Author: Brett Fujioka
I try to respect virtually every faith, religion, and denomination out there in memorial to the blood pointlessly spilled in God’s name. I’m almost tolerant to a fault. I even scoff at other people who disparage Mormons because, with the exception of the events listed in the book The Banner of Heaven, I consider Mormonism a harmless faith. Even if I do have a problem with a religion, I avoid making any remarks concerning a specific religion for fear of being slapped with a lawsuit. (Here’s a hint: its most famous patron is known for jumping on Oprah’s couch and suing people). However, there is one denomination so fell and wretched that I refuse to acknowledge it as a valid offshoot of faith—Christian Fundamentalism.
My first chance encounter with Fundamentalism occurred two summers ago, while I was wandering aimlessly through Glendale. A creepy old guy approached me and started asking questions about what college I attended, how old I was, where I lived, etc. Somewhere along the way, he mentioned a church event and asked for my phone number. I gave him my number-I don’t know what was going through my head, because this was a classic situation for harassment. Unfortunately, what lay ahead was much worse.
I didn’t dress formally because most of the churches I attended didn’t care about my outerwear unless it was a formal occasion. Strangely, they had a supply of ties and provided one for me. A person at the podium recurrently screamed like an angry baboon for everyone to turn off their cell phones. Minutes later, the stupidity fest began. I can only vaguely remember the details of the pastor’s “Dichotomy of America” because I kept turning my brain on and off for the sake of its sanity. He began listing his college credentials and the other pastors’ within the church, probably to convince us that he wasn’t a total moron. I still want to know what mathematics has to do with theology.
He continued his sermon describing how America was ideal and pure in the past during its founding. He branded people who claimed that Americans were responsible for slavery and genocide against Native Americans as “liars,” without elaborating or furthering his reasoning as if it were as self-evident as the Holy Scripture itself. There’s a long chain of evidence to refute his claim.
Along with his false statement, he began listing the flaws of other religions, making it clear that he knew nothing about them. He said Islam promoted the idea that “Women didn’t have souls.” I have yet to take a religious studies course at Oxy on Islam, but I’m certain that women wouldn’t convert to Islam, let alone stay in that faith if its doctrine contained such misogyny. His own church is hardly the kind to cast stones, but I initially noticed that they isolated the women to a corner within the room.
The greatest shock came to me when he quoted Pat Buchanan on gay marriage. The shock wasn’t that he quoted someone who disparages America’s consideration of legalizing civil unions, but that he cited one of the biggest closet racists in a room full of minorities. These said minorities rose and clapped at this quotation-brainwashed to the extent that they’d accept the words of a David Duke clone.
The day got worse. In a conversation at lunch, it somehow came up that I used to take Kendo. The man I was talking to went on about how he and his friends used to role-play with the Kendo foils. It was the creepiest conversation I’ve ever had. We then watched an old Superman serial. For such a homophobic denomination, they sure had a hard on for a guy in tights.
In short, the pastor listed gay marriage as one of the reasons America is spiraling downhill—not the incompetence of our current politicians, mind you. As I walked out of the sermon, a visiting Chinese student subtly said what was exactly on my mind: “They screamed a lot.” The thing that distressed me the most was that this Chinese student was going to go back to his country under the impression that all Christians are this unreasonable and insane. This is the thing that bothers me about Christian Fundamentalism. They have managed to pervert the words of Christ and transmute them into a vile doctrine of hate, intolerance, and narrow-mindedness. There’s a reason why both Christianity and America have a tarnished reputation; it’s because Christian Fundamentalism tends to make the headlines. This corrupt denomination is an embarrassment to both the Christian faith and American values.
Despite my tolerance of religion, I tend to measure a person’s monotheistic faith based on their conception of God. If a person values God for his love and compassion, then that person tends to have a benevolent streak. If they behold God as a god of justice, then they, themselves, are ethically and morally driven. If a person reveres God as a destructive force, then they are, in all likelihood, violent and evil by nature. The god that the Fundamentalists idolize is one of bigotry, intolerance, hate, illogic, and unreason.
Christian Fundamentalism possesses the same desire as Islamic Fundamentalists to create a state religion. Christian Fundamentalism has the same supremacist ideology as its Islamic counterpart that threatens everything that this country represents. Much like the State Shinto religion administered during World War II, if Christian Fundamentalism so much as fulfils any facet of its putrid dream, it’ll make Christianity a shadow of what it once was.
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