What is Fred Phelps’ one virtue? Honesty, according to Matthew Paul Turner writing for The Daily Beast:
Since my first introduction to Phelps and his God-ordained hate, we’ve witnessed the lengths he was willing to go to spread his version of the gospel, a message that always focused on God’s disgust for humanity and his soon-arriving damnation…But therein might lie the one, dare I say, redeeming quality of Phelps: that he was always upfront about his beliefs, intentionally wearing his fundamentalism proudly—like a badge of honor—and without a filter.
According to Turner, though Phelps is dead, his “fundamentalist” God lives on. Turner knew if first-hand in an only-so-restrained form in the churches of his youth, and now he detects it hidden in a milder, sound-bite friendly form in the teachings of others:
Is Christian fundamentalism dead in America? I don’t think so. Among this country’s wide and varied Christianities, fundamentalism is very much alive; it’s just harder to recognize. Rather than being fanatical, loud, and obnoxious, today’s fundamentalism masquerades under wide smiles, hipster garb, flowery poetic language, and synth-pop beats…
And here’s where we run up with the problem: Turner’s use of the word “fundamentalist.” Whenever I see the term used in common parlance, especially in media outlets like The Daily Beast, I’m always wary due to the fact that there seems to be some slippage in terminology.
You can go read me disentangle the meaning of ‘Fundamentalism’, find out who counts, and why this matters over at Christ and Pop Culture.
And, P.S. For what it’s worth Matt, I still like you!