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Are fundies made or are they born?


YPestis

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What makes people turn into and want to stay fundies? So many fundies we know are "first generation". Botkins. Maxwell. Duggar. Sure, they all grew up in a Christian environment, but none were homeschooled, had sisters who only wore dresses, or found their wives through courtships.

This new "fundie culture" sprung up during the homeschooling movement of the 90's and now is entering it's second generation. There's a new crop of people who have never been inside of a public or private school, who found spouses through courtship, who are now rising the third generation. The second gen fundies were raised in this culture, but will they persevere? Or will it die out after the first generation of fundies pass on and people struggle with jobs and spouses because neither SOTDRT nor courtships prepared them well?

The first gen fundies are the most hardcore. What made turned them into this? Was it the need to control? Something so traumatic in their lives that they become closed off from society? Or was it just an urge to live "differently"?

I often wonder if this is a trend we're seeing, like hippies living on communes, or if this is a permanent fixture that becomes part of the American landscape.

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Intriguing topic. I think fundies can be either made or born, but it depends upon their personality. I think certain traits, like generally leaning left/right politically, are somewhat innate, and I've read studies (which I am failing to find again as I search right now) which indicate that some people are more inherently conservative or liberal in their outlook on life. Fundies are by and large conservative-minded people who tie religion into their social beliefs to establish a sub-culture of group discipline. If there is a strong incentive to suppress one's innate leanings, like a family who will condemn you if you disagree, and if your personality is compliant enough to take the tension for the sake of keeping relations good, you may stay fundie. However, you may have a child who multiplies your rebellious traits and breaks free, or the pressure of keeping up a false front may get to you later in life.

I also think that if you've tied your economic success to your religion, as have the Botkins and Phillips, there is a huge disincentive to leave or even be self-reflective. You pick your "niche" of Christianity and that's your brand, and if you change it your loyal paying customers will ask questions. If you've placed yourself in the public eye you're really stuck. I even see this with small-scale fundie-lite bloggers I used to know in high school - they are out there promoting their brand, Jesus-ing up every event of their lives, with no room for admitting any doubt whatsoever even if difficult life events might encourage this.

I think it's much easier to fall out of the fundie life than fall in, unless you are two first-generation fundies entering the lifestyle together. How many couples of the fundie homeschool variety do you know where one of the couple wasn't raised to be Christian with a very similar life experience to their spouse? Can you imagine a fundie princess marrying a former non-believer? I can't think of any, though I'm sure there's a token amount of people in this situation. If you and your spouse have some sort of "starting over" experience and decide to commit to the lifestyle, at least you're on equal ground.

I think the fundie culture is inherently cyclical - some children flee; others establish a new first generation with dynastic delusions, and inevitably not all of their many offspring follow their footsteps exactly in the way they'd hoped.

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I think that people's personalities are pretty much hard-wired, and will be exhibited through whatever form of life they choose. Maybe a fundie lifestyle can exacerbate certain traits (or hide others), but the essential person is the same. People becomes fundies out of nowhere, and even the strictest families have a rebel or two.

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I think you'd have to have an 'excessive' personality to be a fundie of any stripe. For some people, moderation is a foreign concept, and if they want something they will over-indulge. Introduce them to any kind of religious or political ideology, they'll take it to its logical conclusion. There is no in-between; there are no weak points, it is all 100% right no matter how hard it is to defend it.

I also think fundies just require a LOT of structure, and I also think a lot of them have OCD or something like it. I don't know, it seems every single fundie has ADHD or kids with ADHD. Even if they're undiagnosed, I can just tell they've got ADHD. They ping the ADHD-dar, what else can I say? I'd also say some of them might be bipolar. When you don't have a diagnosis (or you do but don't get adequate treatment) you drive yourself nuts trying to fix whatever problem you've got. I don't think fundies are 'born' so to speak, but I don't think they're made either. I think they develop, because the people with all of these problems seem to think "either drugs or religion" and a lot of people give up one for the other.

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I think you'd have to have an 'excessive' personality to be a fundie of any stripe. For some people, moderation is a foreign concept, and if they want something they will over-indulge. Introduce them to any kind of religious or political ideology, they'll take it to its logical conclusion. There is no in-between; there are no weak points, it is all 100% right no matter how hard it is to defend it.

I also think fundies just require a LOT of structure, and I also think a lot of them have OCD or something like it. I don't know, it seems every single fundie has ADHD or kids with ADHD. Even if they're undiagnosed, I can just tell they've got ADHD. They ping the ADHD-dar, what else can I say? I'd also say some of them might be bipolar. When you don't have a diagnosis (or you do but don't get adequate treatment) you drive yourself nuts trying to fix whatever problem you've got. I don't think fundies are 'born' so to speak, but I don't think they're made either. I think they develop, because the people with all of these problems seem to think "either drugs or religion" and a lot of people give up one for the other.

I think that you made some good points. For a long time I've wondered if I have a naturally addictive personality. Addictions run in my family. However, instead of alcohol and drugs, my addiction was religion.

Many fundie women come from unstable homes. There appears to be a lot of anger directed toward their mothers. My brush with fundamentalism was an attempt to find something that was missing in my childhood. I desperately wanted a concrete series of steps that would make me the perfect mother and wife.

Do the studies on conservative and liberal brains answer why some people change their beliefs? Speaking from my experience only, logic had a big influence with me. However, the people who influenced my change probably thought I was a lost cause. Nothing immediately reached me. It was only over a long period of time that I contemplated and examined other arguments. The articles I have read on those studies seem to suggest that people can't change from being very conservative to more liberal. Do the actual studies take into account long term versus short term change? Short term, my conservationism was based on emotions and I must have appeared entrenched in my way of thinking. Over a longer period of time, I mulled over more rational arguments and tried to disprove them. When I couldn't, I gradually realized that they were true.

