A guide to defending yourself against Fundamentalist Christians
By Brian Elroy McKinley
"You're going to Hell!"
"Satan has blinded you!"
"If you support abortion, you are supporting murder!"
Have you been assaulted with statements such of these? Have your political views, your religious beliefs or your behaviors been targeted by such verbal abuse? Have you found yourself defending your choices against individuals so bent on their own agenda that nothing you say makes a difference? Chances are you are being attacked by Fundamentalist Christians.
Often called the "Religious Right," these people come from an extreme wing of the Christian Faith. Because of their growing number, many of them - as well as many non-Christians - believe they represent all of Christianity. Not true. These people represent a far-right position in a much larger spectrum of Christian believers. They are Fundamentalists. And by that definition, which they use, they have set themselves up as defenders of the "fundamentals" of the faith, as the guardians of righteousness, as soldiers of the truth.
Worried? You should be.
Fundamentalists are nothing new however. They can be abrasive, angry, judgmental and downright mean, but they are not true representatives of any of the faiths for which they claim to speak. I say that because every major religion has had its share. Fundamentalist Muslims have made many non-Muslims fear that religion, and yet the Muslim faith, at its core, remains a peace-loving faith. Fundamentalist Jews have made many non-Jews fear that religion, and yet the Jewish faith, at its core, remains a peace-loving faith. And Fundamentalist Christians have made many non-Christians fear that religion, and yet the Christian faith, at its core, remains a peace-loving faith. It's only when Fundamentalists are allowed to gain political power that their existence is a threat to mankind.
The Islamic Revolution that took over Iran in 1979, killing thousands of nonbelievers, was lead by Muslim Fundamentalists. The bullets that killed Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandi were shot by Sikh Fundamentalists. The bullet that killed Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot by a Jewish Fundamentalist. The Crusades against the Moors, killing hundreds of thousands of "heretics" in the process, was mounted by Catholic Fundamentalists. Terrorism against American targets around the world is launched by Islamic Fundamentalists. Terrorism against the minority Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland is launched by British Protestant Fundamentalists. And now, in the United States, there is a growing fear of legislative and physical abuse against our human rights, led, of course, by American Protestant Fundamentalists.
The real issue with these people is not their specific faiths. It's their addiction to thinking they are right. It's an addiction to believing they have a corner on the market of truth. In other words, it's an addiction to a "made-truth," that is, to a belief that the truths they've created in their minds are indeed absolute truths and that everyone else must be made to believe in the same truths lest they perish.
They are addicts. And like other addicts, they do not respond to logic or sound arguments. Like other addicts, in order to feel good, they must believe that their made-truth is the only reality, and they must, therefore, defend that truth against any outside influence. Like other addicts, anyone who threatens to keep them from believing their made-truths is seen as a threat to their own good feelings - or in other words, to be opposed to their brand of made-truth is to be a threat to their personal value as humans, and thus they will attack with ferocity anyone who even questions their veracity. If you don't believe as they do, you are considered "lost." If you oppose their political positions, you are considered "blinded by the Devil." And if you have the gall to argue against their made-truths, you will be called nothing short of "demon possessed" or a "tool of Satan."
But, as with any other addict, you should not take their attacks personally. These people are not to be feared; they are to be rebuffed. They are not to be taken seriously; they are to be pitied. They are not to be counter-attacked with anger; they are to be helped out of their addiction by replacing their need for made-truth with the healing touch of human love and kindness.
Yes. It's true. Fundamentalists can escape their addiction to made-truth the same way an alcoholic can escape the appeal of a stiff drink. Just as there is Alcoholics Anonymous, there is also Fundamentalists Anonymous. But two things must happen in order to break a Fundamentalist's addiction.
The first, and most important, is they must have an alternate source of personal value. These people feel valuable as humans because they have found the "truth." Even if you successfully break down that made-truth with the suggestions that follow, Fundamentalists will cling to the "rightness" of their beliefs at all costs unless you offer them an alternative way to feel good about themselves. Be their friends, even if they don't want you to be. Treat them with respect, even if they condemn you. Show them through your actions that you value them as human beings, even if they don't return the favor.
The second is to break down their made-truths using the suggestions below. Rational arguments with history or science won't work. Your only weapon is to use their made-truths against them. They won't like it very much, and you can be assured that even as you crack their defenses, they will seldom admit you've made them question their faith. Admission of being wrong is tantamount to condemning oneself to hell. It won't happen. What will happen, however, is your counter attacks will plague their private thoughts until one of two things happens: either they will kill their own rational thoughts altogether, or they will begin to question the validity of their made-truths.
