shaming by the perpetrators…gotta love that Christian love for all of God’s creation…

  • “Being treated poorly/abused is better than you deserve” is the one that really irks me. I also got hit with “If you were content in God you wouldn’t want to move,” meaning that my desire to move to another state for financial reasons meant that I wasn’t content in God.

  • We need a part II to this: good quips to say in return.

    I’ve had folks tell me that I never really believed in Jesus. I’m waiting my chance to say, “I’m good with Jesus. It’s YOU I have the problem with.” Perhaps some day.

  • When your trying to say something perfectly reasonable about love and justice you get thrown “God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts.”

  • “We have faith that God is in charge of your life and he will guide you.” An innocent enough sentiment, except that it is always used in a passive-aggressive way that means “we know that you’ll come crawling back to us eventually.” It leaves me in constant doubt if my family still wants a relationship with ME or if they are only still talking to me in hopes of being around once I finally un-gay and re-Christian.

    Also, all of the affronted, guilt-tripping “I guess you must think your father and I were horrible parents if you have such a bad opinion of your faith!” comments. Like I can’t have an opinion on things outside of what they taught me. Yes, my parents certainly made mistakes, but I’m 25 years old! I have developed opinions that don’t necessarily involve their influence (gasp!). To assume that all of my opinions are solely based on my 0-18 upbringing is insulting and pretentious on their part. Not to mention, its sole purpose is to try to guilt me into shutting up. Frustrating!

    • Also, all of the affronted, guilt-tripping “I guess you must think your father and I were horrible parents if you have such a bad opinion of your faith!” comments. Like I can’t have an opinion on things outside of what they taught me. Yes, my parents certainly made mistakes, but I’m 25 years old! I have developed opinions that don’t necessarily involve their influence (gasp!). To assume that all of my opinions are solely based on my 0-18 upbringing is insulting and pretentious on their part. Not to mention, its sole purpose is to try to guilt me into shutting up. Frustrating!

      THIIIS. Very much this. Sigh.

    • GlassRachel

      I’d don’t know if you’ve gotten this one, but I always got “I’m sorry I failed you” or “I’m know I’m a failure” or “I know I failed God’s test with you”. Like my life was nothing but a test for them.

      But SO THIS! Also, all of the affronted, guilt-tripping “I guess you must think your father and I were horrible parents if you have such a bad opinion of your faith!” comments. Like I can’t have an opinion on things outside of what they taught me. Yes, my parents certainly made mistakes, but I’m 25 years old! I have developed opinions that don’t necessarily involve their influence (gasp!). To assume that all of my opinions are solely based on my 0-18 upbringing is insulting and pretentious on their part. Not to mention, its sole purpose is to try to guilt me into shutting up. Frustrating!

      • Oh dear lord, yes, I’ve gotten that. Especially from my mother, I hear “I’m so sorry we failed you”. You know, if it was an honest apology for the mistakes that they actually DID make, I’d be happy to hear that. But it never is. Instead it’s her way to say “I’m upset at you for leaving the church, but I don’t want to sound judgmental, so I’ll throw in some self-deprecating comments in lieu of a real apology. I’m not sorry for the abuse or the brainwashing. I’m sorry that you left the faith. Since I don’t know how to control that, I’m going to make it all about me. After all, if I make it about ME then maybe I can fix it.” Underneath it all, is always the idea that “girl, you need fixing.” And I’m so goddamn tired of people trying to fix what’s not broken.

    • Anonymous 2

      “We have faith that God is in charge of your life and he will guide you.” An innocent enough sentiment, except that it is always used in a passive-aggressive way that means “we know that you’ll come crawling back to us eventually.”

      I’ve gotten this one so much after converting to Judaism! And phrases beginning with, “Well…if you deny Christ…” Sheesh!

      • It would be nice if people could respect us enough to assume that we actually put some thought into our religious beliefs. When you get stuff like that, people are telling you “you must just never have really thought about it. Here, let me explain to you how you are wrong and show you the light”. Religious folks need to learn to accept that maybe, just maybe, we put serious thought into our choices and just so happened to end up disagreeing with them. Disagreement is not necessarily a sign of ignorance! It is insulting to treat it that way!

        • Anonymous 2

          I know! I personally think life would be rather boring if we all agreed! And the lack of respect and the shunning we get for our personal choices is very hurtful. And the phrase that “You’re just blinded to the truth [of Christianity]”, as if there is no other path. I didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “I’m going to convert to Judaism today!”. It was years of questioning my Christian beliefs and research until I decided to, and even then took a year to officially convert! Really, it was the complete opposite of Christianity, where for the most part (and this is my interpretation), you simply say “I believe”, are baptized, and are then a member of the club.

          • I guess, for many people, there IS no other path besides Christianity. It’s fine if you feel that way, but it still doesn’t make it okay to disrespect other peoples’ choices.

            I was raised Pentecostal, which I think must have been very different from your Christian experience. My church loved to emphasize how salvation was never assured, how most people who “got saved” probably weren’t really even saved, and how you had to do x, y, and z in order to preserve your salvation. These included things like never wearing jewelry, never cutting your hair (for women), never getting a piercing, never getting tattoos, never growing a beard (for men), never wearing pants (for women), never letting your body shape be visible (for women), and a shit-ton of other completely arbitrary rules. The whole thing was pretty absurd, but they certainly didn’t believe in “say the sinner’s prayer and you’re saved.” I guess that just goes to show how much diversity there is in every religion.

  • Great list!

    I hate hearing “If you are looking for a perfect church, don’t join it because you’ll ruin it” or “No church is perfect” when I point out serious problems in a church or christian community. First of all, that no churches are perfect doesn’t mean that none are better than this one. But more importantly, even if none were better, that wouldn’t be a reason to ignore the serious harm being caused by it!

    • forgivnsetfree

      Exactly!! I’ve heard this one a kazillion times lately! I wanna slap someone!

  • I feel like my feelings are finally valid. Thank you so much for this list.

  • Every time I hear some variation of “You’re rejecting the clear teaching of Scripture!” I want to bang my head into a wall.

    This is a false argument from the beginning. The assumption made when someone says this is that both of you AGREE on what the Bible says in the first place. That makes you the evil Bible-rejecter and them the steadfast Bible-follower.

    But what they don’t see (or refuse to see) is that we DON’T agree with them in the first place. And our disagreement doesn’t come from any personal failing on our part, but from studying the Bible in context.

    But they assume the argument is over application and not interpretation. To them there can be no possibility of a differing interpretation. Because if there is the possibility of a different interpretation then that means that there is also a possibility that their interpretation might be wrong. And the entire fundamentalist theology is a house of cards – take away one part and the entire thing crumbles. So it is absolutely essential that their interpretation never be wrong.

  • That last paragraph really hit the nail. Instead of fundamentalism being something so extreme as to be something completely different that regular old Christianity, regular old Christianity (especially of the American Evangelical kind, but really all of it) is more like fundamentalist-lite.

  • Very good article. I grew up and remain a christian and I’ve noticed a lot of these faults with the church I attend as well, in both my experience, and that of my family. “I’ll pray for you” is probably the emptiest statement made, it is usually a dismissal, at best it means they have run out of things to say.
    The quote I always come back to with christianity is:

    I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
    Mahatma Gandhi

    It seems that christians (Fundamentalists or any other flavor) have lost sight of the entire point of christianity: to love.

    • Now that is a fantastic quote!

      I was raised ultrafundamentalist (Bob Jones, Calvinist flavor), PK, home-schooled for awhile, the whole nine. I don’t hear any of this stuff, and I’ll tell you my secret … I don’t talk to fundamentalists about religion 😉 I really recommend it. You can always cut it off with, “I’m not sure this is edifying” or “I’ll pray about what you’ve said.”

  • “I’ll pray for you” is condescending. It is putting the person down and it is ELEVATING the person who says it. It means “I know what is best for you and you are hopeless – I’ll ask God to hope your eyes so you don’t land in hell forever.” It’s a BIG power play and a serious put-down. It’s one of the most offensive things I’ve EVER heard about refusing to be a fundamentalist. It really is a hostile move. Truly.

