May 04, 2004


The Guardian’s John Sutherland attempts to destroy his newspaper’s lowly reputation with this thoroughly-researched, fact-filled report:

The word "fundagelism" has never appeared in the columns of this newspaper. The term is, however, current in the blogosphere - that cyberforum which nowadays carries the most interestingly paranoid political debate. "Fundagelism" is not a word that trips easily off the tongue. It's a crunching together of the even more mouth-boggling compound "fundamentalist evangelism".

Current in the blogosphere, is it? Someone better tell Google.

There are, it is estimated, 90 million evangelical Christians in the US. If they can be mobilised, they will form a rock-solid foundation for November victory for the Republican incumbent.

Excuse me ... 90 million? Sutherland’s estimates are a little on the high side.

What do fundagelicals instinctively oppose? Gay marriage, abortion, gun control, taxes, the UN (and the currently top-rated candidate for anti-Christ, Kofi Annan), withdrawal from Iraq, Michael Moore, Janet Jackson's left breast.

Joaquin in comments points out that it was Janet Jackson’s right breast. What does Sutherland instinctively oppose? Accuracy. Truth. Facts.

Until a couple of years ago, the Democratic front-runner was assumed to be as Boston Irish as his namesake county. Newspaper sleuthing discovered that his paternal grandfather was, in fact, a Czech, Fritz Kohn, who changed his name. Kerry lost relatives in the Holocaust. Race-hate websites nowadays routinely abuse him as "Kerry (Kohn aka Cohen)".

Again, Google seems not to be aware of this.

Famously, Kerry is a decorated Vietnam war hero who, like Siegfried Sassoon, threw his medals away in disgust at what he came to see as a futile colonial war.

Kerry says he didn’t throw his medals away. You calling him a liar, pal?

Was ever a candidate for the presidency more triangulated? Pro-choice Catholic, Shamrock-Jewish, warrior-pacifist? In any rational contest, to be all things to all voters should be an advantage.

Interesting theory. In any rational contest, Sutherland would lose his position at The Guardian to a random-phrase computer program or a cat trained to stomp across keyboards.

(Researched by J.F. Beck)

UPDATE. Sing along with SarahW! Funda-gelical Cats! They have moonbat eyes!

Posted by Tim Blair at May 4, 2004 02:49 AM

Sutherland would lose his position at The Guardian to a random-phrase computer program or a cat trained to stomp across keyboards

Maybe there's the problem, Tim. Any computer expert will tell you that "random" number generators are rarely random.

And any fool knows you can't train cats to do a damn thing.

Posted by: david at May 4, 2004 at 02:56 AM

"...any fool knows you can't train cats to do a damn thing.

Posted by: Bruce Rheinstein at May 4, 2004 at 03:10 AM

actually I have heard the Kerry-Kohn story before.

O' dear, 'Big Brother up late' is back on.

Posted by: Dead Ed at May 4, 2004 at 03:23 AM

Between never hearing of 'fundagelism' or knowing there was a 'Father of the Senate' I feel so out of touch with US society.

Posted by: David [.net] at May 4, 2004 at 03:26 AM

Fundagelism? Speaking as an evangelical, I wish people could tell the difference between evangelicals and fundamentalists. The proper definition is "You know you're an evangelical when liberals call you a fundamentalist and fundamentalists call you a liberal." I ought to include the reference for that (it came from a Boston Globe article, I think), but I'm too lazy.

Posted by: Donald S. Crankshaw at May 4, 2004 at 03:30 AM

Okay, I looked up the reference. It is from the Boston Globe, here. The exact quote is "You know you're an evangelical if the fundamentalists think you're a liberal and the liberals think you're a fundamentalist."

Posted by: Donald S. Crankshaw at May 4, 2004 at 03:42 AM


Is there some other Blogosphere that I'm not aware of? Maybe something unconnected to the internet?

Perhaps in his blogosphere, Spock has a beard.

