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Let's discuss fundamentalism in the UK!


blessalessi

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Inspired by thread-drift elsewhere, this is a place to discuss our experiences of fundamentalist and very conservative Christianity in the UK.

Please share your personal experiences but don't hesitate to be vague about details if you are afraid of accidentally doxxing yourself and others. It's a small dataset that we are discussing here!

Copied over from the other thread:

On 29.3.2016 at 7:51 PM, Palimpsest said:

Yes, I think there is a growing Fundamentalist movement in the UK and it's becoming more mainstream.  BTW, How are Stephen Green and the Christian Voice membership getting on in the UK these days?  He's as whack-a-doodle as many US Fundies and gets far too much airtime, IMO!

I don't know how accurate this article is but it is food for thought.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/leavingfundamentalism/2012/04/23/uk-fundamentalists/

 

 

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A lot of the UK fundies I'm aware of are missionaries, I think there are quite a lot of little mission churches, and they can get pretty intense. Like that article said, the pentacostals and charismatic churches in the UK can get pretty fundie too, but I know less detail about that.

A lot of the UK fundie missionaries I know go to central and west african countries, and also china. I guess that's different to the American fundies people snark on too... The ones I know also usually have been to university and almost all the ones I know are bilingual which is fairly different.

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12 minutes ago, kettlingur said:

A lot of the UK fundies I'm aware of are missionaries

Do you mean that they are people from the USA or elsewhere that came to evangelise the UK? 

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1 minute ago, blessalessi said:

Do you mean that they are people from the USA or elsewhere that came to evangelise the UK? 

no, I mean, they're constantly off to africa xD

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The awful musician at the fundie funeral I went to last November was from the UK. He was converted by "missionaries" from the small movement that the deceased and his family were/are members of. They have churches primarily in the Midwest but also in a few other scattered states. They are called the Church of Christ and marked by affixing the words "meets here" or "gathers here" on their buildings. (Because the church is not the building, it is the people). They are a "restoration" church movement that believes that the early Christian church was exactly like them until evil Catholics came along and ruined everything. I believe they split off from the Campbellites (the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S.) who had initially split from the Presbyterian Church. 

As late as the 70s and 80s, they were skirts only, no make-up, no television, movies or interacting with media or popular culture, etc...but they seem to have loosened up on those things in the last few decades. I do not know of any of them eschewing contraception or adopting QF lifestyles. At that funeral, I learned that in addition to a mission church in London, they have had active missions in many predominantly Catholic countries such as Ireland, the Philippines and various Latin American countries. The guy from the UK is apparently quite prominently involved in various missions. For anyone interested, he will be bringing his off key singing mission to the U.S. this summer. I can get the dates to you. 

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I don't live in the UK any more.  I get a general impression from family members and reading UK newspapers that hard-core Evangelical Christianity (the Born Again types) is on the rise whilst mainstream church attendance is on the decline.  People are dropping out of the bottom of the CofE, for example, because it is way too liberal with it's ordination of women, and individual parish priests are getting soft on gays - whatever the leadership's position is on gay marriage. 

There do seem to be some store-front Baptist/Pentecostal churches popping up in various places. 

TBH, most of the UK missionaries I'm aware of who go popping off to Africa are with legitimate Missionary organizations.  They are not IFB fly-by-night Poisonwood Bible types.  My niece (the MD) is about to start missionary training and I wouldn't call her a Fundie.

I'm also really pissed off because I lost a lot of bookmarks (computer crashes) so this is going to be vague.  If you are interested I can try to find the links again.

Stephen J. Hammer was involved with a fairly "Fundie" Evangelical group when he was at Oxford (Rhodes Scholar).

I used to try to keep track of some of the IFB missionaries to the UK.  I wonder how successful they are.  There was a recent missionary couple who returned to hubby's home-town in the UK, supported by a Sending Church in the US, to convert the heathen hoards.  Then there are the missionaries to Scotland who seem to be on a long tourist trip to the British Isles.

There are also some pretty darn Fundie UK bloggers.  The woman in Orkney and a couple of other Brits who post on US blogs.  I wish I had time to keep track of them.