    My response to that is always, “Well, thank you! I can use all the prayers I can get!” I then SMILE and WALK AWAY. I might touch the person’s arm as I’m saying it – conveying warmth and caring for that person AND communicating how they SOOOO have not gotten to me.

  • Just curious if anyone here read my book, “Preacher Boy” The author’s inclusion of the dreaded “bitterness” muzzle caught my attention. In Preacher Boy I said that silencing an atheist is as easy as ABC. Simply label the atheist Angry Bitter or Confused. Confused also applies to “going through the wilderness.” I applaud real atheist deconverts like myself who burned a bridge or two and didn’t softsoap the issues, so as to leave a door cracked in case atheism lets you down. I graduated LIberty University and was very rigidly homeschooled for years in a fundie home. Thanks for the GREAT article.

  • Angela

    My background is actually ex-mormon but I’ve found it to be similar in many ways. The most common response I got (and still get) in response to my faith crisis was, “Have you tried praying for answers?” Um, gee thanks. I wish I’d thought of that!

  • Brian

    “You’re not really an atheist.” This from my fundamentalist cousin who earnestly believes there is no such thing as an atheist. It’s not so much this particular comment, but the category of this kind of comment that drives me to frothing at the mouth… like the ones who insist that I’m not gay but actually a hetero with a homo problem… or think that I somehow miraculously chose my orientation (and they did? really?).

    I think I am perfectly capable of interpreting my own life experiences for myself. I actually happened to be there at the time and you (judgmental Christian) weren’t.

    “Are you a Christian?” There is no way I can answer this question without blowing a gasket. If you don’t know me well enough to know the answer already, you don’t know me well enough to hear my answer. You haven’t earned my trust yet.

  • Holy shi…

    I just recently quit the Theology Department in my Adventist University, and I’ve heard so many different forms of these quotes that this article made me happy, so happy.

    It’s hard when people who haven’t talked to you in weeks or months call you because ‘they’re worried about a quote’ you put on fb. Or, any of these. Lord. You guys make me happy by posting this

  • Reblogged this on David Waldock's Blog and commented:
    I have totally heard pretty much every one of these…

  • Great post, Samantha. What’s interesting is how many of us who are still firmly within the church are oh so familiar with some of these.

  • GlassRachel

    I actually want to say thanks because this list can cover anyone who had a horrid experience with Christianity and not just the Fundie branch. I was raised Christian, and was Christian as much as a child can be when they know nothing else. It never felt right, and had a big hand in turning me suicidal. I finally did convert (in my teens) to Paganism, but all of these still ring true.I’m going to share and encourage all my Christian friends and family to read this, as it may give them some insight into the things I say and do, and why I say and do them.

  • Russ

    I am a former fundie. I spent decades being spiritually abused. I will carry to my grave the scars of that experience. But it is really quite easy to see that fundamentalism is not Christianity. To equate the two, which the author does at least four times, requires either malicious intent or profound ignorance, akin to asserting that melanoma is skin. The author may pursue this line of reasoning, of course, but should do so in full knowledge that she is committing the logical fallacy of the straw man argument. I think that author actually knows this, because she has addressed it in #2, #3, #12 and #15. Mere repetition of an assertion, however, does not a convincing argument make.

    • Hi Russ–

      First of all, please read my comment policy. You came really close to violating it here.

      Secondly, I realize that you’re not obligated to read all 162 of my posts, and you’re new so I’m not expecting you to have any awareness of who I am or what I’m about. However, you should probably familiarize yourself with my writing before you start throwing out things like “malicious intent” and “profound ignorance.”

      Also, I could just as easily say that making the argument that fundamentalism isn’t Christianity is just the No True Scotsman fallacy.

      And no, repetition isn’t an argument.

      However, you have not presented an alternative argument here. You just called me/my writing mean and stupid. So, here’s a question: why do you think “it is really quite easy to see that fundamentalism is not Christianity”?

    • I think it is important to define terms. If by “Christianity” you mean “Holds to the doctrinal positions contained in the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds” (which is a common definition), then fundamentalism certainly is a form of “Christianity.” If you mean by “Christian”: “follows in the footsteps of Jesus,” then maybe it isn’t, but you run the risk of the “No true Scotsman” fallacy.

  • This is so good. As a recovering Catholic, I get these all the time though not so much anymore since I left The Church many years ago now. I watch this Pope with bemusment, he is interesting, modern even in many of his statements; married priests? care for the poor? peace in the Middle East? driving a 20 year old car? The Church may make headway in losing the trappings of our own brand of fundamentalism during his tenure.

    I am curious, I think I confuse these, though I know they have different teachings it seems they can be toxic when taken to extrems, am I missing something? Fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostal

  • Kreine

    My personal “favorite” is, “You have become that which you despise.” Because, what?

  • Janie

    I am eternally grateful that I was cradle born Episcopalian. I know other denominations preach some of the same word of God’s love and teach us to tolerate and even love those who disagree with us, but that was never an issue for me as an Episcopalian. Some of my friends doubt whether I am a true “christian”, but I’m comfortable knowing that the two basic tenets, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul, and secondly love your neighbor as yourself,” are firmly ingrained in my soul. I may not live up to that level of goodness, but I know I feel comfortable aspiring to it.

  • I’m so grateful that there are other people who have left (run screaming from) the Fundamentalist movement, and who are posting articles like this. Your writings deeply affirm what I knew in my gut, but wouldn’t allow myself to acknowledge until I felt physical pain in my chest that prevented me from even setting foot on church property. It’s been 5 years, and I’m still in the haze of church PTSD. So having people articulate what I haven’t been able to is so helpful. Thank you

  • Many of these replies are straight from the bible itself. I think it’s 2 Peter that says if a person leaves the faith, it’s because they have sin in their lives.
    Ultimately, it’s about hell. Christianity is a biography of a murderously angry God, for whom only a human sacrifice of a perfect god-man was enough to sate his rage. A reply to these replies is: “I’m sorry that the things you believe frighten you, but they no longer frighten me.”

  • All societies need government, some served the people and other make the people serve them, a simplistic way of differentiating between freedom and tyranny. Fundamentalists are the Nazis in any religion, not just Christianity beating everyone with a whip of conformity. I have left a number of churches which will not accept a difference of opinion or interpretation, but I refuse to let those who take the name of the Lord in vain, by claiming their vanity is His, drive me away from my faith. I have found others in my community that feel the same and we meet in a home church. We are seeing a trend of people leaving the formal church with its rigid conformity and dictatorial leadership brainwashing the masses for the freedom of small group sharing and caring. If you want to go through the motions, sit through mind numbing ritual assassinate your intelligence thinking this is faith in God, fine. I’ll take the closeness of people who know me and care about me as I do them, even if we disagree on certain interpretations of the bible. We meet in Love, not judgment.

  • Paul Brandon

    I truly believe that my fundamentalist parents did what they believed was right. but why did they have to send me to school most days with welts on my arms from strapping’s just before we got on the school bus. And why was my head ringing from getting hit in the head so much. And why did my father tell me I was ashamed of Jesus and then told me he was going to heat the stove as hot as it would go and then told me he was going to show me what hell was like by putting my hand in the stove. I truly believe they were trying to beat the hell out of me so I wouldn’t end up there.
    One night on Hornby Island many years later, in an all night prayer meeting I told God, I said,Lord, I know my father was the best father he knew how,but I needed more, Would you be all and more to me of what my father could and should have been?” He gave me something special that night. I had a vision and in that vision I was once again a little boy nestled in my fathers arms but it wasn’t my earthly father it was my heavenly father. I felt so warm and secure. Then the love of Jesus washed over me. It was truly a wonderful healing experience. I no longer hate my parents but I think I understand them better and have tried to be a better person because of it. I have been a Village Missions pastor for 32 years and we don’t even discuses denominations. We just love the people and preach the Word.

