A Target of Fundamentalism

Question from Anonymous:
I’m an agnostic-atheist, my mother is insanely Christian. When I came out to her, she became enraged, shunned me and damned me to hell. I told her “Well, Mom, this is your opinion and this is my opinion, I’m still going to have morality.”
I was forced to go to church, I was forced to not read Richard Dawkins and she denied that I read up anything on science or discovery.
They performed exorcisms on me. I get very bad claustrophobia and all of these religious people came up on me, surrounded me and it caused a panic-attack.
My mother kept hitting me (literally) in the face with the Bible, kept hitting me with other things, in front of the church, and they cheered and yelled “Amen! Yes Lord! Get the heathen saved!” I have bruises and I’m severely depressed.
I began to get tired of her hitting me with the Bible to I took it out of her hands, ripped it and through it out of the window. Guess what happened next? They called me the immoral blasphemous one for taking a book and throwing it out the window. Apparently beating is completely moral, but oh, throwing the holy book and not physically harming anyone is absolutely horrendous.
I understand that believing in a deity is a comforting feeling, especially when one lost a loved one, in a vulnerable situation and so on.
I don’t fight people if they believe for those reasons, because I’m an understanding person.
I just think “a religion” is just “an opinion without facts”. It’s unprovable because we cannot scientifically test for a God or deity.
I respect religion, it must be a comforting feeling to believe in a God or deity, and that your passed loved ones are in a place where you’ll see them again.
But, why is it that religion divides people? Why does it turn regular people into a herd of malevolent brainwashed zombies and cause families to be ruined?
A lady who is close to my mother says that her daughter converted to Judaism in order to marry her Jewish fiancé. This lady tells her daughter “You cannot marry a Jewish man because he only resides on the Old Testament, and his people murdered Jesus.” You can see why the daughter hasn’t spoken to the mother in quite a long time. Now her daughter is happily married and the lady is still witnessing and talking bad about the Jews and so on.
Guess what? Another one of mother’s close friend’s son came out as gay. They did the same to him as they did me. They beat him, exorcised him and so on. Now, he’s a happily married man to his husband and they adopted three children, he hasn’t talked to his parents in five years.
My question is, is after so much division, why can’t these mothers realize? Including my mom? Why can’t they self-judge? Why are they like this? Is this a mental condition of theirs? This happens all of the time in her church! Some Liberal-minded kids who do their own research break away from these chains. Either from the religion, or just that particular church (and go to a more liberal church, which I completely respect). So why can’t fundamentalists look at themselves? Why can’t they say “Oh my cult-like way of worshipping a deity is causing my kids to run away, maybe I should re-evaluate what I’m doing.” Why do they not do that?

Answer by SmartLX:
First of all, if you have been physically and psychologically abused by your mother and her congregation and your story can be believed, you do have legal recourse to make it stop, although it may unfortunately be a difficult path itself. Get some alone time with a phone and have some exploratory chats with the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-422-4453) and the The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233). Worst case, they give you nothing and you hang up. (Now that I’ve said that, I am very sorry it took me a week to respond to you.)

Anyway, there are several factors at work here. The simplest factor to understand is the doctrines these people take as literal gospel. God is real, Heaven and Hell are real, the only way to reach Heaven and avoid Hell is to accept God through Jesus. If you’re not accepting Jesus you are headed for Hell and eternal torment, and Satan is working through you. No amount of earthly suffering can match eternity in Hell, so any amount of suffering inflicted upon you in order to free you from the demonic influence is worthwhile and will be more than balanced out by eternity in Heaven.

The next factor is hinted at by a word you used, “herd”. It’s all about peer pressure. According to the group, whether stated explicitly or not, if you don’t accept Jesus your mother is suffering an ongoing failure as a parent and as a Christian. As long as she is your guardian, she is bound to do everything she can to “save you”, and the received wisdom is that various kinds of abuse can work towards this end. Once victims of this effort leave home and start their independent lives, as those you mention have done, the parents are entitled to wash their hands of them in the Biblical (Pontius Pilate) sense and shrug off all responsibility, so it’s rare that they will pursue the matter.

Finally there’s the sunk-cost, cognitive-dissonance, look-themselves-in-the-face factor. As soon as your mother began to preach to you years ago she established a firmly defined position, and if she compromised it in any way she might have seemed like a liar, a hypocrite or a fool. At this point after all the effort and abuse, If your mother were to accept that everything she put you through was wrong, then she put you through it all for nothing and she might see herself as a monster. She might already fear that this is true on some level. Her easiest path mentally is to maintain the belief, at any cost to her or to you, that it’s all true and she had to beat and terrify her child. The longer it goes on, the more important to maintain that justification, because her alternate self-image in the event that it all collapses gets more twisted and cruel, like the picture of Dorian Gray. (If this ever does happen it will essentially be an identity crisis, and she will need your help and forgiveness very badly.)

