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Mar 21, 2010

What is Life like for a Fundamentalist child?

I just have to share this piece from Lorena at "On Leaving Fundamentalist Christianity" :

Imagine, if you will, that from the time you came into this world, god was a member of your family. When you learned to say mom and dad and your siblings’ names, you also learned to say Jesus, god, and Bible.
For everything good, your mother thanked god. Every offence, god would avenge. Every disgrace was a prelude for something great, because god would make it so.

It takes a good hard look at life for a child born into a fundamentalist family/community: and it also takes a look at the process if someone was to leave such a family/community. Gutsy, well written piece.

Check it out here.



Lorena said...

Ah! Thanks, Jo. So glad you enjoyed it.

Mommy of Monkeyshines said...

Thanks for linking up to this! Great article.

shadowspring said...

"every offense god will avenge" - YIKES! That is a horrible thing to teach a child.

In my theology, God loves us. Seems to me that God is into giving individuals peace, comfort, beauty, etc. not at all involved in judging every word and action we do.

Here is an awesome skit that points out a great truth: God's not bothered! LOL



Lorena said...


I find it interesting how so many Christians feel free to disengage themselves from the Bible and to write their own gospel.

The way I was raised is normal for most evangelicals, and perfectly Biblical. It didn't even feel horrible at the time.

shadowspring said...


Do I detect a religious slam in the "Christians feel free to disengage themselves from the Bible and to write their own gospel"?

All of us make our own theology, whether we admit it or not.

You had only the one that was presented to you at first to accept, but ultimately we all choose what to keep and what goes.

Surely you know how many different interpretations there are of verses and doctrines. Why, there are four different interpretations of what redemption really means, and your opinion of God will be very different depending on which one you were taught.

So my opinion, that telling children from an early age that god will avenge every offense is a horrible thing to teach a child is a valid opinion.

I have never taught that nor read a children's teaching manual for Sunday school that ever taught God avenges every sin.

Your experience is also valid. After all, it happened to you. People obviously taught you that. Not sure what you mean by perfectly normal, but if you mean it seemed perfectly normal to all the people in your world at the time, I am sure it did.

But the whole church is NOT like that, even though we may be called liberal and lukewarm and all kinds of other names by fundamentalists. The church I belong to gets that all the time.

And Catherine Tate does make a very good (and hilarious) point- God is not the Avenger of Wronged Christians. You are perfectly safe insulting me! LOL He ain't bothered!

By the way, I have no intention of coming here to defend my faith or propogate it. I thought I was free to just be a cyber-friend to Jo. I completely 100% respect her decision that God doesn't exist.

I think we both agree that part of why that came about is because God ain't bothered! He doesn't send lightning bolts down on the heads of the wicked. I wish he did. The world would be so much safer. But it doesn't happen.

Lorena said...

I thought I was free to just be a cyber-friend to Jo. I completely 100% respect her decision that God doesn't exist.

This has nothing to do with Jo, Shadowspring. I wrote to you to defend my point, since you were talking about MY post.

And thank you for explaining so clearly the term "cafeteria Christian." You just choose what version of the Bible you prefer, twist it at pleasure, and voila, you're a loving Christian. Who cares that your god is said to have committed genocide many times in the OT, eh? And that is the same in all Bible versions, as you know.

BTW, I don't know if Jo is an atheist or not. I am OK with whatever she chooses, even if she chooses to be a Christian.

Above all that, she is a person, a precious person.

Princess Jo said...

Hi All,

Interesting conversation going on here :-) !!

I am an apathetic agnostic (http://tinyurl.com/yzprroy), just to clear that up! And yes I am a person!

I agree with Shadowspring in that our perceptions of the world/theology are highly coloured by what we were taught and exposed to as children.

But equally, Lorena has a very good point when she points out the terrible atrocities committed by the biblical god. And all the explanations in the world don't explain away some of the more controversial and, at times outright contradictions in the biblical text.

In saying that, Shadowspring, you have the full right to choose whatever faith (or lack thereof) you find most fulfilling. For you, it is a subsection of the Christian faith: and I don't judge you for that, and never will.

We are all different, with different choices, different life stories. The world would be terribly boring if we all agreed.


shadowspring said...

Agreed, Jo. =)

It's just that I am hearing fundamentalists religious shaming ("cafeteria christian" is a fundie slam for people who don't go with their rigid doctrines) from the pen of the author of "On Leaving Fundamentalist Christianity".

Oh, the irony. Reminds me of the old adage, "you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl".

As for me, I of course still bristle when people try to fundie shame me. But thank God I don't go into the spasms of pain, self-doubt and anger that I once did. I think what has helped me most not to be hurt by it is to a)recognize it when it comes and b)call it out.

This can be uncomfortable to others, but that is not my purpose, merely an unavoidable side effect. I promise to refrain from further defending my boundaries on your blog, dear Princess Jo.

I love how you recognized this in yourself in one post, where you felt righteous indignation at hearing that the pastor of so-and-so church was divorced. It was incredibly self-aware that you a) were able to identify your feelings b) discern where they came from (your time in fundie religion) c) objectively decide that value was not really valid and d) look at the person in front of you with new eyes- as a person, not a shamed other. :)

You are healing, and I am so happy for you. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, with me. I don't know why it is so comforting to see others overcome childhood abuse, but it is.

Perhaps it's validating? Like I may not be sure I deserve happiness, but I KNOW that you deserve happiness! I want happiness for you (and others escaping from abusive pasts) and maybe by extension that helps me be okay with being happy myself.

Peace and best wishes,

Lorena said...

I have a lot to say, but I won't. For the sake of keeping the piece, since this isn't my blog.


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