  • How about, “oh, I struggled with my faith when I was younger, too. It’ll pass.” (I’m an atheist, now)

  • Freely Anonymous

    You may have been a fundamentalist if:
    1. You have PTSD when confronted with anything too religious.
    2. Occasional periods of self condemnation over some supposed sin.
    3. Flinches people say “God bless you” or “I’ll pray for you”.
    4. Panic when someone asks you “so what church do you attend”:
    5. Total lack of ability to condemn/judge anyone to anything because of condemnation in your own past.
    6. You know the feeling of your heart breaking into a million pieces when people say, “I thought you would turn out so well”.
    7. Anger to the point of shaking when people say: “Oh we miss you at our church, we love you so much.”(Side effect from meeting these people is long monologs in the car on the way home.)
    8. Potential to break out into spasms slightly hysterical laughter at certain “Christian” phrases.
    9. Periods of immense relief and joy when you realize you are ok and you never, ever have to be hurt by these people again
    10. Libel to absolutely loose one’s crap if you see another person being abused like you were.

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  • ChrysF

    I am very grateful for this post and for those who have left comments. Sometimes it’s hard to see that well-meant words will not be received in the spirit in which they were offered. Knowing that all who truly seek a good and noble path in life cannot but find it, I pray that I might never be a stumbling block or act to wound rather than comfort.

  • Carol B

    To the lovely lady Teryn

    Sadly Teryn, no it’s not just USA. I’m in Australia and my family has experienced the same thing.
    I divorced after 26 years of marriage as a Christian (married at 18 and completely incompatible and a struggle the entire time) and have since remarried. My lovely husband and I both have a strong faith in God however, we aren’t attending church as a regular weekly part of our lives. We both have extremely busy working lives and he has two jobs. I find some people who have known me have some difficulty about the divorce and remarriage bit. Plus as soon as you “join” a church…. you get that subtle “we missed you last week…” and “you MUST join our bible study group”. Being as nice and friendly BUT…. it’s designed to control and to lock us in again.

    On the odd occasions we do go to church just to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy our time there, we are always asked ….. “Sooooo …… what church do you attend?” Because in their minds, we can’t possibly be REAL Christians if we don’t attend church.

  • Holly Hardy

    I loved the “Pray for you” part. I hear that so often, I HATE that kind of empty self-satisfaction that accompanies that statement. The person has a smile on their face, but you still feel like you’re looking at a really ugly picture.

  • Bob Barker

    You may find the ExploreGod.com web site interesting. No attacks, great videos.

  • MyOwnPerson

    I’ll make a ridiculous addition. “You’re treating us like we sold you into sex slavery!”

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your post. It means a lot to me to hear someone being honest and braver than me about the state of the fundies. I have PTSD from a rape that I never told the fundies about because they would “slut-shame” me. When I became suicidal they told me only pagans think about such evil things and my parents made me pay for my own counseling because they thought I was sinning, not sick. I have been exorcized multiple times and given hermetic counseling (hourlong sessions of blaming and bashing people with Bibles) and now I am mostly disowned because I go to a church with nice, sane people. That was definitely a rant, sorry. I appreciate to hear someone being more open than I typically am.about this. Thanks.

  • “I know that I know that I know . . . ” that one.

  • Gabe

    Great post! Having just left fundamentalism, I’ve heard the majority of these. My favorite–the one that really pissed me off–is, “You’re believing your own lies.”

  • “…this one is specifically an order to shut up and color” <—Gold

  • Shamanot

    Religion is a snare to keep poor people down. I don’t hate Christians, I hate the liars that use religion to pacify people out of surviving. Christians aren’t stupid, they’ve been brainwashed by rich people using very sophisticated social psychology. “Might is Right” is the sad bud hidden truth. Until all religious people realize this they will stay ensnared, confused, depressed. The only happy Christians are the rich ones and their money has nothing to do with their religion and everything to do with how well they can device. This is the devils world. -The Infiltrator

  • Jesus is not religion; He is love, how about you guys start acting in love?

    i have never heard anyone say any of these, besides the “I’ll pray for you”, which honestly, I’m glad if someone wants to pray for me! I don’t see the point of constantly attacking other believers…. fundamentalist or not… There are so many interpretations anyway of the Bible; if you don’t want people attacking you, then stop attacking them. Haven’t your parents ever taught you that two wrongs don’t make a right? What I’ve noticed about people who fervently claim to either be “fundamentalists” and “non-fundamentalists” are that you guys spend more time freaking out about each other than anything else! Chill out!

    • Jane

      You have no idea what you are talking about, spiritual abuse is real. Just because it didn’t happen to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening

  • 2 pieces of advice I might offer:

    1. You should see a secular counselor and have a pastor or spiritual counselor you trust. Anyone else who asks or offers advice should be told “I have a difficult transition ahead of me. I have sought the help of professionals that I trust and will deal with it privately. Outside of those sessions I really don’t want to discuss it.”

    2. Avoid referring to or thinking of yourself as a victim. Don’t use phrases like “I am a recovering fundamentalist.” You used to be a fundamentalist and now you’re not. Casting yourself as a victim continues to give them power over you and is not helpful.

    • KellyK

      I know I’m very late here, but i want to say that I don’t see anything wrong with being up front and honest about having been victimized by harmful theology. I understand trying to emphasize the positive, but it also tends to minimize the harm that’s been done. Also, because fundamentalism has a component of “you must be happy and grateful all the time,” there’s something freeing about acknowledging pain and scars, and being able to acknowledge that, no, you’re actually not okay.

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  • I’ll pray for you. That you get over your bitterness, come back to the real church, and really try to ask God to… KIDDING!. 🙂

    I am truly sorry that you were spiritually abused in the name of Jesus. There’s almost nothing that makes me sadder than thinking about that. (Well, starving children…)

    I would actually like to pray for you. But not for your return to the church, or anything like that. Just for some healing. And only if it’s okay with you. I find it a bit offputting when people pray for those who really don’t want that.

    • My view on prayer is that, like charity, it should be unannounced 🙂

  • Mark

    Good point about fundamentalism being but one sub-set of Christianity. Having grown up in a liberal Protestant environment, served as a liberal/progressive Protestant minister for two decades, and recently left the Church to recover, I can attest that many liberals and progressives say equally silly things (and sometimes the exact same things) to those of their own who leave the faith. Excellent post.

  • Drea

    I’m still in the church, despite lots of scars on my back from the Christian Cannibals out there. I just managed to find a congregation I feel safe with to be me, who are, mostly, not scared of hard questions. But I serve as chaplain at an addiction treatment center, to a whole lot of folks who have had it with Christianity because of nasty experiences with various flavors of church. I won’t challenge them, their wounds are too real, and even if the scars are old, its none of my business to go ripping them open. I’ve learned the hard truth of some of what you’ve said here: leaving the church is sometimes the only way to save your soul – and spirituality, that sense of connectedness to what’s greater than any one of us is, is a far vaster realm than any religion. God really is big enough to meet us on any path God chooses, and its not up to me to say what that path is. I can’t use the word “only” about anything in Christianity any longer. I believe its my path, it leads me to the Holy, but the prayers my Buddhist friends pray for me are just as valid as mine are for them; the humbleness of a sweatlodge is as cleansing as baptism; and sacred space is created more by shared tears and laughter than by ritual and symbols. Keep writing. You keep me hopeful and give me lots I can use to help my patients. Thanks

  • Been there, done that, got the t-shirt and souvenir. I am a recovering fundamental baptist. When I divorced my first husband, I decided that I never wanted to go back to that denomination. I still believe the same doctrine, but I don’t subscribe to the legalistic baloney. I go to a baptist church, but it not fundamental. Took a long time to discover non-fundamentalists are Christians lol. My old church thinks I’ve fallen away lol. God has shown me more about Him through it all. I am more compassionate and tolerant and loving than I ever was. I serve others whether they fit into my box as to what a Christian looks like. I could go on forever. I am glad I left fundamentalism.

    • Anonymous

      Yours is the story I want a few years from now. I’ve slowly left my fundamentalist church in search of who God REALLY is, I believe that’s in Christianity. Just not in fundamentalism. My tolerance level has gone through the roof and those who knew me from my old church think I’m “backsliding” lol.

  • Terry Mahoney

    I’m very curious about the views being expressed here and would love to have a better understanding. Could you recommend some books?
    Thank you

    • Terry – I recently discovered Frank Schaeffer. His books may be in the vein of what you’re looking for.

