Saturday, August 22, 2015

Jeepers Creepers II: The John Mackay Affair

What creeps out from under this latest stone is particularly nasty and it’s a warning to keep a professional distance from fundamentalists.

As a rule fundamentalists have a very jaundiced view of those beyond the pale of their sub-cultures, often assigning quite extreme opprobrium to outsiders. An example is fundamentalist Jason Lisle who recently referred to civic leaders as “wicked” on the basis that they sanctioned homosexual marriage. He has also stuffed blasphemies into the mouths of Christians who don’t accept his YEC position. In the perception of fundamentalists like Lisle one cannot ultimately reject their opinions in good faith or good conscience – instead they see final rejection of their opinions as a product of malign ulterior motives. As I have said before this imaginatively jaundiced view of the world gives fundamentalists a weakness for conspiracy theorism: When they adopt a conspiracy theory stance it gives them at once both aggrandisement and rationale for their paranoia by way of dignifying narratives which explain why the world is so evil-hearted in not accepting their opinions.

Before I continue I must give my usual mental health warnings: Fundamentalists are apt to apply moral duress on outsiders by means of quite extreme language; after all, they genuinely believe their opinions come with divine authority and so in their view if you speak out against them you speak against the Almighty himself and one can’t do worse than that! fact that's the unforgivable sin. It’s understandable then that in fundamentalist perception detractors deserve the utmost censor. But this censoriousness can have a damaging emotional effect and unless you are the sort for whom it’s all water off a duck’s back it is probably not advisable to have contact with fundamentalists if you feel that disagreements are inevitable. I have seen and experienced some pressure myself but my usual approach is to treat fundamentalists with the utmost firmness; unless I am seeking information from them I find that attack is the best form of defence and a firm approach chases them away.  Fortunately Christian fundamentalism is non-violent – it is very difficult to justify violence from the teaching of the NT Christ. However, having said that it is my opinion that the core mental complex displayed by Christian fundamentalists is an all too human trait and has commonalities with the mental complex displayed by Islamic extremists: In both cases we see that uncompromising, self-believing, last-bastion remnant militancy, an attitude that is proof against discouragement when just about everyone in the world is perceived as being wickedly set against your community. Uncompromising idealism of this kind, in any shape or form, can be ruthless and cruel and is best avoided.

Now, against that backdrop I would like to introduce The John Mackay affair. Mackay is an abrasive Young Earth fundamentalist. In terms of being highly self-motived and with utter self-belief he is probably on a par with fundamentalist Kent Hovind.  Both have that kind of faith which trades on fear. Obliviously as professing Christians they can’t use violence but there are other means of putting coercive pressure on people. It is this more subtle coercion which brings me to the point of this post. For this post is about the fierce acrimony that can exist between fellow fundamentalists; if fundamentalists fall out their self-believing epistemic leads to a belligerent confrontational paranoia that is compounded when it is on both sides of the equation; ergo, fundamentalist schisms are some of the most vicious feuds of all as both sides let out all the stops and have no compunction about engaging in mutual accusations of atrocious sin. Since 'compromise' is a dirty word to fundies inter-fundie feuds can go on for years.

The information I will be linking to in this post is, in my view, in the public interest because it exposes the psychological pressures that can be brought to bear within the closeted confines of fundamentalist communities. Such rancour can be very damaging to those who find themselves on the front line, especially if they don’t have the self-belief and confidence of some of their hardened uncompromising cohorts. This data will serve to reinforce my warnings about the potential psychological dangers of fundamentalism. Let me also add that I have on more than one occasion been concerned about the mental health of some fundamentalist leaders; but ironically it is that self-same mental condition which gives them their drive, their vision and above all their self-belief.

The John Mackay Scandal: A sordid, squalid affair
John MacKay: A Headache for Ken Ham

In the late 1970s John Mackay was a business partner of Ken Ham; they ran a business selling YEC literature. But according to the sources I link to below there was a complex three way split starting in the late 1980s triggered by the accusations MacKay made about Ken Ham’s secretary Margaret Buchanan.  As a result MacKay fell out acrimoniously with his own organisation, now called Creation Ministries International (CMI). It seems that even today there is considerable rancour between CMI and MacKay. Also, CMI remain bitter about the way they were treated in the early 2000s by Ken Ham's start up, Answers in Genesis-USA. I needn’t go into details as those details are provided in the documentation I link to.  I have created my own copies of all the relevant documents in case they should otherwise disappear from the web. It is these copies I link to.

1. The British Centre for Science Education have an web article that is probably best read first as an introduction to the affair. My copy of it can be obtained here, although the original web article can still be found here. Some of the links in the article are orphaned but that doesn’t matter as I supply links to the requisite documentation below.
2. Creation Ministries International at the time of writing still have a web page on the affair.  My copy of  this page can be found here. The original, if it is still available, can be found here:
3. Supporting documentation that is linked to by both the BCSE and CMI web pages can be found here and here.
     4. Ken Ham has, it seems, come out on the side of MacKay: Reformo-charismatic fundamentalist Nigel Wright sent me this document:

Finally one general lesson: As in the case of the Witch Finder General of 17th Century England, we discover that those who seek out witches are far more dangerous than those they accuse of witchcraft!

Relevant Links
Jeepers Creepers I:
See the sections on Witchcraft here:

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