Readers who've been with us for a month or so may remember our exposure of the "Rough Guide to Fundamentalism" page on the BCSE website. (Recall that the BCSE do not use "fundamentalism" in its proper sense to describe the movement which actually uses this label - it is their label for evangelical Christianity in general).
This page, now hidden behind a password, well and truly exploded the BCSE's claims that it was religiously neutral.
If you want to know what the BCSE's leaders really want to tell people about Bible Christianity (and were telling the public for some time), you should read our three articles:
This investigation also gave us some more data about the quality of BCSE's research. Instead of doing something reasonable like, say, purchasing and reading some of the books written by evangelical Christianity's most respected authors... they decided to trawl the Internet to quote-mine the absolute worst they could find - and then present that to the public as a fair picture. Way to go!
I'm glad they did this though - because it gives the discerning reader a hint as to how the rest of the BCSE's website is constructed.
Why They Took It Down
Why did the BCSE password-protect the offending web-page? (http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/RoughGuide)
It did so in response to an e-mail from a semi-anonymous member of the public who identified himself only as "Iain", which it received on the 13th of October. He had some comments about the BCSE's website in general. Here is Mr. Roger Stanyard introducing it.
I just got this through my private email. What does everyone think of it! (Grin)I don't know much about Rushdoony, but I thought the web-site was truly appalling in its tone and disrespect.
I found particularly offensive the page "Rough guide" (to fundies), http://www.bcseweb.org.uk/index.php/Main/RoughGuide where they have deliberately selected postings from the complete lunatic fringe of Christianity, some of them attacking atheists with bad spelling and in one case replete with F words. It also came across at the end as pretty arrogant and anti-American, given the following sentence at the end:
"If you ever want to see an advert to the effect that the average American is seriously stupid, this is it. This is a country at the bottom of the OECD pile when it comes to acceptance of evolution. The web site shows why – it's at the top when it comes to a combination of arrogance and ignorance. Most Americans we have met in life we like and respect. So what's gone wrong?"
One might well counter that if you met the average British yob who hangs around outside shopping precincts and if you look at then says "WOT CHOO F---IN' LOOKIN' AT?" that the average Brit was also seriously stupid. By contrast, most of the fundamentalists I've met have been gracious and humble & would never behave like the lunatics quoted on that page.
On other pages, creationists are described as "Creationuts" etc. This is just as bad as Answers In Genesis, who repeatedly use derogatory language like "Goo-to-you evolution".
If you want to oppose the growth of Young Earth Creationism (and I do), then you must take the moral high ground and behave with proper humility and respect. But if you just indulge in name calling, then you're just as bad as the other side.
The thread goes on from there. At various points:
- Michael Brass, one of the BCSE committee, brushes aside the entire criticism as a mistake.
- Another poster (who like Iain disagrees isn't a young earth creationist) says that Iain, having received Mr. Stanyard's reply (which isn't recorded), had forwarded it on to him, that it was "rude and silly" and that Roger needed to "get real".
- The same poster sought to educate the BCSE on the fact that Rousas Rushdoony is actually dead (six years now!). (For the unitiated, the BCSE's whole premise of operation is that a) Rushdoony was a would-be mass-murderer and b) the bulk of anti-Darwinist activity is traceable back to him. At various times there have been attempts by various individuals in the BCSE forum to point out that a) the BCSE's interpretation of Rushdoony's theology is explicitly rebutted as a mis-construction on the websites which would be the primary sources for anyone making such an investigation and b) Rushdoony was such a fringe figure that the great bulk of evangelicals in the UK will never even have heard of him, let alone been influenced by him. Such attempts have turned out to be quite futile though. That's as we might expect... if this thesis is bunk, then the BCSE's whole raison d'etre falls apart - and that's a whole lot of pride that would have to be swallowed).
- Iain himself turns up, having been informed that Mr. Stanyard was publishing his private e-mails without permission (he describes himself as "incensed"). Here is a partial extract:
"Then unfortunately I clicked on the "Rough Guide" link which displays examples of the most lunatic fringe of fundamentalist American society, and I sent back my impressions (displayed above) to ASA with a CC: to Roger's email, which Michael had put in his original post. I had genuinely (and I see now naively) believed that the BCSE were interested in feedback, and that negative feedback would be listened to. Instead, I got a silly and rude reply from Roger. Later Michael informed me that my feedback had been posted on this forum."
and later on:
"Suppose I pointed him at your website and he clicked on the "Rough Guide" link. How do you, as a Christian, think that would help our discussion? He's going to say "they're just a bunch of bigoted atheists". After the rude reply I got from Roger, I'm inclined to agree! (So does Michael)."
