Why Fundamentalists cannot speak out against Government Abuse of Power

The only issues fundamentalists traditionally speak out against are personal piety issues: fornication, adultery, abortion, pornography, immodest dress, drunkenness, drug use, etc.

There are a few issues that fundamentalists are willing to criticize the government on: legislation that facilitates abortion, sex education without morality in schools, evolution taught in schools, or any indication that church or family rights might be encroached upon by the government.

autoworkersBut issues of American abuse of power around the world is never addressed in the pulpit, in print, or on the air by the majority of American Christian fundamentalists. One of the main reasons is that the ranks of the American military are filled with fundamentalists. Fundamentalists are solidly blue collar families: plumbers, electricians, builders, service industry. Our economy changed from 80% farming in 1890 to 80% factories in 1960, now 80% service. The blue collar jobs that employed our grandparents (manufacturing) have moved to first Mexico, now China and Bangladesh, and left American working class young people with few choices: construction, healthcare, and food service. If you don’t go to college (indebt yourself for 20 years) and train for a profession, then what is left? One of the prime choices for blue collar young adults is the military.

Fundamentalists did not oppose the seizing of Native American lands and the Trail of Tears (1830), slavery, the seizing of Native American land in the west and the genocide of Native Americans (1870-1890). Fundamentalists did not oppose the humiliation of Japan in 1854, or the periodic lynching of black men (1890-1920) complete with picnics and postcards commemorating the occasions, often attended by preachers. Fundamentalists did not support the vote for women (1922), did not support the civil rights movement for African Americans, were the last to racially integrate their colleges (1961-1972), did not oppose the indiscriminate bombing in Viet Nam including bombs that sprayed sticky burning gasoline onto children, and did not oppose the buildup of nuclear weapons and chemical weapons in the United States. Fundamentalist churches have supported America’s selfishness every step of the way.

flagThese blue collar young people have not been trained to question the government when they are instructed to drop bombs, fly drones, guard detained suspects, or go from house to house interrogating foreign families. Neither our schools nor our churches prepare us to ask the big picture questions of whether what we are doing is moral and according to the civil rights we are supposed to be defending. Rather we are trained in our churches and schools to admire the government’s foreign policies such that we are willing to shoot whatever enemy the government points at. 

napoleonIt would be difficult for a preacher to stand in the pulpit and decry the foreign policies of a selfish empire if a quarter of the members have a son who was sacrificed overseas or was still serving in danger overseas, or who had already come home wounded or disabled. Most churches are adept at doing the us-vs.-them attitudes that feed unsuspecting young people into the military machine. (Critics of Napoleon [1810] described the poor young soldiers he callously sent to the front lines as “cannon fodder“, food for the cannons.) What working class church members expect from their preacher is prayer for their soldiers serving in danger overseas. No criticism of their mission is tolerated.

When we maintain a religious system based on proof texts from the Bible, we are insuring that our children will not be able to make moral judgements. We are maintaining a system opposed to Jesus and simultaneously maintaining a system of supplying an unchecked government with cannon fodder to defend our right to dominate the world. We are doing what Jesus referred to as tithing our cooking spices for God while ignoring the weightier matters of the Law of Moses: justice, mercy and faith.

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About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
This entry was posted in civil rights, History, Manipulation, military, politics, Psychology, Women's roles. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Why Fundamentalists cannot speak out against Government Abuse of Power

  1. Interesting perspective.

    I always assumed one reason some Fundamentalists have trouble speaking out against government is due to the passage in Romans 13 where Paul suggests that government is instituted by God to do His will. If one truly believes that idea (as many Fundamentalists do) it then becomes impossible for them to stand against the policies of government because they are (in the Fundamentalists’ mind) the policies of God. The will of the government is the will of God. To serve the country (government) is to serve God, so to stand against it is to stand against God.

    Of course most American Fundamentalists don’t like to think they would hold this view had they been living in Germany in 1938 or in Nero’s Rome. The idea of one serving THOSE institutions unquestionably (as if serving God), makes the moral dilemma instantly apparent.

    When being a good Christian becomes synonymous with being a good German, or Roman, or yes, even American, morality becomes harder to distinguish. – GL

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks for explaining this. True to my CofC heritage I tend to think that I and others think rationally and logically and when we come to the wrong opinion it is because of incomplete and incorrect knowledge. But that is obviously not the whole story and your observations have, unfortunately, too much truth to them. The past 6 years I’ve felt like I’m living in the Twilight Zone. A place where so many good people around me have come to believe amazingly wrong, mean, and hurtful things and think it comports with Christianity. Glad to have discovered your web site.

    • Gary Cummings says:

      The election of Barack Obama as president has brought out a lot of American racism and meanness. And the American church has been the leader in this. Watch how nice the churches get when we have a white president again. Most Christians, especially in the evangelical, fundamentalist and conservative churches, are spiritual midgets and trolls and have no business saying they follow Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace and proclaimer of justice and righteousness.

