We evangelicals like to draw a distinction between ourselves (the normal people) and the fundamentalists (the crazy khaki pants people). Obviously, definitions are complicated, and often sloppy, but a key aspect of fundamentalists is their tendency to isolate themselves from non-fundamentalists. A good summary comes from a slogan that my grandparents heard back when they were young:
Don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with those who do.
To paraphrase slightly, fundamentalists: (1) don’t smoke or drink, and (2) don’t socialize with people who smoke or drink.
Double fundamentalists take it a step further. Their rules are: (1) don’t smoke or drink, (2) don’t socialize with people who smoke or drink, AND (3) don’t socialize with people who socialize with people who smoke or drink.
To make things more concrete, say we have three people: Anne, Bob, and Carol. None of them smoke or drink, but Anne socializes with people who do. Bob, a fundamentalist, could still socialize with Anne. Carol, a double fundamentalist, could not.
Based on my (too) extensive use of Twitter, I’ve noticed a troubling pattern emerging. I’m thinking of one writer in particular: Shea Serrano from the Ringer. For reasons that will soon become clear, I want to emphasize that I like most of his writing a lot.
But he has this irksome habit with his Twitter followers. If someone tweets something in support of Trump, he blocks them. On its own, this is fine. Considering my (and most other non-Trump humans) experiences with Trump’s army of Twitter trolls, it’s a reasonable policy. But he goes further. If someone doesn’t support Trump themselves, but thinks that Serrano should tolerate Trump supporters, he blocks them as well.
I’ve thought about asking Serrano what he would do if I simply spoke in support of the people speaking in support of the Trump supporters. But I haven’t, because I’m afraid I’ll get blocked. I suspect lots of folks behave the same way. They not only have an aversion to Trump supporters–they also have an aversion for people who socialize with Trump supporters.
That’s right: we now have Double Fundamentalists. On the Left.
Of course, double fundamentalism isn’t just a problem for the Left or the Right. It’s a human problem. We all have a tendency to “other-ize” people we deem wicked enough to be almost radioactive. Any contact is toxic, so we build wall upon wall of protection against them. The problem with this approach is that we don’t see it reflected anywhere in the life of Jesus.
Let’s make it a point to call out double fundamentalism, no matter who is doing it. Because if we’re not careful, we could end up doing it ourselves.