Iain also makes the assertion, as "BCSE Revealed" has done many times, that the BCSE is guilty of "cherry-picking" its data - not a good practice if you want to present yourselves as scientists.
- Another BCSE committee member, Timothy Chase, also tries to justify the "Rough Guide" page as reasonable.
- Roger Stanyard says something that anyone who's read his various writings will know is too true - "I don't know much about Rushdoony".
In response to Iain's letter I have password protected the two pages "Enjoy Yourselves" and "Rough Guide" - that means the public can't read then - nor can group members unless they have the password.
I agree with Iain that they probably no longer help our cause.
Notice, then that Iain criticised the BCSE's web-site in general for being "appalling in its tone and disrespect", and the "Rough Guide" page as being "particularly offensive", a "deliberate" misrepresentation, "arrogant and anti-American", utterly untrue to his experience of "fundamentalists" who have generally been "gracious and humble".
Notice, too, that Mr. Stanyard said that "in response to Iain's letter" he had removed public access to this page (and another), because he "[agreed] with Iain that they probably no longer help our cause".
Bringing This Up To Date
Wind forward a few months. In the mean-time, I have exposed the hidden page, showing the world what the BCSE are really about. This has been picked up across various big blogs on the Internet, and a whole load more people now know more about what the BCSE are about.
On February 11th, on his own blog, Mr. Stanyard put up a post justifying the contents of the page. My guess (and that of a correspondent in my mailbox) is that the material that goes on Mr. Stanyard's own blog is the stuff that the BCSE veto as too obviously extreme or indefensible - but you can read it and make up your own mind on that.
In this post, Mr. Stanyard tries to justify his article as being accurate, and if anything, not going far enough. Here's a sample:
When I put together the wiki list for BCSE I stated the following:
"Most of the information for this article has come from the web site Fundies Say the Darndest Things (http://www.fstdt.com). The site has a vast number of quotes from fundamentalists, nearly all of them in North America. It presents a picture of a movement of pig-ignorant inarticulate bigots, racists, xenophobes, anti-Semites, misogynists, homophobes, rape apologists, AIDS deniers, government haters, scientific illiterates, gun-lovers, murderous paramilitaries and others predisposed towards extreme violence, half-baked misfits and haters, all obsessed with their own religious and moral superiority."
I stick by my statement that this is what much of the American fundamentalist movement appears to be. ... In fact, though, the position is actually worse than this.
The bit I'm really interested in, though, is further down the same article, where Stanyard seeks to explain why the BCSE pulled the page. Read it carefully:
For what it is worth, BCSE's wiki page of quotes was pulled for two main reasons. The first was that no one in the UK would believe that American fundamentalists are so extreme. Nor would they understand such things as Rapture Ready. Secondly, the quotes are so numerous and frequent that we couldn't find the time to select the best for our wiki.Notice what Stanyard says. There were two main reasons why the page was pulled. They are as follows:
- Though its contents were fair and true, they would be hard for UK readers to believe.
- There were too many quotes to be able to find the time to select the best ones.
Can you believe your eyes? Mr. Stanyard really must think that the BCSE can say whatever it likes, and expect people to believe it. Even when the evidence proving the opposite is on the Internet for everyone to see. Truly, that takes some gumption...
I remind my readers again that the comments are open. If there is some way in which the above statements can be harmonised, then we're all ears! Seems like a bit of a task though... there's not much correspondence between saying that you have taken down the page "in response" to a critic who says that it's an obvious piece of extreme anti-religious bigotry, and saying that you have taken down the page because it didn't go far enough.
I think that it's pretty clear that the BCSE's leaders have once again been revealed telling pork pies... don't you?
The other point here is that the BCSE's main de facto leader and researcher has now stated on his blog that he completely stands behinds the contents of the page. Will the rest of the BCSE move a finger to contradict him? Can we, after all, take this anti-religion rant as being the BCSE's official position? I expect the silence to be deafening...
The BCSE's credibility is shot. It can only begin to think about recovering it if it dispenses with its entire leadership, issues a full and formal public apology for its many gross misdemeanors, and starts over again with a new website and wiki. (We note that the BCSE did nothing about Iain's larger complaint - the general obvious anti-Christian prejudice of its website). But the BCSE can't do that, because Mr. Roger Stanyard basically is the BCSE. Get rid of him, and the BCSE would not be.
Non-anonymous factual corrections welcomed by e-mail. Comments are moderated - please read my comments policy.