Progressive Christian blogger Joe Forrest has a great piece up on Medium about conspiracy theories, that begins with the story of how he convinced his sixth grade class that the moon landing was faked. He rounds up plenty of thoughtful links, quotes, and observations about these dangerous beliefs in general, but also how they seduce and appeal to those who worship Jesus.
Maybe it’s because, from a young age, many of us were taught the “scientific establishment” was out to destroy our belief in the Bible.
Or maybe so many of us were convinced by the Left Behind books that a satanic one-world government was on the horizon, it just makes sense we need to be as vigilant as possible right now.
Or maybe because we’ve already been conditioned by our own belief system that there exists a hidden spiritual reality that making the leap to a hidden “shadow government” reality isn’t all that big of a deal.
And it’s important to note that a lot of Christians share conspiracy theories out of good faith. They believe they’re “exposing the truth.” But most conspiracy theories are rotten at the core. It’s obvious they’re rooted in fear, insecurity, and loneliness. And they’re often designed to give us more reasons to loathe our ideological enemies.
Forrest's faith is clearly one of radical empathy, not of evangelical self-persecution, which gives him a unique perspective. He's clearly familiar with all kinds of Christian life, and writes with that audience in mind.
Conspiracy theories speak to our desire to be a part of a story bigger than ourselves. And what blows my mind is that Christians should already believe that to be true. Christians shouldn’t need to buy into conspiracy theories to feel special, or to make sense of the world, or to make their lives feel more exciting.
It's a short enough read, but it helps make sense of and humanize some Evangelical tendencies. It certainly reminded me of my family friend (whom I wrote this song about) whose addiction to heroin became an addiction to Christianity and now has now turned into an addiction for conspiracy theories. If you know someone like that in your life, you might want to share this them, or read it yourself for a better understanding of them.
Why Your Christian Friends and Family Members Are So Easily Fooled by Conspiracy Theories [Joe Forrest / Medium]
Image: Michael Coghlan / Flickr (CC 2.0)