“Were You There?”

Every time I write about fundamentalism I feel like I need to make this huge-ass preface and denoument to explain that I’m not applying this to everything and I’m sure you know some totally nice fundamentalists and all that. It’s tricky. I don’t want to be an asshole about it, but I do want to make it clear that thing is bad and I am allowed to think thing is bad. Just this tug between ideas.


In fundie school-churches, we’re trained to be disruptive assholes. Not to ourselves – oh god help you if you were disruptive in my school. No, we were taught to be disruptive and harmful to other people’s lives, with the most self-righteous of motivations.

The thing with the fundie bubble is that they know they can’t hold you forever. They can’t keep you from interacting with outside. If they want to control you when you’re not under the thumb, then, they need you to work to keep yourself enslaved – and guilt will do a lot for that. Know what else does a lot for that? Being an asshole.

There’s this wave of behaviours I have and I’ve recognised in myself and in other fundies. We argue. We argue hard and we argue with this visceral sincerity that means we’ll often be an asshole even when we lose. We’ll break out arguments at picnics and family camps. We’ll interrupt teachers. And we share stories about the people who do such things, these sorts of ridiculous modern myths about being persecuted for being Christians that really, when you listen to the story, are actually stories about bein ignored for being assholes. This was the meme of my childhood – the idea that I would raise my hand in class, and ask a secularist teacher at some sad point in my future ‘were you there?‘ and watch as they crumpled. The world was full of ridiculous paper tigers, who would fall when you threw out these arguments, and you would sweep in the glory of the lord. And if they didn’t fall, you were being persecuted, and could embrace that, too!

So many stories, so so many stories. So many stories that taught us to challenge the other authorities, to act like petty assholes, and then act offended when people treated us like assholes.

I actively worked to make the science education of my fellow students worse. I argued with teachers who knew better than me but didn’t have it in them to tell me to just shut up so they could get on with the class.

I imagine if I hadn’t had the crises of faith I had, this sort of self-fulfilling perpetuating behaviour would have probably driven me back to the church, because the church had crafted me to outsider myself in all other situations. You become crafted socially broken, then told your brokenness will only be accepted in the circle of prayer.


One comment

  1. Fox Lee

    Yeah, there’s a reason religions push the whole “everybody is broken” angle so damn hard. “The first step is to admit you have a problem” indeed -_-;

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