In her book With God on Their Side, Esther Kaplan talks about how many conservative fundamentalists are trying (and seem to be succeeding) to take over the government. Many of these fundamentalists may or may not be part of the cult, but they definitely influenced it. Kaplan tells us of how these people believe that most social problems such as poverty, addiction, and violence are merely a problem of society and individuals not being spiritual and caring about traditional values. So, instead of wanting to help fund programs to truly help people rise above these problems, they assume that the issues are only spiritual. (2004, p. 46).
It’s not that I believe that these problems don’t have a spiritual element to them, but that it is not always the spirituality of the particular individual in these crises that is the problem. Spirituality is of course part of the problem, but it is only one part of the puzzle. But this is the kind of propaganda that I was taught growing up. Any issue that I could possibly endure as far as being poor, being beaten by my parents, experiencing domestic violence in marriage, being raped, the deterioration of my marriage, among many others, were a direct result of my disobedience to Christ and his commands.
The church told me that I was poor because I was not responsible (there is truth to the statement that I was not responsible, but that was not the only thing going on), I was beaten because I deserved it as I was a dirty, rotten, filthy sinner and the Bible said my parents were to beat me in order to bring me back to God. I experienced domestic violence because I was not submissive to my husband and so the Bible said that he was allowed to discipline me because it was a matter of utmost importance in my relationship with God. I was raped because of what I was wearing, or because of bad choices on my part, the man could not help it because I had seduced him in some way. My marriage deteriorated because I was not a good Christian wife.
I was guilted into believing that I was Peter, who had denied Christ, because I was not “living for Christ.” This denial of Christ could be as simple as not sharing my faith with others because I did not want to be mocked.
I Bible bashed myself talking about how selfish I was to want to go out and enjoy myself after working full time five days a week. It was wrong for me to pursue such worldly pleasures when I should have been witnessing to my friends, and I use the word friends loosely because basically everyone just put up with me. I chided myself for seeking pleasure and wanting to relax when there was so much work to be done for the Lord.
Kaplan, Esther. With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush’s White House. 2004: The New Press.