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Fundamentally Aware


Bringing America’s Own Religious Extremism to the Forefront

April 18, 2003

Volume 1, Number 5


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“A blockbuster

exposé of the activities of the

Religious Right,”

says JOHN SHELBY SPONG best-selling author of Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism


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“I have just read this brilliant book from start to finish, almost without a break, and I am stunned and horrified by what I have learned,” says RICHARD DAWKINS author of Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder




From the publisher



Welcome to issue 5 of Fundamentally Aware. If you’re not yet a subscriber to my complimentary newsletter, be sure to sign up. You’ll find details in the lower left column.


The Southern Baptist Convention, among other conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups, is gearing up to Christianize the new Iraq at the expense of alienating the Middle East and Muslims in general. (See “Religious Opportunists” below.)


Speaking of the SBC, it seems fitting to include a discussion of the differences between denominations and sects and just where the SBC fits.


As always, please feel free to share your comments with me.


Kimberly Blaker






  1. Religious Denominations Versus Sects


  2. Politically Incorrect


  3. Religious Opportunists Paving a Path to Christianize the 

      Middle East


  4. Christian Evangelizing


Religious Denominations Versus Sects


The following excerpt is written by Kimberly Blaker from The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America .


When extremist viewpoints are given validity by society at-large, it becomes difficult to determine what is taking things “too far.” This may have the affect of making people think their beliefs can justify any number of antisocial actions, such as those stemming from prejudices. It may also make some people more susceptible to forming or recruitment into a more extreme sect or cult. To appreciate this likelihood and the effects, a basic understanding of the differences between churches, sects, and cults, and how religious groups change, is necessary.


Denominations, or churches, are to what mainstream Christians belong. Denominations are generally accepting of other religious beliefs and comfortable with society.[i] They generally favor an intellectual approach to religious teachings, while avoiding emotionalism in their services. Churches are attended more by the middle and upper classes, and members tend to participate from the sidelines by acting mainly as an audience.[ii]


In contrast, sects are often to what Christian fundamentalists belong. Sects are deviant religious groups holding traditional beliefs. They claim to be the only true believers,[iii] or true Christians, and satisfy the masses, or those who are low in the stratification system.[iv] Sects stress “emotionalism and individual mystical experiences.” Members actively participate in the religious experience, which offers them “a strong sense of community and solidarity.”[v]


It must be pointed, however, that there is overlap, just as with many other issues pertaining to fundamentalism. So, whether fundamentalists are part of a sect or denomination is not always cut and dry. Many fundamentalists are also Southern Baptists, which is considered a conservative denomination rather than a sect. But the reason for this situation can be more readily understood by looking at the church-sect theory.


In an increasingly secular world, it is difficult to understand how and why there is, at the same time, a rapid growth in sects. The church-sect theory, derived from Ernst Troeltsch and developed by H. Richard Niebuhr, helps to explain this phenomenon.[vi] As has been historically the case, sects and churches change over time. In his book The Social Sources of Denominations (1929), Niebhur said the growth of religious organizations leads to increased memberships in the middle and upper classes. Over time, these classes influence the organization to take a more worldly approach in which material success is no longer considered a punishable offense to God. In turn, the religious needs of the lower classes are no longer met. As discontent grows, the masses break off from the less-spiritual church to form a sect to satisfy their needs, as did the former organization, originally. The cycle then repeats itself.[vii]


Similar discontent was observed in recent years in the Southern Baptist Convention, resulting in a major division. In this instance, a sect was not formed because the massive ultra-conservative membership of the SBC was able to maintain control over the denomination, forcing out the more liberal of its membership. Therefore, the needs of its conservative and fundamentalist adherents were able to be maintained by the denomination.


Read more on this and legitimizing extremism in Kimberly Blaker’s chapter The Social Implications of Armageddon in The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America



Politically Incorrect

“Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. And because we have understood that our source is eternal, America has been different. We have no king but Jesus.”

--John Ashcroft during a commencement address given at
Bob Jones University ,   May 8, 1999 .

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Fundamentally Aware

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Kimberly Blaker



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Religious Opportunists Paving a Path to Christianize the Middle East


At what point does it become evident that an opportunity to Christianize the Middle East is a crucial motivating factor in the support for war on Iraq ?  A large number of Americans would agree it’s when our nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), begins taking volunteers and planning missions to the soon-to-be-fallen country under U.S. control.


The Baptist Press News reported on April 4, that the SBC is encouraging its members to make donations to feed Iraqi families, warning its members not to include tracts or other literature inside the packages that might cause authorities to reject them. 


But not to be silenced in their mission, each box will contain the following scripture from John 1:17, in Arabic: “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”


The packages will be signed, "A gift with love from the Southern Baptist churches in America ."


Furthermore, Christian missionaries, of various organizations, not just the SBC, are already prepared to cross over the Jordanian border and begin their efforts.

It’s telling to read Article XI of the Baptist Faith & Message, which says “It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. . . .  It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ . . .”

Add to this the fact that evangelicals, fundamentalists, and religious conservatives in general, are typically associated with opposing welfare and favoring a more restrictive welfare reform that leaves many families, especially children, to suffer in poverty.  In contrast these groups do favor faith-based charities, in which the poor can be served with strings attached. All these factors combined make pretty clear that the main purpose of the SBC humanitarian aid is for Christianizing the Middle East ; and feeding hungry Iraqis is secondary.


Despite President Bush repeatedly professing that Islam is a peaceful religion (surely intended mainly to diffuse accusations that this is a religious war), White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said, on April 3, that it isn’t the responsibility of the administration to filter the groups desiring to give aid to Iraq .  This indicates that when push comes to shove, regardless of Muslim leaders and others denouncing likely attempts to proselytize Muslims in Iraq , the administration will turn a blind eye to missionary activity, while secretly praying for the evangelization.

Also telling, in the SBC’s court is Khalil Jaloub of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who’s become an Iraqi spokesperson for the Christian evangelical movement in its effort to Christianize the Muslim world.  Jaloub has argued that it’s the goal of Muslims to convert Western society to Islam. According to the Baptist Press News reporting on Jaloub’s views, “To fight that, churches and Christians need to be trained to witness to Muslims and to demonstrate through their lives the love of Christ.”  He and other evangelicals fail to see the paradox in their own goal to convert the world to Christianity.

What it all boils down to is a big race to the finish line to see which religion will prevail and rule the world.

Those opportunists seeking to assist the Iraqis with ulterior motives, rather than a simple desire to do goodwill, should not be allowed to forge their way into Iraq and take advantage of its citizens during a most vulnerable time. To do so would be exploitation at its finest.


Kimberly Blaker is editor and coauthor of The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America . Visit for details.  Read previously published columns of The Wall™ at http://www.thewall-onchurchandstate/com © 2003, Kimberly Blaker




Christian Evangelizing


Discover how the SBC plans to Christianize the world as they narrowly interpret it.  As you’ll see here, converting Jews is a primary goal.


And here’s a special workshop on how to reach the Jews.


Read about the urgent need to convert teens.


How will 5,154 Baptist missionaries convert the world?  Find out here.


[i] Richard J. Gelles and Ann Levine, Sociology: An Introduction 5th. Ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1995), 453.

[ii] Rodney Stark, Sociology, 7th ed. (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1998), 391.

[iii] Gelles, Sociology, 453

[iv] Stark, Sociology, 391.

[v] Stark, Sociology, 391.

[vi] Stark, Sociology, 394.

[vii] Stark, Sociology, 392.

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