Complexity, not Satan, as the real enemy of fundamentalism

Emma has written a thought-provoking post on her brief foray into fundamentalism.

Although most UK fundamentalists are middle-class their theologies do not appear to be influenced by their access to education. Fundamentalist thinking forces every issue, problem, idea, challenge, ideology, and state into a framework in which things are either good or evil. Complexity, not Satan, is the real enemy. “Secular” sources of information and analysis are viewed with extreme caution, and I have witnessed more than one repentant bonfire of “secular” music.

This black and white thinking is taken into the area of gender. I was involved with a particular church that viewed non gender-stereotyped behaviours and clothing as a sign of spiritual immaturity. One particular women was forbidden by the church hierarchy from using tools around the house (masculine behaviour) until she adopted the modest dress they felt befitted a Christian woman.

Clearly this is batshit crazy, but a gender gap was observable in all of the churches I attended. Men filled the spots within the church leadership, except those posts that related to women and children. Women ran the creche, typed up the church newsletter, and provided and cleared up after refreshments. Men taught, women learned. Men led, women followed. Men protected, women obeyed.

I think the most chilling, though unfortunately not unexpected, part of the post came when she talked about some of her actual experiences with the church. Debates over which tea was more holy were fought with more fervor than that of the plight of domestic violence victims. That, and the emphasis on marriage/childbearing being the only acceptable goal for women, is as good an indicator as any for what kind of “morality” those kinds of institutions teach. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing good, right, or moral about treating human beings the way that Emma describes.

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