Dark Christianity
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Back July 29th, 2004 Forward
dogemperor [userpic]
Fundementalism and intellectual blight: The Kansas example


Does religious fundementalism- no matter what flavor the faith is- bring cultural and intellectual blight to its environs? I am beginning to believe that it does. Consider places like Afghanistan under the Taliban, Saudi Arabia under the Wahabbi sect of Islam, and Kansas under the Christian fundementalists.

With the exception of the Saudis, with their veneer of oil-generated wealth, all three places are crumbling under the weight and influence of religiously generated repression and ignorance. Both Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia keep their women locked up and treat them as minors. Women don't fare much better in Kansas, because of imposed 'family values' which dictate that her place is at home with the kids. We all know about the problems in the Middle East- I want to talk about the same blight in our own heartland.

An article in Intervention Magazine goes into some details about the reasons that Kansas has become the poster child of US fundementalist oppression:

Since renouncing their populist saviors in 1896, Kansans have anesthetized themselves against the resulting blight by relentless religious indoctrination. In their curious world Jesus loves everyone except homosexuals and Democrats. Anything that happens is “God’s will,” thus logically absolving everyone from responsibility for their actions, yet somehow there remains a concept called sin, which requires the free will that no one is supposed to own. They believe that their god will protect them against any danger, yet they tremble in constant fear of the ungodly. In a decision that threw their state back a full century in intellectual development, creationist Kansas legislators banned the teaching of evolution a couple of years ago.

I believe that they've managed to undo that ban in their last legislative session, partially because they became the laughing stock of the rest of the country...

The preoccupation with religion is simply astounding. Oily, unemployed preachers slink about, looking for gigs among the myriad little congregations. Nieces and nephews constantly lobby for missionary money until rebuffed with abrupt finality, recoiling in horror to learn that their aunt has not only married a nonbeliever, but that she herself long ago rejected the fundamentalist dogma of the plains. It is almost as though apostasy equaled death, and those who visit the lost daughter now mourn as though at a gravesite.

Gee, that sounds a lot like what is going on around here. I've known several 'oily' and hypocritical preachers- who are friends to my face, and foes behind my back.

The landscape itself reflects the endemic piety. Homemade billboards loom over the creeping vegetation in abandoned pastures, advertising obscure biblical passages. Electronic signs plead for the public to pray--perhaps for some of that wealth to trickle down from the corporate interests Kansans have been supporting for so long. Western Missouri is dotted with triple-X-rated video rental stores and “gentlemen’s clubs” offering live dancing, but those uncomfortable amenities disappear after the Kansas border. That was acceptable enough, but the bathroom doors of interstate rest areas disappear as well, at least on the men’s side: to discourage their potential use as gay trysting spots, a devout Department of Transportation has turned all of its rest areas into putrid peep shows.

That sounds a lot like what's happening here, too- except for the overt homophobia- but I don't go into mens restrooms, so I could be wrong.

Another book, entitled "What's the Matter With Kansas" documents this once-progressive state's fall into conservative poverty, citing how a group of 'conservative fratboys, politicians and CEOs' convinced the state that they were speaking 'for the people'. It's on my reading list. But getting the True Believers to buy the bullshit and actually not see that they were getting screwed by the people who claimed to be 'saving' them must be the Lie of the Century. Trying to awaken such people to the stark reality of their misplaced faith is probably the most difficult job any can take on- after all, no one wishes to go against 'God's Will', even if "God", in the form of big agribusiness or greedy corporations, steals your livelihood, your home and your health from you.

Still, anything that remotely smacks of education, intellectualism or personal will is considered 'liberal', which is hated with a passion conserved for Satanists. Hell, 'Liberal' 'Intellectual' and "Satanist" appear to be interchangeable in the minds of many True Believers. Sad, really, how their hate and fear blinds them.

How can one counteract such willful ignorance? I am not sure that it can be counteracted, simply because the mindset is so intractible. To become a True Believer of any sort is to sell your soul and your common sense to a devil disguised as a preacher, who uses Christ and the Bible to contuinually bludgeon you into submission, and follow them until you either die, or get pissed off enough to blow off the veil of deliberate and willful ignorance and walk away from it.


Back July 29th, 2004 Forward