Who doesn’t have friends and/or family living in conspiracy-riddled worlds from which truth is not an escape route?
From their favored politicians, media personalities and sometimes religious leaders—
all embraced as messiah-like, esoteric truth-bearers—they receive and consume a steady diet of lies and insults.
Proof is no antidote. Easily verifiable untruths are defensively treated as ultimate truth.
Common in America today is a two-fold methodology for engaging in social discourse. It is simply: dishonesty followed by cruelty.
The acceptance of blatant lies—designed to stir outrage—has become a sign of allegiance to the preening ideologues and their self-serving ideologies.
And anyone who pulls the masks off these well-stirred lies—or reveals the resulting suffering—is quickly dismissed or demeaned.
Dishonesty followed by cruelty drives the popularity of some of the nation’s highest-profile personalities today. Sadly, this two-step approach is widely embraced and empowered by many who identify themselves as Christian.
The pejorative meaning of the word “Christian”— free of any commitment to following Jesus—now evokes characteristics of untruth, injustice and ugliness.
Even basic moral lessons taught by parents, Sunday School teachers and others responsible for shaping early Christian living are tossed aside.
Lying, for example, doesn’t raise much concern—if the alternative of telling the truth conflicts with the advancement of one’s more-comforting ideology.
There is a big appetite today—especially within white Americanized Christianity—for those who advance fear-driven authoritarianism and demand complete loyalty.
Many professing Christians shy away from the red-letter words of Jesus, knowing that his way of living doesn’t align with the media messages they have embraced as truth. They want the label of Christianity but not the person beyond an eternal escape.
This has allowed for dishonesty and cruelty to be seen as necessary tools of defensiveness rather than rightfully seen as unethical violations (sins).
Disparaging comments are shot like arrows pulled from a quiver—aimed at anyone not onboard with these truthless claims. The cruelty that follows dishonesty effectively takes away the compassion component assumed to have been instilled in the lives of Christian people.
The tragedy upon tragedy is that this ideology turned practice—so highly visible within right-wing political life today—has infiltrated (infected) white Americanized Christianity to a significant degree.
Many of us see or hear it among those we’ve long considered to be people of high moral character—even devoted Christians.
Yet daily and/or nightly doses of dishonesty are digested to the point that this troublesome two-step is embraced over the words of Jesus and those who seek to echo them.
How did this happen? The formula works like this:
- These friendly, kind and Christian-confessing people get captivated by stirred-up alarm over social change. They feel threatened, as intended.
- Therefore, they embrace self-preservation as the guiding force in their lives.
- This allows for seeing those deemed responsible for bringing about such change as a threat—and unworthy of equal standing within humanity.
- So efforts to protect oneself—or be protected by others — from such perceived enemies are justified, no matter how falsely based or evilly executed.
In their minds, if dishonesty followed by cruelty works, then let it be. Especially if one only has to vote, donate or share false narratives rather than directly enact such evils themselves.
This approach is not new—just ramped up by recent political, religious and media efforts to thwart social change that challenges the outsized influence of white, male-dominated, right-wing, Americanized Christianity.
It has a long history. And it always comes at the expense of compassion, truth and other Christian traits.
However, I still wonder why those who’ve been through the water of baptism and have tasted the bread and wine would fall for such personalities with clearly evil motives.
But sadly, I no longer wonder how these otherwise good people—so often including those deeply engaged in church life—embrace unchristian attitudes that lead to unchristian behaviors.
It starts with the acceptance and dissemination of sheer dishonesty—and then in its defense moves to cruelty toward anyone in the way.
It will take some bold, risky and Christlike responses to bring any substantive change to this damaging situation. Truth and love aren’t always welcomed.
Ultimately, however, these attributes must prevail over the seductive sense of security delivered by lies, insults and worse.
Countering this major problem within cultural Christianity, many congregations and society at large can seem insurmountable.
But surely the answer is not found in allowing the Christian faith to be continually redefined apart from the ways of Jesus as often seen today.
Jesus has a history of rejection—even among his supposed insiders. Let us not be a party to it this time.
Executive editor / publisher at Good Faith Media.