It won't be easy for them. They will be afraid. They will be lonely (particularly as their Fundamentalist family and friends reject them). And they will desperately need an alternative source of personal value. This is where your relationship becomes important. Though they rebuked you in the beginning, they will need you now. If you were the only one who gave them value as a person outside of their made-truth, they will suddenly want, even need, your friendship while they learn to create a value for themselves. Remember, in order to escape Fundamentalism, these people must replace the framework in which they once consider themselves valuable.
How To Defend Yourself Against Fundamentalists
And begin breaking down their made-truths in the process.
Fundamentalist Christians use the Bible as their sole authority. Anything else is suspect at best - satanic at worst. If you wish to mount a good defense, you must use their own "authoritative" book against them. You might think such a defense would be impossible, but it's not. Remember, Fundamentalists use a made-truth, one of their own creation, and despite their claims to the contrary, the Bible often contradicts their point of view. It happens because most Fundamentalists don't actually read it for themselves. The Bible, therefore, becomes the perfect weapon to use against them.
For each of the following "arguments" put forth by Fundamentalists, you'll find a biblical argument that can be used to defend yourself against their attacks. Use them liberally. Enjoy the results. But remember to offer your friendship when the walls begin to fall. If you use these tactics to destroy someone, you should be there to help them rise from the ruins.
"ABORTION IS A SIN"
Abortion is not mentioned in the Bible at all. However, if you challenge your antagonist to show you why they are opposed to it, you'll usually get one of three different arguments.
The most common comes from Psalm 139:13-16, where King David writes that God formed him in the womb. If you are given this argument, ask the Fundamentalists if they believe God has ordained them to be the next King of Israel. The obvious answer is "no." Once they say this, ask them why, therefore, do they claim that a verse God used to describe the creation of a pre-ordained King of Israel should be applied to them as well. Do they also claim to be the next messiah because of God's description of Christ's inception in Mary's womb? Of course not. But Fundamentalists like to take this verse out of context and claim it applies to every human ever conceived.
It does not. You can also refer them to Jeremiah 1:4-10, where another pre-ordained prophet of God described his life in the womb as well. However, in Jeremiah's case, he says that God knew him before he was ever conceived in the womb. Since most Fundamentalists use the argument that God "knew" his pre-ordained leaders in the womb, and, therefore, it must mean that God considers us fully human at conception, what does it mean when God says he knew us before we were even conceived? Does it mean we are fully human even before the egg and the sperm come together? Of course not.
The second most common argument comes from the Ten Commandments, where we are told "Thou Shalt Not Kill." But this begs the question of "kill what?" Does this commandment mean we cannot kill anything, even a fly? No. It means we should not kill another human being. Of course, the Fundamentalist believes a pre-born fetus is the same as a full-term human being. God, however, does not. In Exodus 21:22-25 we read that if a man accidentally kills a pregnant woman, that man should be condemned for committing murder. However, if he only kills the fetus - that is, if she miscarries - he is not condemned for murder. Clearly, then, God does not consider the pre-born fetus as being the same as a human being, in which case the Commandment of "Thou Shalt Not Kill (a human)" does not apply.
And the third comes from several Old Testament books where God condemned the Jews for offering their children as sacrifices to a false god called Baal. This is used less often than the other arguments because it makes no mention of pre-borns. The children being sacrificed where full-term, already-born human babies. And, as we have seen above in Exodus 21:22-25, God does not see a developing fetus as being equal to a full-term human being.
For a more detailed analysis of abortion in the Bible, see the website at: http://elroy.net/ehr/abortion.html.
"ALCOHOL IS A SIN"
It is not. In Psalm 104: 14-15, King David writes that God gave us wine in order to "gladden the heart of man." In Matthew 11:19, Christ makes the point that his enemies called him a drunkard because he drank wine with the party animals of his day. And, of course, at the beginning of Christ's ministry, his first miracle was the turning of water into wine, and his last act before being crucified was to share bread and wine with his followers, what we call the "last supper." If Christ was God, as the Bible claims, then God drinks alcohol - enough to be called a drunkard by his detractors.
Faced with this, some Fundamentalists will go so far as to claim that the "wine" Christ drunk was merely grape juice, that it contained no alcohol. If they say this to you, ask them why on earth, then, would the religious people of Christ's day call him a drunkard for merely drinking juice?
"HOMOSEXUALITY IS A SIN"
True. Well, at least according to certain verses in the Bible. Three passages to be exact. However, this does not let the Fundamentalist off the hook. In each occasion where we read of God's displeasure with homosexual behavior, we also read of other displeasing behaviors that either God says he doesn't like but Fundamentalists ignore, or that Fundamentalists dislike and yet God seems to think is okay. Confused? You should be.