    • Frank

      Hi Terry. Good question. I’ve been out since 2009. In my opinion, recovery from toxic faith isn’t much different than any other recovery cycle. I could recommend some books but it would be best to know what you’re looking for, first. If you could imagine recovery in stages, what stage do you think you’re in? Just thinking about leaving? Definitely heading out? Been out and feel lost? Interested in challenging friends or believers? Still in but want to know why others want out?

      Hope that makes sense to you. From what I’ve seen and experienced, the path away from faith isn’t universal at all. . . we all have different reason for leaving and we all come from different experiences. I was a fundamentalist evangelical type and was a Baptist and also a Methodist during my 28 years of belief after being born again in the Summer of 1980 while in college.

  • Expatmom

    I was exposed to various religions growing up. My father was Irish-Roman Catholic, my mother Mormon. As a teen, I converted to middle-of-the-road Baptist. I confess a debt to religion. It kept me safe at a difficult stage of my life. Church gave me a place to go, to belong. But as an adult, I turned the dictums of the church over & found the ugliness. I decided it was best to toss them out. Seeing the power hungry, heartless wingnuts around today, I know I made the right decision.

  • Fantastic post! But there is one perspective that seems to be missing from this discussion, perhaps I can share in it.

    Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on smug superiority complexes. My fellow Atheists/Anti-theists suffer this problem all too much, even yours truly (I’m working on it).

    To whit:

    “Aren’t you glad you left behind that stupid/wrong religion?”
    “Don’t you feel smarter now?”
    “Welcome to the world of reason/enlightenment”
    “You don’t need those people, they’re just holding you back”
    “Science, b***c!”

    Someone correct me if I am wrong, but former fundamentalists had to leave behind not just their worldview and ideology, but their family, friends, and neighbors. The pain and confusion of this psychological nuclear bomb makes them vulnerable during their transition into a new worldview. A non-believer who disrespects one’s former faith can be construed as insulting those they care about, yet who still subscribe to that faith. People they loved, still love, even the person they used to be.

    By using the same words bashing the things they used to believe in, it is possible to continue insulting someone even after they’ve left the faith. If you were a butthead to them when they believed, are you still going to be a butthead when they come seeking your guidance on living a life free of their former faith? Recovering fundamentalists need all the support they can get, every friend they can find, someone to CATCH them when they come out of the spiritual rabbit hole.

    To use a personal example, I grew up the son of a lesbian. This gave me a unique perspective about the GLBTQ community and their struggle. When judgmental people (regardless of faith) bash on GLBTQ, they are, by extension, insulting my mother. And where I come from, you just don’t do that. Not unless you just ordered a knuckle sandwich.

    As I struggle with my own issues regarding people of faith, intellectual honesty (and my pathological hatred for hypocrisy) forces me to express that same courtesy towards my philosophical opponents. If I insult and mock (as opposed to critically criticize) any religion, I am dissing someone’s mother. No knuckle sammich for me, thankyewverymuch.

    • Very well done! this is so important. I can imagine a 3×5 card a recovering person could carry with a set of tips for how to treat them. the #1 listing, for example, could be “Don’t criticize my former religion, even if I do. It’s like my mother. I can say stuff about her but you can’t. And no jokes or sarcasm.”
      How about informing the atheist community? There are many atheists who do not understand religion and do things like calling believers idiots or ask, “How can they believe such bullshit?” Hearing such remarks from a speaker can be alienating. So people recovering can actually not feel comfortable at an atheist conference or group. This is so unfortunate, but I think the atheist community can be educated.
      May I quote you?

      • Please, by all means share. And thank you for sharing your journey.

        In the interest of full disclosure, though, I am one the the aformentioned anti-theists struggling to find peace with the mere existence of religion. Much of what I have shared is what I forcibly remind myself when the urge to snark gets the best of me. Maybe I should carry one of those cards you mentioned. Better yet, staple it to my forehead!

        Like I said, I’m working on it 🙂

    • YES this is so true. It is hurtful and upsetting to have people sneer at your former religious beliefs and state that “everyone who believes that shit is just insane.” For one, I used to believe it and I hardly think it was a matter of insanity so much as just conditioning and my entire educational upbringing. Most children being raised as I was would probably do the same, even all those big-talking atheists. Secondly, I still have family and friends who believe these things. It does not make them insane or dumb. Seriously, why do overly-militant atheists feel a need to dick-measure by calling all religious people dumb? Billions of people in the world and billions of people in history have believed in powers outside of the observable world. That certainly doesn’t make them right, but it is goddamn disrespectful and mindbogglingly arrogant to paint all of these people as dumber than you! It’s the exact same sort of arrogance that religious people have when they claim “all other religious followers are heathens.” Again, if these big-talking atheists had walked a mile in a lot of others’ shoes, they probably would believe as well. Just as many religious people would be atheists if they walked in their shoes. That does not make either side right or wrong, but it ought to encourage us to treat each other with a little more respect on both sides!

      • I think you ought to consider that much of the aggressive nature from many atheists is because religion has spent the past 2000 plus years condemning non-believers and for a fair proportion of those years condemning them to death.
        Even today, with all the advances, non believers have an extremely difficult time in communities that are predominantly religious.

        Respect is earned, and before you demand it from atheists perhaps you should recognise that religion, and especially evangelical and other fundamentalists ( Creationists etc) are not only peopled by misguided folk, but outright dickheads who have no right to any respect, especially when they are responsible for the abuse they inflict on children.
        And this applies to every religion.

        The ridiculous is deserving of ridicule.

        • I’d like to see ideas thoughtfully evaluated without rancor or ridicule. I know it’s extremely difficult to be a nonbeliever in a predominantly religious community, but I think a well reasoned argument spoken with kindness and respect is far more persuasive than ridicule.

          • If the religious were open to reason they would be atheists.
            Theists become atheists once they have begun to question the diatribe that is religion.
            For some it is the question of ‘evil’, for others the genocidal maniac that is Yahweh, or the ineffectual buffoon that was the character Yeshua.
            Or maybe the biblical contradictions and lies.
            Whatever it is that causes a theist to make the decision to change an atheist is not usually the catalyst.
            William Lane Craig was once asked what he would do if evidence was produced to conclusively show there was no god to which he replied he would immediately pray to god for help (paraphrase)
            This level of bare faced intransigence deserves the most scorn one is able to muster, not least because these idiots have access to children, which is intolerable.

            Most Jewish people now acknowledge that the Pentateuch is fiction, it is time for Christians and Muslims to step up to the plate and “Own Up” as well.

          • KellyK

            Well, that’s a good example of exactly what Michal was talking about.

          • Sarcasm?

        • Before you start making assumptions about me and being rude and condescending, there’s a couple things you should know: I’m not religious, I’m agnostic. I used to be religious because I was raised steeped in it with no hope of escape until I went to college. It has taken years for me to shed that. And no, that doesn’t make me insane or dumb. As I said, neither of us can fully judge the others’ experience until we’ve walked a mile in each others’ shoes. So calling everyone religious “dumb” or “insane” really doesn’t even begin to describe the complexity of religious experiences out there, and it is arrogant and narrow-minded. And respect is NOT earned: respect of a human being should be a given. Respect of a belief is, of course, totally up to you.

          Now I’m not going to deny that there are plenty of dickheads in religions (especially fundamentalist ones) but there are dickhead atheists and agnostics too. No one group has a monopoly on dickheadishness. We do need to confront problems at their root, and sometimes that root is, in fact, a religious doctrine. But that does not mean that we need to generalize entire populations with misguided stereotypes. The diversity of beliefs among every religious following is HUGE, and if you have not realized that yet, you should either study religion more or, if you don’t care, at least stop making blanket statements.

          I am not ignorant of the problems that non-believers have in religious communities. I am an ex-Christian myself. I do not give believers a free pass to mistreat unbelievers. However, I also think that believers should be treated with respect, so long as they also remain respectful. As I said, you do not know what has led them to their belief. You do not know what might eventually lead them to keep it or abandon it. If you lived their lives, maybe you would believe the same. That is all that my comment is intended to say.

          • I did not use the terms, “dumb” or “insane”.