One of my old boarding school friends is deep into some very culty Fundie thing and has been for years.  They smuggle Bibles, do mission trips in hostile environments, baptize people in muddy rivers, and so on. We don't correspond any more because of it.  I forget the name but I think the organization is still going.  

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4 minutes ago, Palimpsest said:

TBH, most of the UK missionaries I'm aware of who go popping off to Africa are with legitimate Missionary organizations.  They are not IFB fly-by-night Poisonwood Bible types.  My niece (the MD) is about to start missionary training and I wouldn't call her a Fundie.

I didn't mean to imply that all missionaries in the UK are fundies, or bad. Just a lot of the ones I know. There are some really cool UK mission groups :) (I don't know if I gave that impression, just wanted to clarify)

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I posted somewhere about the Vandenhurks to the UK! The man came over here on a short-term mission, married a local lass and then took her back to the USA to shill for funds so that they could both be "sent out" officially (back) to her home town to carry on evangelising without needing to work for a living. :my_confused:

Is the "Woman in Orkney" Michelle Therese, the Coffee Catholic?!  I have read about her on so many forums, not just religious-based ones! I don't think she blogs any longer, but she was hilarious back when I first really discovered the internet! In "Little Britain" terms, Michelle is genuinely the "only True Catholic in the village". :P 

@Palimpsest, I was thinking about what you said about Stephen Green.  I don't think he is all that powerful on a grand scale (yet...).  At election time, I love to read the propaganda from the independent militant religious candidates, but the problem they have is that they are so peculiar and rigid in their beliefs that you will tend to get two or three candidates in each constituency and so they even split the small extreme vote three ways.  Usually they will get something like 69 votes each which adds up to their entire church membership, plus the half dozen Daily Mail readers that they bought a fish and chip supper for when they were out proselytising at the local Old Folks' Home. :my_rolleyes:  The vile danger of those groups though, IMO, is that they offer Holiday Bible Clubs and Toddler Groups and creep into decent society that way. 

 

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4 minutes ago, kettlingur said:

I didn't mean to imply that all missionaries in the UK are fundies, or bad. Just a lot of the ones I know. There are some really cool UK mission groups :) (I don't know if I gave that impression, just wanted to clarify)

That's quite OK, I think you were very clear. :)

I call my missionary background (too damn) Evangelical, but not Fundamentalist  My niece is about to be the 4th generation of the family to become a missionary but that includes joining Baptist, Methodist and CoE missionary societies as teachers and medical missionaries.    I'm the black sheep of the family.  I suppose I could consider myself a missionary to the benighted US of A but, alas, I am a non-proselytizing atheist!  

@blessalessi  Yes, the Vandenhurks!  I got the jinders reversed.  :pb_lol: They aren't the same as the ones who are ministering from John O'Groats to Lands End with side trips to Stratford on Avon though.  Or the missionaries to Perth.  The IFB missionaries seem really to want to convert the heathen Scots!

I may be confusing the woman in Orkney (that blog was such a joy) with the Protestant head coverer in N. Ireland.  Sheep were featured heavily on both blogs.

Stephen Green is a hate-monger and a wife abuser.  I think he needs a close eye kept on him - he's as evil as many US Fundie preachers.

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28 minutes ago, Palimpsest said:

That's quite OK, I think you were very clear. :)

I call my missionary background (too damn) Evangelical, but not Fundamentalist  My niece is about to be the 4th generation of the family to become a missionary but that includes joining Baptist, Methodist and CoE missionary societies as teachers and medical missionaries.    I'm the black sheep of the family.  I suppose I could consider myself a missionary to the benighted US of A but, alas, I am a non-proselytizing atheist!  

@blessalessi  Yes, the Vandenhurks!  I got the jinders reversed.  :pb_lol: They aren't the same as the ones who are ministering from John O'Groats to Lands End with side trips to Stratford on Avon though.  Or the missionaries to Perth.  The IFB missionaries seem really to want to convert the heathen Scots!

