Re: A Good Christian Education
Gee, I thought veering was what we do here.
There are lots of people who write, and say, dumb things in the name of Christianity. People also say dumb things in the name of science, though maybe fewer. And in the name of liberalism, and . . . well, you get the idea.
Fortunately there is a certain amount of pushback from within the church. The town I am moving to includes a Lutheran church promoting Young Earth Creationism. I am slightly scandalized by this, being an ELCA Lutheran over the last 20 odd years. But I also know that the Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Synod have reactionary theology, so I assume we are talking about one of those. They don't just reject the input from the ELCA, they actively demonize us as "adapting to the culture around us," and "putting intellectual pride ahead of the authority of God's Word." Never mind that most of them would be scared out of their wits if they thought they were actually going to be held to the standard promoted in the Bible - the point is to uphold "We are right and everyone else is wrong" for the same reason any group with an ideology does so.
It's a fascinating question of sociology, why groups develop these echo chambers of ignorance. Hell's Angels, gun show visitors, first responders, anti-Vaxxers, and lots of other groups end up doing much the same thing. Essentially what happens is that those who don't buy the worldview don't participate in the conversation. In addition there is often an element of policing the boundaries, so that anyone trying to question elements of the Official Party Line are ostracized and ignored, or if they are persistent, actively ridiculed and insulted. When they get to that point, where efforts to actually influence outsiders matter less than internal dynamics of status-seeking, the real disturbance sets in. At that point, the more extreme the view promoted, the more it matters (at least, up to a point that is far beyond anything outsiders could recognize as sanity).
Often there are healthy reasons why such groups segregate themselves. Mennonites/Amish rejected the warfare that tore Central Europe apart in the 1500s, taking a hard line against violence. Fundamentalists were reacting partly against the Social Darwinism and even Eugenics of much of "Enlightened Society" of the time, including Clarence Darrow and Woodrow Wilson (though, like Missouri Synod Lutherans, they also responded to a heavy influence from White Supremacy). Sterilize the inferior! What could be more scientific?
I suspect religion gives special force to such echo chambers of ignorance, because it is about beliefs that are not tethered by evidence. Nevertheless, it might be good to understand the sensible motivations of a group before characterizing it based on their more bizarre manifestations.