Posted by: monkeyboy at May 4, 2004 at 03:43 AM

90 million?! That's about one in three Americans. How come I don't know any? Are they in hiding?

Posted by: Two in the Hat at May 4, 2004 at 03:47 AM

"Fundagelism?" It's obviously not a blogosphere term; no blogger worth his salt would coin such an awkward word.

Posted by: Big Dog at May 4, 2004 at 03:54 AM

Oh wait, maybe he's talking about Evanmentalism.

Posted by: David [.net] at May 4, 2004 at 04:20 AM

Hey Tim, is there anything interesting going on in the world? I'm getting tired of Liberal self-parody. Maybe you could look for cool science stuff for a few days.

Posted by: aaron at May 4, 2004 at 04:38 AM

My cat loves to stomp across the keyboard. No training necessary.

Posted by: aaron at May 4, 2004 at 04:41 AM

Aaron -- Yeah, but could your cat come up with anything as half-assed as Sutherland's column?

Posted by: Angie Schultz at May 4, 2004 at 04:50 AM

No, he mostly cuts and pastes.

Posted by: aaron at May 4, 2004 at 04:52 AM

The word "fundagelical" brings up a few dozen hits on the search engines, so it isn't total BS (unlike the rest of the article). It seems to be a disparaging term used by fiercely anti-religious types.

Posted by: Peter Caress at May 4, 2004 at 05:00 AM

Links, Peter? Tim tried Google, one of the largest search engines, and it found no trace. I've never heard the word myself, even back in the day when I was one of those "fiercely antireligious" people. Of course, this Sutherland guy didn't provide any links to this myriad of blogs that supposedly sprinkle the term everywhere like salt. Maybe what "fundagelical" really means is "doesn't provide links."

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 4, 2004 at 05:07 AM

Andrea --

When I Google, I get 100-odd hits for "fundagelical". Now, zero for "fundagelism", but "fundagelical" does get some like:


Posted by: Warmongering Lunatic at May 4, 2004 at 05:26 AM

Thanks, Lunatic! Those are all hilarious, by the way.

Someday I'll write about my childhood -- being forced to go to Methodist (George W.'s church) services and all the weird rites and stuff, like the roast baby-eating and the way we'd get to stone a Wiccan every Christmas. Ah, good times....

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 4, 2004 at 05:33 AM

Do fundagelicals have anything to do with Parliafunkadelicment?

Posted by: Steve in Houston at May 4, 2004 at 05:35 AM

When my son was about 3 he trained the cat to fetch. He did this by thowing a hand towel he hauled around and then yelling "Fetch!" and throwing the cat after it. It actually worked. Eventually the cat began dragging back the towel. Never underestimate the will power or the sheer perseverance of a 3-year-old.

P.S. The cat didn't look too happy about it, though.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at May 4, 2004 at 05:52 AM

Never heard the term until now, and I went to a very liberal college; if it had been an au courant slur against the religious-minded, you can bet the bleeding hearts there would have used it. God knows they said everything else.

Posted by: Sonetka at May 4, 2004 at 06:17 AM

Dammit! Can't the Guardian get anything right? It was Janet Jackson's RIGHT breast! Sheesh.

Posted by: Joaquin at May 4, 2004 at 06:36 AM

Being all things to all people is an advantage? To Detroit: I own an SUV and a fleet of cars! To the left: It's not my SUV, it's Theresa's! My vote for the war was a vote against the war! My vote against funding the troops was a vote in support of the troops! It's not an advantage in a 'rational' contest. It's a sign of a complete pandering phony.

Posted by: chris at May 4, 2004 at 06:43 AM

Hi Tim. Hate to be a wet blanket, but if you Google Kerry Kohn you will get a bunch of hits. Thought you might like to know.

Posted by: wen at May 4, 2004 at 07:44 AM

It's a perfectly cromulent word.

This article embiggens us all.