I may be confusing the woman in Orkney (that blog was such a joy) with the Protestant head coverer in N. Ireland.  Sheep were featured heavily on both blogs.

Stephen Green is a hate-monger and a wife abuser.  I think he needs a close eye kept on him - he's as evil as many US Fundie preachers.

Thank you :) I'm pretty new at this forum stuff and I'm worried about saying the wrong things.

Yeah, a lot of the people I know are very evangelical missionaries, but not fundies. Just some of them kinda... Skip over into fundieland.

Stephen Green is scary and I hate how much the tabloids give him a platform, it just adds to how important he thinks his voice is.

Black sheep are underrated - they have the cutest lambs.
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Yes, Alice is from the UK.

 

I have never actually met a fundie or known of any fundies. I once went to a science related event, and there was a guy outside holding a cross and handing out creationism tracts, and we get a lot of Mormon missionaries knocking at the door, because the person who lived in this house before us was a member of their church....never met anyone who was like the fundie families we talk about here, although I went to school with a kid who was one of the oldest in a fairly religious Muslim family with 11 kids.

 

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When I was a kid, the people we identified as fundies (or just plain strange) were the Brethren - sometimes just plain Brethren,  sometimes Plymouth Brethren. Head coverings, long skirts only, not mixing with others.

Are they still around?

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No longer in the UK either, but my sister's boyfriend back in the day was a Mormon who was sent to NI on his mission.  Because, as my Dad said, what they really need in NI are more religions.

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I think that many of the so-called Evangelical churches have grown out of the Brethren.  The Plymouth Brethren were initially "closed" meaning you had to be initiated as a member and if you wanted to visit a different church (if you were visiting relatives, say), you needed to take a letter from your home church to prove that you were legit.  From that grew the Open Brethren, which were more welcoming of outsiders and guests, and from there sprang the conservative Evangelical churches.  That title was always a mystery to me as, in Baptist churches, we were taught that being "evangelical" just meant spreading the gospel. I think the Plymouth Brethren are still very much a thing but I have never seen one in the wild, so to speak. :my_biggrin:

The fact that "dresses only" is not a big thing in the UK probably helps obfuscate the real size of the population.  Most ultra-conservative people I know of wear jeans, work outside the home, and appear to be perfectly normal until you hear what they say to the kids at the Holiday Bible Club. :(

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42 minutes ago, sawasdee said:

When I was a kid, the people we identified as fundies (or just plain strange) were the Brethren - sometimes just plain Brethren,  sometimes Plymouth Brethren. Head coverings, long skirts only, not mixing with others.

Are they still around?

I used to see one group of them in Belfast and Dublin- same people, group of women and girls, small headcoverings and very cheerful demeanours.

I'm afraid I'm going to be annoyingly 'I'm from Northern Ireland you know' but seriously it sometimes felt like living in a theocracy. Harangued by the most dour sexagenerian street preachers every single Saturday. Any performance of Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar I ever attended was picketed- even when it was a school production. The start of Sunday opening was greeted like the apocalypse. Frigging everyone thinking their church was right and everyone else was wrong. Free Presbyterians always seemed extreme but that may have due to Ian Paisley being in charge.

Our laws are still different to the rest of the UK on abortion and blood donation from gay men, largely due to religious influences.

Thete's an odd, more Catholic than the Pope, Catholic woman who lives off the West Coast of Ireland and talks to angels with a side of ripping people off. Christina is it? A family I knew were big supporters of her.

@louisa05Got approached by Church of Christ at uni in Dublin. They never give up if they get their claws in you. Horrible.

Sorry for the wall of text. 

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The brethren I remember most lived opposite where my sister used to live, in Egham. They were a small community, not just one family. They wore the head coverings, skirts, etc - and their favourite colour appeared to be a sludgy grey for everything worn on the person......don't know if they are still there - she's moved!

But maybe as a child, my family may have looked fundie to some outsiders. We weren't, but in those pre Vatican II days, Sunday meant very proper mid calf length skirts and black lace mantillas on our heads for church......

