Christians are being propagandized into a surreal bubble of nonreality, extremism, and hate
In the past few days, I’ve posted a couple of comments on blogs that I want to reproduce here:
[First post, a few days ago on the claytoonz blog:]
I had to unfriend a couple of Trumpers on Facebook on Saturday after the race was called. It was upsetting because they weren’t old high school classmates–They were people I see a lot (or at least, used to, in the Before times). I liked them, stuck up for them in other contexts. And here they were harassing me on Facebook with snarky comments.
One had been doing this for the past year, ever since I started posting about immigrants in 2019.
The other–Well, once he called one of my other friends [Enema] “slime” on Facebook for supporting abortion rights. [Enema recently died of COVID; he was an awesome person who loved kids.] Then he dissed modern Goth literarature/music/art (grrr). Then one day I posted the Benjamin Corey post which starts by tongue-in-cheeky comparing the Antichrist prophecies to Trump (and ends feeling “unsettled”). This person wrote, “My church teaches that the Catholic Church is the Antichrist/Whore of Babylon.” That was a red alert right there, because the churches that teach that tend to be the extremists of the fundies. I was fundie once, and we didn’t say that.
Well, yesterday I changed my cover photo to Love Trumps Hate. I come back a short time later and find a comment that says (paraphrasing), “If PERVERT love is what the Greek Orthodox Church teaches, then I’m glad I was never a part of it.”
I’d been ignoring a lot of his comments lately; I wonder now what the other ones were like, if he could post this jaw-dropper. And there he was with the other guy on another post, exchanging things like “I’ll never accept Biden as my president” and “I agree” with each other. I’d had enough.
I’d heard from people in different minority groups that my town has issues. Here it was right in front of me, which I didn’t see before because I mostly kept quiet on Facebook and in real life about politics/race/LGBTQ/etc. Kept my mouth shut at church and at club, and as a white person, people treated me fine. I start speaking up about minority groups, I start talking in opposition to Trump, and look what happens. People start unfriending me, I start unfriending others. I start to see the ugliness. The blinders of privilege are real.
And these people are unapologetic about what they’re doing and saying. These two people are not blocked; have they messaged me with apologies, asked to restore friendship? Nope.
[Second post, today:]
In 2003, in the EFCA church, there were people who wanted the pastor to preach about politics, but he said no. He wanted people to make up their own minds. I was a Bush fan, but we had at least 3 staunch Democrats in the church. But the church was also tilting Calvinistic at this time, and Evangelicalism had been getting crazier and crazier (Halloween, Harry Potter, etc), so shortly after, we left.
2004 was the turning point for me. There was Gitmo, stories of Bush allowing torture, the Patriot Act, doubts about the Iraq War–so I voted for Kerry. I went first to a liberal church and then became Greek Orthodox, so there was no idolizing of Bush there. The church was mostly cradle, not converts, so they weren’t affected so much by Evangelical nationalism. But I saw it elsewhere, especially on Jesus Camp.
However, the couple who first influenced me into Orthodoxy–a convert couple I found online, who later moved to my town–was also right-wing. *He* was a Libertarian and didn’t like Bush, but *she* was a Republican and sounded very much like the extreme side of Evangelicalism that I’d been trying to escape. And *he* became a Tea Partier. Even though he didn’t like Bush, he still hated Obama, thought he was going to outlaw Christianity. So even though they were Orthodox now, they brought that Evangelical extremism with them. At the time I was upset that they didn’t like my church and went to another one in a different county. Now I’m glad. That church closed, but they never started coming to mine. We have Republicans and conservatives, but we also have Democrats, and usually conversation is about gardening or arguing over who left what mess in the basement.
Then over time, the right-wing converts in Orthodoxy have been bringing in the extremism, so I see it online. I haven’t seen it in my church so much, fortunately. Though for the past 8 months, I haven’t been to church….
I see it online, though: People I used to know in college or in the church where I grew up, posting about guns. I don’t remember them ever mentioning an interest in guns before this past decade. One person just posted a picture of herself with an AR-15. One was in my church youth group; we never talked about guns back in the day. Christianity was about peace and love, not shooting people, though shooting deer was okay. Then I found one of my exes [Shawn] and friended him on Facebook; his wall was covered with memes about guns and Sean Hannity quotes. I knew he was conservative, but I knew him for two years and he never mentioned guns!
Ever since I came out and started posting political things on Facebook after a 5-year break, the claws started coming out. I was tired of people posting their conservative memes and assuming that I agreed with them because I never said anything. People I thought were nice, started to actually harass me for my posts. On Saturday I had to unfriend two people. One of them made a nasty, homophobic comment that insulted me and my church as well. When did this become Christian?
This could’ve been me, if not for the crises of faith I experienced in college. Many of my beliefs on many things were tested in a college I thought would be a safe Christian bubble. (They actually let everybody in and didn’t care what they did.) Pat Robertson said God told him Bush would win re-election; that didn’t happen. I learned that what he said about a LOT of things wasn’t true, everything from politics to Dungeons and Dragons. Media class taught me that Rush Limbaugh was manipulating people. My eyes were opened and, while I was still Republican for a while, I was moving away from it. When Fox News came out, I knew better than to watch it, and stuck to the newspaper, news magazines, and occasionally CNN. While everybody around me was starting to go nuts, I still kept my head. Now I look at people’s social media posts and it’s like they’re in a totally different reality. It’s surreal.
But I keep reminding myself that the Church has survived 2000 years of political upheavals and religious wars. The German church turned Nazi for a time, but many Christians kept their faith. The Church survived Soviet Russia. I can’t let American fascism turn me away from it.