The most common reference against homosexuality comes from a story in Genesis. In Chapter 18 of the book, we see God about to destroy the evil twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God sends two angels to warn the one godly family of the imminent demise of these cities, only to have the locals demand that these two angels, who appeared like men, come out so they could have sex with them. Of course this didn't please God very much. However, Lot, the father of this one so-called godly family, does an interesting thing. In chapter 19, verse 8, the Bible tells how Lot offered to give his virgin daughters to these men so that they might rape them instead. Is this how God wants us to protect ourselves from the "homosexual agenda," by offering to let them rape our virgin daughters? Ask that to the Fundamentalist and see how much they squirm.
Likewise, in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, we're told it is wrong for a man to be with another man. However, within the same book we are also told that it is wrong to eat pork. If Fundamentalists use the Leviticus verses, simply ask them when was the last time they had bacon. According to the same Old Testament book that condemns the practice of homosexuality, they would also be condemned to hell for eating a BLT sandwich. However, they would not be committing sin if they still owned slaves, since Leviticus tells us such activity is okay. Think the Fundamentalists will agree with that?
Forced out of the Old Testament in their crusade against homosexuality, the Fundamentalist will quote from Romans, or more specifically from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, both written by the Apostle Paul. He offers a list of sins that will keep a person out of Heaven. Among them is homosexual behavior. However, also listed among these is adultery. Such a revelation won't phase the Fundamentalists until you remind them that in Luke 16:18 Christ defined a man or woman who has divorced and remarried as also being an adulterer. Ask these Fundamentalists how many of their church's members have been divorced and remarried. Then ask them if their church performs the weddings for these adulterous members. If homosexuality is to be condemned, should not these fellow church goers also be condemned? Challenge these Fundamentalists to go back to their churches and apply the same rules to their adulterous remarried members as they apply to homosexuals. What? They won't do it? Why on earth, then, are they picking on homosexuals? Are they selecting one sin as being worse than another? Of course they are - and you've just called them to the carpet for it. Why are they allowed to commit some sins yet feel free to condemn someone else's?
For a more detailed description of this situation, see the website at: http://elroy.net/ehr/gay.html.
"PORNOGRAPHY IS A SIN"
Porn is not mentioned in the Bible. Remember, photography did not exist when the book was written. Most Fundamentalists, however, base their objection to pornography on two biblical references.
In Genesis 3:7, Adam and Eve committed the first sin, and, says the Bible, they suddenly realized they were naked and tried to cover themselves. Fundamentalists point to this as proof that nudity is bad. This, of course, makes no sense since Adam and Eve were naked before they ever sinned by eating of the "fruit of the tree." God created humans naked, and they lived naked until they sinned. Some want to claim, however, that nudity became a sin after "the fall." And, in fact, in Leviticus 18 we find a whole chapter dedicated to why the people of Israel should not see their family members nude (though the actual words used indicate this means having sex with them, not just seeing them naked). However, in chapter 19, verse 27, we also are told not to cut the hair over our ears, or even to trim our beards, and earlier in the same book we're told not to eat pork or birds (uh oh, no more fried chicken!).
Why do Fundamentalists pick out those parts of Leviticus that they want to be sins and ignore the rest? Good question. Leviticus was not meant for you and me. It was meant for ancient Israel. Its rules were designed to rid a nomadic population of their diseases, not as a rulebook for all humans. But, interestingly enough, even if we decided to apply all the rules of Leviticus to our lives, if we never cut the hair over our ears and never ate pork or turkey again, and never saw any of our family members naked, the book never says it's a sin to see a non-family member naked. In fact, nowhere in the Bible do we read that nudity, by its very nature, is wrong.
Nudity, according to the Fundamentalist however, causes people to lust, which according to Matthew 5:28 is a sin. And pornography, that is, images or stories of people engaged in sexual activity, is specifically designed to make people lust, so its existence must, by default, be a sin according to these people. The Bible, itself, however, would have to be considered pornography by this definition. In Song of Solomon 7:7-8, Solomon describes how satisfying the breasts of his lover are, and then tells how he longs to take hold of them and how he wants to climb onto the woman. And in Ezekiel 23:1-20 we read of two women with insatiable sexual appetites, and we are told of how men with penises the size of donkeys' would pour out horse-like quantities of, well, their "issue" upon these women's breasts. If viewing pornography is a sin, then reading the Bible would also a sin considering how much pornography is in it. Point out these verses to your Fundamentalist friends and see how much they sweat.
