The Danger Of Fundamentalism

Ah…religious belief in its infinite varieties…

Media outlets have reported the death from Coronavirus of a pastor who pooh-poohed the pandemic as “mass hysteria. The Reverend Spradlin was visiting New Orleans with his wife and family to ‘wash it from its sin and debauchery.”

Better he should have washed his hands.

Then, of course, we have corporate religiosity from the ridiculous and dependably theocratic major shareholders of Hobby Lobby. (I’ve noticed that their religious convictions always seem to be those that save them money…). According to a report from Dispatches from the Culture Wars,

It’s bad enough that Hobby Lobby is refusing to follow the CDC’s recommendations and remaining open because the wife of the owner had a vision from God; they’re now making it worse by denying paid sick leave to employees who are ill, which dramatically increases the risk of spreading the coronavirus to both employees and customers.

Hobby Lobby’s sick workers will be required to use personal paid time off and vacation pay or take an “unpaid leave of absence until further notice.”

So if an employee doesn’t have any vacation time left and gets sick, they have to choose between going to work while sick or not being paid. Inevitably, some will choose to go to work because they need the money and that means more transmission of their illness, whether it’s the coronavirus or some other condition, to other employees and to customers. I guess that vision from God included a command to put lives in danger. But of course, they’re “pro-life.” Whatever the hell that could possibly mean.

As reprehensible as Hobby Lobby’s insistence on imposing the owners’ religious beliefs on their employees, it obviously isn’t going to do the extensive damage being facilitated by the theocratic throwbacks who support Trump. The New York Times ran an article recently about Trump’s dependence on the Religious Right as a voting bloc and the policy consequences of their extreme hostility to science.

Donald Trump rose to power with the determined assistance of a movement that denies science, bashes government and prioritized loyalty over professional expertise. In the current crisis, we are all reaping what that movement has sown.

As the article notes, hostility to science has characterized religious nationalism in the United States. Today’s “hard core” climate denial comes almost exclusively from religiously conservative Republicans.

And some leaders of the Christian nationalist movement, like those allied with the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, which has denounced environmental science as a “Cult of the Green Dragon,” cast environmentalism as an alternative — and false — theology.

This anti-science “thinking” hobbles America’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

On March 15, Guillermo Maldonado, who calls himself an “apostle” and hosted Mr. Trump earlier this year at a campaign event at his Miami megachurch, urged his congregants to show up for worship services in person. “Do you believe God would bring his people to his house to be contagious with the virus? Of course not,” he said.

Maybe Reverend Maldonado should read up on what happened to Reverend Spradlin. So should the Reverend Rodney Howard-Browne. Howard-Brown occupies the pulpit of The River at Tampa Bay Church in Florida. This “pious” man mocked people concerned about the disease as “pansies” (do I detect a smidge of homophobia??) and insisted he would only shutter the doors to his packed church “when the rapture is taking place.”

As the Times noted

Religious nationalism has brought to American politics the conviction that our political differences are a battle between absolute evil and absolute good. When you’re engaged in a struggle between the “party of life” and the “party of death,” as some religious nationalists now frame our political divisions, you don’t need to worry about crafting careful policy based on expert opinion and analysis. Only a heroic leader, free from the scruples of political correctness, can save the righteous from the damned. Fealty to the cause is everything; fidelity to the facts means nothing.

There have always been people who desperately cling to “bright lines”– who see every issue as  black versus white, even as modernity ushers in ever-expanding areas of grey.

Whether adherents of fundamentalist religions, or political “true believers,” they pose  a clear and present danger to reality, and to the rest of us.


  1. My mom lives in a Tampa suburb now but used to live in Tampa proper. She said Rev Howard-Browne used to be the pastor preaching on the corner of like Nebraska and Florabraska. she couldn’t believe he had a mega church now. He did get arrested for enticing ppl to come to church.