Posted by: fidens at May 4, 2004 at 10:16 AM

Did Sassoon throw his medals away? Can't recall it.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at May 4, 2004 at 10:40 AM

One useful litmus between Evangelicals (think Billy Graham) and Fundamentalists proper (think Bob Jones III) is, how far into the Bible does it become literal history (as distinct from, true but metaphorical). Funds think it becomes literal history from Genesis Chapter 1, verse 1 -- ie, the "six days of creation" were six 24-hour periods. Evs, by contrast, generally don't believe it becomes literal until later on -- with Abraham in mid-Genesis, say, or Moses in Exodus. (Both agree that the Gospels -- miracles, resurrection, etc -- are accurate history, not Spong-ian metaphors.) It's evangelically respectable to believe (as, eg, Luther did) that, say, the books of Jonah or Esther are parables like the story of the Good Samaritan. But funds would cast thee out for saying that.

Whereas liberal/ modernist Christians don't believe the Bible changes from parable to history until the very last chapters (somewhere around the Book of Martin Luther King and the Book of Norma Jean McCorvey).

PS. A thing can be true without being literally true. Think of Richard Carleton's comment in 1983 that Hawke had Bill Hayden's "blood on [his] hands". Or the claim that "Leo Strauss is the father of the neocons". We'd debate whether these are true in essence, but all agree they'e not literally true.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at May 4, 2004 at 10:55 AM

Bruce Rheinstein:

Shouldn't that be "You can't train a cat to do shit"?

Posted by: Shelby at May 4, 2004 at 12:43 PM

What did the fundamentalist say to the liberal?

"I'll call you a Christian if you'll call me a scholar"

Posted by: pduggie at May 4, 2004 at 12:52 PM

Funda-gelical Cats! They have moonbat eyes!
They can type in the dark, they can fetch you a beer!
Funda-gelicals can! Fundagelicals do!

Posted by: SarahW at May 4, 2004 at 01:10 PM

When a journalist writes an article to explain a trendy new word, what he is really doing is taking a word that is trendy among his friends and trying to make it nationally trendy.

Posted by: Doc Rampage at May 4, 2004 at 01:48 PM

Heh heh,
Nice Simpsons reference there fidens
I think the current situation in iraq is a "Crisitunity!!!

Posted by: RhikoR at May 4, 2004 at 01:53 PM

On the Kerry-Kohn angle of the story--

Sounds like something you might find at such Anti-Semitic Race-Hate sites as or Remember it's the Beeb that pronounces Mr Wolfititz' name as "VVVulfivitz"?

Oh dear, these un-nuanced Americans are so anti-semitic. Clearly this is a Jewish plot to curry Fundagelical support for the zionist entity, which so brutally oppresses those poor Palestinians. If only you'd cede, er... I mean coordinate your foreign policy with our vastly superior Eurocrats. Indeed, our beloved Eurocrats have only the purest of intentions at heart (achem... Iraqi Oil for food vouchers anyone?, I need to offload about a hundred million Euros worth... We can coordinate a wire through my Swiss banker Kojo An... err, um, I forget his surname).


Posted by: Phillip Andrew Lindsay at May 4, 2004 at 02:00 PM

Somehow, I don't think this will be as popular as "chickenhawk."

Personally, I've never liked terms like fundamentalist or radical because they refer to the foundation or roots of a movement, which aren't usually the same as what extremists preach. Nor are fundamentalists always the vicious and cruel. Nobody, for instance, would call the liberals at the U.N. radicals or fundamentalists, yet they ignored the genocide in Rwanda, as did the Clinton administration which blamed in on the lack of U.N. authorization. Those same liberals stood by in Bosnia, and bungled Cambodia, and scammed the people of Iraq out of bundles of loot.

Posted by: AST at May 4, 2004 at 02:02 PM

Yet another smear label? (And I do mean "smear" in that so many unconnected concepts are illogically smeared together.)

Why, it's almost enough to make me join my local fundagelical church -- if only I could find one!