To summarise, fundamentalists often do not look at themselves in a realistic light because they must not. It’s against the laws they live by, their communities would abandon or turn on them, and they would be immersed in a whole new kind of guilt. It’s easy to judge them from the outside, and I’m not saying don’t, but do consider the precarious position they’re in, socially and psychologically. In your case, consider all this after you’ve done what’s necessary to protect yourself. Good luck, keep us posted in the comments if you like.

6 thoughts on “A Target of Fundamentalism”

  1. I am sorry, but my opinion of your mother is that she is stupid, illiterate and of bad character. All the three.
    For your consolation, I discovered when I was young that my father had a bad character. He cheated on my mother and he wrote an essay so that I present it at school as mine. The title was ironically ‘MOTHER’. I got first prize, a book. I lost it soon after. I believe it was my bad conscience at work.
    So I encourage you to admit to yourself without guilt that your mother is what she obviously is. I made it easier for you to name her shortcomings in intellect, education and character.
    DON’T WORRY, YOU ARE FORTUNATELY NOT HER CLONE.

  2. I’m sorry about your mom’s reaction to your “coming out” to her. I’m not sure how I would handle it either if my son did the same. Right now he makes love to his piano. He’s a professional musician. But I hope I would not be so distasteful if it did happen. God I feel would not be pleased about how she took your news. Sometimes we put ourselves in the place of God sharing His indignation, and not His mercy, or all of His love.
    That said, your mother should have explained that she was worried for your salvation. She should have told you that God has told us in His Word that homosexuality is an abomination, (the worst of sins) and that although God is love, and is merciful, He can not allow what someone does that would destroy them and the person that they are doing it with, to take His place in their hearts. Any sin that we commit, we allow to become more important than God to us. So we are placing that cherished thing or sin, or person, in first place in our hearts. And when we refuse to relinquish that sin, we are telling God that it is more important to us than He is. There is no room for another god on the throne of our hearts. We can only allow God or allow god.
    Look. I know that there are other of your peers who say, (some are supposed to be Christians), that God is too loving. No He is not. He is all loving. And that is why He will not allow something that is killing you to remain in your life. Christ came to save us from our sins, the things that cause us not to want God and His salvation. Christ did not come to save us in our sins. That is why He gave us the do’s and the don’t’s. Ultimately you will have to decide whose you want to be. Satan’s in your sin, our Christ’s without your sin. The Bible has not changed and God will not change His mind about sin. It brings death. “the wages of sin is death”. That is because sin brings separation from God. It causes us to turn from God, to fear Him. To not trust Him. That is what sin does. And if we don’t want God then we don’t anything that He offers us. And that includes His eternal life. Any type of love that you think you may have found from a person of the same sex, is only a cheap copy, an imitation, of the real thing that you can only find by following God and walking as He would have you walk. Living as He would have you live. And you can not sit on the fence and try to serve two masters. It’s either God all the way, or satan’s and satan would then use you to lead others away from God.
    So I pray that you will go to God. Let Him know that you don’t have the power to change your life and that you want to Give Him unlimited access to your heart and life. So that He can give you that new heart that King David asked from God when he had stolen someone’s else’s wife, and murdered the husband. King David asked God to “create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit within me”. God can and will do this, but you must ask. He will not impose Himself on you. You must want this change. Like I said I will be praying for you. Please keep in contact.

    1. Anonymous, please do not listen to Gerald. He is just your mom in another form. Take a look at some of the more ridiculous statements that he makes in his post above. All these things are items that have already been discussed with him too, yet he continues to boldly lie to others thru this website in a vain attempt to prop up the defeated idea of his god creature.

      [She should have told you that God has told us in His Word that homosexuality is an abomination, (the worst of sins)]

      That same god being also said haircuts are bad, yet you never see a fundie protesting outside a barber shop, do you Anonymous? You aren’t supposed to wear clothes of mixed fabrics either, but I bet Gerald and your mom wear cotton/polyester blends all the time. You see their hypocrisy? They only enforce what they want to enforce, and the rest they ignore because it cramps their lifestyle. These people preaching the Bible at you are always so sure they are right, all while ignoring certain parts of it. You are smart to get away from such delusioned thinking.

      [Look. I know that there are other of your peers who say, (some are supposed to be Christians), that God is too loving. No He is not. He is all loving.]

