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by Mark Sandlin
Good and gracious God,
There is a tension that comes
with giving thanks.
Even as we recognize
and are grateful for
the blessings in our lives,
we are confronted with
enjoying our abundance
as we recognize the reality
that there are those
who have far too little.
Even as we celebrate a holiday
with roots which reach back
to the beginnings of our nation,
we are confronted with
the reality of
the genocide and slavery
upon which it was found.
by Mark Sandlin
You are what you believe.
At the core of each of us is our belief system. It is around that belief system that a large part of our personal identity is formed. One of the real strengths of fundamentalism is that it provides a stable core belief system. To borrow from 80's new wave and avant-garde band, Talking Heads, “Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.”
It is much easier to believe you understand who you are and to be stable when your core belief system is stable. For folks like liberals and progressives this is a little more difficult because the walls around our core beliefs are a little less rigid and more willing to flex as new information presents itself. Which means that we, more frequently than fundamentalists, are reshaping our understanding of who we are and how we relate to society, even if in small ways.
by: Mark Sandlin
Dear Terry Jones,
I'm sorry it's been so long since I've written but, let's face it, you've been a very busy man with all the Qurans and the burning and the getting arrested. You probably wouldn't have had time for my letter and that's okay, I understand. I do hope, however, you'll make a little time for this one. Why? Because I want to thank you.
You probably don't get much love from we progressive Christian minister types and I'm sorry about that. After all, God is love and we are called to love everyone, even our enemies (how crazy is that?). So, you can think of this as a love letter – an awkward spiritual bromance, if you'd like.
You see, the last time I wrote you was exactly three years ago. Time flies, huh?
by Mark Sandlin and the Admin Team of "The God Article."
“Being a slave to your own truth,” might be one reasonable way to define extreme fundamentalism.
On September 22nd two years ago, CNN ran an investigative report titled “Ungodly Discipline.” It takes a look at a history of biblically “justified” abuse in one specific school. It would be easy to walk away from the report and think it's nothing more than a he-said/she-said piece on spanking in schools. It is so much more than that.
It points to the dangers of fundamentalism. These children were not just spanked, they were abused. People who presumably loved them, hurt them. They justified it using the Bible. Fundamentalism frequently requires a devotion which is so blind that its adherents find they are nothing more than pawns in a game whose only purpose is to keep the game going. They are slaves to their own truths.
My heart goes out to each child who has grown up in this church and school. I have little doubt that some of them have escaped it relatively unscathed, but I know without any doubt that many have been wounded deeply.
The school is Fairhaven Baptist Academy which is associated with Fairhaven Independent Baptist Church and Fairhaven Baptist College in Indiana. Their founder is Pastor Roger Voegtlin. His two adpoted children are among those who were abused and they are speaking out about it.
Pastor Voegtlin's adopted son, Frank Voegtlin, contributed the following introduction to the CNN video for this article. In part, it explains why I believe it is still important to continue to tell their story.
This CNN video was a liberating moment for my sister Catherine and me. Having been adopted at a young age into the home of Roger Voegtlin, the minister of Fairhaven Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church, we were quickly taught that he was the definitive authority of God’s word. After living in his home and being abused by him for many years, we eventually left.