            Many religious people/communities repress non believers and openly discriminate against them. Hell, even that marvelous US President , the number one dickhead, considered atheists un patriotic. So, no, a person like this deserves no respect.

            There is enough factual information available that to have Creationist groups pushing for their shit to be taught at school is an outright disgrace.

            That extremist Muslim groups are allowed to flourish in democratic secular society when their sole intent is to subjugate is a disgrace.

            I do not really concern myself with what has led them to belief. It is inculcation, plain and simple.Though I do sympathize with some.

            But the sooner legislation is brought to bear to prevent the religious indoctrination of children then the better off this world will be.

          • I recognize that you did not use the words “dumb” or “insane”. Those were the words I used in MY comment which you responded to, so I was just iterating the initial point I had been trying to make when I used them again. Sorry for the confusion.

            I agree with you that Creationism should not be taught in schools, nor should extremists be allowed to subjugate anyone. However, many Christians do not want Creationism to be in schools and most Muslims are not extremists. Lumping them all together is not helpful. My comment was simply to say that everyone has their own reasons for believing, and calling them “insane” or “dumb” is unacceptable. Perhaps you agree with me, but since your reply seemed to imply that atheists need not respect religious people since you seem to think that all religious people do not respect atheists, I assumed that you disagreed. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

          • Religion deserves no respect; absolutely no respect whatsoever, irrespective of which religion.
            Those (adult) believers ( a la William Lane Craig, Ken Ham and even the like s of Lee Strobel Habermass and Mike Licona , who refuse to question their faith in the face of overwhelming evidence, and insist that their brand of religion is better than others deserve no respect either. None.

            I believe Paine said it best….( and you can extend this to all religions..)

            “The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.”

            [Thomas Paine]

          • I never said religion deserves respect. I said PEOPLE deserve basic respect as human beings and that we shouldn’t jump to conclusions about why they hold the beliefs that they do. You keep arguing things that I am not talking about. If you’re just looking for a place to platform rather than actually discussing this topic with me, I guess I’ll just bow out, because constantly fielding straw men gets tiring.

          • Good quote from Paine. I think in general human beings are worthy of respect regardless of what they believe. Crazy irrational ideas are not worthy of respect. It’s OK by me to ridicule an idea but not a person.

          • A person such as Ken Ham( oh he of dinosaurs lived with humans) or William Lane Craig ( a proponent of divine command theory) are in the front line for disrespect. they teach this stuff to kids.

          • I certainly do not respect his ideas, and I think I can safely say he is a cruel and backwards person. There are many creationists which I believe are honestly mislead and deceived, but those who have degrees and write books to pedal this stuff really don’t have much excuse. Even if most of them truly believe what they are saying with all of their heart, they are still being misleading to others about the amount of evidence to support their claims (the only possible evidence is very cherry-picked and carefully interpreted through their lens.) And Ken Ham… well, I dislike him in particular for perpetuating “culture war” propaganda in fundamentalist circles, which can be quite dangerous.

            I actually met Ken Ham several times, and used to idolize him, so I’m very aware that he teaches this to kids. Oddly enough, he was a great encouragement to me to pursue science in college… which then led me to rejecting creationism because, you know… I actually learned science! =P I admit I get a bit of vindictive pleasure from the fact that he helped start me on the path to REAL science.

        • Bri

          Frankly, I have a hard time feeling much sympathy for you for facing some discrimination as an atheist when you use that as justification for bashing religious people. Do you think that what they put you through is even a fraction as bad as what they do to their own children – what was done to them as children? Do you think you can compare a stupid remark by Bush to twenty years of feeling constantly overwhelmed by guilt, fear, and self-doubt? Or to five more years of the same thing multiplied by 100, which is what I experienced as I worked through the very painful process of rejecting my religion?

          I now hate religion more than almost anything, but I have no interest in hearing what people like you have to say about it. You don’t fucking have the right. Walk a lifetime in my shoes and then I’ll care what you think.

    • Serafina

      Mind if I kiss you? I’ve already quoted you, so too late to ask permission for that. I am a recent transplant from the Midwest to the West coast, and while I have retained some elements of my faith I have transitioned healthily from MANY cultural elements in which I was raised. But you know what? I transitioned away from those BEFORE I moved, lived as a misfit for a long time, then made it to a setting where I thought I would be more at home. I spent my first while out here cowering in embarrassment and humiliation for being from the Midwest. Especially because I do still live with faith, and that seems to mean I have never considered my beliefs, didn’t realize anyone believed anything my mommy didn’t teach me, and am getting a shocking awakening now that I’m off the farm? EVERY time I said where I was from someone responded with one of your statements from above. The assumption was that I was being rescued and embraced by this new setting, I was a baby fresh off the apron strings (I’m almost 30, with 10 years as a career professional under my belt), and thank the non-existent God that I’d made it out and could start my life. I cried. A lot. Because I DID intend to find some refuge here, and instead I found the exact same abuse from a whole new population, and this time the added insult of rejecting even those who I loved and who supported me. Once I realized this was happening I started standing up for myself. I’ve used a few of these:
      “Oh, have you spent much time in the Midwest?” *always answered with a scoffed NO* “So you’re insulting my home and upbringing based on hearsay and stereotypes? *I* lived there. Let *me* bash it if I want to. I’ve earned it.”
      “Excuse me. Everyone I love still lives there. Please stop insulting them along with the rest. You don’t know who I know.”
      “What do you think we should do with the Midwest? Should we go ahead collapse it so the coasts touch and all will be well with the world?”
      Look, I know the Midwest can suck. *I* know that because I lived there and chose to leave it. Give me space to blossom here, don’t make me fight you. I’m ready for some space to grow and you’re leaving me in a confused survival mode.

      Of course, I was drawn to the original article for obvious reasons and love it too. Seeing your comment just give me a serene sense of balance..

    • Excellent comment, Mr. Thorne. We atheists need to be more like Jerry Dewitt and less like Dawkins and Hitchens. Converting from one kind of fundamentalism to another doesn’t make us smarter, and it certainly doesn’t make us better people. We’re all doing our best to figure this stuff out. If we burn all our bridges, we’ll run out of people to support us when we realize that, just like our Christian fundamentalism was wrong, so was our atheist fundamentalist. To quote Derek Webb, a life philosophy of “I was Wrong, I’m Sorry, and I love you” is probably all we need to follow fundamentally.

  • Kael Black

    There is no one correct path. I have personally found my main path in paganism, but I have found amazing lessons from all religions. There is hypocrisy and back-stabbing in all religions. Christians are not exempt. Pagans are not exempt. People always like to think that what works for them will work for everyone else. Not all people think the same way. Just like you have to use different methods to teach a class full of children, you must do the same when it comes to spirituality. People can quote religious texts till the cows come home, but what might make complete sense for one person is utter nonsense to another. I attend a church that is fairly open to outsiders. The pastor, in fact, welcomed my own priestess, an ordained clergywoman, as a sister in the cloth.

    After attending church as a child and then claiming agnosticism until I found my own path, I know what it is to turn my back on a faith that I felt wasn’t right for me. So many times there were people who said the things in your list. “If you only go to church, then…”, “I’ll pray for you”, etc. They made me so angry that I refused to have anything to do with the Church. I respected that that was some peoples path, but unless I found something that led me back to that path, I would seek out my own. It took years to put a label to what I believe. However, I still feel quite separate from others who claim the same label as I do. Polytheism, monotheism, animism, agnosticism, and many others accurately describe me. Yes, all at the same time.

    I find it so hard to explain to people that I believe in truth in all paths. Because there is truth in all paths. All recognized religions are all portrayed as moral and right and they are in many ways, but there are perversions to that morality and rightness. I know nothing about Christian fundamentalism, except what I have seen in the media. It takes a lot of courage to turn from a path that you have followed for so long, even if it was only from fear. No one can tell you what to believe. You have to find that out yourself. Only YOU know what path you need to follow.

