Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A former fundamentalist enlightens us

Well, tonight's debate is over. I guess one part that disappointed me was that Obama did not take the opportunity he was offered to question Sarah Palin's fitness to be president.

I want to call your attention to a piece published on OpEdNews entitled .D. "An Open Letter to Sarah Palin from Marlene Winell, Ph.D.". Dr. Winnell is a former fundamentalist herself and she challenges Palin to be honest about what her agenda really is. Here's part of the letter:

Former fundamentalists like me know that your worldview is so encompassing, authoritarian, and powerful that it defines who you think you are, the way you view the world, history, other people, the future, and your place in the world. It defines you far more than hockey mom, wife, hunter, governor, or VP candidate.

You believe that every bit of the Bible is God's perfect word. You, believe there is an unseen spiritual plain (Ephesians 6:12), and that on that plain there is an unseen war going on between good and evil beings, and that you are a leader in this war against evil. You believe that God has "called" you and "anointed" you to do his will. This is why you have accepted blessing for office through the "laying on of hands" and prayer to protect you from witchcraft.

So what does this mean for governing? What could Americans expect with you at the helm? You cannot trust basic human decency or capability, because according to your dogma, we are sinful, weak, and dependant on God. And so, your decisions would not be based on expert advice or even your own reasoning, but on your gut-level, intuitive interpretation of God's will.

Your thinking necessarily is black or white. People and policies are either good or bad. After all, Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me" (Matt. 12:30). Under your leadership, diplomacy and cultural nuance would be less important than not blinking. In a spiritual war, you don't negotiate with the devil.

Regarding social policy, as a believer in individual salvation, you would have an individual approach emphasizing morality and responsibility, not a community approach emphasizing structural solutions. You would be judgmental and controlling of personal behavior like sex, reproductive choice, and books borrowed from the library instead of addressing global warming, poverty, and world peace. Your belief in eternal hell-fire, your deference to a literally perfect Bible despite its cruelties, and your indoctrination to disbelieve your own compassionate instincts, may leave your moral core numb. You might recall the verse, "If a man will not work he shall not eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). However, faith-based initiatives would be okay because they would use caring to evangelize.

How about science? As it has in your governorship, your interpretation of the Bible would trump scientific scholarship and findings. You would continue to downplay the human role in global warming because God is in control. More importantly, you would not make the environment a priority because you do not expect the earth to last.

If you don't already know about the fundamentalist worldview from the inside, I recommend that you click through and read all of this. It's not very long.

Marlene Winell is a Bay Area psychologist who specializes in recovery from fundamentalist religion. She is author of Leaving the Fold: A guide for former fundamentalists and others leaving their religion. She is the daughter of Assemblies of God missionaries.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:43 AM

    I too am a "former fundamentalist" and FEAR truly is the basis for most of their thinking. It is so very, very sad to me that, not only are so many people still trapped into that way of thinking, but that two of them are running for the highest offices in the world!

    It is very refreshing, as well, to see that Obama is holding his own and doing very, very well. Perhaps we as a nation are finally growing up!



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