  2. “Better he should have washed his hands.” A perfect response. Someone has described components of the evangelical movement as a religious death-cult. That sounds harsh, but how else can we describe a group anxiously waiting for the Rapture. But that description ignores an important facet of these people: they are Capitalists too. President Reagan’s first Sec. of the Interior (James Watt) did not believe in Conservation, because the Second Coming was immanent, so anything not used would be wasted. If only he Rapture would take them all away.

  3. These are the same church folk that were gleeful as a generation of Americans was being decimated by the AIDS epidemic. With a Republican moron in the white house, it was allowed to spread for years. Gods Vengeance and all. Same stuff. Different illness. Let us pray. The idiots need to be replace this fall. PLEASE VOTE.

  4. This blog would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. The ideals that religion used to espouse is being perverted by the very charlatans that the so-called prophets warned the people about.

    I’ve often said something like “once again religion comes to the rescue of sanity” on this blog, but these guys mentioned above are not insane. These delusional bastards are more dangerous to mankind than any other philosophical “leaders”. They prey on the weak-minded wantonly for the specific purpose of extracting great personal wealth. They exploit the inherent fears of the unknown people are born with and that resides in their DNA. It is a pathetic irony that our founders specifically called out religion as something that should not be associated at all with our democratic republic. And so, here we are….

    Not only is Donald Trump the culminating figure for greed, corruption and a government sanctioned crime syndicate, he is also being used by these religious fools and miscreants to further their fetid snake oil industries. Have you seen the pictures of the palaces that the gutter snipes like Joel Osteen live in?

    Regarding science…. Those pastors, I imagine, do not ride on a magic carpet when they travel anywhere. I’m guessing they haven’t the foggiest idea what a catalytic converter is on their chariots that God gave them. Oh, and the machines that wove the fabric and constructed their silk suits, the pomade they put on their personally quaffed hairdos are all directly from the hand of God, right? And how about those chariots of the Lord that push them through the sky at just barely sub-sonic speeds so they can get to their next tent meeting, aka coins in the plate festivals.

    No, these creatures are not messengers from God. They are the messengers of mammon and the money changers that EVERY religious icon warned mankind to avoid at all costs. Well, here they are once again, being given license to steal not only money, but the minds and souls of the most vulnerable among us. Donald Trump is their champion because he too is the ultimate in con games that these “religious” leaders so eagerly practice. It is a kind of sewer-level mutualism that honors racism, sexism, classism and institutionalizes ignorance. These are their operating systems.

    I’ve boycotted Hobby Lobby for over a decade when I learned of their inherent homophobia, anti-feminism and outright exploitation of their work force.

    Well, that’s a nice way to start the day. I’ll go back to editing my next book. Stay safe.

  5. Let’s all send donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of Pastor Mike Pence and send for FREE Miracle Water from Peter Popoff for the Pandemic cure and our salvation. But do remember to wash your hands and wait for Trump’s next coronavirus update presidential political campaign rally later today. All of this can be accomplished by working from home for those of us who are self quarantined.

  6. Great comments, thus far. My only disagreement is with Vern’s comment about these charlatans using Trump — he’s using them. Pastor Pence and mother have a loyal bloc of followers he took from Indiana to Washington.

    I do see a host/parasite relationship, but I see two parasites, so not sure who the host is. Maybe, it’s capitalism and the political whores who serve the Oligarchy.

    The prejudices and hypocrisy are glaring and as Sheila’s post details. There are reports about kids contracting the virus at Liberty University as well. I guess the flu doesn’t serve god nor listen to prayers.

    I keep expecting Trump and Mikey to use their scarfs when visiting New York hospitals and lead prayer services for those infected by the virus. Mother could go with them as a true testimony of their faith in god. It would be a great place to hold a Trump rally so they could all see the invincibility of their powerful Christ-chosen leaders.

    If Christ does come again, I’m sure the charlatans and their hypocritical followers will be the first ones heading for Hell.

