As I’ve said many times, one feature of fundamentalist religiosity — regardless of which overall religious tradition it’s in — is immaturity. They have a very powerful sense of how things should be, but are blissfully unaware of the fact that none of that is even remotely realistic. So they’re repeatedly thwarted by what they perceive as a hostile world around them … and they can’t handle it. It makes them become angry and resentful.
This is illustrated rather clearly in a New York Times article on the status of evangelical Christians in the US (WebCite cached article):
Now, a year later, [Betty and Dick Odgaard] and other conservative evangelicals interviewed in central Iowa say they feel as if they have been abandoned. Many say that they have no genuine champion in the presidential race and that the country has turned its back on them. Americans are leaving church, same-sex marriage is the law of the land, and the country has moved on to debating transgender rights. While other Americans are anxious about the economy, jobs and terrorism, conservative Christians say they fear for the nation’s very soul. Some worry that the nation has strayed so far that God’s punishment is imminent.…
The change in America seemed to happen so quickly that it felt like whiplash, the Odgaards said. One day, they felt comfortably situated in the American majority, as Christians with shared beliefs in God, family and the Bible. They had never even imagined that two people of the same sex could marry.
Overnight, it seemed, they discovered that even in small-town Iowa they were outnumbered, isolated and unpopular. Everyone they knew seemed to have a gay relative or friend. Mr. Odgaard’s daughter from his first marriage disavowed her father’s actions on Facebook, and his gay second cousin will not speak to him. Even their own Mennonite congregation put out a statement saying that while the denomination opposes gay marriage, “not every congregation” or Mennonite does. Mrs. Odgaard, 64, the daughter of a Mennonite minister, was devastated.
“It all flipped, so fast,” said Mr. Odgaard, a patrician 70-year-old who favors khakis and boat shoes. “Suddenly, we were in the minority. That was kind of a scary feeling. It makes you wonder where the Christians went.”
The Times continues explaining how alienated American fundagelicals like the Odgaards feel. The article focuses on recent societal changes, such as the advent of gay marriage, but things like that don’t entirely explain the reality of this alienation. At the Friendly Atheist I posted the following comment, based on my own experience as a fundie Christian:
As a former fundamentalist/evangelical Christian, I must point out something: Their sense of alienation has nothing to do with gay marriage. Not. One. F-ing. Thing. That’s just a convenient scapegoat.
No, the reason fundagelicals feel alienated, is because they’re fundagelicals. No matter what may (or may not) be going on around them, their beliefs define them as a downtrodden minority in what they perceive to be an overwhelmingly “worldly” society. And for them, “worldly” means “Satanic” (because they believe their deity has handed the Devil authority over “the world,” until the Apocalypse).
Fundagelicals believe themselves to be outnumbered and outgunned, constantly oppressed by profane “worldly” forces trying to wrench them away from their deity and deprive them of their sanctity.
For them, this perspective is definitional. As they see it, it’s laid out for them in scripture; they believe it, and that’s that. Everything that ever happens to them simply fits in with this view. Bad things happen to them because “the world” is out to destroy them because of their vaunted holiness. (Anything good that happens to them, of course, is because of said vaunted holiness.) Essentially it’s a rationale for their persecution complex (which, in turn, is the product of Christianity’s underlying psychopathology, going back nearly to its origins).
Sure, things like gay marriage play into, and perhaps even increase, fundagelicals’ prevailing sense of alienation. But those external factors did not create that sense of alienation, and if they were to vanish, would not make it go away. That alienation is ever-present in fundagelical Christianity and is part and parcel of it.
To be clear, this sense of alienation is something I experienced when I was a fundie, and that was during the early 80s. That was a time when gay rights weren’t being discussed very much, gay marriage wasn’t on the horizon, and for nearly everyone the word “transgender” didn’t even exist. Yet, that alienation was very real for those in my little faith community.
So … if fundagelicals feel alienated, too bad so sad for them. All they need to do is let go of the alienation, and it will be gone — because they’re manufacturing it, themselves, out of whole cloth. It’s not based on fact, but on their persecutorial metaphysics.
In sum, I don’t pity these folk one bit. They’ve created their own despair, having crafted it from their own delusions. Whatever anxiety they feel, is purely theirs. No one’s forcing it on them.
Photo credit: Scott Leslie, via Flickr.
Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.Tags: alienation, christian, christian fundamentalism, christian fundamentalist, christian fundamentalists, christianism, christianist, christianists, Christianity, christians, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelical christianity, evangelical christians, evangelicals, fundamentalism, fundamentalist, fundamentalists, gay marriage, religionism, religionist, religionists
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