by Lara M. Gardner
I have seen the bumper sticker a lot. I saw it again recently and kept ruminating on it, asking the same question — “Who would Jesus bomb?”
Over and over, the answer that came to mind was everyone, if certain fundamentalist Christians have their way.
Those asking this question are under the false assumption that fundamentalists are framing their religion on the behavior of Jesus Christ. Such an assumption is erroneous, and in the long run could contribute to the Armageddon so many fundamentalists of Abrahamic religions hope will occur.
A frightening number of persons are focused heavily on this prophecy (ever hear of the “Left Behind” series?) and support global policies that seem geared to ensure its occurrence. Why is this? It’s simple: Armageddon offers “evidence” to back up these belief systems.
“See,” they want to say, “what did we tell you? Our prophets foretold the world would come to an end, and therefore we were right.” The disheartening aspect of this is that it doesn’t seem to matter whether this prophecy is self-fulfilling or not. For whatever reason, there is a need for vindication to prove to non-believers that they were right all along. Never mind if the world ends if you get to be right.
Logic is not part of the equation when thinking like a fundamentalist. If it were, there would be no focus on Armageddon at all. According to the Bible, humans do not know when it will happen; how therefore could they engineer its manifestation? And if divine interference is a given, it will occur without human intervention.
Pullquote: You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.
Fundamentalists are called fundamentalists because they claim to follow a literal interpretation of whichever text they profess to follow (although of late Christian fundamentalists prefer the term “evangelical” because of the negative connotations associated with “fundamentalist”).
But let’s be honest. Fundamentalism is only a literal interpretation of whatever rules the fundamentalist is interested in following. They pick and choose. They must because many of the rules in these ancient, many times translated and transcribed texts are in diametric opposition to one another.
A Cowardly System of Belief
Pullquote: Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Ultimately, fundamentalism has little to do with trying to live a moral and honorable life. Rather, it is giving authority and responsibility to a book instead of the self.
It is based on fear, guilt, control, manipulation, and hypocrisy. It gives an excuse for inexcusable behavior. It allows one to judge others while simultaneously claiming not to do so, to control how women use their bodies, to decide for others who they can marry, and on and on. It is a way to include and exclude — junior high on a global scale. Worst of all, it provides an excuse to justify horrific actions, including the use of bombs.
Fundamentalism is popular because it requires little effort and no imagination. It isn’t moving beyond fear, but into it. At its heart it is a cowardly system of belief.
For all these reasons, we should work to eliminate fundamentalism. Any benefits it offers are vastly outweighed by its risks. Allowing our society and our world to be ruled by fundamentalism could very well be our undoing. This would not be evidence of anything except the end of humanity. Martin Luther said, “Faith must trample under foot all reason, sense, and understanding.” Such are the sentiments of fundamentalism — reason enough to progress to a world without it.
Lara Gardner is a writer and non-practicing attorney living in New York City.