Posted by: Eric Scheie at May 4, 2004 at 02:20 PM

Perhaps he refers to the left breast because, you know, the one she didn't bare could only be the scarier of the two.

[Clarke]The horror, the horror.[/Clarke]

Posted by: Kris at May 4, 2004 at 02:30 PM

C'mon - the guy was only off by 89 million or so in his estimation of evangelical christians - give him a break! :-)

Posted by: Dylan at May 4, 2004 at 02:35 PM

Americans can be pretty religious. In fact, just today I asked God to smite this wicked idiotarian Sutherland and his moonbat cohorts.

I love the fact that he jumped from discussing Evangelicals, to Bush, to Kerry, and then to racehate websites attacking Kerry's Jewish grandfather. The implication is obvious: evangelicals, mainstream Republicans and skinheads are all in the same camp. Of course, the truth is that the neo-nazi loonies are much closer to the Guardianista British Leftoids on many issues such as how they feel about the U.S. Gov't, the War on Terror, Israel, etc. But Sutherland and his ilk will never admit it but their positions are nearly indistinguishable.

But more than that, I loved this paragraph:

The White House has recently been accused of inveighing (via Nasa) against the movie The Day After Tomorrow (out on May 28) because it narrates the wrong apocalypse. One caused by man-made global warming, that is, rather than God's white-hot rage against sinners. The apocalypse depicted in Tim LaHaye's Left Behind books is, we assume, the US government-approved version.

You could spend 10 pages or more just fisking this one little paragraph. I bet even the average Guardian reader is slightly embarrased but such hysterical incoherence.

Posted by: John in Tokyo at May 4, 2004 at 03:10 PM

As one of those fundamentalist Christians myself, I'd say 90 million is a stretch. Though if you live here in the midwest, you might think that.

By the way, we're not racist sexist homophobic biggotted neanderthals. We just love Jesus. Just so everyone knows.

Posted by: Nathan at May 4, 2004 at 03:12 PM

Oh goody, now I know what to say in reply when asked for my religion, that is when I figure out how to pronounce the damn word.

Posted by: kwol at May 4, 2004 at 03:14 PM

I love how, after citing the TIME magazine poll he qualifies it with "which strains credulity but seems to be valid."

Unintended irony thy name is John Sutherland.

Posted by: Rob A. at May 4, 2004 at 03:20 PM

"Sutherland would lose his position at The Guardian to a random-phrase computer program or a cat trained to stomp across keyboards."

Thanks alot. Now I have to wipe the soda off my keyboard and wait for the burning in my nose to subside. ;->

Posted by: Mike at May 4, 2004 at 05:23 PM

It's astonishing how little most people in the UK know about the US, despite (because of?) being steeped in its more moronic excrescences 24/7. Of course, in the case of stupefyingly cretinous people like this guy their ignorance is actively proclaimed, like waving a blood-soaked shirt around.

The problem is, this is a major national newspaper paying for a columnist to comment on US affairs. The Grauniad should carry one of those all-encompassing disclaimers explicitly disavowing 'fitness for a purpose' and 'merchantability'. In fact it should get its lawyers to draw up a general purpose statement to the effect that nothing any of its columnists has written since 1934 has been anything other than a giant crock of shit.

Christ, and to think I went to the same school as its editor. I feel dirty.

Posted by: David Gillies at May 4, 2004 at 06:40 PM

'Somehow, I don't think this will be as popular as "chickenhawk."'

Or 'idiotarian'.

Anyway, according to the Washington Times, the 'conservative' 'newspaper' owned by the 'Reverend' Sun Myung Moon's Unification 'Church', there are about 90 million evangelical Christians in America. So maybe that's where Sutherland got his figures.

OT, but another extremely interesting bit from that article (which is mainly about gay 'marriage'):

"The poll showed evangelicals split over who should be president, with Mr. Bush narrowly leading Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, 49 percent to 45 percent." Not the overwhelming, crushing majority one might expect.

