I wasn't sure if this qualified for an "Ask a Blank" post, but I love talking about this so I thought I'd give it a shot. Aside from actually wrangling venomous snakes, I'm very familiar with the ins and outs of fringe Pentecostals and the Christian fundamentalist/religious right. I went to a Christian school K-12, took (and broke!) multiple purity vows, have "spoken in tongues," etc. My family is die-hard Republican—to the point that one of my earliest memories is attending an anti-choice rally. Fortunately, I ended up at an extremely liberal public university on the West Coast of the US and...well...the rest is history.

It's a very weird, secretive subculture, and so much of what seems utterly inexplicable from the outside stems, at least in part, from people being lied to by educators/pastors/etc. The lies are passed down from generation to generation, and when people are operating within the patriarchal, anti-intellectual environment common to many of these sects there is little room for questioning or critical thought.

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Rachel Maddow hit the nail on the head with her bit about the conservative media bubble—and "the bubble" covers every area of some people's lives. For instance, my mother is an incredibly intelligent nurse, and it's been so hard for me to see her basing huge life decisions/her politics/her identity on the lies she's been fed over the past three decades. I showed her the Rachel Maddow video, we had many careful conversations over many months, and she's now in the midst of a feminist awakening. If she can go from listening to Rush to wanting to change her party affiliation there may be hope for your family members, friends and neighbors.

So, if you have any questions about the education (HA!) actually being administered by these "schools," how to deal with the fundamentalists in your life, how homophobia is systematically taught and supported, the problematic cultural imperialism involved in missions and evangelism, being slain in the spirit, secondary virginity, etc., please let me know!