Self-identified people of God, self-proclaimed mystics, and conspiracy theorists have been hyping and hawking Christian Science and snake oil spirituality with healing properties since at least the early part of the 20th century. The forgeries of ideas that are Christian exceptionalism and the arrogant sociopathic notion of a "chosen people" finding and populating a "city on a hill," a hill already inhabited by people, built with the labor of indentured and enslaved people, are myths that people fight wars over. These strains of spirituality peddle prosperity gospels and religious science, passing judgment on the world; they are old New Age Cults.
Marjorie Taylor Greene might be correct that the US was founded as a Christian nation perfecting the democratic grift. The claim of separation of church and state determines the parameters of the debate about the role of the (Christian) church and the role of the (segregated and homophobic patriarchal) state. The argument is that it is either one or the other rather than both simultaneously. Concluding the latter leads to considering the overlap of religion and politics, or to put a finer point on it, between spirituality and power. The false dichotomy is a distraction as subterfuge.
"Megachurch Grifters Were Also a Problem for Jesus' Disciples," writes Candida Moss. "Corruption in the clergy is nothing new. From selling indulgences in medieval Europe to peddling sham healings in 19th-century America, there are many grifters who have made money off of God. Sexual abuse, harassment, and misconduct aside, profiteers remain a problem. What might come as a surprise is the realization that the phenomenon is nothing new."
Though not focusing on Christianity specifically, Derek Beres (journalist), Matthew Remski (cult researcher), Julian Walker (philosophical skeptic), and Mallory DeMille (TikTok correspondent) offer the podcast Conspirituality, with a clearly defined goal: "Dismantling New Age cults, wellness grifters, and conspiracy-mad yogis."
Given that I am emphatically emphasizing that the prosperity gospel in all its contemporary and historical manifestations is a cult of grifters, Conspirituality also refers to the Christian sects that focus on letting the money-lenders into the church. No jubilee here.
As the podcast crew explains, "At best, the conspirituality movement attacks public health efforts in times of crisis. At worst, it fronts and recruits for the fever-dream of QAnon.
As the alt-right and New Age horseshoe toward each other in a blur of disinformation, clear discourse and good intentions get smothered. Charismatic influencers exploit their followers by co-opting conspiracy theories on a spectrum of intensity ranging from vaccines to child trafficking. In the process, spiritual beliefs that have nurtured creativity and meaning are transforming into memes of a quickly-globalizing paranoia.
Conspirituality Podcast attempts to bring understanding to this landscape. A journalist, a cult researcher, and a philosophical skeptic discuss the stories, cognitive dissonances, and cultic dynamics tearing through the yoga, wellness, and new spirituality worlds. Mainstream outlets have noticed the problem. We crowd-source, research, analyze, and dream answers to it."
The crowd-sourcing, research, dreaming, and analysis have resulted in 248 episodes.