This week has provided many Americans with a peek inside fundagelical Christianity, thanks to Mike Pence, that may have been a bit surprising. It did not even phase me that Mike Pence will not drink alcohol without his wife present, nor will he eat dinner alone with another woman. These types of “rules” are so common in the strict Evangelical churches, it seems status quo. I would frankly be more shocked to find out he did not follow at least a few of them.
It did make me realize, however, that this would be a good time to introduce a few more of the strange ideas, beliefs, and customs that are held so dear inside the walls of fundagelicalism. Many of these are pretty common, although some are more talk and less walk. So, if you think Mike Pence’s rules are strange, hang on to your chastity belts!
Some of these ideas go back to when I was growing up, and others are newer to me in the last decade or two. That is not to say when they became popular; different areas of the country probably were affected at different times.
The biggest development in my opinion has been the rise in number of megachurches. These large facilities meet almost all of the social needs of their members, from worship services to gender segregated sports, music lessons, financial and marriage counseling, holiday parties, and sewing circles. They also encourage homeschooling, and host programs to facilitate it, so the family really never has to look outside the church community for much of anything.
Children are only exposed to right-wing Christian music and television. They are enshrined in these bubbles from birth, and they are kept in them as long as humanly possible, as our own Manny Schewitz learned growing up in a right-wing Catholic home. In addition, Dr. James Dobson (Focus on the Family) has advocated for a house rule that children not be allowed to host or attend sleepovers at all, with no exceptions. This keeps them away from any possible danger or exposure to the (cue scary music) Real World.
Modesty is pounded into girls’ brains from day one. It does not matter what bathing suit you buy, because you will always have a tee-shirt on over it. Do not even think about a skirt or shorts that do not cover your knees, and tampons are absolutely forbidden (because of that teeny chance they could “take away your virginity”).
Dating is a poor term for what passes as going out with the opposite sex. By this point, the girls have received and are wearing their purity rings, signaling their commitment to God and Daddy they will abstain from sex until marriage. Most people know the joke that “Baptists don’t dance”, and while that still usually holds true, they have added no holding hands until a defined point in the relationship, usually engagement; and no kissing until the wedding day, at which point your first kiss will be before God and a few hundred of your closest friends and family. Awkward!
Just in case you think becoming a married adult will free you from the most burdensome of these rules, do not get complacent. God wants ten percent of your take home pay, plus extra for that new sanctuary and a Christmas gift of more for the flower fund. It has been brought to my attention that mandela coloring books are Satanic, I should be boycotting Target and Disney, and once children are involved (especially girls), this whole cycle starts anew.
It is no wonder to me the younger generations are leaving Christianity in droves.