This is a redacted and edited article after facing problems with mentioning the stream of churches that I had direct experience with the issues raised, to differing degrees, over a 20 year period.
𝐇𝐮𝐫𝐭, 𝐃𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐃𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧
Islamic fundamentalism, which favours a literal and originalist interpretation of the primary sources of Islam, when accompanied by acts of terror is clearly perceived as being wrong.
Christian fundamentalism when accompanied by acts that outwork a literal interpretation of the Bible in ways which hurt and damage people are also clearly wrong. This is made worse in that often the people they hurt are the marginalised of society who the church is supposed to love and support.
Much of the problem within Christian fundamentalism is that all too often people with no proper theological training lead churches. That combined with a model that appoints a lead elder rather than a plurality of leadership.
And when, as is often in evangelical churches, the role of the lead elder also becomes to set doctrinal beliefs for their local church and then to protect those beliefs at all costs - emotionally urging the community to stand firm and not give into the world's ways - then well...
You better be damn sure that you know what you are talking about.
So before you take the pulpit and preach that homosexuality is wrong, that transgender is wrong, that women should not lead churches, that people should tithe, that abortion is always wrong, that evolution is wrong, that sex before marriage is wrong, that marrying a 'non-Christian' is wrong, that other belief systems are wrong, that people are going to hell if they don't believe as you do...
Take a pause - then a holiday, then go and actually learn outside of your bubble what the Bible is and what it isn't.
Or just love, encourage people and stop deluding yourself and others that you somehow represent God on this planet of ours by expressing views like that. You don't have an exclusive insight into truth - you have your interpretation of it from a collection of books that was never intended to be read as one book or to be read as an instruction manual to life. Indeed in claiming absolute certainties you entangle yourselves in your own heresy and you focus on biblical inerrancy rather than on God.
And whilst the damage you do will not grab the headlines as an Islamic fundamentalism blowing themselves up will, believe me the damage you do is very real. And in propagating this viewpoint of God you slowly descend into cultish behavoiur. Authoritarian, charismatic leaders who claim to know the mind of God are the seed from which only hurt, destruction and division sprout.
Of course this is all very good, but an institutionalised version of church with an empire mentality will rarely listen to criticism of itself. In fact often the tactic will be to discredit the person or persons raising the concern or to deflect the issue. And when the questions come from within, the 'church' acts as if it has autoimmune disease and seeks to destroy what are healthy parts of it.
This is sad because, as we have seen in Amercia with Trump, any system that has no checks and restraints on it will become all powerful at the expense of common decency.
Regretfully though the emotional cost of going against the tide in evangelical churches with articles like this is high. And so this is my last one. For those with ears to hear then you can delve deeper into these things through reading my work as an author.
And to those who say I do not speak out of love: that these words are hurtful, then I would say, love always protects. And it is not institutions that it covers, but those that are persecuted, those that are harmed and those that cry themselves to sleep and seek the comfort of God.