    You will find people on your path as you travel it. Some may make you stray, and others may bring you back. Just remember that there is truth in all paths, you just have to find out what your truth is. Learn from those who have come before you, those who follow other paths, and you will find your truth. As the pastor I mentioned earlier preached, “We are all on a journey. There will be ups and downs and not even I claim to be perfect. I am seeking my relationship with Christ every step of the way.” I’m not a Christian but it is true that we are all on a journey with whatever faith or lack of faith we have. Follow your heart and believe in your own common sense. I wish more people questioned their religion. I’ve found that seeking answers to the hard questions help to cement what you believe. I don’t think God would forsake you for seeking the truth from creation.

  • I was really interested to read all this as I am still part of a Catholic ‘movement’ of parish-based communities, in Australia. I didn’t have a choice to say no when I was asked to join at 13, as my parents brought me up in it, and every other kid did the same. We said yes, as though it was OUR choice. I’ve been questioning it a lot for 8 years. 8 YEARS!! But I get similar responses to these from most people. One or two have at least advised some informative books.

    Four years ago, when there was abuse happening in my family, I became anguished and suicidal; seeking help from my catechists brought the advice “Pray, God will fix it all”, “Carry your cross, Christ has given this to you” and “We will pray for you.” They did nothing to physically help me otherwise. Made me feel like it was all in my head. At 17 I couldn’t bear it any more and a report was made through my school counsellor. I was shunned by my family for a period, and still am treated with disgust whenever it is brought up; and made to fear ‘losing the faith’ when I moved out. In one week I plan to announce to my parents that I need a break from this way of living the faith, because whilst it produces some great results, I can’t keep going to a place which leaves me so self-hating and hating of God, and practices overbearing methods of evangelisation that I fundamentally can’t agree with. So, I ask you all for prayers and advice- I’m terrified.

    • Jesus stood up against injustices and abuses, so those replies to your suffering were decidedly un-Christian. Clearly, the group you speak of has issues that need to be adressed, and needing to step back/take a breather/get perspective/evaluate is totally reasonable. I know how hard it can be to tell your family things that you know they don’t want to hear, but speaking up for yourself is necessary and worth it. I hope and pray that you find the peace and guidance that you seek. In my experience, it can take some time, but don’t give up.

  • Hebrews 8:28? I’d love it if someone could quote that one to me… 😉

    (Maybe you meant Luke 8:28: Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.”)

    • It’s supposed to be Romans 🙂 I haven’t had the time to fix that yet.

  • I’m a Christian and have read quite a number of ex-fundamentalists writing about their experiences around the net. Having read everything, I only have one question. How do you help an ex-fundamentalist? How do you care for them and show them comfort? For example, some of the things you pointed out are standard responses that Christians give when they really don’t know what to say but really wish you well, and want you to know they care – it appears even these attempts are shunned and hated (not without reason). So what is the best way to approach a fundamentalist? What should you say or do?

    • That’s actually what I cover in the next post- “things you should say.”

  • You spoke truth for me – Excellent post. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

  • Siouxsie Q

    Wow. Yikes. Can’t imagine. Grew up Quaker and Episcopalian and obviously had a pretty easy time of it religion-wise. This is so useful. So much comes from fear and ignorance. I remember when my husband died and I was very youjng and no one could possibly understand – and people said the weirdest things. It’s similar. Trauma is trauma.

    • For what it’s worth, even as an atheist, I’ve spent the last year in a meeting of liberal Quakers, and can’t overstate how much value I’ve found in the experience.

  • Chris

    Nice post . . . enjoyed reading it. Truth is that what we call church today or practice as church is unbiblical. We basically made it up. Most of what we practice on Sunday mornings came from pagan practices. We really don’t find it in Scripture or in early church writings. Even the role of pastor in the early church did not exist. There is not a single verse in the entire New Testament that supports the existence of the modern day pastor. It describes a function and not an office or title. Fightin’ fundies are way off track!
    Honestly our churches are filled today with people who think they are “Christian” just because they prayed a prayer or asked Jesus into their hearts. Again bad theology.

  • Basher

    “When someone says something like this, what most recovering fundies hear is ‘I don’t care about your problems, I want to exit this conversation, and please don’t even mention the fact that you’ve had a bad experience to me ever again.'” –I think it’s worse than that. What it feels like they’re saying to me is: “I’m morally superior to you and I revel in the belief you’ll suffer in the afterlife.”

  • CeCe

    Wonderful post! I was raised in a fundamentalist household, and for a long time, I refused to have anything to do with Christianity, not necessarily because of my parents because they were both wonderful people and good Christians, but just because of the things I saw in the churches we attended and the fact that I thought faith was at odds with reality. As such, I understand why some people walk away from Christianity completely, even though I eventually fumbled my way to faith. I have several friends who grew up in even more fundamentalist households and have since walked away completely, and I’m always careful to communicate to them that their feelings and opinions are valid, and I do understand why they believe the way they do.

    I believe that all Christians should attempt a bit of compassion and empathy, and try not to be so judgmental. A little understanding and above all, authenticity, can go a long way. Too many of us seem to believe that if we speak in platitudes and cliches, we can draw a person “back to Christ/our church”, but it doesn’t work that way. Each of us needs to work through our faith and our doubts in our own way. No one else can do it for us.

  • Excellent, loved it

  • SixForty

    Not to touch on any of the other points, since it seems quite clear that you don’t care to hear anything but that which supports your own opinion on the issues, but I would have to say you get number 3 absolutely wrong.

    What do you think is the definition of a Christian? Would you not think that the bible defines what a Christian would be? Shouldn’t you use that definition, instead of your own?

    Jesus is quite clear in various places in the bible: John 6 shows that Jesus will not lose any that the Father has given to Him, so if Jesus lost you, you weren’t actually a Christian in the first place. The parable of the sower in Matthew 13, and it’s accompanying explanation by Jesus, sheds light on what is happening with people who are false converts and simply play at Christianity without being Christians. The apostle John is quite explicit in chapter 2 of his first epistle that those who ‘leave’ Christianity were never really Christians in the first place.

    There’s really no room for misinterpretation. These and many other scriptures all tell the same story: those who place their faith in Jesus remain true. If someone ‘leaves’ Christianity, that means that they never actually put their faith in Jesus – if they had, they wouldn’t have taken it back.

    So if you want to claim that you left a church or left a Christian environment or anything like that, go right ahead. But to claim that you ‘were’ a Christian and now ‘are not’ a Christian is a logical contradiction – by definition there is no such thing as an ex-Christian. Whether or not you accept or believe the bible, at least be honest about what it claims. Don’t impose your own opinions over top of what it actually says. Misrepresenting it is rather intellectually dishonest, don’t you think?

    • “There’s really no room for misinterpretation”

      If there’s a bigger catalyst leading to people leaving Christianity that this statement, I’d love to hear it.

    • It’s so important to understand that leaving Christianity isn’t leaving God. In fact, I think it’s actually impossible to leave or lose God. How could anyone do that, when God is everywhere, in everything? There is no ‘without God.’ There’s a belief of ‘without God,’ but that’s a very different thing.

      I believe it’s not really important whether people believe in God or not, a good life can be had with just about any belief system … though I do think a worldview that includes God generally makes for a happier life. At least that has been my experience. I believe that God believes in us, and that’s what matters.

  • BH

    Here are my issues. Fundamentalists believe that you can say “The Sinner’s Prayer”, you will be saved. This illusive prayer is not in the bible. Nobody was ever led in a prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, or anything like that. The point at which the Holy Spirit drags us to the truth and we accept it is the time we have accepted the salvation that was intended before time began. There are no magic words God is waiting to hear.

    Fundamentalists do not acknowledge the baptism of saints from other denominations. The tie the baptism to church membership, and baptize into the local body. While this does not hurt anything to have an extra baptism (heck, the Jews had no less than 7 the partook in religiously), you CAN be saved in an AOG or Methodist church, be baptized and God is not going to split hairs about how it was done. The fact that you did it is the big deal. Making people do it again implies that God has one church, and that one church is your local IFB church. Whatever.

    Fundamentalists practice close communion, or “The Lord’s Supper”. It is not the church’s supper. It is The Lord’s. I have seen visitors invited to leave or sit still while the rest of the church does it’s thing. How tragic. If someone is a believer, who is the church to say that a non-member shall not partake?

    The whole thing with fundi about soul winning by guilt and condemnation is insane and borderline mental cruelty.

