"Whatever religion Fundamentalism is, it isn’t Christianity, and it’s time to revoke that label.
Categorizing homosexuality, not injustice, as the greatest evil is absurd and disturbing, but it reflects a whole moral system that contradicts the essence of Christian Scripture. Jesus told his followers to turn the other cheek and declared, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and yet an overwhelming majority of Fundamentalists supported the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; almost as many defend stand-your-ground legislation and capital punishment. The whole law is said to be fulfilled by loving the Lord and our neighbors as ourselves, but to escape Hell Fundamentalists require the acceptance of dogma as varied as the Virgin Birth and abstinence from premarital sex. Jesus condemned greed, about taxes said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and damned men who accumulated wealth instead of giving it away — teachings incompatible with Fundamentalists’ rage against agencies established to clothe the naked and feed the hungry.
Fundamentalism has painted a picture of Christianity that honors vengeance and capitalism as the greatest virtues. Any glimpse at the Gospels will chip away at this. What lies beneath is some darker religion that’s yet to receive a name. I know some people who have called it fascism, others ‘misdirected nationalism’ and some recycle Jesus’ language to call Fundamentalism Pharisaical, a brood of vipers. What I can’t call it anymore is Christianity.
I say that less as a Christian myself than as someone who believes semantics matters. As Joan Didion once put it, “I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one’s self depends on one’s mastery of the language.” For Fundamentalists to call themselves Christians does less to tarnish the name of Jesus (though it does) than to muddle their understanding of why they do the things they do. “Because the Bible says so,” they say, and then act in defiance of every biblical ethic.
It’s a dangerous road to go down, I realize, designating who’s in and who’s out. Fundamentalists do it often, to gay people, Democrats and, until he buckled under pressure, the director of World Vision. Such spiritual judgment requires an authority no human being possesses. I’m not interested in saying these people are destined for Hell, but I think we need to resemble the identities we claim. To strip Fundamentalists of the Christian label would at least force them to examine their true motivations toward greed, revenge, and malice. The behaviors might remain, but once exposed, those of us who pursue Christ’s ethos, who denounce poverty, injustice and violence would have a better idea of what, and whom, we’re actually dealing with.”