      Did you read that, Anonymous? God is all loving! That’s why the god drowned newborns in the great worldwide flood, and killed newborn Egyptian males even though they had nothing to do with Pharaoh keeping the Jews in Egypt. That’s why Lot’s wife got turned for salt just for looking over her shoulder. God is all loving, and yet all manner of ills and bad things happen to good people like yourself, in the name of this supposed loving divine critter. More hypocrisy from the lips of those who claim they know the Bible and know their favorite flavor of god. Can you see, Anonymous, how closed their eyes are to the contradictions of their dogma?

      But the Bible is good for hitting people in the head apparently. Unbelievable.

      [And that is why He will not allow something that is killing you to remain in your life.]

      Said no cancer patient, ever…

      [The Bible has not changed and God will not change His mind about sin.]

      The Bible is the most edited book in history, Anonymous. And in that often changed book the god inside makes covenant after covenant and deal after deal about what it will take to make it happy. The old laws are supposedly replaced by the death of Jesus, even though “god will not change his mind about sin”. See the lies and half-truths that people like Gerald spin in order to gloss over the mountain of contradictions in their Bible? I don’t blame you from wanting to get away from your mom and her friends…

      Anonymous, no one has a right to assault you physically. Not even your mom. Call 911 the next time she does it, and have her arrested. Unfortunately you will have to stand up for yourself even though your mom is supposed to be doing that for you. Make it happen.

      1. Tim. Come on. I don’t try to tell something what to do or not to do. It is after all up to them. Why not just present what you believe and allow that person to decide what they want. But of course I have the proven validity of the Bible to support my stance. And you, only what you believe. Not very much, right? But don’t feel bad. All you have to do is acknowledge that there is a Being who knows it all. Who knows the end from the beginning. And He is willing to share some of what He knows with us, through the Bible. And Tim, this statement of yours “[She should have told you that God has told us in His Word that homosexuality is an abomination, (the worst of sins)]
        Actually the worst sin is not believing what God tells us. And it’s the worst sin, because not believing in what He tells us, prevents us from receiving what is the truth, and exposes us to more of the effects of what sin does to us.
        But now let me ask you to tell us what is your authority or from what do you base your opinion, that makes you and authority as to what I say, is wrong or right? Can you do better with this question than you were able to do when you were not able to show how evolution is long on air but short on substance?

  3. The psychological aspects of fundamentalists that SmartLX has pointed out are they key to understanding their behavior I think.
    1. They are heavily invested in their community. Their community demands a certain kind of conformity. If they are not moving out of their community – they better conform. They know their kids will either stay (so they want them to conform) or move out (so they want to show their community that they are trying their best to make their kids conform). The utility they derive from their community is practically speaking, much more than they derive from their kids (who can always up and leave). So they will try their best to make their kids conform … till the time the kids move on. When the kids move on, the parents are unlikely to be interested in them any more.

    2. The related question is perhaps why they (fundamentalists) do not take their responsibility as parents to be above their responsibility as a part of a fundamentalist community. The simple answer to that is because in their mind, apart from the psychological instinct of self preservation operating (making them place conformity above the related instinct of family first), there is a rationalization operating that they are doing what they are for a greater cause (God commands it, and his/her/its love is a jealous but all encompassing love or whatever … its a tough love of sorts 🙂 ). A greater cause is far more noble and fulfilling than a petty (human – worldly craving and sin ridden) family related cause. In-fact, the suffering they go through by seeing their child suffer adds to their own “nobility” in a twisted way. So they persist to destroy their own family.

    3. A final question that is personally interesting to me is – should family come first and why?
    I am not inclined at all to say that family should come first. That’s instinct and leads to a tribal mentality – which the world can do very well without, though that mentality is inherent in every human being.
    A broader cause should probably come first.
    What could be a broader cause? That’s probably for each one of us to decide for ourselves. Anything that helps us be productive, positive, make the world slightly better than we found it to be and that does not make us ask the world (other people) that it should follow/ bend to our whims and fancies (even though our whims happen to coincide with currently popular whims and fancies) should be a good enough cause in my view. And add a continuous revaluation of the cause to the basic tenets of the cause itself – you probably have a sufficiently good “broad cause” that escapes the narrowness trap/ simplicity trap.
    Fundamentalist adherence to texts written / compiled in a bygone era doesn’t really cut it – though a lot of people delude themselves into thinking its the biggest and broadest cause there can ever be. And once they are sufficiently invested in such thinking, it takes a lot of bravery and courage to re-trace one’s steps to the light of reason.

  4. Rohin, your statement doesn’t look deep enough as to the why’s of what the Christian community, believes and teaches. At least not when the Christian is a mature Christian. So “They are heavily invested in their community. Their community demands a certain kind of conformity. If they are not moving out of their community”. What we are saying is not what we said, that is important, it is what God tells us. And the Bible has umph under it. More times than the Atheists cares to admit, the Bible has proven that it is unlike any other written writing of the past. It has been proven to be of value in any study that man has put their minds to.

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