You can read more about the pornography in the Bible at: http://elroy.net/ehr/vchip.html
"SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE IS A SIN"
Is it? Fundamentalists would have us believe it. But the Bible is unclear. In Exodus, chapter 20, we read the Ten Commandments, and are told that we should not commit adultery. Adultery however is not defined as simply having sex outside of marriage. It's defined as having sex with a married person. Nothing is said to prohibit sexual relations between two unmarried people. In fact, if we look in the book of Leviticus, we are given a list of every situation in which we should not have sex. We're not to have sex with married people, or with family members, or with animals. We are not, however, prohibited from having sex with an unmarried person who is not in our family.
A few people have interpreted Deuteronomy 22:13-21 to be against pre-marital sex, but when we actually read what's there we see it's about lying and bringing disgrace to one's father, not about sex. In these verses a man is given a bride by another man, and then goes to court to claim the woman was not a virgin. The verses then say that the bride's father must prove she was a virgin. If he can prove it, the new husband is fined for bringing shame upon the bride's family by claiming he was given a faulty bride. If she cannot prove she's a virgin, then she is put to death for being a harlot while still in her father's house. Notice that there is nothing said about the man not being a virgin, and there are no equal punishments brought against men. Why? Because this is not about having sex. It's about a woman who is still considered property, meaning she lives in her father's house and is being given to another man (in exchange for money), taking it upon herself to sleep around and thus destroying her value as a bride worth selling. In this case, the woman having sex brings shame to her family by making the father out to be a liar when he accepts money from a man who wants to bed down with a virgin. In short, while having sex outside of marriage is not forbidden by the Bible, the women not being honest about it brought dishonor to her father, which is a sin according to the Ten Commandments.
Another verse, often quoted by itself to condemn sex outside of marriage, is Exodus 22:16, where we read "If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall give the marriage present for her, and make her his wife." But when we look at the verse immediately following, we get a whole different picture. In verse 17 we read, "If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equivalent to the marriage present for virgins." Just like the Deuteronomy reference we can clearly see this is not about sex, but rather is about destroying a commodity - a virgin daughter who can be sold for a price. In these Exodus verses it's spelled out even more clearly. There is no mention of immorality, nor is the man who seduces the woman penalized for having sex before marriage - only for having sex with a virgin, and even then his only penalty is to pay the father what the woman would have cost as a virgin.
Some places in the bible, such as Mark 7:21, state that "fornication" is a sin. Fundamentalists like to interpret that as meaning "sex outside of marriage." It's not true. The Greek translation identifies "fornication" as being any "illicit (illegal) sexual activity." However, as we saw above, God did not mention sex between two unmarried people as being illicit. Interesting. And, in fact, we read in 2 Samuel chapter 5 where some of God's greatest leaders, such as King David (whom God called a man "after his own heart"), had hundreds of wives and hundreds of unmarried concubines (women kept in the house for the purpose of having sex). None of these were considered sins. It is only when David had sex with another man's wife (2 Samuel 11:1-5) that he committed the sin of adultery.
"SMOKING IS A SIN"
No true. Like other so-called sins on the Fundamentalist list, there is no mention of smoking in the Bible. Rather Fundamentalist minds have decided that smoking is a sin based on 1 Corinthians 3:16, where we are told that our bodies are the temple of God. However, what most Fundamentalists forget, or never knew to begin with, is that in Matthew 15:11 Christ specifically says that it's not what goes into the mouth that defiles the body; rather it's what comes out - such as hate, evil speech, and lies.
"GOD SAID IT. I BELIEVE IT. THAT SETTLES IT."
In the world of bumper sticker theology, this is certainly one of the more provocative statements. It was popularized in the 70's, and though fewer bumper stickers actually use it these days, it's often quoted by Fundamentalists who have had their beliefs challenged. It certainly sounds ominous. If God said it, it must be true, right?
Uh, well, no. It's only true if indeed God really said it. And, as we've seen in the other examples, what Fundamentalists believe is often not what's in the Bible - the very book they believe God wrote. If someone gives you this argument, ask him or her to show you where God said it. You'll be surprised how many times they won't be able to show you. They may have heard it from a preacher, or on some Christian radio program and just assumed it was in the Bible. But the truth is, it often isn't. As we have seen with abortion, premarital sex, and smoking, many so-called sins are never mentioned in the Bible at all. And if they do give you a verse, don't be afraid to look it up. More often than not they'll be misquoting it, as we've seen in the issues of homosexuality and pornography.
When someone says "God said it," they're really saying they assume God said it. But much of the time they've chosen to believe it without ever looking it up themselves.