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4 hours ago, louisa05 said:

They are called the Church of Christ and marked by affixing the words "meets here" or "gathers here" on their buildings. (Because the church is not the building, it is the people). They are a "restoration" church movement that believes that the early Christian church was exactly like them until evil Catholics came along and ruined everything.

Umm...I belong to the moderate wing of the CoC and there's rarely anything said about Catholics...a few nutjobs who try to talk shit, but since I was born, raised and educated RC, I enjoy setting them straight. 

Initially, the Stone/Campbell (Restoration) movement was an attempt at reformation. The new group was called the Disciples of Christ. However, now there are three different groups, ranging from pretty conservative to moderate to liberal, known as The Church of Christ (CoC), Independent Christian Churches (ICC) and Disciples of Christ (DoC) respectively. I occasionally attend the local CoC congregation here, although we belong to an ICC congregation. 

My ICC church campus is one of the largest here in Sin CIty. We even have ashtrays at the entrance to the church building! They're a blend of straight talking and what could be called "liberal" ideas, including no official stance on marriage, dress, divorce. There's a large group of people who are recovering addicts, alcoholics and otherwise messed up people in our congregation. I gather with about 200 of them every Friday night. Yes, we do missionary work, but we do things like refurbish orphanages in Mexico, build houses, schools, medical missions. I've written before about friends who gave up medical careers here to be medical missionaries in Cambodia. So, recruitment is not what we do. I mean, if someone asks, I'm not shy, but street corner preaching or fire and brimstone preaching is not what you'd see. 

Our pastor, one Sunday morning, was talking about some emails he'd gotten from people who had visited the church the previous week...they were ALL uptight. People dressed too casually, service didn't begin on time, yadda, yadda, yadda...His comment was "if you're looking for 'organized' religion, go elsewhere...this ain't it". 

I've rambled on long enough...but...wanted to give a POV from someone who is part of an ICC congregation.

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When I was working as a Tour Manager in the UK about 35 years ago, I once worked with a US Church of Christ group. The driver and I fulfilled their itinerary, and more - we added extras where we could. We tolerated being prayed over daily - embarrassing for most Brits. I sat through their Sunday worship as I couldn't work out a way to refuse. (I was still very young at the time - no problem now!)

I tried very hard to talk them out of attending a 'medieval banquet', but they wouldn't listen. I tried to tell them that a feature was unlimited wine for the guests. They said call the venue and request it changed to juice.

I did. But juice was provided anyway to everyone. The wait staff and the cast decided that the wine for my 45+ people shouldn't be wasted - so they - about 18 of them - drank it.

The show got ruder and lewder as the night wore on. The wait staff made sure every double meaning was explained. The table got quieter and quieter.

We couldn't just leave. The only exit was via the stage, and there were at least another 150 to 200 people there. So at the end, we got back on the coach, and drove back to London in complete and utter silence for almost one hour.

This was their farewell evening after a 15 day tour. The driver and I got a Bible each as our tip. I was also told I was very articulate, and should think of teaching Bible as a career. They did not pay the tax that the driver and I both had to pay on presumed  tips - for 45+ people for 15 days.

I still remember it vividly. And do not have good memories of the Church of Christ.

Spoiler

The banquet was at Hatfield House, about 35 years ago.

Spoiler

 

 

 

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@feministxtian- I'm not sure if the Dublin Church of Christ was affiliated to ICC. They lived communally. Overwhelmingly college age. My university was their main stomping ground. They were banned from our grounds, and I think from Queens in Belfast, for aggressive proselytising.

A couple of  people I lived with accepted their invitation to 'a Christian celebration' and they phoned every single day for 2 weeks asking them to come back. We started refusing to get the people they were calling to the phone and they got threatening. Then one of us threatened them back in a very convincing manner and the calls stopped.

Doesn't sound like your church from what you wrote.

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1 minute ago, EmainMacha said:

@feministxtian- I'm not sure if the Dublin Church of Christ was affiliated to ICC. They lived communally. Overwhelmingly college age. My university was their main stomping ground. They were banned from our grounds, and I think from Queens in Belfast, for aggressive proselytising.

