IFBs and Spoiled American Women

Women's March on Washington

A close family member who happens to be a woman attended the recent Women’s March on Washington. Memories of [much] earlier days and accounts of her experience shape my spirit as I prepare this post.

While I haven’t checked, I’d guess that at least one or two IFB pastors waxed eloquently about the sinfully rebellious and unfeminine spirit any woman who would do such a thing.

SFL prints this account as Ashleigh Ferguson Baker in recognition of the many women who live under demeaning and/or abusive circumstances because they were born with the gender their father determined for them. It is truly shameful that such statements are necessary. But that said, it is imperative that we not forget or close our eyes to the hardship many women bear every day.

‘Let this be a reminder that there are currently, right now, 25 and 30 year old women in America who are being held hostage in their parents’ homes, not allowed to leave until they are married, at which point their fathers’ authority over them will be transferred to their new husbands.

There are currently, right now in America, sitting beside you in church pews, women who haven’t been allowed to get an education, lest they develop an “independent spirit.” They haven’t been given high school diplomas, let alone been allowed to step foot on a college campus. Because why would women need education anyway?

There are women being told that no, they don’t have feelings for that person. That they are easily deceived, don’t know their own thoughts, and thus, cannot be trusted to choose their own mate. If they do? They risk being cut off from their entire family.

There are women who are in their late 20s, having to sneak out of their parents’ homes in the dark of night, suitcase in hand, because their parents don’t trust them to have friends other than their siblings, monitor their phone and internet conversations, and won’t let them get a job.

There are young women who are teaching piano lessons in their home living rooms, then handing the money they’ve earned to their fathers each week, because as a wife they won’t have their own money so why learn to do so now?

There are women, right now in America, being told that showing their knees is nakedness, that bare shoulders are sinful, that their heads must be covered to show their submission to their fathers, husbands, brothers, and ultimately, to God.

There are women in America, smiling at you in the grocery store, whose husbands are beating them, cheating on them, belittling them… and then expecting their wives to meet them willingly in bed each night, without birth control, providing him with what he wants and her with another baby to nurse. And when cautiously, quietly asking church leaders for help? These women are told to pray more, because they will “win him back” with their gentle and quiet spirits.

There are women in America, right now, in your neighborhood, who are desperate. Many of them aren’t even sure what they’re desperate for, because their hearts and minds have been so wounded by emotional and spiritual abuse that they often believe what they’re experiencing is right and normal and holy and good.

But the women who do wake up? The ones who want out? Let me tell you how they manage to climb out of that darkness:

They encounter strong women who have gone before them, who will band together, march together, stand up stronger together in the face of opposition, and pull their sisters out.

For some of us, this isn’t even about systemic patriarchy. It’s about Patriarchy with a capital P, literal subscriptions to “Patriarch: the magazine” and articles published in “Ladies Against Feminism,” being told to our faces for our entire lives what we’re allowed to think in our own heads, hearing year after year that Patriarchy IS God’s great plan for humanity, experiencing extreme forms of actual, daily oppression for being a born a girl.

So before you hit repost on that declaration you don’t need a march because you’re not oppressed in America in 2017, claiming that spoiled American women are whining because what about women being oppressed in Afghanistan in the name of religion? Maybe take a look around you, in your own neighborhoods and churches, and realize that it’s happening right here, in America, right now. That what you see in front of you isn’t always what’s happening behind the scenes. Maybe realize some of those women holding signs and wearing pink hats know a thing or two about blatant injustice, celebrated in the name of religion.

And maybe some of those women know that the only reason they are still standing today is because of the women around them who linked arms and pulled them out and helped them learn, for the first time in their lives, to stand on their own two feet.’

Blonde Jokes and Fundy Wife Humor

Blonde Woman

A blonde called out and asked her husband to help her with a very difficult jigsaw puzzle that she could not figure out how to get started. Her husband asked, “What is it supposed to be when it’s finished?”

She replied, “According to the picture on the box, it’s a tiger.”

