Paul told the faith community in Corinth that liars would forfeit their inheritance, losing out on an extended stay in God’s kingdom. But there remains plenty of room for them in the United States government.
“In politics, being deceived is no excuse,” Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski said. Still, too many Christians make excuses for political leaders who lie with a straight face, normalizing deception and inauthenticity.
“Everybody lies” and “no one is really who they seem to be,” we argue. But there are “normal” liars and then there are “prolific” ones.
George Santos, the U.S. representative for New York’s third congressional district, is being accused of lying to voters about his educational background and employment history. But wait, there’s more.
It’s also where his mother was living in 2001, though Santos said her death was the result of the attack on 9/11. Santos claimed on his campaign website that she “was in her office in the South Tower on September 11” and that she “passed away a few years later when she lost her battle to cancer.”
The freshman Congressman has a strained relationship with truth that is reminiscent of another celebrity turned politician. He’s not alone, and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R- Calif.) agrees.
When asked about Santos’ claims that have come under scrutiny, McCarthy responded that “so did a lot of people here in the Senate and others.” Even though it is being alleged that Santos padded his resume, McCarthy didn’t call for his resignation.
Instead, he left it up to the voters. “The voters elected him to serve,” he told reporters.
McCarthy treated Santos like a volleyball and served him back to the people who elected him. But that didn’t go over well, especially since Santos lied about being the star of his college volleyball team.
Hannah Arendt warns in The Origins of Totalitarianism: “In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world, the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.”
“Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow,” she wrote. “The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism.”
And if they were found to be liars, they would simply be rewarded for their ability to deceive, she said.
Don’t lie to me. Raised to take the Bible literally, this passage has stuck with me, and liars still stand out for me.
I’ve seen what lies can do and those who choose to deceive lose me — not as a voter but as part of any community that requires duping. Because there is no place in God’s “kin-dom” for hiding one’s true intentions or misleading, and no empire, American or otherwise, is an example of what this new world will be.
While a lie can take you places, including the halls of government, the liar never truly gets away with it. Grasping for power unearned and not the people who trust them with it, the liar is already defeated.
The same can be said of the church that supports and endorses lying as a means of power-grabbing even for the sake of so-called “kingdom-building.” I would lying if I told you that Jesus was the cornerstone of it.