You can find out more about how this happens at: http://elroy.net/ehr/basicassumption.html
"JESUS IS THE ONLY WAY TO HEAVEN"
True, according to the Bible. However, contrary to what Fundamentalists preach, this does not mean everyone who is "saved" calls Jesus by that same name. In John 3:16 we read that God sent his son, whom most Fundamentalists call "Jesus," to save the world, and that anyone who simply believes in him will be saved. It does not say that we must call him "Jesus" in order to believe in him. In fact, the Bible gives many names to Christ - meaning many people very well might believe in the savior without believing his name is Jesus.
He's called the "Son of God" (Hebrews 4:14), the "Son of Man" (Luke 6:5), the "King of Kings" (Revelation 17:14), the "Savior" (1 Timothy 4:10), the "High Priest" (Hebrews 4:14), the "Teacher" (John 3:2), the "Word" (John 1:1), the "Rabbi" (John 1:38), the "Master" (John 1:38), "Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23), "Creator" (Isaiah 40:28; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16), "Adam" (1Corinthians 15:45), "Angel" (Genesis 48:16), "Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6), "Ensign" (Isaiah 11:10), "Fountain" (Zechariah 13:1), "Light" (John 8:12), "Morning Star" (Revelation 22:16), "Wisdom" (Proverbs 8:12), even "Melchizedek" (Hebrews 5:6). And these are just a few. Throughout the Old Testament, before he was given an earthly name, Christ was referred to by hundreds of different names.
And even if we call him "Jesus," that's not his real name. In Greek it's "Iesous." in Hebrew it's "Joshua" or "Hoshea," and in Latin it's "Jesu." If his name is important, by which name should we call him? Indeed, if using his correct name is necessary, then no English-speaking Christian could be saved since we don't call him by his real name.
"LOVE THE SINNER; HATE THE SIN."
This is a cop out. And, though often quoted, it's not in the Bible. It's true that God tells us to love one another as he loved us. It's also true that God says he hates sin. But Fundamentalists have taken these two diverse statements and made them into a defense for mistreating homosexuals, abortion doctors, and, heaven forbid, women who want equal rights. When attacked for their judgmental attitudes against gays, for instance, this phrase becomes the catch-all defense as to why their actions are okay in "God's eyes." By denying a gay man a right to equal and fair treatment under the law, Fundamentalists aren't "hating" the sinner - they're merely showing their displeasure with the sin. By using the national media to claim that gays are sick and need healing, they aren't showing "hate" - they're merely trying to "love" them by showing they need to be "healed."
Fundamentalists forget that we're not told to "hate the sin." We're told to forgive the sin. In Matthew 18:23-35 Christ tells of a slave who was forgiven his debts (just as Christians are forgiven their sins). This slave, however, refused to forgive the debt of a fellow slave (just as Christ asks us to forgive our fellow sinners). Christ called that slave "Evil." All who call themselves "Christian" absolutely must forgive the sins of any other sinner - even the homosexual. The moment they don't, the moment they start brandishing the "love the sinner but hate the sin" argument, they are themselves condemned by the very God they say they serve.
"THE BIBLE IS ERROR FREE"
Perfect. Infallible. Undeniable. All of these are used to defend the so-called source of the Fundamentalist's made-truth - the Bible. It might be, if you can accept the convoluted reasoning of its Fundamentalist defenders. But short of accepting it on blind faith, the Bible has lots of problems to overcome. Still, it's up to each person to decide for himself or herself. But even if it is error free, it doesn't support Fundamentalists. In fact, if the Bible is absolutely infallible, it only serves to prove them wrong. They say God is opposed to abortion, but the Bible isn't. They say God is opposed to drinking alcohol, but the Bible isn't. They say the God is opposed to sex before marriage, but the Bible isn't. They say God is opposed to smoking, but the Bible isn't. And, they say God is opposed to slavery (and most of us would agree), and yet in Leviticus 25:44 we see that indeed the Bible supports it.
Of course, you can also just quote these two verses one right after the other:
"God is not like men, who lie; He is not a human who changes his mind. Whatever he promises, he does; He speaks and it is done." - Numbers 23:19
"So the Lord changed his mind and did not bring on his people the disaster he threatened." - Exodus 32:14
"YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND THE BIBLE WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT"
Another cop out. When people challenge Fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible, their first counter-attack is this claim. Be prepared to hear it. The moment you defend yourself against their beliefs, Fundamentalists will claim you can't understand the Bible correctly unless God, through the Holy Spirit, directs your understanding. Basically they are claiming that God has revealed his truths to them but not to you. They are claiming that God has given them a better understanding of the Bible than you.