  7. Todd,

    If you ever see Trump/Pence visiting hospitals or the sick, be prepared for the end of time. No empathy between them. No empathy for anyone but themselves. Pence’s hyper-religious stance is pure delusional bullshit that even he can’t believe.

  8. Vern,

    Narcissistic Personality Disorder traits:

    The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for NPD include the following traits:

    – having an inflated sense of self-importance and entitlement
    – needing constant admiration and praise
    – expecting special treatment due to perceived superiority
    – exaggerating achievements and talents
    – reacting negatively to criticism
    – being preoccupied with fantasies about power, success, and beauty
    – taking advantage of others
    – having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of other people
    – behaving in an arrogant manner

  9. I’m surprised that none of these religious leaders has said that the COVID 19 purported deaths are fabrications by liberals who are coming to take our guns.

  10. Lest we forget: In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is King” ~Erasmus

    So let’s be grateful for the deliverance of Donald Trump. He’s something special.

  11. Religious Fundamentalism is a very real problem (in many ways) and serious health threat in other countries and not just the US. While South Korea has had a model response, it was almost torpedoed by a religious fundamentalist group, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus Christ. They were THE major source of un-controlled virus spread in South Korea. Here are the details:

    Lest you be worried, it is not only Christian fundamentalist that are a problem. A Muslim fundamentalist group has been working hard to spread the virus in Indonesia. Here are the details on that group:

  12. I am thankful that I was not raised in a fundamentalist Christian church. I myself believe that many of the televangelists have sociopathic traits. I sometimes think we should call it fascist Christianity. Hence, their insistence that God will ensure their followers are not infected. Nope. I think Jesus would say they have turned the temple into a “den of thieves.”

    I guess they forgot the Holocaust in WW II. Even some Christians were in Nazi concentration camps along with millions of Jews. Some of these people sound very delusional to me, and I can tell you as a psychiatric nurse, when you challenge a delusion, you get a very hostile, defensive reaction.

    These radicalized Christians have forgotten that we are supposed to have separation of religion and our government so that religious liberty remains a fundamental right of all Americans, including the right to be atheist, agnostic, a
    religious humanist, or a secular humanist.

    Karen Armstrong has asserted that fundamentalism in any faith tradition is dangerous and much more prone to violence.

    I have already decided that the God of my understanding is NOT omnipotent, not in control of human choices.

    And at this moment in time, I am aware that there are lots of courageous people, some would say saints on the front lines risking their lives to save others. Finally heroic nurses and doctors are getting the standing ovations they should have had for so many years!

  13. Where and when did things get out of hand that led us into this horror chamber:

    Fairness doctrine
    UNITED STATES POLICY [1949–1987]

    Fairness doctrine, U.S. communications policy (1949–87) formulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that required licensed radio and television broadcasters to present fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues of interest to their communities, including by devoting equal airtime to opposing points of view.

    The origins of the fairness doctrine lay in the Radio Act (1927), which limited radio broadcasting to licensed broadcasters but mandated that the licensees serve the public interest. The Federal Communications Act (1934) supplanted the Radio Act and created the FCC, the chief regulatory body governing the U.S. airwaves, with a mission to “encourage the larger and more effective use of radio in the public interest.” In 1949 the commission promulgated a report, In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees, that interpreted the public interest provisions of the Radio Act and the Communications Act as a mandate to promote “a basic standard of fairness” in broadcasting. Licensees had the duty to devote airtime to fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues that were of interest to their home communities. Individuals who were the subject of editorials or who perceived themselves to be the subject of unfair attacks in news programming were to be granted an opportunity to reply. Also, candidates for public office were entitled to equal airtime.

    In 1959 a portion of the fairness doctrine became U.S. law when Congress amended the Communications Act with the doctrine’s mandate of equal airtime for office seekers. The revised law recognized some exceptions to the equal airtime mandate but held that such exceptions did not annul licensees’ obligation to provide equal airtime and balanced coverage of “conflicting views on issues of public importance.”

