To oppose a negative is a positive

A question we are sometimes asked is: “Why the name Unfundamentalist Christians? Wouldn’t it be better to define yourself by what you’re for, rather than what you’re against?”

Christian fundamentalism is defined by and vigorously promotes everywhere authoritarianism, the oppression of women, homophobia, xenophobia, the “danger” of education, corporal punishment, a literal and inerrant view of scripture, “all or nothing” thinking, and a God whose primary function is to judge and punish.

We are Christians who are for none of those things. And we think it’s high time Christianity stopped being associated with them. Hence our name.

Also, there is nothing wrong with defining oneself by what one opposes, if what one opposes is prevalent and evil. Martin Luther defined himself by opposing the wrongs of the Catholic Church. Gandhi defined himself by opposing the British occupation of India. Martin Luther King, Jr. defined himself by opposing racism.

To state that you oppose a negative is a positive.

We are not, however, purely oppositional. What we stand for and believe in is here.

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  • Sven2547

    A few years ago, I was talking to the pastor of my parents’ church. She was raised in a thoroughly fundamentalist / evangelical household, and eventually managed to leave that lifestyle. She described it as “a culture of fear”. Fear permeates and motivates most of their doctrine and political advocacy.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      In the Bible, every time an angel/messenger from God is said to appear, the first words out of their mouth was “don’t be afraid.”

      Maybe that message is for us as well. We have nothing to be afraid of when it comes to God. Maybe setting aside that which strikes terror or worry in our hearts in regards to faith allows us to be free to experience God’s love for us more keenly while also allowing us to see how to better express love for others.

      • Andy

        Wow, that is the most brilliant thing I’ve read in a while.

        Can we all pray that the crazies hear and heed that?

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      And a culture of forced hierarchy as well. There’s a very clear line in fundamentalist churches: God–> pastors/leaders–> other men–> women–> children–> non-believers–> atheists (leaving out the bizarre racism that permeates fundamentalism as well; that’d be too complex to outline in this post but white Christian leaders tend to have some very toxic ideas about race relations as well). We used an umbrella diagram back in my church days, even, which explicitly outlined these relationships and opined that nothing was “right” unless that chain of command was followed. Nothing enrages a fundamentalist more than someone trying to move past the chain of command; most of their culture wars revolve around trying to get everybody back into line so it can be just like it used to be in the movie they all are playing in their heads. Men have to be just like this. Women must be just like this. Everybody must act just so toward their leaders. Those who are not upper-middle-class white straight cis-gendered Christians need to shut up and know their place, which is stuffed in boxes so nobody has to look at them. Children must be forced into line with violence even in their infancy. Otherwise meteors will hit the Earth and bestiality will become mandatory.

      It’s insane.

      • BT

        I see the fingerprints of Bill Gothard in your post. Glad you escaped!

  • Zeke

    Christian fundamentalism is defined by and vigorously promotes everywhere authoritarianism, the oppression of women, homophobia, xenophobia, the “danger” of education, corporal punishment, a literal and inerrant view of scripture, “all or nothing” thinking, and a God whose primary function is to judge and punish./

    Agreed. But any version of Christianity that distances itself from these plain teachings of the bible is not really Christianity then, but merely a philosophy.

    • Pubilius

      In that case, I’m certain even the most conservative Christian denominations (who certainly oppose authoritarianism and slavery, for example) are just “philosophers”. Be careful not to proof-text specific verses (usually called “clobber verses”) used to justify things like homophobia and xenophobia.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        Religion and philosophy are very closely related. Religion takes philosophical ideals and wraps them up around creeds, ethics, concepts of deity and sometimes religious based texts.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Disagree, obviously.

      • Zeke

        How is arbitrarily disregarding huge swaths of the bible which you find objectionable any different from this?

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Which parts and how would one consider them disregarded?

        • Ellen K.

          Fundamentalist Christians do a lot of picking and choosing. And curious reinterpreting. (Like ignoring that certain books plainly claim to have a human author, right within the work itself.)

