9 things you can do to end fundamentalism
Christian fundamentalism in the United States has been losing ground over the past two decades. Fundamentalists have embraced Donald Trump partly because they recognize him as one of their own (despite their vast moral and theological differences) but also because he is their “Battle of the Bulge” – their latest effort to prolong the war. cultures and hold on. in power. If Joe Biden defeats Donald Trump – especially if the margin is large and unquestionable – the fundamentalist dream of imposing their ways on everyone will be dead, at least for a while.
When I wrote about this last week, a friend on Facebook asked me what else we could do to end fundamentalism besides voting Trump to resign. Upon reflection, I have come up with nine things we can all do to help end fundamentalism.
1. Heal your own fundamentalist wounds
The best way to end fundamentalism is to remove it from your own life forever. If you fight fundamentalism without doing it first, it will always have a tentacle in your soul.
Stop the bleeding – get away from fundamentalist churches, preachers and their way of thinking. Find an alternative. To me it was paganism, but you can find a home in an inclusive Christian church. If you leave a void, the old ways of thinking will creep in again and you will be right back where you were. Build a new life that has no room for fundamentalism.
I have written about this on several occasions – these posts may be of help.
Escape from fundamentalism
Kill your inner fundamentalist
“Become less religious” and “Overcome intuition” – No more bad assumptions
Exorcising fundamentalism: the stages of my journey
2. Embrace religious uncertainty
At the heart of all fundamentalism is the idea that of all the religious and spiritual traditions in the world, one and only one is completely true and all the others are false. And fundamentalists will go to big ties to “prove” their presumed truths.
I remember being a teenager sitting in a Baptist church (unintentionally, of course) hearing the preacher talk about how “you can know it’s true ”and thinking“ no, you to believe it is true.”
Since then, I have come to appreciate the knowledge that comes from direct experience and deep intuition, but that’s not what fundamentalists mean. They claim things are literally true when they clearly aren’t, like Young Earth creationism.
Where do we come from? Are there several Gods, one God or no Gods? What happens after we die? There are many possibilities. Some of these are more likely than others, but we cannot know which are completely true with any degree of certainty.
Religious issues are inherently uncertain. Strive with them and see what makes the most sense to you, but reject false certainties.
3. Support women and LGBTQ people
Patriarchy is a fundamental element of fundamentalism. And nothing annoys patriarchs like people who reject fixed roles around sex and gender.
Are misogyny and homophobia at the heart of it all? Is it the lust for undeserved privileges? The assumption that the strong should rule the weak, and the illusion that cis heterosexual men are always the strongest? Or that the culture of a few people in the Middle East centuries ago is somehow divinely ordered?
It’s probably a combination of all of the above, but why doesn’t matter. What matters is that anyone whose life rejects ‘traditional’ fixed gender roles is a rejection of fundamentalist values and therefore contributes to their end.
What if you happened to like “traditional” sex and gender roles? That’s good – you do what you think is best for you. Remember to support others whose identities and orientations are different from yours.
4. Promote cultural diversity
While religion itself is a part of culture, other elements of culture such as dress, hairstyles, music and most importantly language are often so mixed up that it is difficult to tell where it is. stop religion and where other elements of culture begin. And while fundamentalists sometimes honor racial and national diversity (although they are often explicitly racist and nationalist), their missionary programs are designed to export white American capitalist culture alongside their exclusivist Christian theology and doctrine.
Do you want to demolish it? Promote cultural diversity. Learn about other cultures, especially those of your neighbors and colleagues. It will help you respect cultural differences and not assume that the way you’ve always done things is the only way (see how this relates to fundamentalism even though it’s not necessarily religious?).
5. Support liberal and moderate religions
For most people, the alternative to fundamentalism is not atheism. It is another non-fundamentalist religion. The religious impulse is strong in humans, and new atheist Christopher Hitchens’ comment that “religion poisons everything” is a straw man argument that assumes fundamentalist tendencies in religions that simply do not. .
So be careful not to accept arguments that “religion is stupid” or “all Christians are bad”. The Southern Baptist Convention and The United Church of Christ are two very different types of Christians.
Liberal Christians, Buddhists, religious humanists and other people of good will are not our enemies. We may not be able to worship together (deep down we are not all the same) but we can work together for the common good.
Like ending fundamentalism.
6. Ignore arbitrary authority and respect the right to self-determination
Fundamentalism operates on an arbitrary hierarchy of authority. Their God is nominally at the top, but their God always seems to say what the preachers want him to say. Men are above women, women are above children, the rich are above the poor and so on. Those in positions of greater authority should be obeyed and rebellion should not be tolerated.
Why? I have yet to hear a good reason beyond “we like it that way.” “
Instead, recognize the right of every person to live their life in the way that they think is best. You don’t have to like their choices, but if that doesn’t affect you, it’s none of your business.
And while you’re at it, respect the authority of the jurisdiction. As a group, fundamentalists are among the worst at denying the expertise of physicians, scientists, sociologists, and other subject matter experts. Everyone has the right to have their opinion as to whether a particular course of action is good or bad. But facts that go against your religious assumptions are always facts.
7. Promote your own inclusive religion
Pagans do not proselytize. Neither do followers of most of the other inclusive religions. But fundamentalists proselytize – this is one of the reasons their rate of decline has been lower than that of mainline Protestants. Recruitment works.
Aggressive and coercive recruiting is unethical. Also, if you think your religion isn’t the Only True Way, why would you want to recruit people who don’t really want to be there?
But people need to know that there are religious alternatives, so that when they start to think about leaving fundamentalism, they know they have a place to go.
This is one of the reasons I write, speak and teach. You don’t have to do what I do. And you sure don’t want to be the pagan version of the guy who always invites everyone to his church. But as long as it’s safe for you, be “out”. Let people know who and what you are – let them know that there are many religious alternatives.
8. Perform targeted magic
Some people like big magic works for big changes. If that’s you, go for it. It won’t hurt much. But it’s also unlikely to do much good.
Magic works best when carefully aimed at a very specific target. “End Fundamentalism” is far too broad and high level to be effective.
But you can do magic for your own religious healing, or for the healing of someone who comes to you for help. You can do magic to help change laws and practices around diversity and inclusion. You can do magic to help publicize your Great Public Ritual… anytime we have Great Public Rituals again.
If you really want to end fundamentalism, use all the tools at your disposal … just use them wisely and in the most effective way.
9. Stay alert
There are two things to watch out for as you work to rid the world of this religious scourge.
The first is that you become so obsessed with what you are not that you forget what you are. Once you’ve made good progress in healing your own wounds, most of these other steps should be done as part of being a good pagan (or a good Buddhist or UU or liberal Christian or whatever you decide to become). When you define yourself by what you oppose, you never really leave it behind.
I left fundamentalist churches in my early twenties. I didn’t completely exorcise fundamentalism from my soul until I built a solid pagan practice in my early forties.
The second thing to watch out for is complacency. Fundamentalism is more than a religious movement. It is a human impulse, driven by a desire for certainty and superiority. This is why we see it not only in Christianity but also in Islam, atheism and even Buddhism.
Christian fundamentalism in the United States is dying, and a decisive victory over Donald Trump in the next election will accelerate his loss of power. But he will never really be dead. It can only be contained by respect for diversity and the refusal to claim an unsustainable certainty.