    The whole conformity from the outside, not the inside often rears it’s ugly head, as major ministries build houses of cards. You are expected to look like they do, which are some of the frumpiest, most un-happy people in the world. You are expected to keep your business to yourself, so that you can be included in church. If you have a problem, you will be the first one turned upon. You must be living in sin since you are sick. I know a church with a guy who was no longer allowed on stage to sing. Singing was his only gift for worship. He has health issues. He was told that he was too fat, and that being fat gives the wrong image for the church. Fat people were not allowed to sing. It’s like, “Come as you are, here is Jesus, he will forgive you, but we won’t. If we catch you doing what we do behind closed doors, we will de-church you.”

  • Wow, these are good! Excellent!!!

  • Reblogged this on Starlight Grove and commented:
    This hit the nail on the head. Hard.

  • Ironically, I stopped telling people that I’m Atheist because of the things other Atheists say in response. At least one of those can probably be blamed for first one on your list. In my experience, people denounce god because, “How could he let ______ happen!” Therefore, “%^$# him, I’m out of the church.” (Did you ever watch that ‘Signs’ movie? That.) That seems pretty bitter and probably has a lot to do with why people still in the church assumes that everyone who is not is a bitter jerk that needs to work through their own baggage.

    13.) made me giggle a little, too. It made me remember a conversation that I had once had with Christian guy at my now-ex’s office. “But…if you’re Atheist… what reason do you have not to do bad things?!” I was dumbfounded. How do explain to someone that’s in their late 30’s that you don’t do bad things because…people don’t deserve to have their money stolen or that it cheating on your husband is still a bad thing even without the threat of hell?

  • Brandon

    I found the above very interesting for many reasons. As a Christian, reading this brought a wuestion to my mind that I ask with all sincerity. What, then, IS permissible/acceptable for a Christian to tell a recovering-fundamentalist? By that I mean what can I say to console them and encourage them in a way that is positive about my faith and not simply the negative? Is it just off limits altogether?

  • Tony M

    How many times does the Bible mention homosexuality. Like 6 times? How many times does the Bible mention oppressing the poor? Like 1200 times? It is like the church today has turned the Bible on its head. True is false and false is true. It is almost Orwellian.

  • Jon

    It is so encouraging to find this blog. Only days ago, my parents informed me that although they “love” me more than anyone else (except my wife), they will now be praying on a daily basis that God will make me miserable until I return to believing the bible is the true and “literal” account of history.

    The experience I’ve had, trying to be honest with my family about my thoughts, has been full of emotional turmoil, both ups and downs. Just to discover for sure, as I suspected, that I am not the only one going through this, is so helpful.

  • This is a great blog! I agree with the last comment, it’s just good to know others have experienced this, too.

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  • Theodore Abbot

    Would you apply the same logic to Islam? Especially the part about certain intense sects representing the whole religion?

    • Could you show me where I claim that fundamentalism is representative of the whole religion? Pretty sure I said the exact opposite Here:

      “I use the words fundamentalist and fundamentalism to talk about a specific Christian movement,”

      And Here:

      “Fundamentalism is an especially pernicious sub-culture in Christianity, but it’s not something totally different.”

  • I think the difference in Christians regardless of denomination (because this can be found across the board) is whether a person is living out the gospel of “Jesus did it all” and being free from having to DO anything to make ourselves better or good enough. Jesus makes a pretty big distinction between the Pharisees that kept all the rules and he explained why no one is good enough and they least of all. I’ve been a Christian for a long time (and did go through fundamentalist influences through people involved in ATI and other things that were damaging, though I didn’t go through as much as some.) Recently though I started listening to the sermons on this site (link bellow) and began to understand truly what the gospel is and why some people need to repent from sins and some people need to repent from their religion. If after listening to a few of these they aren’t helpful then don’t worry about it. They were really refreshing for me. http://marshill.com/media/religionsaves/grace

  • Reblogged this on Grace and Stuff and commented:
    For my friends who have escaped fundamentalism, and for those who are struggling to break free.

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  • I think I got every one of these myself. Well written.

  • Nick C

    The saddest and most ironic aspect of fundamentalists is they seem to imagine God as some kind of jealous and angry god, like a capricious Zeus, ready to strike you down. Yet they denounce “pagan” influences… if many so-called “Christians” actually met Jesus on the street, they would probably think he was an unwashed hippie.

    They worry that God hates you for some reason, and that most of your friends and family are damned. “I’ll pray for you,” does that really mean, “I am sad you are damned. I will see if I can do something about it.?” Is that much different than,” maybe Zeus will not send a lightning bolt if I sacrifice enough goats.”

    However, I have a hard time with “baby/bathwater.” Just because you reject being a N. Korean Communist (perhaps a pernicious subculture of Marxism?) doesn’t mean you can’t be a Swedish social democrat.

  • Fascinating discussion. If you want to read a compelling novel about a fundamentalist and her struggle with her religion, read Choking on a Camel.

  • this is so good. thank you for putting words to my journey.

    • Melissa, I agree with you. Samantha does an excellent job of putting words to my journey, too. This is one of the best sites I’ve found dedicated to these issues.

  • Oh, don’t I know all about that airy, arrogant, lofty, super-presumptuous “oh you just did everything wrong, that’s what happened” BS from certain types of Christian. If I’d gone to the right church (like the one the accuser goes to), hung out with the right folks (like the accuser), been taught the right things (like the accuser teaches or was taught), or experienced TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ (like the accuser practices), read the right materials or listened to the right preachers (like the ones the accuser favors), then everything would have been jusssssssst fine. They never want to believe that why yes, I was a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ and did all the stuff they do and believed all the same stuff and was as fervent as a human could possibly have been. I get called a liar to my face regularly by astonished Christians who just cannot believe that someone could be a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ and then turn and walk away from “all that.” It makes me bristle. I don’t think anybody likes being accused of being either galactically stupid or a craven liar–it’s an especially odd witnessing tactic, isn’t it? It makes me distrust anything else that Christian has to say.

    When someone idolizes a faith system, then that faith system must be perfect, which means it’s perfect for absolutely everybody–even when it demonstrably isn’t any such thing. If someone has a problem with that faith system, then that person is the problem, because it couldn’t possibly be the faith system–didn’t we just establish that it’s perfect and therefore cannot possibly have problems anywhere for anybody? Pfft.

  • I get the “Don’t be bitter.” one from my older brother. *sigh*

  • Nick C

    I missed the way this was threaded. There was a post a while back from someone named Kael Black that I found very profound

    It is hard not to be dogmatic in rejecting dogmatism. I am not really sure how to do that except that I think religion should not reduce your humanity but increase it. I see some kind of problem with fundamentalism (whether Christian, Muslim whatever) but I can’t really name it. Belonging to *any* group you are, by definition, “right” otherwise the group becomes pointless, be it religion, politics or whatever. Maybe the difference is critical thinking, questioning what you are told (maybe Bathsheba wasn’t a slut after all — see a post above) or be willing to reconsider a position; nationalizing the steel mills?… Maybe fundamentalism is what separates the Khmer Rouge from the Social Democrat, or the National Socialist from Peronist.

    I have to say though I don’t understand atheism not from the “well how do you keep from doing bad things?” which I find ridiculous; but, if there is something that makes us us, it must be something spiritual in the broadest sense, otherwise we are nothing but a machine, breathing air using fuel, creating waste. If there is something spiritual inside of us, I can’t conceive of there not being something spiritual outside of us, whether through the structure of an organized religion on one end or without trying to be funny something as simple as “the Force” which unites us as human, and lifts us above the machine.

  • CGD

    First, I love that you chose my Capt. Picard and that is the perfect shot for this article. Second, I’m a long time recovering Fundy. I still have many of them around me living in a Red State. “Don’t forsake the assembling of God’s people”. Along with “We aren’t perfect, neither are you (no shit).”Love the sinner hate the sin – we are all sinners, but don’t forsake the Body.” That is the most hated of all time. Thank you for writing this. It’s an oasis for all of us backsliders.

  • otheus

    Heard them all — except 10, 12, and 15 — from my own father.

