Let’s begin with witchcraft. For a few centuries in medieval Europe, old women were routinely convicted of the crime of witchcraft, tortured, then burned or hung. Fundamentalist Christians thought this was a great idea because, after all, the bible says “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” It’s Exodus 22:18. The bible says it, so what could go wrong?
A few centuries later, Fundies down South decided that buying and selling other human beings as property was OK with God. After all, Exodus has rules about owning slaves. And even the New Testament has Paul saying, “Slave, obey your earthly masters.” U.S. Baptists split in 1845 over the issue of slavery with Southern Baptists saying God and bible were A-OK with slavery. Seen thus, the U.S. civil war can be viewed as a war about the bible. The bible lost. Christians in the South responded by creating a home-grown terrorist organization, an American equivalent to the Taliban, the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists today.
“Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine” brings to mind yet another episode in the Fundies' history of insanity. It was an oft-repeated slogan much like “Life begins at conception” today. Mostly white, Protestant folk pushed through a law against alcohol. Americans of German or Italian descent who routinely drank beer or wine, and whose ancestors had done so for ages, didn’t matter. After all, Protestant Fundies are “real” Americans, not like those immigrants.
When liquor became legal in 1933, the dry Fundies must have felt defeat, bitter, humiliating defeat. OK, we lost. But we sure as hell are going to make that “foreign” Maharaja illegal. Thus, the infamous Reefer Madness—a 1936 film whose description of cannabis is juvenile, ludicrous farce—was “originally financed,” says Wikipedia “by a church group . . . “ (Isn’t there something in the bible somewhere against bearing false witness?) We can only guess the number of lives ruined by enforcement of our insane anti-cannabis laws that still classify cannabis as a Schedule One drug, on a par with heroin and LSD.
Fast forward to the 1960s. Religion is on the decline. The question “Is God dead?” is often discussed. The Fundies needed a new cause, something to keep them busy, something to let them feel morally superior. They had gone from burning witches, to keeping slaves, to banning “demon rum”, to keeping the lid on cannabis. But they needed a new cause, a new banner to march under, a cause which tells the world that they know what is morally right and the rest of us do not.
Fundies: Always certain. Always wrong.
They found the abortion issue. And with the zeal of the crazed fanatic, Fundies and others found in abortion a new cause, a new banner to proclaim their righteousness in the face of an evil, degenerate society, i.e., all the rest of us. Of course, fanatics care nothing for facts. So, they ignore Christianity’s long history of teaching abortion before the soul is implanted in the body (about ninety days after conception) is not murder. And they ignore that the bible says nothing forbidding abortion but does describe a concoction that induces a miscarriage. And the bible also has a law if a man causes miscarriage, he is fined. But if the woman dies too, then he must pay with his life. Rather, that latch on to, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” Then they throw away most of the verse and pretend “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” is a prohibition against abortion. Facts? Who needs them? Certainly, not Fundies. They accept “As you believe, so it shall be” rather than “As it is, so you should believe.”
Fast forward to 2,008. The Republican Party offers an elderly gentleman and Sarah Palin as candidates for President and Vice-President. There’s a video on YouTube showing Sarah being blessed against “all forms of witchcraft” by a preacher who, literally, is a witch doctor, i.e., a professional who treats witchcraft. Had they won and McCain subsequently passed away, the United States of America could have had a president who believed in witchcraft. Think about that. In the 21st century, the United States of America could have had a president who believed in witchcraft. (And who, by the way, has all the intelligence you’d expect of someone who believes in witchcraft.)
Sarah was the canary in the coal mine. McCain needed the Fundies to win. The Fundies were asserting their political power. An ominous omen of a dark, new political force was making itself felt.
In 2,012 a cataclysm struck Fundie white Protestants. A black man was elected President of the United States. It could not be so! No. No. He wasn’t born here! He wasn’t. He wasn’t! Why won’t anyone listen to us? Donald Trump listened. And became a carnival barker for nonsense birther theories. The Fundies loved it. Facts? Proof? Who need it?
Then another horror: in 2015 the Supreme Court made gay, same-sex marriage legal! And then there was talk about trans rights. Clearly, something needed to be done. The gays needed to be pushed back into the closet. Abortion had to be outlawed. Force a pregnant pre-teen to give birth? That’s a price Fundies are willing to pay (as long as it’s someone else’s daughter). And let’s not forget about legal and widely-available contraception. We need to turn government around. We need a leader, a messiah, to lead us back to a government controlled by religion, a U.S. revolution much like the Iranian revolution that put Islam in control of Iran.
Enter Donald Trump, a man who cares as little about facts as do Fundies. The perfect leader, in other words. Facts? Puff! Facts live on earth, but fanaticism lives in “La La” land. Trump is a reflection of the Fundies’ inner self. It’s not a pretty sight.
Fast forward to 2,016. Fundies and Trump assumed control of the U.S. government. What followed proves truth is stranger than fiction for in 2,000 who would have believed that the U.S. government would sink so low? For example, who would have believed that the U.S. government would one day push misinformation and nonsense cures in the face of a global pandemic? And who would have believed that the once respectable Republican Party would actively participate in an attempted violent coup, with the help of a violent homegrown Fundie Taliban and Donald Trump as their Ayatollah.
But when God is on your side, burning witches, keeping slaves, and overthrowing one of the world's oldest democracies is all in a day’s work. And so we see the dark side of Fundie religion. And of Fundies themselves. Like modern-day pharisees, they are certain of their own virtue and righteousness, interested in their own success in the form of wealth and political power, and ready to self-righteously “stand their ground” and blow away anyone who threatens them. Indeed, they are unclean vessels like the pharisees of old who Jesus condemned.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.