White evangelicals want to control you so their kids can live forever

This article originally appeared on July 25, 2022 at Baptist News Global.

Imagine a world where the “land of the free and the home of the brave” operates like a fundamentalist Christian school. What kind of freedom would be possible? As difficult as it may seem to imagine Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale coming to a city near you, it might already be unfolding before our eyes.

As Senior Columnist Susan Shaw recently wrote for BNG, “Christian nationalists have imposed their will on the nation.” The systematic takeover of our nation’s courts and schools by conservative evangelicals has led Chrissy Stroop, a scholar and leading voice for ex-evangelicals, to comment, “It’s like the whole country is turning into a Christian school.”

The authoritarianism of Christian schools

Like Stroop, I grew up in the Christian school movement. After graduating from my Baptist high school in a class of 13 students, I went on to attend the fundamentalist Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. During my freshman year, I wanted to drive down to my independent fundamentalist Baptist school in middle Georgia for my high school’s homecoming football game. Because the trip would be overnight, I planned to spend the night with one of my pastors.

But when I tried to get permission from BJU’s dean of men, I learned the university would not allow me to go. Despite my plan of staying with my fundamentalist pastor, they still refused. And when I showed them my parents gave me permission, they said, “We are your ‘in loco parentis,’” which was a way to say they held a higher place of authority in my life than my parents did, despite the fact I was a legal adult.

Because we believed in the complementarian theology of men being in charge of women and children, my dad had absolute authority in our home over my mom and over the kids. But because he was on staff at Bob Jones University, the university had absolute authority over him. I’ll never forget telling him one day: “I don’t mean to sound disrespectful. But your authority in our home is kind of pointless because BJU has already spelled out every detail of our lives, down to what I wear or listen to on my headphones when I cut the grass. You’ve been relegated to enforcing their rules for our family.”

Fundamentalist Christian schools told us what to watch on TV, what music styles to listen to, how to cut our hair, what shoes or clothes to wear, what words to say, what coffee shops we could frequent, what races and genders we could date and virtually every possible decision you could think of.

Fundamentalist Christian schools told us what to watch on TV, what music styles to listen to, how to cut our hair, what shoes or clothes to wear, what words to say, what coffee shops we could frequent, what races and genders we could date and virtually every possible decision you could think of.

BJU published a list of approved churches its faculty and students could attend. The university even blacklisted many conservative evangelical complementarian churches due to their contemporary music or their cooperation with new evangelicals like John Piper or John MacArthur, who were considered compromisers. So, whether you were a student, a faculty family or even a local church, BJU wielded absolute authority over you.

‘Freedom’ through controlling hearts, minds and souls

In an interview about his movie Home School Awakening, actor Kirk Cameron said: …

Continue reading at Baptist News Global.

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