      • robo145 says:

        Though I don’t disagree with some of the points made, please don’t drag the hapless and authoritarian Obama into it. HE is mean-spirited and racist. HE also is war-mongering and disrespectful to groups he hates.

  3. Gary Cummings says:

    The churches in America, with the exception of a few, have always backed the right wing of this country. The Churches of Christ were born in the midst of American racism and nativism. In the American South, the home of a good portion of the COC, a preacher had to be “sound” on race to keep his job. Elders fired an Anglo evangelist who led a migrant’s march in the valley of Texas in the 60’s. Harding supplied a special “American History” course to show to US government officials and people in the military. It was ultra-right wing and anti-communist. I remember taking Bible classes and US history classes taught by right-wingers in the COC. I asked about the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the American Indian, and was told “the US had to kill them all or we would not be the great country we are now.” On race: “Would you want your sister to marry one?”
    At ACC in Abilene in the early 60’s Carl Spain gave a hair-raising speech on race. It electrified the COC and challenged their racism. But soon after, he issued a statement that he did not mean to imply that the COC was not the Lord’s Church just because they were racists!
    My ex-mother-in-law accused me of being soft on race and “pink” at least for preaching against the Vietnam War. By the time her daughter abandoned our marriage because I had left the COC, my color turned from pink to red. Then finally around 1999 or 2000 AD +/- Royce Money of ACU offered an apology for their over 100 years of racism, and they confessed their sin and asked forgiveness. That was a bold move, 100 years too late. Trouble is, the racism is still there in the COC, for the most part. But the pope at ACU waved his magic orb and pronounced forgiveness upon the COC, so to them it is a dead issue, That of which we do not speak.”

  4. Gary Cummings says:

    How many soldiers who tortured people at Abu Grahib or Guantanemo or kicked down the doors of Moslems are members of the Churches of Christ? I do not know, but the numbers may be high.

    • Mark says:

      I have been assured by a Church of Christ soldier who served in Iraq, commenting on this blog, that no soldier who is a member of a Church of Christ would ever torture or abuse a prisoner.

      • Gary Cummings says:

        Mark,
        That is easy to say. The military turns ordinary men and now women into killers and torturers. It’s kind of like “If Christians do it, it is not really torture.”

      • BH says:

        Dear Mark,

        Ask your Church of Christ soldier friend if he is aware the Pentagon had a plan to dress up American Special forces soldiers in Cuban military garb and have them blow up bridges and shoot down airplanes in Florida and say Cuba attacked the US so it could go in and justly take over the island.

        And if he denies it tell him someone declassified just such a plan and it is on the net for all to read.

  5. Gary Cummings says:

    The COC, along with most American Churches, will not question the State on many of the big issues like war, social justice, imperialism, immigration and many important issues. Some churches have and some ministers have. It was Dr. M.L. King Jr , Baptist minister who challenged the racism and the Vietnam War. There is Daniel Berrigan, Society of Jesus , who challenged the Vietnam War (along with his brother Phillip). Then Dorothy Day of the Catholic Workers. It amazed me that the Catholic Pacifists were more Christian than the “truly saved” of the COC.
    Thanks, Gary

  6. Brent Bacon says:

    Gary- you have to be the angriest person I have ever seen. You absolutely hate the COC and anyone that is part of it. Your blanket statements about the COC show your contempts and quite frankly your stupidity.

  7. Gary Cummings says:

    Brent, you are definitely one of the worst COC cultists I have met. The perverted teaching and spiritual abuse in the 124 year history of the COC does make me angry. How about God? He hates your tithing of mint and cumin, the 100 year history of the COC, the wars supported by the COC, the suicides caused by the COC, the stupid Bible teaching, the legalism, and your five step plan of salvation and five acts of worship.

  8. Brent Bacon says:

    I have no idea about the things you talk about above. You are lumping all COC’s together and I tell you it is a huge mistake. Five step plan, five acts of worship=- what are you talking about? You need to get a grip and let your past go and forgive those that wronged you- because you are carrying a heavy thorn in your side that prevents you from talking rationally about these things.

  9. Gary Cummings says:

    Brent, the only thorn is the teaching of the COC. I was there and educated at Abilene. I know what your cult teaches. I know the COC came into being in 1889 when Daniel Sommer broke with the Disciples of Christ. Later he was joined by David Lipscomb, and they created the cult called the Churches of Christ in 1906. This is just plain history which is verifiable. Since Sommer and Lipscomb, the COC has divided among themselves in many ways. They tried to out-cult each other. Forgiveness is not the issue here, that I have done. The issue is accountability to both Scripture and their own history. The COC is lacking on both. This blog is here for those who have left the COC. Why are you here?

  10. Brent Bacon says:

    Because you are grouping every COC together and degrading their faith. We follow no creed or policies. we are completely independent of any other church. But yet you lump us into a group with everyone else- and then you turn around and worship at the UMC- a religion that approves abortion and gay marriage. God me with you. I hope you mutter the Lords prayer and do it as a repetitious ritual like all of them do, just as we are commanded not to do. I belonged to the UMC and believe me- you want hypocrites- you are with them.

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