However, in Psalm 119:130 we read that the Bible, called the Word of God, is understandable even to the "simple." And we read in Revelation 22:18 that anyone who adds to the Bible will be condemned. Calling abortion a sin is adding to the Bible. Calling smoking a sin is adding to the Bible. Calling premarital sex a sin is adding to the Bible. And, though we would disagree, even calling slavery a sin is adding to the Bible. If you get hit with this phrase by Fundamentalist attackers, remind them that if their so-called doctrine is not explicitly supported in the Bible - as much of it is not - that they are breaking God's commandment not to add anything to God's Word, and, therefore, what they believe cannot be truth.
"SPEAKING IN TONGUES IS A SIGN OF TRUE FAITH"
Most Fundamentalists won't actually say this. In fact only a few of the far-right extremists will. However, those types are more vocal than the rest, so your chances of hearing it are high. (And, by the way, this is a good example of how the Religious Right's made-truths are not universally accepted within their own ranks - if two different Fundamentalist groups disagree, and both claim to have absolute truth, which one is right?)
Speaking in "tongues," that is, the uttering of so-called angelic languages by normal human beings is seen by Pentecostal Fundamentalists as a sign from God that a new convert has been "baptized by the Holy Spirit." They claim that without the outward sign of speaking in tongues you are not guaranteed that God has made you a true Christian. And indeed, there are a number of places in the New Testament where new converts broke out speaking in tongues.
However, in Acts 8:14-17 we see a man receiving the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, but he does not speak in tongues. Likewise, in Acts 9:17-22, when Saul (now Paul) is given the Holy Spirit, he does not speak in tongues. And in Acts 11:11-17 we see the Holy Spirit fill another man, and yet speaking in tongues does not happen. When faced with these facts, some of these extremists will argue that just because it's not written about in the Bible doesn't mean it didn't happen. At this point you need only remind them of Revelation 22:18 again, where God says not to add to his Word lest you be condemned. If it's not in the Bible, they can't use it for their doctrines. And if they do, as in this case, then they are heretics.
"YOU MUST BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED"
Depends on which verses you believe. The largest Fundamentalist denomination, called Baptists, obviously follow Mark 16:16 where it says we must both believe and be baptized in order to be saved. However most other Fundamentalists choose to believe Romans 10:9, where we're told we only need believe and confess God orally in order to be saved. Still others merely use John 3:16 where we are told we only need to believe in order to be saved. The Baptists aside, Christ clearly demonstrated that baptism is not necessary for salvation. In Luke 23:43, a thief being hung on a cross next to Christ asks Christ to "remember" him in the afterlife. Because of the thief's belief, Christ tells him he will join Christ in the afterlife, in paradise. The thief was saved moments before he died, with no way to be baptized, and yet according to Christ, he indeed went to Heaven.
"CATHOLICS ARE PAGANS - THEY PRAY TO MARY"
Actually they don't. They ask Mary, who is considered to be a very godly woman - even though she is in spirit and no longer walking the earth, to pray on their behalf. Fundamentalists think this is praying to spirits other than God, and therefore condemn it. Catholics, however, see it as calling on a woman of God to pray for them, just as Fundamentalists will ask their pastor to pray for them. The difference is that Catholics see the veil between the living and the dead as much thinner than Protestants do. In other words, a Godly woman who has died is still living in the afterlife, is still active in the life of the church, is still a part of the body of believers, and can, therefore, be called on to submit prayers on behalf of those of us struggling in this world. Fundamentalists call this unbiblical. However, in Matthew 17:3 we read where Moses and Elijah, two Old Testament prophets who had long since died, appeared and communed with Jesus and several of the apostles. Seems the dead can be active in the physical world of those who come after them.
"EVOLUTION CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE"
Ah, well, it does. This is one of those debates that won't be solved, with either science or faith. The thinker will rely on science. The Fundamentalist will rely on faith. And in a debate about the origins of humans, these diametrically opposed sides will go round and round and never sway the other side. However, when the Fundamentalist takes the absolute stand that Creation is right and Evolution is wrong because it says so in the Bible, you can use their belief to make them squirm.
Ask them if they are absolutely positive that the Bible is right. Of course they'll say yes. Ask them if every word of it can be taken literally to understand God's creation plan for mankind. They'll say yes again. Then ask them if that means they believe God supports our right to use marijuana, cocaine, or opium. And of course, they'll say no. Then simply quote Genesis 1:29, where God states quite clearly that he made "every" plant and "every" seed to be used by mankind. If they indeed believe Genesis word for word, as they claim, they'll have to admit that God created marijuana, coca (which contains cocaine), and poppies (which contain opium) for use by humans. To deny this truth is to deny God's absolute truth. And if they continue to deny it, then they are guilty of not taking the Bible literally, in which case you will have no choice but to ignore them when they claim it supports their point of view.