Interestingly, my three youngest children are all very liberal. According to my daughter, she has never believed in god and my younger son had doubts from an early age. Compared to his siblings, my oldest son is conservative but he believes in same sex marriage. If conservative or liberal tendencies are innate, shouldn't my children have inherited a conservative mindset?

Perhaps this is silly, but I wonder if the parents' receptiveness to even their newborns cries effect the child's future thinking. My mother believed that babies could be spoiled. Crying, in her mind, exercised a child's lungs. Many fundies use programs like Ezzo which recommends putting babies on a strict schedule.

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I think that you made some good points. For a long time I've wondered if I have a naturally addictive personality. Addictions run in my family. However, instead of alcohol and drugs, my addiction was religion.

Many fundie women come from unstable homes. There appears to be a lot of anger directed toward their mothers. My brush with fundamentalism was an attempt to find something that was missing in my childhood. I desperately wanted a concrete series of steps that would make me the perfect mother and wife.

Do the studies on conservative and liberal brains answer why some people change their beliefs? Speaking from my experience only, logic had a big influence with me. However, the people who influenced my change probably thought I was a lost cause. Nothing immediately reached me. It was only over a long period of time that I contemplated and examined other arguments. The articles I have read on those studies seem to suggest that people can't change from being very conservative to more liberal. Do the actual studies take into account long term versus short term change? Short term, my conservationism was based on emotions and I must have appeared entrenched in my way of thinking. Over a longer period of time, I mulled over more rational arguments and tried to disprove them. When I couldn't, I gradually realized that they were true.

Interestingly, my three youngest children are all very liberal. According to my daughter, she has never believed in god and my younger son had doubts from an early age. Compared to his siblings, my oldest son is conservative but he believes in same sex marriage. If conservative or liberal tendencies are innate, shouldn't my children have inherited a conservative mindset?

Perhaps this is silly, but I wonder if the parents' receptiveness to even their newborns cries effect the child's future thinking. My mother believed that babies could be spoiled. Crying, in her mind, exercised a child's lungs. Many fundies use programs like Ezzo which recommends putting babies on a strict schedule.

I think you and Kitty both make good points. I do think you can be addicted to religion, and if you change your mind then you'll just find something new to be addicted to, like Brandy.

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I think mostly fundies are made, but some from the 2nd generation stick to their fundie upbringing.

Its not a sustainable lifestyle though, as courtship isnt very good, sheltering produces 30 year old adult children who think theyre 15, and abusive childhoods cause the kids to want to get out of there. Also when they see the freedom the world has, they also want to try new things.

Most kids raised fundie will either see freedom and go more fundie lite (which will probably make their kids even less fundie) or remember their abusive childhood and get the hell out of there when theyre 18.

I wonder, on average out of every family, how many will stay fundie, how many will leave, and how many will loosen the rules when leaving home (and how many will be eternally virgins and not make a third generation).

How many 2nd generation fundies do we mention here?

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I have always believed that there is an innate, possibly genetic, component to religious belief in general. (I've never found a more convincing explanation than that for how my sister and I grew up with a virtually identical set of religious influences, yet she ended up a happily secular agnostic who is generally unconcerned about all matters of faith, and I have literally been struggling with religious doubts for as long as I can remember.) For a person whose genes already incline them toward placing a higher value on religion, and who also has the "excessive personality" mentioned in a previous comment, fundamentalism becomes an attractive option because its dualistic and simplistic worldview prevents them from having to engage too deeply with the really problematic and challenging aspects of religion and spirituality. Or that was the attraction for me, at least, during my various (thankfully failed) attempts to live the fundie lifestyle. :)

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I grew up basically fundie, and ended up fundie-lite for a few years before slipping back into fundie. It's insidious. They take piece by piece and lead you down a path until suddenly you're not where you started and you can't figure out how you got there. I am agnostic/atheist now, but I can see how someone can start out with a basic belief and end up down a path of fundamentalism. Especially if you're in a church and all your friends are at the church and so it feels like everyone is going in that direction, it's hard to question it.

I was in a liberal Christian church but I left because I could see the signs of them moving into a more fundamentalist belief. Once I left I started really thinking about what I actually believed and eventually ended up not believing any of it.

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I'm not sure about fundamentalism, but I suspect it can be traced to innate tendencies. I was raised in a moderately religious, but VERY politically conservative family, and I remember even as a little kid thinking "liberal" thoughts. My father would listen to Rush Limbaigh rant about a certain issue, and I would think about (and often try to talk about, though I quickly got shot down) other ways to look at the issue that did not make " lie-bruls " evil. I was never exposed to liberal thought, and yet I was naturally drawn to it.

I think fundamentalists are likewise naturally drawn to authoritarianism. It leaves no room for moral ambiguity, which many people find extremely unsettling. Of course there are cultural elements to it now, but I'm not sure that those hold as much value as personality in keeping people in. You don't have to believe in feminine inferiority to wear skirts, after all. I suspect that even if they escape, the kids might still display a preference for buffet-style meals. But those cultural elements are not the same thing as the ideology, just lifestyle choices driven by it.

I really don't see it lasting past this next generation as a separate movement. I think that fundamentalist thought is actually kind of a reactionary movement against a liberalizing trend in American social culture. Americans have certainly been less religious in the past. I see it as far too restrictive to survive. Of course there are always holdouts. I wouldn't be surprised to hear of Maxwell descendants living in isolation one hundred years from now.

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