Religious Extremists

About 7 years ago I presented a program at a local venue titled “The Cancer of Fundamentalism”. From the title, you can probably tell that it was provocative; it caused some consternation. After all, we are nice people, and we don’t want to use the word “cancer” when speaking of people’s views. My central point was that like cancer, Fundamentalism destroys the health of the organization it lives in. This can be religious, political, social; you name it, Fundamentalism can destroy it. I was told to tone it down by some – I received angry (anonymous, of course) letters telling me not to judge (ironic, isn’t it?). My response was that in this case, I will take my chance. Jesus told us to clean up our own acts before we try to help others in their need. I have tried to do that.

Religious Extremism – Fundamentalism – has continued to grow in its reach and scope. It has won elections and taken control of school boards. It has grown in its influence on the Supreme Court; a number of our justices practice flavors of religion that I would deem to have fundamentalist aspects. And this movement isn’t just having its way here; there is a group called R.I.M. – Russian Imperial Movement – a far-right, white supremacist, paramilitary, Christian nationalist movement that is pushing an international effort to irradicate the world of non-Christians. They are committed to armed violence to bring about the Kingdom of God. They are in league with Putin, promoting and sometimes committing terrorist acts throughout Europe and Asia. They are like many who were involved in the January 6th insurrection here.

There is no place in the world for these views, at least not in the halls of Congress or in our state governments. And yet, they are getting footholds everywhere, promising no limits on guns, ending abortion and birth control, and making America the way it used to be: controlled by white, Christian, fundamentalist men. The horror/fiction of “The Handmaid’s Tale” is their hope and dream. If you think I am kidding, do your own research. This movement is frightening and real and present, and it will be the end of civilization as we know it.

There are three ways I can see (to begin with) to stop this movement, at least in this country. One – research candidates to understand where they stand on issues. Don’t vote along party lines, regardless of party. Two – if you belong to a congregation, support it with your attendance and money and time. One of the reasons these movements have grown is that the middle-of-the-road religions have been fading away, and we have been fading away because our members aren’t with us, doing God’s work. Three – keep an eye on your local school boards. Find out how decisions are being made about books and math and science. These groups promote Creationism, hate LGBTQ people, and want to formalize Christian prayer in public schools. Do not take this lightly! We can already see the damage Fundamentalism has done in this country; if we want a place of equality and freedom, we need to peacefully but firmly confront it. Before it’s too late. If it isn’t already.

Prayer – We seek Your strength as we lift up the Prince of Peace against the Prince of Darkness that so many so-called followers of You promote. Help us to speak Your words of grace so that words of hate lose. Amen.

Today’s art is called “One Nation Under God” by Jon McNaughton.