    The fairness doctrine was never without its opponents, however, many of whom perceived the equal airtime requirement as an infringement of the right to freedom of speech enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution. In 1969 the doctrine survived a challenge in the Supreme Court case Red Lion Broadcasting Co. v. Federal Communications Commission, in which the court found that the FCC had acted within its jurisdiction in ruling that a Pennsylvania radio station had violated the fairness doctrine by denying response time to a writer who had been characterized in a broadcast as a communist sympathizer.

    In 1985, however, the FCC decided that the doctrine had a “chilling effect” upon freedom of speech. At about that time, representatives of cable and satellite television networks challenged the applicability of the doctrine to their industries.

    In 1987 the FCC formally repealed the fairness doctrine but maintained both the editorial and personal-attack provisions, which remained in effect until 2000. In addition, until they were finally repealed by the commission in 2011, more than 80 media rules maintained language that implemented the doctrine.

    Matt Stefon, Britanica

  14. Todd,

    Oh sure. Those are also the precursor traits for a psychopath. Trump is all of those things. After all, he’s had a lifetime of being enabled because he was stinking (pejorative intended) rich and could buy his own reality. We are in serious trouble, and Putin wants him reelected. No surprise there.


    Oh yes. Trump is most certainly a monster. But instead of holding a TEC-9 (Columbine shooter in 1999), he has the world’s largest and most deadly military in his hands. How’s that for a troubling scenario?

    Somebody mentioned “a culling of the herd.” Darwinian principles do apply, but when the entire herd is culled, that’s called extinction.

  15. I believe explicitly in science as the process that humans invented that is the most rigorous in revealing the truth as we are able to know it about the behavior of the matter, energy and spacetime in the Universe.

    Outside of science I believe that faith is what we each decide to assume about anything important to us personally that we have no evidence of to guide us. I never question anyone else’s faith because those assumptions are important to them and that’s all that matters.

    My simple world in that regard is challenged nowadays by the existence of cults in all forms. They lie outside of my definition of faith becuase unlike it there is evidence to the contrary that must be ignored by the practioners.

    Climate science denial is one such cult. Supporting wealth distribution by evangelism is another. Trumpublicanism is another.

    One thing that cults demonstrate is that it doesn’t take something as important as what happens when we die to build a cult around. It can be literally anything, any brand, but in our world it’s almost always spread by entertainment/social media advertising/propaganda/fake news/brainwashing. That’s what plays the role of the devil in society now. Of course that is obscured by the fact it also does good.

  16. Without the FAIRNESS DOCTRINE, radio and then television became uncontrolled and the PROPAGANDISTS, eventually, took over.

    Back in the early ’70s, I served as General Counsel of the McLendon Corporation, headquartered in Dallas. We had radio stations around the country. KNUS and KLIF in Dallas, KABL in Oakland/San Francisco, etc. etc.

    I had to spend two or three weeks every year, just to prepare our report to the FCC, documenting our compliance with the Fairness Doctrine. Gordon McLendon, the President of the company, was an ultra-conservative, a master of propaganda in W.W. II, and a founder of the CIA Alumni Club, but with the Fairness Doctrine in place, he was, for the most part, constrained and, thus, somewhat contained.

  17. Bob–I have heard some doozies–a co-worker was telling me that some religous leader is saying he saw Covid coming back in January and that it was the Democrats working with China to create this virus since the impeachment didn’t go well and it is the Democrats way of getting rid of Trump.

    I still hear it is a Democratic hoax and a few more conspiracy theories of the Liberals creating all of this–I have one co-worker, a nurse, who thinks this is still like the flu and big pharma has something to do with it and another one who lives in chronic guilt, miserable, very religious or at least goes to church alot who is wondering if some minister is right about his ‘visions’ from January.

