Announcements:  The Humanist group that meets at our building is having a pot luck at 1PM Sunday, Aug 22.  They have invited us to participate with them so we are combining out pot luck this month with theirs.

Joys and Concerns:  Betty is sick but she is recovering at home.  Visiting can be wearing, but cards and letters are highly encouraged.  In fact, we collectively signed a card after services today.

Rick spoke to us about Fundamentalism today.  We learned that Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism and Fundamentalism are terms that are often used as substitutes for one another.  In fact, they are three distinctly different groups.

Using an admittedly broad brush, Evangelicals is the name given to groups that concentrate on the first four books of  the Christian new testament, known as the gospels.  They believe strongly in a personal relationship with Jesus and advocate being born-again in your adult life as a re-dedication to the principals taught by Jesus in the gospels. They do not believe in pluralism, believing instead that there is only one way to salvation and that way is their way.

Pentecostalism is the name given to various religious denominations that believe in having a personal relationship with the Lord.  They are quite free-thinking in many ways, believing that the personal relationship with God can come in many ways to each individual.  They believe in the holy spirit, often a noisy holy spirit, and their worship services are known for getting quite loud.

Fundamentalism is a name given to groups that believe in incorporating traditional values of their culture into their religious beliefs.  They are found all over the world in many of the world’s religions, most notably (visibly and vocally) in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic worlds.  For example, in all Fundamentalist traditions, the male dominance of religious and community life is made part of their religious teaching.  They are rarely interested in the same thing religious scholars of their religion are interested in, such as the nature of divinity, being more focused on maintaining their traditional community values.  In Christian fundamentalism, for example, preaching about denying members of the gay community a place in their community, and denying women reproductive rights are very important religious values even though these ideas are not solidly based in their religious texts.  (The bible’s admonition against homosexuality in Leviticus, for example, is given much less importance than the admonition against eating pork, but no one in living memory has heard a Fundamentalist christian preach about the evils of eating pork.)

As with Evangelicals, pluralism is denigrated.  Everyone must be made to conform with their ideas, because the fundamentalist groups inevitably teach that theirs is the only legitimate interpretation of religion. Members are often kept in line by shunning those who begin to think pluralisticly, that is to say, believe that other people’s interpretations of God’s plan for the world may also have validity.

This trait is particularly troublesome when Fundamentalists become involved in politics.  Through politics, the Fundamentalist has a mechanism to impose their views of proper behavior on non-members of their group.

One thing these three groups do, indeed, have in common is that they are basically anti-intellectual in that when the findings of science conflict with their religious beliefs (or assumptions), they will be convinced that the science is flawed and the religious teaching is correct.  Science is not automatically thrown out, but if a scientific finding conflicts with religious belief, then that science is discarded as flawed.

For the last 30 years, the Evangelicals have allied themselves with the Fundamentalists on many issues.  One issue that is causing a rift in that alliance is the Environmental Movement.  The Fundamentalist view is that the earth is here to be used up because it will be discarded after the rapture as unnecessary. The 1870’s calculation that the earth was only about 6,000 years old based on the volume of begetting in the bible was accepted by both groups as a satisfactory answer to the question of when the earth was created.

Following the U.S. elections in 2006, however, the environmental leaders have been addressing the Evangelicals with the argument that part of the duty of a Christian is good stewardship of what God has provided.
Regardless of validity of scientist to calculate the age of the earth, what scientists have measured about global climate change is a statement about how we have treated God’s creation.  Evangelical leader Richard Cizik, Vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals,  has said that God probably will not ask of us to explain how the earth was created, but he may very well ask us to explain what we did with it.  In his opinion, polluters will have to answer to God as well as to the government.