Any attempt to communicate a different opinion to rigid fundamentalists is like talking to a wall. The fundamentalist mind-set is programmed to not become confused by any proposition contrary to its program.
One of my professors used to say, "It is all right to be a fundy; just don't
be a fool." Webster says a fool is a person "lacking in judgment." Foolishness, like stupidity, suggests a lack of common sense and is distinguished from ignorance which is due to lack of knowledge or education.
It is not common sense which motivates the reasoning of an unbending
religious fundamentalist; it is a distorted viewpoint which declares that
everyone else is wrong and that his or her religion is based on fact, rather
Of course, religion can be defined, broadly, as whatever it is in life for
which a person really lives--that for which a person really lives is his or her real religion. Whatever a person does in regard to that for which he or she really lives is worship. Nevertheless, everyone has a right to personal belief; but, there is nothing which discredits narrow-minded religious fundamentalists more quickly than a stubborn unwillingness to admit a religion addiction which controls the brain just as easily as opium.
The religion druggie is unable to admit reality (human fallibility) and is on
a trip which is just as difficult to reverse as alcoholism. For example, how
else does anyone explain the extremism of suicide bombers or murderers who kill themselves and/or others while believing they are doing God's will and at death will go straight to Heaven?
A college roommate saved me from fundamentalism's black hole. Occasionally, I would drift into outer space in regard to some unearthly position; and he would bring me back to ground zero with two simple questions: "Well, Gene, you could be wrong couldn't you? You are not God, are you?"
It is basic dishonesty which allows the fundamentalist to live in ignorant
bliss by absorbing inflexible religion as if it were a natural morphine. On the
other hand, no one objects to religion which provides peace and euphoria to the heart and mind of anyone. It is unreasonableness which is objectionable, particularly efforts which would establish religion by law.
Therefore, I have concluded it is the religions of fear which are to be
feared. You can bet, for example, that Muslim and Christian fundamentalist extremists believe that if you do not agree with them you are going to Hell forever.
As John Adams said, "He [God] created . . . the human species . . . with the deliberate design of making nine tenths of our species miserable for ever . . .
. Pardon me, my Maker . . . . I believe no such things" (Works,
Thomas Jefferson understood what "constitutes the craft, the power and the profit of the priests" (his words). In 1813 he wrote, "Sweep away their gossamer [cobweb] fabrics of factitious [artificial] religion, and they would catch no more flies" (Jefferson's Extracts From the Gospels, p. 347).
When Christian fundamentalists want to appear open-minded they refer to America as a Judeo-Christian nation or a nation built on Judeo-Christian principles. However, there is not one Christian fundamentalist who believes that Jews are going to Heaven or that Judaism is worthy of spiritual respect in this world--because Judaism rejects the divinity of Jesus. Christian fundamentalists use the Jewish name only to abuse it.
Not all religion numbs the mind. Jefferson's deism and concept of religious freedom prompted his comment that "by bringing the sects together . . . we shall soften their asperities [harshness], and liberalize and neutralize their prejudices, and make the general religion a religion of peace, reason, and morality" (Writings, 15:406). Jefferson--like Thomas Paine--advocated religion and morality unfettered by superstition. "The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man" (Madison,
"Religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, . . . he
owes account to none other for his faith or his worship" (Jefferson,
"Every man conducting himself as a good citizen and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience" (Washington, Writings,
It is all right to be a fundy; just don't be a fool. Or, as another of my
professors used to say, "God gave us brains to use, not to sit on."
Copyright 1996 Gene Garman