"LIBERALS ARE ANTI-GOD"
Not true. The Bible doesn't support multi-national capitalist companies. Rather it says greed is a sin (1 Corinthians 6:10). The Bible doesn't support the notion that we all deserve to have big cars, big houses, and even bigger churches in which to worship. In fact, gluttony is a sin (Proverbs 28:7). The Bible doesn't even say we should oppose taxes. Christ told his followers to pay them (Mark 12:17).
And, in a part of the Bible that most donation-driven Fundamentalists seem to ignore, in the very first Christian church, conservative Capitalism was not the rule of the day. The first church was pure Communism. In Acts 2:44-45 we read "All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need." Sounds a lot like Karl Marx's famous statement about Communism when he wrote that it would take "from each according to his ability to each according to his need." In the beginning, the Christian Church stood for equality and the redistribution of wealth, not for huge churches and even bigger so-called Christian broadcasting networks that spend millions of dollars in donated funds on five-star-hotel-quality buildings and even fancier satellite networks.
"CHRISTIANS ARE BEING PERSECUTED"
Ever hear the phrase, "You can dish it out, but you can't take it"? That's what's happening when Fundamentalists use this statement. They have been on the attack for years now, trying to deny rights to homosexuals, trying to outlaw abortions, trying to keep women from obtaining equal rights, and trying to impose their own morals - many of them non-biblical - on the rest of society. Non-Fundamentalists are finally fighting back by speaking out against their campaigns, their media onslaughts, and their mistaken notions of truth, and the Fundamentalists don't like it very much. They can dish it out, but they can't take it. So when people of good conscience stand up for their rights, Fundamentalists cry foul - they claim they are being persecuted.
Fundamentalists see this "persecution" as biblical proof of being on God's side. It's not. Their so-called persecution is merely the rest of society defending itself from their attacks. Their so-called persecution is merely being called to the carpet for their actions. Their so-called persecution comes in the form of editorials that don't paint them in a glowing light or legislation that goes against their made-truths. If they can't get their schools to allow them to pray to their God during class time, they claim they are being attacked. What would happen if Buddhists and Muslims tried to get the same special rights? Fundamentalists would be beside themselves in anger.
This is not the persecution mentioned in the Bible. The leaders of the Christian Coalition are not being hung on crosses (Philippians 2:8). The leaders of the Family Research Council are not being stoned to death (Acts 7:59). The leaders of Focus on the Family are not being thrown to the lions (Daniel 6:16). And yet these people have the gall to claim they are being persecuted in God's name. They are not. All they have to worry about is someone calling them bad names and denying them their request for favoritism.
"THE MEDIA IS A TOOL OF SATAN"
Really? If it is, then the Bible, which is a media too, must be the worst offender. Fundamentalists are fond of saying the Media is a tool of Satan because it broadcasts "sinful" material or "liberal" points of view. They say there's too much sex. There's too much violence. There are too many moral degenerates. There are too many Liberals. What they don't tell you, however, is that of all the media readily available to our nation's citizens, the Bible contains the worst elements. In Ezekiel 23:1-20 we see sex scenes that would get a Triple X rating. In Judges 19:22-29 there's a man who throws his female slave to a pack of rapists and then cuts her to pieces with a knife to cover his actions. In Genesis 19:4-8 a man gives his two virgin daughters to gang rapists in order to save his friends. And the Fundamentalists complain that other media is bad. The Bible has some of the worst. As for Liberal, check out Mark 10:21, where Jesus tells a rich man that if he wants to follow God he must sell everything he owns and give it to the poor. Now that's Liberal.
The real issue is not that the Media is a tool of Satan. It's not that the media is against the Bible. The real issue is that most Media outlets won't publish Fundamentalist made-truth as fact. Fundamentalists believe it's absolute truth. The rest of the world sees it as simply the extreme ramblings of one sect within the Protestant Christian church and basically ignores it. Thus, you'll hear these Fundamentalists say things like, "Here is the truth you won't hear in the secular liberal media...." Of course you won't hear it in the real world's media. Just because an extremist group believes something, it doesn't make it a fact.
For more information on violence in the Bible, go to: http://elroy.net/ehr/vchip.html
"SATAN HAS BLINDED YOU TO THE TRUTH"
This is another cop-out defense by the Religious Right. Just as Fundamentalists will claim you can't understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit, they'll claim the Devil has blinded you if you take up political positions counter to theirs. The sad part is, however, that they really believe it. They are so addicted to their own made-truth that anyone who doesn't agree with them must, in their view, be blinded by the forces of evil.
