Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Feeling Sorry for Children of Fundamentalists

I was watching this documentary called Waiting for Armageddon and it really made me sad and afraid. No, I’m not afraid that I will witness the end of the world or that I won’t be among those who are “raptured.” I’m afraid because of how the children of today are being indoctrinated into what is little more than a cult, and they will pay the price.

The beginning of the documentary focused on one Christian family who not only believed in the rapture but believed it was very near. The mom said that she didn’t think that her son would graduate before it happened. She said she didn’t believe she would see grandchildren, even though her daughter was in her late teens.

The daughter was lamenting the fact that she would not be able to have a family and raise kids. She was sorry that she would not be able to have stories to tell like her grandmother told her. “It’s not fair,” she said.

Not only are these kids being traumatized by their parents and their church, but what incentive do they have now to get on with their lives? What incentive does the son have to perform at a high level in school? What incentive does the daughter have to apply to colleges? They have simply given up on their future lives because they know for a fact that Jesus will be coming back any day now.

They point to things that are happening in the world that are fulfillments of prophecy. “There is nothing in the bible that has not bee fulfilled,” the mother said. The documentary shows conservative preachers and televangelists describe how the world is going to end and what will happen after the rapture, during the times of the tribulation.

It was funny to watch these grown men in suits that otherwise sound intelligent talk about this stuff with a straight face. It’s like they are playing the roll of an ultimate straight man for some comedian.

I am very sad for the children of conservative Christians today. Adults can believe what they want, of course. But there are no Christian children. There are only children of Christian parents. It’s a grave disservice to these kids to indoctrinate them at an early age into a cult that tells them they will not be around long enough to raise a family of their own.

Are these people not intelligent enough to have learned anything about history? There is nothing happening today that wasn’t happening in the days when Jesus walked the earth. There are wars, earthquakes, famines, and pestilence today. There were wars, earthquakes, famines, and pestilence back in the days of Jesus, too, and in every generation since. Jesus himself believed that the Kingdom of God (which everyone then assumed would be an earthly kingdom) would be within the lifetime of some of his own disciples. He says so in the Gospel of Matthew. He also said “This generation shall not pass….” He meant HIS generation.

Every single generation that has come and gone since Jesus walked the earth believed strongly that theirs would be the last. The Gospel of John, the last of the gospels, was John’s attempt to rectify the fact that all the original disciples had died off and the Kingdom of God had not yet arrived. John (although the real author is unknown) saved the church of the day by pushing the coming Kingdom of God into the future. The gospels had not been fulfilled according to Jesus’ own words, so John had to fix it.

If you read the bible from the point of view of a Jew who lived 2000 years ago, it will become clear that it was written by them, for them. It was never meant to be interpreted as applying to the period 2000 years hence. In the same way, the Old Testament was written for the ancient Jews. The prophecies were to be fulfilled within that time period, not hundreds of years in the future. The prophets were simply passing on messages from God to the Jews of the day, trying to rein them in. It was only in hindsight that the gospel writers applied the prophecies to Jesus, in much the same way that some people apply the prophecies of Nostradamus to World War II or to the 9-11 terrorist attack. It’s easy to make a vague prophecy fit a situation in retrospect. The problem is trying to use a prophecy to predict the future.

It is a shame that people waste so much energy waiting for an event that’s never going to happen, ruining their lives and the lives of their children in the process. Imagine if that much energy were to go to help improve society and the world we now have. It is the only world we will ever know and we live out our entire lives on this planet. How sad it is that so many people waste away their time on earth anticipating an event that will not happen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have to say that it's not just religious fundamentalists who possess an "end-of-the-world" philosophy. Remember Paul Ehlirch's The Population Bomb in which he wrote about the Great Lakes drying up, England not existing in 2000 and so on? So again, Christian fundies don't have the monopoly on doomsday scenarios.