Thinking Out Loud

September 9, 2010

The Book The Florida Pastor Should Be Burning

I’ve been debating for several hours whether or not to post this, because I really don’t want to give Terry Jones — the term Reverend no longer seems appropriate — any more publicity than he is already receiving for his plan to burn 200 copies of the Quran on Saturday, September 11th.

But I can’t keep this to myself.   It is allegedly something along the lines of the “student handbook” that students at his Bible academy receive.  Check out all six pages posted at The Smoking Gun.   (Or this summary.)

BTW, if you’re in the U.S. and think this is a “made in USA” story; you should know that this is an international incident.   It was the lead item on Tuesday night’s CBC National news in Canada.   At this writing, the USAToday story online is approaching the 5,000 comments mark.

Sidebar:   What we’re seeing here is also making this a good time to question the use of the term ‘Protestant.’   We tend not to think of extremists as Evangelical extremists or Charismatic extremists, while certainly some exist.   Instead it usually a group of hardline fundamentalist Protestant fringe groups, who, while far from the Mainline Protestant are simply to distanced from Evangelicals for the term to fit.

It’s also interesting in that we tend to think of religious extremists as existing in the middle east, not so close to home.

UPDATE:  Here’s a “red letter” response to all this compiled by author and musician John Fischer.


  1. Who knows? The student handbook could just be the tip of the iceberg.

    When it comes to the fringe groups like this there’s always allot going on just below the radar.

    Comment by larryk12309 — September 9, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  2. This is so frightening! To think that an ignorant, narrow-minded cluster of people could stir national and international violence in the name of God! It is a disgrace, and certainly does not follow the teachings of Jesus! What is this guy thinking? And, reading the Academy Rulebook, it sounds like it was written by a 2nd grader. The grammar is atrocious and the rules sound ridiculously like a third world country under some dictatorship! Sadly, like lemmings to the sea, some people can be led anywhere.

    Comment by Beverly — September 9, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    • Not that it matters, but I think his wife wrote the handbook. Of course, that could mean she’s the better writer of the two.

      Yes, it is amazing that one person who represents a fringe of a fringe of a fringe of a fringe of a fringe could do so much damage. However, the guy’s attitude is probably more prevalent than we realize. If you scroll to the links list on the right sidebar, you’ll find reference to the blog Stuff Fundies Like; a reference to fundamentalist Christians. While the blog is meant for fun and humor — it’s listed as Humor: Stuff Fundies Like (they’re all alphabetical) the fact remains that many a true word is spoken in jest. If you spend about 30 minutes in that blog you get a better understanding of the prevailing mindset. (You may not want to do it on a full stomach however; it’s sickening that certain attitudes still exist.)

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 9, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  3. Agh, Paul! I hate to see you promoting the misuse of the term “fundamentalist”. There are many terms to describe this “pastor” in Florida, but let’s not jump on the bandwagon of disparaging those that a true fundamentalist who believe:

    1) the infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record.

    2) God as Creator of the world

    3) the virgin birth

    4) physical resurrection of Christ

    5) atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ

    These “fundamental” truths for most Christians put us in the category you are mocking. The only time I’ve been called a “fundy” is by atheists, and it appears that’s an atheist website you are recommending, one that just wants to poke fun at anything “christian”, mostly without merit. Look at their current home page:

    Would you disparage a christian if they wanted to grow their hair long? Self-publish a book? Fly the American flag or pray before meals? If you want to see the worse in christianity, look at yourself first before sending us to an atheist site.

    Comment by Laura — September 10, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

    • Wow! Didn’t see that coming. …So now where do I begin?

      First of all, I am not mocking anything in this post, with the possible (okay, definite) exception of the Florida pastor and his followers.

      Secondly, etymology teaches us that words can take on pejorative meanings over time; so the word “fundamentalist” which has a similar origin to the similar-sounding “methodist” was never meant as a term of derision initially. But now it is.

      The fact is, I agree with all five doctrinal values you list — plus a few extra. I’m very conservative in my theology, but I would not want the term fundamentalist put next to my name on anything. Not the way it’s presently understood.

      Finally, about Stuff Fundies Like. I am aware of, and have spent many hours camped out in blogs that are written by former Christians and atheists. To the best of my discernment, I don’t get that sense with SFL. The writer simply knows the movement too well.

