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.
I very much identify with everything you said. Except I spent 30 years of my life being a person I am ashamed of now. Lets say I was very good at my career, and got addicted not so much to material things but the power. I was ambitious and was rather ruthless in my pursuit of what I wanted. I will not bore you with the details but the price of getting your soul back is everything you have. Still totally worth it.
Since I was always aware of who I used to be, and my continual battles within me to overcome weaknesses I had never even considered that bad before. Lets say chastity was probably the most difficult and I would have never considered myself as such a person. It seemed Jesus always would have another thing for me to deal with after I had dealt with the latest thing. So I was a pretty humble Christian. Who was I to speak out to others about being a good Christian when I was fighting my own darkness daily. I was the love everybody guy. That was the best part. I was relived of the burden of holding judgement on anyone but myself, and I just did what I could to help anyway I could or sometimes it was just be there and share time with them. Many were people I would never have even seen. I was happier that I was maybe in my entire life. Then, it seemed almost imperceptible at first, to grow a little colder and a little darker. The prosperity gospel would make me speak out for the first time.
I still can not fathom how people can believe that …. most unholy message has anything to do with the Jesus I had grown to know and who is pretty clear on these matters in the gospels. It was more out of a desire to defend the one whom I loved and really felt close to. I mean we spent many hours on the chastity thing. So when I heard these whatever they are I will not call them ministers. I had to say something. How could people have been fooled by this. A child reading the gospels would see immediately that these people were really worst kind of liars. There message was one I refused to name what I felt it was because it is a loaded word but it is not an insult but the true and accurate definition of what it was, the message of anit-christ.
Then came politics and the mean and angry ones. I don’t want to cast dispersions on one group or political party. I am just saying there was a real meanness now. We just had a little ministry that passed out blankets in the winter to the homeless and we ran a little food program. Not huge, but we would bring food out and provide it to the needy. There was a couple of other churches. One had been doing it for a good while and they had a nice van with a mobile kitchen. Then one day, we were told by police we could no longer feed the poor in basically the open. They are homeless, open is to often a given. We were shocked, the church group with the van really tried to fight back. They ended up in court. We lost. This it turned out was not isolated event but it was happening all over. But the way people talked about them. Compared our feeding of them, to the feeding of some wild animal, some pest. If you feed them they will just keep hanging around. They made it so difficult for the homeless they just drifted away. I couldn’t believe it. It has just continued to grow meaner and nastier to this day.
It is almost become impossible to have a civil conversation anymore. For a growing number of the religious I am worse than a sinner, but someone who is attacking Christianity. That one about devil and twisting scripture has made me almost stop trying to show the truth. One man said to me the bible says and eye for an eye. So I come right back with but Jesus him self said you have heard and eye for and eye but I say if someone strikes your left cheek, turn to them the right cheek also. He stares at me for an odd 30 seconds and says, I believe that is only between two Christians. What do you say to that? I think you should read more. He left. Its like that everywhere now it seems. It seems most groups now are ever searching for any sign of impure thoughts among others. If you are not 100% like them or worse you dare speak well or in defense of someone on the opposing team. Your suddenly the worst.
Now this year,,, I have had two verses that have continually come into my thoughts and truthfully they pester me. I was happy going about and helping where I could and the fellowship and friendship of people of all races, creeds, etc. I never thought that would be controversial. Now, I can’t believe it but if you express even fondness for someone that the hearer has defined as well evil. They will pounce even for that. Now it is these two verses that come over and over to me.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, [b]unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only [e who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
I must admit these are not those verses I would call my favorites. I find that I enjoy the parables of Jesus in the gospels. The more you ponder them the more they speak. Those are where I go to renew. But I just felt compelled to tell you this. And keep the faith, and keep love in your heart and let no one steal it away because in times where it seems hard to find truth because so many lies around, I have found love always points in the right direction. Peace be with you.
Thanks! Yeah, for years I’ve wondered how people can go further into being reactionary and conservative over time, when time has taught me to see shades of gray and consider the arguments of people I initially didn’t agree with. It’s taught me to recognize the grifters more plainly. 20 years ago, I first realized, “Hey, Jesus was a hippie!” 15 years ago, I re-read the Gospels and realized everything I’d been taught as a conservative was wrong. It just doesn’t seem like the Gospel is actually being preached in many churches.