          Where as at least some Christians really do pay attention to and respect the whole Bible. But we recognize that there is human authorship, and different genres of writing, and that some of it is more relevant to us than other parts.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          I don’t “disregard” any of the Bible, Zeke–much less “huge swaths,” much less “arbitrarily.”

  • Alliecat04

    Somehow I missed the existence of this blog until today. I’m so happy! I just really don’t have much use for Facebook, so this is better for me.

    Not sure I love the name, by which I mean that I’m not sure that it works well to attract new people to come and find out what the name stands for. I don’t have a better suggestion. It is what it says on the tin, which is good, just not sure it’s a lovely tin label.

    I do most heartily agree with your description of Fundamentalism and the harm it does. I feel about Fundamentalism becoming equivalent, in the popular mind, to Christianity as a whole, the same way I feel about the American flag becoming a symbol for hatred of Muslims in the months following 9/11. Sorry, that’s my flag too, no one gets to do that, it is bigger and older than one event, one political view, one group of people.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      People don’t realize this unless they really think about it (and why would anyone?), but there IS no name that makes in ANY way clear who we are and what we stand for. Anything (or at least anything that the dozen of us could think of over about two months of trying) other than UC can’t help but sound like, “Generic Happy Christians.” Golden Rule Christians. Jesus Followers. Loving Christians. It goes on and on and on and on. And they all, in the end, say nothing substantive. Our name does at least that; in the end we felt it was our very best choice.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        I think it’s a great choice. In terms of names, it’s about the strongest possible statement about what you do believe, while saying everything you need to say about what you don’t. “All that crap that fundamentalists do and believe? That’s not us.” I think it says plenty about what you do stand for when you stand against fundamentalism’s predations. More importantly, you’ve put walking-boots on those words. You say you oppose fundamentalism… and you do, in every single conceivable way I can see.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          Ah. Someone who gets it. Yay! Thank you, CC.

        • BT

          Pretty much. It works for me. Probably a big part of why I keep checking this blog. I don’t know for certain what I will find, but I know this:

          1- it will be interesting, and
          2- it won’t be THAT!

  • Ellen K.

    I disagree with the idea that it’s okay for a person to define
    him/herself by what he/she opposes. That is wrong, and psychologically unhealthy. Though I don’t
    disagree with the idea that sometimes it’s okay for a group to define
    itself that way.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      But that’s hardly all we’ve done, Ellen. Perhaps you missed our What We Believe page: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/about-unfundamentalist-christians/

      • Ellen K.

        What’s your point? I said it’s okay for a group to define themselves that way. My reply takes issue with something in this particular article that I strongly disagree with, and which is irrelevant to how you all define yourselves as a group since it’s about how we define ourselves as individuals.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          I can easily define myself by what I oppose. I oppose bigotry, hatred, injustice, having no respect for people who view things differently and actively seek to quell any views or activities other than what they approve of. I lived most of my life being subjected to those thing in some fashion and I seek to show people that such things are not acceptable or healthy for any of us.

        • Alliecat04

          I know several enormously-healthy individuals who define themselves as dedicated to stomping out the sexual abuse of children.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          Um. No. What you said was, “I disagree with the idea that it’s okay for a person to define him/herself by what he/she opposes.” Sheesh.

          • Ellen K.

            Wow. I’m pretty sure you know the difference between a person and a group. At least, I can’t imagine anyone intelligent enough to read and write who doesn’t understand that distinction. Read on past the bit you quoted. To where I said, “Though I don’t disagree with the idea that sometimes it’s okay for a group to define itself that way.”

  • Andy

    Also, it’s a shorter name than “Christians Who are Sick of the Bullshit that Some Other Christians Spout and Also Sick of the Stigma of Being a Christian That Many Non-Christians Have Because of That Bullshit”.

    Too much?

    • mona

      Perfect.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship Censored

    Well, “Protest-ant” is against something, so protesting must be alright. Unless Ellen K. protests protesting as “psychologically unhealthy.”