Three generations of women are molested by the same pastor. A man with vast political connections and megachurch. Why isn’t Dr. Roger Bunyan, Jr. held accountable? Who else knew? The Last Fundamentalist explores the conflict between fighting abuse while attempting to stay true to the doctrines of religious fundamentalists who demand obedience , submission, and silence.
Excerpts from the new forward of THE LAST FUNDAMENTALIST:
Jerry Falwell was eulogized as ‘the last Fundamentalist’. J. Frank Norris, the evangelist known as the ‘Texas Tornado’, who shot an unarmed man in his office and was acquitted by a Fort Worth jury, was eulogized as the last fundamentalist.
Evangelist Lester Roloff ran a string of children’s homes where, at the Rebekah Home in Corpus Christi, Texas, one girl stabbed another as a way to alert authorities to abuse. Roloff called them ‘his little murderers’. Lester Roloff died in a plane crash. He was also called the ‘last fundamentalist.
Bob Jones, Jr, the founder of that fundamentalist stronghold, Bob Jones University, was awarded the title of ‘the last fundamentalist’ following his death. They certainly weren’t the first men awarded that title.
There is no ‘last fundamentalist’. There have been many times when fundamentalism, as a movement, has been declared dead or dying, only to resurface years later. After the Scopes monkey trial in 1925, it was thought fundamentalism had been defeated. It was not. It resurrected briefly during the McCarthy hearings. There was a strong resurgence, thanks to Jerry Falwell’s ‘Moral Majority’ during the campaign for President Reagan. Bill Clinton’s election briefly knocked the winds out of their sails. Conservatives declared, ‘we lost the culture wars’.
They are not saying that now!
Donald Trump, the billionaire playboy anointed by the religious right, has been elected president.
The mass media seemed puzzled that fundamentalist America embraced this thrice married man, who bragged about groping women and married a model who occasionally posed for softcore euro-porn, as their hero. The media’s mistake was assuming fundamentalists were true believers in the tenants of what allegedly passes for Christianity today: doing good, feeding the poor, visiting the widows.
Not even close! American Christianity is all about power junkies accumulating prestige and the subservience of the public. Like Satan leading Jesus into the desert for his final temptations, fundamentalists and evangelicals gave up to Trump’s promise of power if they would but ‘fall down and worship me’. Or, at the least, just butter up the ego of Mr. Trump, wrap their shame and hypocrisy in the American flag and behold! The White House is theirs to control. It’s not like American fundamentalists could win power in a fair election.
Religion is not the only guilty party responsible for abuse culture in America and the world. Sometimes the most damaging lessons are learned in the family home. When we cover up abuse at home, we make it easier to cover up abuse in other areas of life: church, business, the police force, and ultimately, government. This truth makes fighting abuse even more difficult. Perhaps this is where the artist and writer must provoke an answer from the families of the world to this question: “What would happen if we resolve never to hit a child simply for the crime of asking a question? No matter how embarrassing the answer to that question might be?”
If we collectively agree to never hit a child who asks a question, would the next generation be so embolden as to question everything? Would that lead to great discoveries and innovations in science, health, politics, and benefit our everyday lives?
The Last Fundamentalist explores the conflict between fighting abuse while attempting to stay true to the doctrines of religious fundamentalists who demand obedience , submission, and silence.
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