    I need an Elderberry Martini tonight when I get home. 🙂

  18. The article in the Times is by Katherine Stewart. I just finished her latest book, The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. Whatever you think you know about Christian Nationalists, the reality is worse. Recommended.

  19. How far Right – Reactionary Right, the GOP has become:

    Quotes from Barry Goldwater:

    “I feel very definitely that the [Nixon] administration is absolutely correct in cracking down on companies and corporations and municipalities that continue to pollute the nation’s air and water. While I am a great believer in the free competitive enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment. To this end, it is my belief that when pollution is found, it should be halted at the source, even if this requires stringent government action against important segments of our national economy.”

    “When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

    “In response to Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell’s opposition to the nomination of Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court, of which Falwell had said, “Every good Christian should be concerned”, Goldwater retorted: “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”

    Can you even imagine any elected GOP type today saying what Goldwater did???

    It was the Republican leadership in the 1980’s that kowtowed to the Bronze Age Mythology of the Evangelicals. Economics of the GOP was that other belief of Trickle Down economics, it dove tailed rather nicely with the, “All good come from Above” mentality.

  20. Bob Jamison:
    Well out here in the wild west of Southern Arizona, there are daily lines out the doors of the gun and ammo stores all day long, which BTW have been declared to be an “essential” business exempt from Gov. Ducey’s (belated) order for everyone to stay home (and from the news reports they don’t seem to be much concerned about proper “social distancing” while standing in line to get their guns and ammo). Not sure whether these good citizens think they will be able to use their guns to shoot and kill the virus or what. Or maybe perhaps a bit more rational, they’re worried about someone trying to steal their hoarded supplies of TP and disinfectant wipes. Truly insane times. And as they say, “we’re all in this together.”

  21. unThe current argument borne out of fear and gathering hysteria should be framed in terms of the beliefs of right wing Christians themselves, as in the red-letter scripture of the alleged words of Jesus himself, in which he noted that we are called upon to “render what is Caesar’s unto Caesar, and unto God’s what is God’s.” The virus belongs to Caesar. Arguments to the contrary which urge theory and theology are about something else and inapplicable to the virus, as was the devastation of Noah’s flood. We are arguing effect, not cause. Case closed.

  22. Gerald,

    “The current argument borne out of fear and gathering hysteria should be framed in terms of the beliefs of right wing Christians themselves……..”

    Continuing the theme of your thread, maybe the future should, best, be described in three little words: END-TIMES WITHOUT RAPTURE.

  23. The three businesses in my town that will have to get along somehow without my hard-earned dollars are Hobby Lobby, Papa John’s, and Chick-fil-A. The car lines wrapped around Chick-fil-A are filled with folks who are convinced that a chicken sandwich from there ensures their admission through the pearly gates. It will take more than a chicken sandwich, a bad pizza, or shiny glue-on sparkles!

  24. I’ve noticed, the bigger the cross, the bigger the crook! The, “my pillow guy” gives me the creeps every time I see one of his commercials, the cross around his neck gets bigger every year.

    ” Focusing in detail on Protestant fundamentalism in the United States, Jewish fundamentalism from sixteenth century Spain onwards and Muslim fundamentalism over the last four hundred years, Armstrong examines the patterns that underlie fundamentalism. These evolve from the clash between the conservative pre-modern mind that is governed by a love of myth, and the progressive rational society that relishes change. Fundamentalists view the contemporary world with horror, rejecting its claims to truth, and a state of war now exists over the future of our culture” Karen Armstrong, The Battle For GOD…….”

    A good read!

  25. All this talk of The Rapture has got me thinking.

    What do you want to bet that, after this crisis is over, numerous people who survive, who practice the fundamental religions, will declare that THIS RIGHT HERE, this WAS the beginning of The Rapture?

    They will take to the streets admonishing everyone they do believe to be not as enlightened as they [which is virtually everyone] to repent their evil ways before the Second Coming arrives.

Comments are closed.