Posted by: vaara at May 4, 2004 at 08:22 PM

Considering only 105 million Americans voted in the disputed 2000 election, I'd guess his 90 million number to be a bit high.

Posted by: rollerball at May 4, 2004 at 10:00 PM

Another really unfortunate word is Christofascist.

Of course this characterization is flawed and has nothing to do with anyone living or dead.

I came across it in a dialogue with some blogger whom I was discussing Islamofascists with.

Posted by: Mbarek at May 5, 2004 at 12:00 AM

As an Evangelical, I think the 90 million number may be a little high, but the number in the survey you give is low.

Many denominations consider themselves to be Evangelical in nature. If asked for the purposes of a survey my denominational affiliation I would say "Mennonite". However, I consider our position vis-a-vis the world to be an evangelical one.

Posted by: Katherine at May 5, 2004 at 12:39 AM

"In any rational contest, to be all things to all voters should be an advantage."

Yep, if all the voters are fucking idiots.

Posted by: Buster at May 5, 2004 at 12:56 AM

Katherine is right. "Evangelical" is a term that transcends denominational labels. For instance, you can probably put nearly all Baptists in either the Evangelical or Fundamentalist camps. I would (sadly) put "Episcopalian," but I'm still an Evangelical. Given that around a third of Americans, in some surveys, identify themselves as "born-again," the 90 million figure doesn't seem too far off. As for the Evangelical category: you can basically read that as "theologically conservative non-denominational."

Posted by: Robert Bauer at May 5, 2004 at 01:22 AM

When an enlightened liberal combines two words into one:

fundamentalist + evangelical = fundagelical

that's a 'neologism', which shows how smart he is, especially when it allows him to tar evangelical Christians with the same brush as fundamentalists.

When Dubya does

misunderstand + underestimate = misunderestimate

that's a 'Bushism', taken as evidence that he's an illiterate moron... thereby misunderestimating him.

Posted by: The Monster at May 5, 2004 at 01:33 AM


Posted by: aaron at May 5, 2004 at 03:19 AM

You say "...this Sutherland guy didn't provide any links to the myriad of blogs that supposedly sprinkly the term everywhere like salt." Make that "...myriad blogs that sprinkle..." Myriad is an adjective. You wouldn't say "a blue of sky." Then again Sutherland probably would.

Posted by: R. Willis Cook at May 5, 2004 at 03:22 AM

"In any rational contest, to be all things to all voters should be an advantage."

"Yep, if all the voters are fucking idiots."


Fundagelical sounds like a Ben & Jerry's sunday - bet they'll come out with one soon!

Posted by: Mike at May 5, 2004 at 05:43 AM

R. Willis Cook: I know. I this cold I have had blame for the past week. Uh -- this cold blame I. I mean -- oh my god -- I'm into Yoda turning!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at May 5, 2004 at 06:01 AM

Continuing the 'fundegelical' meme, why not invent some vaguely insulting nicknames for leftists combining two or more separate words?

EG, Hipshits = Hippy + Dipshits

That'll do for starters; hey, give me a break, it's still early in the morning over here.

Posted by: TimT at May 5, 2004 at 10:43 AM

"Interesting theory. In any rational contest, Sutherland would lose his position at The Guardian to a random-phrase computer program or a cat trained to stomp across keyboards."

I just had to tell you that is going to be my favorite line of the week, hands done. Bravo!

Posted by: Captain Wrath at May 5, 2004 at 10:28 PM

Darn, prior to his article I was number one on Google if you searched for 'fundagelical.' Oh well, Google is a fickle mistress.

Posted by: Richard at May 6, 2004 at 07:34 AM

TimT wins the award. While hipshits looks good on paper (metaphorically speaking), hippy-dipshits just rolls off the tongue. Damn it feels good to say it out loud.


Posted by: Jack Straw at May 7, 2004 at 03:22 PM