He went into the kitchen and saw the puzzle spread all over the table. He studied the pieces for a moment, then looked at the box, turned to her, and said, “No matter what we do, we’re not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a tiger. Now, let’s put all these Frosted Flakes back in the box.”

Ministry 127 shows us that for all times change, dumb blonde/wife jokes are still appropriate ways to teach women their place in fundie society.

Exorcisms for Modern Times

Exorcism, healing of the Gadarene demoniac
Matt 8:28-34, Healing of the Gadarene Demoniac

Matt 8:28-34 is weird all by itself. It features a naked guy, stronger that chains, howling in a graveyard and terrifying townspeople. Need we say more? Add the special effects and twisted imaginations of ‘Hellywood’ and the images ‘exorcism’ conjures in our minds become outright bizarre.

Independent Fundamental Baptists, the broader evangelical version of fundamentalism and mainline believers share this in common: they see exorcisms as the special preserve of eccentrics, Charismatics, occasional mystic, and perhaps Roman Catholic exorcism specialists.

The gospels make exorcisms seem fairly routine in Jesus’ ministry. One explanation is that as spiritual oppression deepened as his ministry began. Another sees exorcisms as a demonstration of God’s power, with the cross itself as an ultimate exorcism. Jo 12:31 says:

‘Now judgment is upon this world;
now the ruler of this world will be cast out.’

Speaking to ongoing US political crisis, Morton Guyton recently wrote:

‘God raised up Pharaoh so that God’s power might be made known through the wrath he pours out on Egypt’ [Ex 9:16].

He also makes this extraordinary observation:

‘I think the evangelical church today is like the Gerasene demoniac. We’ve been shrieking in the tombs of culture war with a louder and shriller pitch every year.’

And he asks this stunner:

‘What if God did in fact raise up Donald Trump as a means of pouring out his wrath on the religious right who have been blaspheming his name for the past three decades?’

As I see it, any attempt to recruit God for our partisan interests is unwise. But this does not invalidate Guyton’s point. Morton also asks:

‘What if the next four years will be the political Chernobyl that completely destroys the political power of the religious right forever?’

Justice requires that punishment fit the crime. He rightly notes that this sometimes means living with the consequences of getting what we want.

President Trump faced much criticism on the campaign trail and on his first 100 hours in office. And it is well deserved. But is the import of what is transpiring around us truly understood? President Trump:

  • Packed senior cabinet positions with generals, including those that supervise the military.
  • His inaugural address invoked ‘absolute loyalty to America;’ partisanship didn’t matter so long as citizens [embodied by Trump] hold the power.
  • In that speech he said twice that ‘America first’ must now be the rule.
  • He emphasizes military power as key.
  • He is introducing legislation to further expand the already gigantic U.S. military machine.

The question begging to be asked, but which our subservient media will never ask, is this: What do you do differently if you’re planning a coup?

I don’t intend to offer a place to speculate about answers. It I do believe that we are in a precarious situation. A Reichtag fire incident [by terrorism or a false flag operation] could lead to many changes very quickly.

It isn’t my intention to be alarmist. But acknowledging the unhealthy environment in which we live does lead us to ask, ‘how we get here.’ Here, Morton Guyton perhaps speaks most pointedly:

‘I think the evangelical church today is like the Gerasene demoniac. We’ve been shrieking in the tombs of culture war with a louder and shriller pitch every year.’

In the past, I’ve connected spiritual power and culture. I’ve noted that:

‘Moses’ confrontation of Pharaoh has the character of an exorcism. The struggle of Moses and Pharaoh manifests itself in the competing claims of Yahweh, God of Israel, and Egypt’s gods.’

And I said that:

‘The claims, magicians, miracles and plagues that follow are a wrestling of spiritual power, evil and good, each to subdue the other.’

However far some think our society has departed from the Biblical mind, events currently unfolding attest that the same forces which have always dominated history are the ones which continue to impel us into the future.

This leads to the point that Morton Guyton is correct to say that the operative power of hatemongering, warmongering, uber-nationalist, racist, anti-everything which so often finds refuge and strength in confessing Christian circles means one thing:

Evangelical Christianity stands in need of an exorcism.

