Overwhelmingly, the first impression, the first piece of feedback given by other non-fundamentalist attendants, is shock expressed at how the fundies swallow absolutely anything they are told, no questions asked. Writes a Christian I met there (Update: Chris Venter, great guy 😉 ):
Die ergste vir my was om te sien hoe die mense daar alles wat hy te sê gehad het net so vir soetkoek opgevreet het. En hoe hulle gelag het vir al sy innuendo’s oor die oënskynlike verbrokkeling en ineenstorting van die “sekulêre wetenskap”. Dis vir my verstommend dat mense, baie van hulle met universiteitsopleiding, so onkrities na sulke goed kan luister…
Paraphrased, he was shocked to see how gullible the audience was, how they laugh at innuendos about the supposed falling apart of the “secular science”. He is dumbfounded that people, many them with university educations, can listen so uncritically to what they are told.
The audience is an organ, the speaker a virtuoso on such instruments. They hiss when they should hiss, they laugh when they should laugh. Claims and statements made do not have to be motivated, the audience is not there to question. The audience is there for easy answers, and a soothing reassurance that they are correct, and that everyone else will burn in hell.
If you are a moderate Christian and have never witnessed something like it before, you owe it to yourself to see it. If you have never witnessed it, you can be forgiven for not understanding why it is an issue, why so many people say “Shofar is a cult” or “Shofar is evil and must be stopped“.
Most of the non-theist/post-theists/atheists I know that attended, did not stay long. Barry Ross wrote:
I was at the Creationist seminar, but only from the second session…heard you guys left after the first, so we just missed each other. I left half-way through the third session. It was such a beautiful day outside.
Most of the critical audience members that stayed the course, are moderate Christians that are concerned about the damage Shofar is doing to Christianity. This gives them enough motivation to sit through it all, witnessing the extent of the problem. It is what Brian McLaren was referring to when he wrote, in Finding Faith (Amazon, Kalahari):
I don’t think the greatest enemy of monotheism is atheism, agnosticism, polytheism, dualism or pantheism: It is bad monotheism, monotheism carried out in bad faith.
I have seen Shofar members walking around with T-shirts stating something like “We are not ashamed of the Gospel”. That’s great. Just a pity they make everyone else ashamed of it. (That was from a theist’s perspective. The atheists celebrate, as Shofar is evangelising atheism to so many people.)
If you are in the area, and would like to borrow my copy of Finding Faith, let me know.
ps. Is there a nice English idiom equivalent of “alles vir soetkoek opvreet”?
first post in the series