A couple of  people I lived with accepted their invitation to 'a Christian celebration' and they phoned every single day for 2 weeks asking them to come back. We started refusing to get the people they were calling to the phone and they got threatening. Then one of us threatened them back in a very convincing manner and the calls stopped.

Doesn't sound like your church from what you wrote.

Ok, those are the International Church of Christ...a cult. NOT affiliated with the "normal" CoC churches. They're part of a "shepherding movement" cult. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Churches_of_Christ this isn't terribly accurate, really...but a good idea of what they're like...and they ain't us!

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1 hour ago, EmainMacha said:

I used to see one group of them in Belfast and Dublin- same people, group of women and girls, small headcoverings and very cheerful demeanours.

I'm afraid I'm going to be annoyingly 'I'm from Northern Ireland you know' but seriously it sometimes felt like living in a theocracy. Harangued by the most dour sexagenerian street preachers every single Saturday. Any performance of Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar I ever attended was picketed- even when it was a school production. The start of Sunday opening was greeted like the apocalypse. Frigging everyone thinking their church was right and everyone else was wrong. Free Presbyterians always seemed extreme but that may have due to Ian Paisley being in charge.

Our laws are still different to the rest of the UK on abortion and blood donation from gay men, largely due to religious influences.

Thete's an odd, more Catholic than the Pope, Catholic woman who lives off the West Coast of Ireland and talks to angels with a side of ripping people off. Christina is it? A family I knew were big supporters of her.

@louisa05Got approached by Church of Christ at uni in Dublin. They never give up if they get their claws in you. Horrible.

Sorry for the wall of text. 

There is a group I know only by their nickname of "Coonies", who go to the Gospel Hall, I think. Skirts only, no haircuts for the women. Always recognisable by their pouffy buns. Do you know them? They may be more rural though. 

Spot on with the description of NI religion. Street preaching and looking down on others is apropos. Playground swings chained up on Sunday and Catholic denouncement from the pulpit were some more of the lowlights. 

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13 minutes ago, Kak said:

There is a group I know only by their nickname of "Coonies", who go to the Gospel Hall, I think. Skirts only, no haircuts for the women. Always recognisable by their pouffy buns. Do you know them? They may be more rural though. 

Spot on with the description of NI religion. Street preaching and looking down on others is apropos. Playground swings chained up on Sunday and Catholic denouncement from the pulpit were some more of the lowlights. 

      I was going to ask about them. They also go by the name "Two by Twos", or "Church with no Name", and sometimes "The Way". These are all names used by outsiders. They originated in Ireland but are found all over the world. I know some people who are part of this.

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21 minutes ago, Kak said:

There is a group I know only by their nickname of "Coonies", who go to the Gospel Hall, I think. Skirts only, no haircuts for the women. Always recognisable by their pouffy buns. Do you know them? They may be more rural though. 

Spot on with the description of NI religion. Street preaching and looking down on others is apropos. Playground swings chained up on Sunday and Catholic denouncement from the pulpit were some more of the lowlights. 

I'm afraid I don't know that nickname. We do have a few Gospel Halls in my neck of the woods and the women are very conservatively dressed. Skirts only. Probably what you've described actually. Most (in)famously the Darkley Massacre in '83 was a fatal attack on a Pentacostal Gospel Hall mid service.

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12 minutes ago, Grimalkin said:

      I was going to ask about them. They also go by the name "Two by Twos", or "Church with no Name", and sometimes "The Way". These are all names used by outsiders. They originated in Ireland but are found all over the world. I know some people who are part of this.

I knew 2 girls (at school) who were part of that group. Both went to regular schools, and both were secretly rebellious. Both girls toed the line at home but were kind of out of control any chance they got.

I don't know those names you used, but they do fit with the mystery of the group. 

 

1 hour ago, EmainMacha said:

I'm afraid I don't know that nickname. We do have a few Gospel Halls in my neck of the woods and the women are very conservatively dressed. Skirts only. Probably what you've described actually. Most (in)famously the Darkley Massacre in '83 was a fatal attack on a Pentacostal Gospel Hall mid service.

Was that in Fermanagh? A border region anyway I think? 

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