King of America, God’s Own Enforcer

King Trump with Scepter
President Trump

For many, the week past was difficult. I found myself unable to write. And normalcy won’t return this week either.

Yes, humorists, artists and commentators still ply their respective crafts. Last November, Michael Novakhov wrote:

The public prayers for His Majesty’s health, wealth, and well-being, and also for the development of his additional intellectual capacities should be held no less than three times a day in all public squares, government offices, courthouses, and the places of worship, and also in all the private and public toilets, with the benefit of generating the taxable and multiple extra-flushes.’

But all jesting aside, many in the world hold their breath in audible silence at the thought of President Trump conferencing with Benjamin Netanyahu on Iran, or Tsai Ing-wen on China.

Many have spoken of Mr. Trump’s openly fascistic tendencies. Some see him as developing an distinctively American form of fascism. And it has also been said that under Mr. Trump, the locus of decision will shift from the halls of institutions of power onto the streets.

Wherever the truth lies, I suspect that it to resonate with many to read that history caught up the United States of America. We are going to pay for our sins, and the price may be horrific.

Decades of assaults on jobs, wages and benefits stand to be intensified greatly. And despite near universal surveillance and increasing reliance on the threat and use of force to quell dissent, it is very possible that there may be seen mass social conflict of such proportions that make the 1930 protests look like church picnics. There is a settling sense that the state is irreparably broken and that no future election will fix it.

Extremism is on the rise in the United States. And more than they would admit, Christian fundamentalism is the incubator of political extremism. Whatever lies before us, that lesson must not be forgotten.

Reviled, Reinvented and Rediscovered


Five decades ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Junior made a crucial decision to combine the struggle for democratic rights in the United States, with principled opposition to imperial war abroad. King very courageously did so in context of opposing the war on Vietnam.

Many try to cloak themselves in King’s mantle. Some are some outright charlatans who actively oppose what King died defending. But in either case, these opportunists share not one shred of principle among them.

Over the weekend, tanks, artillery, armored vehicles and 4,000 US troops descended on Poland. They are to be deployed over seven East European countries. Around October, another unit will replace them. This is the first, permanent deployment of US troops on Russia’s border since the Cold War. In coming months, NATO plans to deploy four battalions on Russia’s border. And US annual military budget for Eastern Europe is quadrupled to $3.4 billion over last year’s $800 million.

Poor People's Campaign Brochure, Spring 1968
From the last campaign on which MLK worked.

King understood that poverty is very much a civil rights issue. He saw poverty and powerlessness as mutually reinforcing realities. And he saw the need to break the power that they hold over us.

Dr. King’s last planned protest was the Poor People’s Campaign. He was planning this when he was martyred. This excerpt from a prepared leaflet is as relevant now as it was the day King died. It merits careful study by us all.

King saw the obscene levels of military spending in his own day. The base shamelessness of budget plans is made clear in his work.

Today, total military spending is in excess of $905 billion. Soon, it will top 1 trillion. Every year.

There’s more.

Dr. King also addressed extremes of income discrepancy. But in his wildest dreams, Dr. King could not have imagined the extent to which the level of income dependency would rise even in the lifetime of his peers.

On the eve of the Davos Conference, Oxfam reports that 8 people now control as much wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population. And of those 8 people, 6 are in the US.

There is no gracious way to put it: such levels of militaristic commitment and social inequality are fundamentally incompatible with a free society.

As social misery rises and political conditions degrade, it begs to be asked where today’s church leaders are. Often, they most stridently support such arrangements. They certainly do not stand beside Martin Luther King Jr., even if they claim to respect and honor that legacy to their own advantage.

Some who know King’s legacy revile him. Others would co-opt his legacy for opportunistic ends. The one alternative of integrity is to recover that legacy for our own time. And if we desire to avert war and revolution, we would be most wise to do so — and soon.

If any churches are prepared to go there, few are fundamentalist.