There are various degrees of religiosity among Christians in America and although there has always been a segment that goes to extremes in their beliefs, they seem to be growing in numbers. Actually, it is not that their numbers are necessarily growing, but their involvement in government and imposition of their beliefs on the country has risen since President Obama took office. Part of the reason fundamentalists feel emboldened to burden the country with their extremist views is the rise of Dominionists whose intentions are to control every aspect of society including family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government. However, Dominionists require acolytes to further their agenda and they find willing subjects among conservative Christians who are more than happy to advance an extremist vision for America.
As review; Theory of Mind is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one’s own. There is no group that demonstrates the inability to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own than Christian fundamentalists. It is not that fundamentalist Christians will not acknowledge there are other approaches to life different from their own, it is that they are incapable of recognizing there are people who do not faithfully follow the perverse iteration of extremist Christian fundamentalism.
There is a good reason why conservative Christian fundamentalists are incapable of recognizing a different understanding of how to conduct one’s life. Ignorance plays a limited role in the extremist fundamentalist’s mindset that says god controls all aspects of life whether it is family values, the economy, global climate change, or government, but the primary reason is that they are inculcated from birth to believe everything in the world is controlled by an unseen, supernatural being, and that perfect adherence to god’s commandments is the sole path to success. The bible’s teachings, in the hands of extremist clergy, are used selectively to remove any responsibility or explanation of life from human beings. Christian fundamentalists begin training their adherents at very young ages that the bible is the exact, literal word of god, and failure to follow his orders brings harsh judgments and swift retribution. The clergy uses fear masqueraded as god’s love to teach followers that their mandate is to follow and enforce the bible’s teachings on every person in America. Although many Christians lean toward following Christ’s teaching, evangelical Christians cling to the Old Testament where god directly intervened in every aspect of life.
In the Christian bible, from Genesis to Malachi (Old Testament), there are myriad stories regarding god’s chosen people, the Israelites, and how he rewarded them for abject obedience and severely punished them for disobedience. When a Christian fundamentalist’s entire worldview has as it basis the example of god’s interaction with the nation of Israel, they assume that America, “a Christian nation,” will suffer the same fate as biblical Israelites without blind obedience to the “inspired word of god.”
There are numerous examples of far right Christians blaming America’s natural disasters, sluggish economy, and alleged moral decline on gays because the bible says god hates homosexuality, and that he is punishing the country for allowing them to exist. The idea that gays deserve equal rights does not resonate with extremists because they cannot acknowledge gays are anything but an abomination before god because if god says it, they believe it. Many Christian fundamentalists claim natural disasters are god’s punishment for Roe v Wade because they lack the ability to understand plate tectonics or weather, and will never comprehend why a woman may choose to get an abortion. Christian fundamentalists lack the ability to understand that a woman may have her own desires and beliefs that are not bible-based.
Right wing fundamentalists are so violently against abortion rights they feel justified calling for the murder of abortion providers to stop them based on an obscure scripture in the bible. These Christian fundamentalists cannot fathom any scenario where abortion is acceptable even in the case of incest or rape, and even if it is their own family member’s life at stake; and because they believe so strongly that god hates abortions, they will fight to the death to impose their beliefs on the entire country. When someone attempts to explain that abortion is a personal choice, extremists cannot comprehend that a different set of standards might lead to a different decision because to them, there are no different standards other than the bible’s.
The current attack on contraceptives is based on the account in Genesis where god told Adam and Eve to multiply, and it has led to the personhood amendments being proposed in over half the states. These conservative Christians do not possess the ability to consider there are people who do not subscribe to the notion that intercourse has to result in pregnancy. There are endless examples of fundamentalists who hold extremist viewpoints, and they will never abandon them because they would first have to acknowledge there are other viewpoints.
Conservative Christian fundamentalists are easily manipulated by Dominionists who acknowledge there are divergent viewpoints, but they go to extreme lengths to suppress them. Dominionist leaders have a ready-made army of obedient Christian soldiers who work tirelessly to force their beliefs on every American whether they are Christians or not. For example; fundamentalists believe that prayer works for them, so they cannot understand why the government does not force prayer on children in the public schools. It is the same with a woman’s right to choose, gay rights, government regulations, or an African American as President; fundamentalist lack the ability to acknowledge all Americans do not share evangelical beliefs.
There is no remedy for extreme Christian fundamentalism or its followers’ lack of theory of mind. The only hope for America is to prevent them from gaining power to install a theocracy that they feel is their god-given right. Moderate Christians are relatively silent in criticizing the fundamentalists for their extremist agenda, and a valid fear is that even moderates will fall prey to Dominionists if offered a choice between compliance and death. It is certainly not a stretch to imagine Christian fundamentalists imposing biblical punishments such as stoning to non-compliant Americans, because the Old Testament god commanded Israelites to slaughter every living being that did not fall in line and obey god’s word.
The greatest danger to this country may be extremist Christians who believe they are anointed by god to control the government. There is no reasoning with people who are incapable of recognizing there are different approaches to governing America other than extremist Christianity, because in order to reason, they must understand that others have different viewpoints that are not bible-based. It is nearly impossible to deal with Christian fanatics and it is why they are so dangerous with their strict adherence to biblical edicts and belief that god controls America, and it is why Dominionists have an easy time manipulating them. If the extremists were dogs, it is possible they could be trained, but dogs are not nearly as rigid in their thinking as conservative Christian fundamentalists who cannot acknowledge there are valid beliefs that do not emanate from the bible.
America has been under assault from Christian extremists since the rise of the religious right and as they continue drumming up support from people who lack theory of mind, the 21st Century Inquisition is rapidly approaching. Unfortunately, at this point there is little anyone can do to stop theocratic rule except to work frantically to elect leaders who understand there are different opinions, beliefs, and methods to govern America. If America is to continue and perpetuate its experiment with democracy, the people must oppose extremist Christian fundamentalists and their slaves in the Republican Party.