Your best defense? Remind them of their own "blindness" when it comes to the Bible. Remind them that in Exodus, chapter 20, the Ten Commandments tell us to keep the Sabbath Holy - that is, that we're not to work or toil on Saturday. Fundamentalists changed that day to Sunday even though such a move was not mandated in the Bible. Also, most Fundamentalists ignore the commandment no matter what day they choose. They mow their lawns. They rake their yards. They go shopping. And, in today's busy world, many of them catch up on unfinished business by working at home. Next remind them that in Mark 10:21 Jesus said in order to follow him they must sell everything they have and give it to the poor. When was the last time you saw a Fundamentalist do that? You can cap it off by showing them that in 1 John 3:8 we're told not to judge others. As soon as Fundamentalists claim Satan has blinded you, they are judging you. They are turning a blind eye to their own sin and their own failure to follow the Bible.
"THE END IS NEAR - CHRIST IS COMING BACK SOON"
This is meant to frighten you. It's a scare tactic designed to push you into a choice you don't want to make. Don't let it. The Bible does not say when the end of the world will be. But that doesn't stop the Fundamentalists from making a guess and then claiming it as truth. When Jerusalem was destroyed in 73 AD, Fundamentalists said it was the end of the world. When the clock struck midnight in the year 1000 AD they said it was the end of the world. When World War I broke out they said it was the end of the world. When World War II broke out they said it again. Now, coming up on the next Millennium they are saying it even louder. But it won't happen. In fact, the first prophecy of the earth's demise was proved false within a hundred years of its utterance. In Luke 21:25-32 Christ tells his followers about the end of the world and his pending return from heaven and then tells them that their generation would not pass away before these things happened. That was 2002 years ago.
"WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? (W.W.J.D.?)
The latest Fundamentalist gimmick is to parade around with bracelets bearing the letters "W.W.J.D.?" It's designed to remind Fundamentalist youth not to misbehave. It's also a way for these same youth to "share their faith" when someone asks what it means. It stands for "What Would Jesus Do?"
Indeed, what would Jesus do? Would he support Fundamentalist extremism or would he spread love and forgiveness? Would he dump on homosexuals, or would he fight for their rights as human beings? Would he picket abortion clinics, or would he comfort a woman in need of such a procedure? Would he be complaining about alcohol or would he be drinking it with his friends? You be the judge. In John 8:4 Jesus was brought a woman caught in adultery. Rather than condemn her, he forgave her and said the only people allowed to condemn her were the ones who had never sinned. No one condemned her that day. In John 4:7 Jesus encounters a prostitute at a watering well. Rather than judge her harshly for her sins, he asked her for a cup of water and gave her comfort for the mistakes in her life. And in Matthew 11:19 Jesus was called a drunkard for drinking wine in the homes of local crooks and thieves.
Jesus was not the uptight, judgmental founder of Fundamentalist Christianity. He was radical. He was compassionate. And he was forgiving. Rather than thumping people over the head with the Old Testament (the New Testament hadn't been written yet), he spent much of his time standing up to the Fundamentalists of his day. In Matthew 23:27 he said they were nothing more than "whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness." And isn't that so true. These are people who claim their made-truths come straight from the Bible, and yet they don't even know what's in it. They wear a facade of righteousness, and yet they sin by adding their unfounded doctrines to the Bible. They like to condemn others for living in sin, and yet they are blind to all the sins they simply ignore or write off as irrelevant.
You don't have to let them get away with it. The next time they launch an attack, stand up for your beliefs, stand up for your rights, and fight back with their own words. Or rather, fight back with God's own words.
Losing My Religion
Answers to a good friend who is concerned for my soul
The Big Lie
Undoing the many years of Fundamentalist Christian indoctrination
A Letter to my Younger Self
What I would say if I could write a letter to who I was as a teenager
Do Unto Others
A guide to striking back at the Religious Right
Why Focus on the Family is of the Devil
When a ministry sets itself up as a moral authority, the outcome destroys the faith of many young Christians.
When Christ was Gay
What many Christians seem to forget
Why Abortion is Biblical
Many believers are amazed to find that there is no mention of abortion in the Bible.
Proud to be Liberal
Why Liberal thought is better in line with American values than its Conservative counterpart
The Basic Assumption
A discussion on the nature of truth
James Dobson: Focusing on Himself
How James Dobson, leader of Focus on the Family, sets himself up as the moral authority of the nation -- taken from his own words and from other media reports
Will Perkins Has Lost His Voice
Because of his position on Gays, the Founder of Colorado for Family Values has lost his ability to share his love and concern with those who could use it
Saving our Children from the Bible
A satirical look at the V-Chip applied to the Scriptures
Family Values: a biblical view
The Event Horizon RiderElroy's poetry on love, loss, and sorrow can be found in Mental Equations listed below
Elroy's music is available for download in MP3 format