Sunday, August 12, 2012

aggressive christianity

being in the states for a few weeks, i was struck by the visible increase in christian fundamentalism all around in the upper midwest. there have always been a few anti-choice signs here and there, and my hometown of 1300 has 12 churches, but there are more and more aggressive bible verses lining the highways and byways and christianity just seems to be much more in your face.

but i found this nail-studded cross west of the town where i grew up most disturbing. apparently, with 12 churches in a town of 1300, the youth groups have banded together into one and they erected this cross on the edge of a cornfield west of town. the large, rusty nails represent the sins of the young people in town.

and it strikes me as extremely violent and aggressive. and i wonder how a bunch of kids in small town south dakota can possibly have so many sins. what on earth are they? sex? drinking? playing hooky from school, the odd joint? hello, these are normal teenage issues - not giant nails on a cross. and to display them in such a harsh way, what good can that possibly do?

i'm more than a little worried about the aggressive tone christianity has taken on in the US in the years of my chosen exile. it seems to me not all that different from the sort of fundamentalist leaning of which all of islam is accused because a few choose to be extreme. when extremism comes to a small town in south dakota, what do we have left?

for more on this, read what frank bruni says about michele bachman and her ilk of the religious right here.

7 comments: said...

It seems christian fundamentalists in the US have lost their true christian roots. Their message is divisive in a way that strips away any dignity they may have had in their original calling. That cross is particularly disturbing. When does fundamentalism cross the line to fanaticism?

Molly said...

But yet I keep reading stats on how atheism is on the rise in the States (no doubt in the more urban areas however).
Maybe this kind of thing is a response to that too.

julochka said...

those are precisely the questions I've been asking myself. I think I fear the answers.

julochka said...

I can tell you there's no evidence of atheism in the upper midwest. it's quite scary, really.

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

I find that image pretty disturbing, too. I have nothing against Christianity or even fundamentalist Christians except when they try to force their beliefs on others, by making them into laws and so on. I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state, and the Founding Fathers that many fundamentalists claim as their own weren't Christian at all but Deists, which is a whole different thing. They believed in Christian principles but denied the divinity of Jesus. Interesting topic!

will said...

Yippee! The Dark Ages are returning and soon, (pick your city) .... auto da fé.

Mama @ Learn Big said...

I am a Christian. I do find the image to be striking, and possibly dramatic.

It doesn't, however, seem to imply that those who erected it are fundamentalist. They were expressing their belief that Jesus went through suffering on humanity's behalf. Most likely they put on many nails to illustrate that he died for everyone.

I think extreme fundamentalist would look more like shaming teens, forcing them to believe, or teaching them to hate outsiders. Which is what no true Christian could do in good conscience.