Walk Away Mind over fundamentalism By Cindy Eggert Fundamentalism is taking a few knocks t

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Walk Away Mind over fundamentalism By Cindy Eggert Fundamentalism is taking a few knocks these days. A number of TV evangelists have gotten national media attention for actions in direct conflict with their statements of moral integrity. It would be unfair to point at Bakker as stereotypical of evangelists, but ever since the American evangelical movement began, those who follow a strict dogma have been questioned as well as praised. Fundamentalism, as defined in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, is "a recent movement in American Protestantism re-emphasizing as fundamental to Christianity belief in the inerrancy of the Scriptures, and Biblical miracles, especially the virgin birth and physical resurrection of Christ." This movement may seem abstract to thousands of moderate Christians, but a former devout fundamentalist said she believes there is a growing "insurgency" of fundamentalists in the United States. Sherry Burgdorf of Minnesota has strong convictions about what she feels are "myths and layers of misinformation" in fundamentalist doctrines. Burgdorf was raised in a conservative Protestant religion which practiced fundamentalism. After high school she was told "that I was meant to go to a Christian college and teach in a parochial (Lutheran) elementary school." She says she was entranced with the fundamentalist mindset in thought, word, and deed, and only in the last 10 years - the last third of her life - began to question the doctrine. "I don't know what it is like to be an alcoholic," she said, "but I do know what it is like to be addicted to the Bible. Religion controlled every aspect of my life, financially, socially, what I read, what music I listened to, everything." Burgdorf is a quiet woman, slight in sature an rather unassuming when talking. She said she has little of the zeal she projected when spreading the word of the Bible as a fundamentalist. Last week she sat with her feet tucked beneath her as she spoke of leaving the religion of her youth. "Then I became aware of various aspects (of the dogma) which were not worthy enough of worship," she said, "and I began to examine the anti-Semitism and anti-scholarly aspects of it." Informed choice and critical examinations of the Bible are what Burgdorf resorted to because inconsistencies she found would have to be proved true or false. Burgdorf found, documented in other texts and through her own research, concepts she could no longer ignore with blind faith, such as subjugation of females, original sin, and others. She insists that fundamentalists, who follow the literal words of the Bible, can become militant, manipulative, self-centered, and extremist to the point where they can be compared with Middle East Islamic extremists who are dedicated to a militaristic, anti-female society. Harsh words from a woman who used to extol the inerrancy of the Bible. And even as a former fundamentalist, Burgdorf said she can not dismiss some positive aspects of the faith, such as the love and charity of God and the importance of the Christian family. "Most fundamentalists are good, well-intentioned people with a devotion to God," Burgdorf said, "as I was myself." But when these well-intentioned people take literal meanings from the Bible, their practices can, in fact, turn evil, she said. She mentioned a literal interpretation from the book of Proverbs, Chapter 23, verses 13-14: "Withold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Though shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell." These verses can be found in many pieces of fundamentalist literature, Burgdorf said, and were included in a pamphlet titled, "Correction and Discipline of Children." Burgdorf claims that documentation exists of children being beaten with rods, even to death, by parents following the words of Proverbs. She also produced a Bible lesson for nursery children which stated, "Indeed, a nuclear holocaust might well be the accompaniment of, and prelude to, 'the day of the Lord (Judgment Day)....'" Burgdorf said she can not believe these statements were once convictions she held without question and are still being taught to young children. She said she also regrets raising her own children in such a narrow and constraining religion and for teaching other chldren as she did in a Lutheran elementary school and in Bible classes. "I don't know how many children I influenced and scared," she said. "As an ethical parent," Burgdorf said, "remaining silent does not conform to normal roles of accountability." Burgdorf said she now believes in an amazing Creator but that belief is founded upon reason, truthfulness, fairness, and accountability. _Reprinted_by_permission_from__The_Edina_Sun-Current_._ [ref001][ref002] Return to table of contents Copyright 1995 IFAS Walk Away / ifas@crocker.com [ref001] articles.html [ref002] ../uparrow.gif This file is copywritten by the Institute for First Amendment Studies. Subscribe to The Freedom Writer and Walk Away news letters by writing to or telephoneing the Institute for First Amendment Studies: Post Office Box 589 Great Barrington, Massachusetts. 01230 Telephone: (413) 528-3800 E-Mail: ifas@crocker.com Web page: http://www.crocker.com/~ifas


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank