I try not to bring up religion to often at family functions. It can cause unnecessarily awkward moments and ruin the mood of a festive occasion. However, I'm not above breaking the rules when fundies speak. There is something about pseudo-scientific statements issued with moral authority that gets under my skin. Take this statement for example:
"Condoms are not safe, they allow enough transmission of the AIDS virus -to cause infections." - Uncle fundie
I heard this inane statement last night. I did not let it pass. I explained that short of abstinence, condoms are your best protection. Of course, the 13-year-old fundie boy who heard this statement was beyond reason. He actually spouted "scientific" data supporting the fundie uncle's claim.
"Condoms come with microscopic holes that allow up to ten microns of the AIDS virus to pass through. They cause infections" - 13-year-old fundie
I can't reach fundie boy, he is firmly under the influence of fundie uncle and fundie dad. But I can and do confront his rhetoric whenever it pops up. After all, my son could hear - he needs to know there is religious truth, which is subjective and subject to interpretation, and scientific truth - which is the highest order of truth we have.
Fundie boy and fundie Uncle continued to proclaim fundamentalist half truths to those of us sitting around the table. The collection of family "marry ins" listened and laughed at the oblivious nature of blathering chatter. However, at one point in the evening the conversation turned serious. Fundie uncle points to me and says (in reference to James Dobson and the Christian Nationalist movement),
"...you need to understand that not all fundamentalists are like James Dobson. Dobson represents only the top two or three percent of fundamentalists. Most of us are not like that."
Of course, this was after telling me Dobson was doing a "great job" and that Dobson was not "political at all". I told fundie uncle that I did indeed know Christians that were respectable, trustworthy, and not out to legislate morality. Just that, I did not know very many of them to be fundies.
In fact, most of the people I know who claim to be Christians are in fact socialized as "religious" people. They attend church regularly, live normal upright lives, but... are not actively out actively planning to install a theocracy. They are my neighbors (except the guy with the church in his garage), my parents, in-law's, most friends, and a few people I know from work. Many are duped by grandpa Dobson, but most do not follow his every word. A true fundie is much harder to find. But... there are tests.
- Ask if they believe in gay marriage. if they answer in some way "no", then ask what they think about domestic partnerships, when they tell you gays should not be granted any special rights, then you most likely have a fundie on your hands.
- Ask what methods could be be deployed to prevent the spread of STD's. When they answer "abstinence", ask about condoms. When they respond that condoms help spread STD's, then you can be pretty sure that you have a fundie.
- Ask if the Theory of Evolution should be taught in public schools, when they tell you "Darwinism is not the only scientific explanation for creation", then you can be sure you have fundie.
- Ask if they think religion is under attack in America. when they tell you that secularism is destroying America - point out that Bush is a fundie, and that he is destroying America in the name of his religion, when they finish their verbal barrage, then you will have overwhelming proof that they are indeed fundies.
- The final question - ask if America was founded by and for Christians, when they restate history to paint America as the home of Christianity, then you know have a fundies.
Is there a difference, between fundie uncle, fundie boy, and James Dobson? - not really. A difference comes when a fundie rejects the political aspects of their religion in favor of a personal relationship with their God, it comes when they accept peer reviewed mainstream science as the only way to explain the natural world, and it comes when they are willing to confront the hypocrisy that James Dobson and his ilk represents.
American's have the right to believe what they want - fundies included. however, I will fight until my last breath to ensure that people like James Dobson and his fundie empire do not come to power because they what to take that right away. In fundie America, like Fundie Iran, or fundi Saudi Arabia, there will only be one "True" religion. Truly, this is an outcome that is untenable and worth a fight - or an argument over dinner.
*** Note to COTG 55 Readers *** My post for this issue was supposed to be A Meyers under the skin