People in the real world, where real life happens, often don't feel as much of a need to be obnoxious in sneaky, underhanded ways, if they are an asshole, then they are an asshole, they don't flaunt it (well, some do), but they don't shrink away from it. There's a lot of people who are deceitful in what they say, but not about who they really are as a person.
When someone has a complete lack of any moral character whatsoever, and tries to hide it, I can see though it much faster in people in the outside world than I can living undercover in fundie land. I have known some great people in my time in fundamentalism, including "Jason and Kelly", despite Jason's tendency to put dogma over empathy sometimes, but some of the most absolute worst people ethically I have ever known, I knew from fundamentalist circles. Not only were they the worst in what they did, but they knew how to hide what they did, and who they were better than people in the outside world.
When you are a fundamentalist, or someone who is still living undercover in that world like me, you become an expert at putting on a false front. Even people who are basically good people still have to learn this technique, because the expectations placed upon you are so high that no one can measure up to them. You constantly have to monitor what you say, what appearances you give off (can't appear to be "too worldly"), and must appear happy, at all times.
Since true happiness comes only from god, you must act happy all the time, even if you aren't happy and it's because of mental illness, and if you aren't, then we will question whether your "relationship with god" is in order, or we will out rightly state that is the case. I've talked before about how people, especially children, teens, and young adults have it impressed upon them that they have no right to have their own emotions. This leads to almost everyone learning how to become an expert at being fake out of necessity
This leads to a whole host of problems, if someone can learn the lingo, learn how to compartmentalize their life, and hide their true feelings, they can blend in, and hide almost anything, from the normal and the trivial to the horrific.
People often wonder when a sociopath like a child molester is outed in a church, how people didn't notice. Part of it is apathy, people not caring or not paying attention (it can be different from congregation to congregation), but I wonder how much of it has to do with the fact that if someone learns the culture, and it's ways of hiding who you are, you can hide anything about yourself.
I know because in the three years that I have been undercover, no one in the church has ever questioned my authenticity, not once. The only times I have been questioned was by my mom, and that, ironically enough was when I was either still a Christian, or in the questioning/doubting stage. From the the point that I knew what I actually believed, I haven't heard any questions from her about it, even though she doesn't know.
I've lived all my life immersed in that world, and all but three years of that time, I believed it, it comes naturally to me. It's kind of a bizarre experience, having people ask you to pray for them, and otherwise accepting you as one of them, when I know that I'm not. One of the more odd circumstances where this happened was one summer day, about two years ago, when I was talking to a youth pastor of another church in my town, at a protest he was running in front of a local abortion clinic.
I had stopped to talk to him about some of my issues with the "pro-life" movement, wondering what his response would be to my objections, and talking about what led me out of believing in Christianity. The youth pastor actually took the time to listen and civilly debate, which I was surprised by.
What I was surprised by even more is when a man walked by, obviously a pastor or deacon who was a part of of the protest, patted me on the back, said "God bless you, brother", and walked on. I apparently have spent so long blending into that world that to this man, I appeared like I belonged in the protest group, since he couldn't hear the conversation that was going on. If good old socially inept me can blend into this world so well, and with such a big secret hiding in plain sight, anyone can blend into this culture if they learn it, and try hard enough, people with more nefarious intentions.
Stained Glass Masquerade by Casting Crowns, which strangely enough, though they might disagree with why this effect happens, certainly agree it exists:
Is there anyone that failsIt goes on talking about this effect, the act that people put on and people's desire to finally open up, and let people know how they feel:
Is there anyone that falls
Am I the only one in church today feelin' so small
Cause when I take a look around
Everybody seems so strong
I know they'll soon discover
That I don't belong
The performance is convincing
And we know every line by heart
Only when no one is watching
Can we really fall apart
But would it set me freeEven the evangelical/fundamentalist world knows that there is a problem with this, whether or not they will ever figure out the causes, and be willing to change them, I don't know.
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be