      SFL is about the culture of the narrow group under review — be sure to read the “about” page — and frankly, in every post I’ve ever read on that site, the shoe fits. They really do place an unusually high value on patriotism, there is a hair thing going on among the women, and they do self publish a lot of books because (a) regular publishers won’t touch them, and (b) every other word is printed in capital letters.

      I’ve been reading Darrell’s blog since its inception, and you’re going to have to really do some convincing for me to accept that he is an atheist. I mean, if satire constitutes unbelief, what do you do when you read Jon Acuff?

      I would never intentionally list a site here that I didn’t fully endorse.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 10, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

    • Laura,

      I’m the author of Stuff Fundies Like and I am certainly not an atheist. I’m a conservative evangelical Christian. Very, very conservative by most standards and I’ve got the Wide-Margin Old Scofield King James Bible to prove it..

      If you’ll look on the about page of the blog you’ll see that I list the “fundamentals” as you do and then point out that in (especially Independent Baptist) fundamentalists circles that’s only the starting point. There are many, many other “distinctives” and “standards” that fundamentalists hold dear and use to determine who’s really a fundamentalist and who isn’t.

      I dare say that pastor Rick Warren holds to the 5 fundamentals you listed but that no Independent Baptist Fundy would accept him as one of their own.

      I get accused often of disparaging people. It would seem that in some circles that pointing out that there are problems is the greatest and most unforgivable crime. For more on that you can check out my essay entitled “Why I Write” on my personal blog:

      To the points you listed, you seem unable to distinguish between speaking ill of something and speaking ill of its misuse. There’s nothing wrong with self-publishing a book. I love the American flag. I often pray at meal time. What I’m pointing out in those posts is not that the things themselves are somehow bad but that the way they are used in Baptist Fundamentalist circles is often strange, idiosyncratic, or ill-conceived.

      Some people get what immediately “get it” when they read SFL. Others don’t because they either lack the exposure to the movement or the perspective to see it for what it is. If it’s the former your experiences are no less legitimate because they differ from mine. If it’s the latter, I hope that time will bring you around to where you too can chuckle at the way we once lived.

      Comment by Darrell — September 10, 2010 @ 5:56 pm

  4. And for the record, I would call the pastor in Florida a “nut-job out there”. There’s a lot of that going around in the US, not limited to christians.

    Comment by Laura — September 10, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

    • Nutjob definitely covers it. And in my SFL post I was very careful to point out that this man is not a Baptist Fundamentalist. It was the parallels in some of the mindsets between his cultish behavior and some I’ve observed in IFB circles that I was trying to highlight. As I said he’s “not as far off the fundy path as all that.”

      Comment by Darrell — September 10, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

  5. Another crisis resolved just in time for the evening news.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — September 10, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

  6. Darrell, I appreciate what you said, and am happy to know that you are a Christian. I did look at your “about” page before commenting here. I just have a couple questions for you.

    Are you surprised that someone could spend 20 minutes on your website and not see any difference between you and the secular and non-believing world?

    Do you believe that fundamentalist are christians? I mean, are they flawed human beings, wretched even, saved by Grace like you and me?

    Comment by Laura — September 10, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

    • Laura,
      I usually don’t spend a lot of time giving my personal opinions or views on the SFL as such. It’s called “Stuff Fundies Like” not “Stuff Darrell Like” — mostly because nobody would show up to read that second one. Occasionally I do break that rule as in this example:
      But for the most part SFL simply isn’t about _me_ it’s about the strangeness in fundamentalism.
      Fundamentalists are saved the same way Southern Baptists, or Anglicans, or anybody else is saved: by grace through faith.
      As for specific individuals, I won’t venture to guess at what only God knows for sure.

      Comment by Darrell — September 11, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  7. Yep, it’s international, all right. I live in Kuwait and you can bet we heard about it here. Many of my former students (who are Muslim) sent me the link to CNN and I had to do a little damage control…as well, it was printed in the local papers.

    To them, I compared his mindset with the mindset of the terrorists (not following the proper teachings) and I know it’s a little extreme, but maybe he should actually study the teachings of Jesus.

    May people just be careful who they follow…

    Comment by Katie — September 11, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

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