  • Kim

    I know this is an older post but I just found it and it is SO spot-on. People who say “well, not all fundamentalism is like that” either a) aren’t actual fundies or b) haven’t discovered the truth for themselves. ALL fundamentalism is like that because it is an abusive doctrine at it’s core.

  • Nightmereinthemidwest

    “You need to give all this up to God.” I’ve heard this any many of those on the list. Sorry but “praying for me” won’t make me not flinch whenever someone raises a wooden spoon. I wish more people outside of the Fundamentalist movement could truly understand what the beliefs of some of those in the movement breed.

  • ChrisH

    #14: “I’ll be praying for you” was my introduction to fundamentalist Christianity.

    I was never exceptionally religious as a child but felt secure in being Christian. My family moved into East Texas when I was 13, where I learned I didn’t actually love Jesus because I believed in evolution.

    These weren’t the most extreme fundamentalists either. Girls didn’t have strict modesty dress codes, people listened to Blink 182, and a cop had to be at dances to prevent people from too much dirty dancing. By the standards of the area, it was mainstream and normal.

    I forget how the topic came up, but in a home room class I discovered the extent of everyone else’s opinion on the subject was ‘my grandfather wasn’t a monkey, and I naively tried to explain what evolution actually was.

    “I’ll be praying for you” was the coda to every interrogation I received from classmates once word got out. And I felt the very deep condescension that came with the phrase, and knew the context of the prayer was to hope that God would help me to reject science so that I wouldn’t suffer in hell for all eternity.

  • What I always got was, ”You are being contentious.” There’s a conversation ender right there. If I argued that I was , once again, being contentious.

  • AlienBaby

    1. “What about Pascal’s Wager? Wouldn’t you rather cast your lot with God?”
    2. C.S. Lewis’s simplistic either/or fallacy about Jesus Christ being either who he said he was or a madman who might as well have called himself a poached egg.
    3. My mother’s favorite variation on #8: “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”

  • Good post. I am still a church goer, (former fundamentalist) but I have recently chosen to ignore these silly sayings that are usually just a form of manipulation.
    One that is my personal least favorite is “Maybe it’s time to get out of your comfort zone!” I was manipulated by that one for years. Then I realized that I was really just being forced to be a part of a team of other folks who were only semi-committed (at best) to the task at hand. The task was usually some copy of a mega-church tactic to get more people in the doors.
    I finally started answering, “Oh, actually, I’m quite uncomfortable now, thank-you.”

  • forgivnsetfree

    This is so validating for me! Thank you so much! I grew up in IFB and left at around 17; attended BJU for a year, then joined a Southern Baptist church, which in my opinion, is just a watered down version of IFB. I recently left and I’ve been called crazy and all sorts of things. I own the crazy, but it’s religion that caused it!! I will carry the scars to my grave and that is what pisses me off. They stold my spirit, my life, my identity. I’m 43 yrs. old and I’m just now finding myself. I guess better late than never!

  • I was brought up in a Southern Baptist Church. Back in the 50’s it was the correct place for me to hear the Gospel and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour. As that denomination (1 of 66+ Baptist denominations) progressed I became less enthused about the local building. I got out the church building for many years. Eventually, I found myself seeking a deeper understanding of the scriptures. I found a Gospel tract written by a man whose life had previously paralleled mine. It drew me to an IFB church.

    Honestly, I was exposed to teaching that moved me emotionally, but looking back, it never affected me spiritually. Blinded by emotion I bought into every message. I attended the Bible Institute and was eventually ordained. I even served as a pastor in a local church; it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my Christian walk.

    God took me on a journey through all 48 states where I visited many churches; some Baptist and some that simply called themselves Christian. I listened, watched and learned. It was in those quite hours alone and driving for long hours across the country that I began to realize I had truly been more interested in acceptance by those who ordained me, than the acceptance that God had shown me in giving me the Gospel. In a select few of the churches that I visited I saw the breadth and depth of the love Jesus Christ had graciously given to me. It was then that I began to follow after the Master and forsook following after men.

    I began to receive invitations to preach in the churches I visited. They didn’t know me from Adam, but God impressed upon those pastors to have me preach. Most pastors will seldom, if ever, relinquish the pulpit to a stranger. I knew a change had occurred that was pleasing to God. I was freed from the foolishness of tyranny! God was now in full control; not men.

    Eventually, the Holy Spirit nudged me about a promise that I had made at the age of 12. I sold my business, gave my possessions to my children and went on a mission to Asia. My days are filled with joy as I freely distribute copies of the scriptures, Gospel tracts and Christian literature. I administer an online church and extend a helping hand to those in need. I have never been moved to ask anyone for financial support as I cannot find any verse in the scriptures that would lead me to believe that I am to do so. I am pleased to testify that God has met every need. Even recently, when I was saving for cataract surgery, I was directed to a medical mission from America that offered to do the surgery for free.

    Yes, I do take a strong stand against those who attempt to substitute their personal convictions, speculations, opinions and theories, that are not to be found anywhere in the scriptures, for the truths that I can clearly see in God’s Holy Word. I Tweet, post on on social media and engage in face-to-face discussion about the cruel nature of those who expect allegiance to them personally and to their local church building. Sadly, they have become demigods and a hindrance to the teachings of the Master.

    As a Christian writer I do not agree with the theology of most who claim to be Christians and that includes Christian leaders.

    Disagreement does not mean that I hate anyone; in fact, I love everyone. I hope and pray that all will search the Scriptures and discover the truth found in the Word of God.

    Seldom do powerful religious leaders recognize their blatantly sinful lifestyles, foolish behavior or flubbed doctrines because they have built up such a following that they have become immune to wrongdoing. Worse yet, many church leaders wrongly twist the Scriptures to support some of their lunacy.

    How can we challenge powerful church leaders who believe that they are not doing anything wrong?

    This is when it becomes necessary to use satire, mockery, ridicule and public exposure in order for these proud religious leaders to realize (or otherwise ponder) the error of their ways. And so I write.

    Please do not be offended as I understand many believers are simply the victims of errant teaching. We are commanded to study the Scriptures to be approved unto God. If we fail to do so, then we have no excuse.

  • Hi. Was just wondering, found myself agreeing with you mostly…however i have stumbled across branches of christianity that from my perspective cant be more different than fundamentalism. They’re not just sugar coated or less intense…they are actually completely different ideas being put forth. So i kinda wonder. out of curiosity since I enjoy your critical mind. What do you think of Joshua Tongol these days? What do you think of liberal/progressive christianity in general? Please respond honestly and open mindedly. Thanks

    • I haven’t read Tongol’s book yet, although it’s on my list.

      As for “what I think of liberal/progressive Christianity in general,” please see the other 400+ posts on my blog.

  • JP

    Well what WOULD you like to hear from happily churched Christians? I can see how all of your examples could offend….depending on who says them and how. But i can also imagine most of your examples being said to you out of genuine, loving concern……how sad if those are real friends’ names that you use them as some sort of self-help therapy for yourself. Done with Fundamentalism (as i am too)…..then be done with it and leave them alone. there is an irony in your advice—–you still speak with a sort of Fundamentalist mentality. I.e. “never say” these things. Perhaps in a certain context, one of these things would be the most helpful thing to say! Maybe you’re just not over it yet. How oddly you still sound just like one of those fundies!

    • Hyperbole. You should perhaps look that up.

      • jp

        Hyperbole is the most terrible, awful, nauseating (etc.) of rhetorical devices ever devised. ; ) …… But thanks.

        • Except that Jesus used it regularly.

          And don’t you think calling a rhetorical device “the most” terrible, awful, and nauseating is a little … y’know, hyperbolic?

          • JP

            um…..that was my feeble attempt at humor after my oh-so serious earlier remarks. I guess i need to work on my timing or delivery. Blessings! -JP

  • Beth

    I have to say the “I’m praying for you” one kills me. When I initially left the church my mother told this to me every single time we spoke for over 5 years. I always heard her true meaning as “I am praying for you to come back to the church”. Drove me nuts until I finally caved and went back to being a Christian, it took me years to realize I had only done this to please her and left again permanently. I haven’t told her I left again and frankly doubt I will unless she figures it out so I don’t have to deal with her crying over what she did wrong again and pressuring me to conform.