How come so many Christians fall for conspiracy theories?

 

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. Read the rest

Florida Pastor arrested after encouraging people to come to church in person during the coronavirus lockdown

To pastor Rodney Howard-Browne, the head of Revival Ministries International, telling people not to infect each other with a potentially deadly virus is a "First Amendment threat" to Christian ministries. "Because the climate change narrative for global governance failed, they are using the World Health Organization to then come in and take over the control of nations and then they are going to bring in vaccines," he previously said about COVID-19.

 

Unsurprisingly, Howard-Browne continued to hold religious services at his Megachurch in Tampa Bay — despite the warnings of police, or the overwhelming encouragement by the global public to cut down on large social gatherings in order to slow the spread of the virus. Howard-Boone did also livestream the services, which is how video got around of congregants packed shoulder-to-shoulder during this past Sunday's Mass. Which is how the police found out about it.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Howard-Browne was arrested Monday on misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly and violating quarantine orders during a public health emergency, said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister.

“Because of the reckless disregard of public safety and after repeated requests and warnings, I worked with our state attorney, Andrew Warren, to obtain a warrant for unlawful assembly and violation of public health emergency rules, both of which are second degree misdemeanors,” Chronister said. “Our goal here is not to stop anyone from worshiping, but the safety and well-being of our community must always come first."

State Attorney Andrew Warren added:

I’d remind the good pastor of Mark 12:31, which said there’s no more important commandment than to love thy neighbor as thyself.

Read the rest

Merry Christmas, someone stole Jesus's foreskin

The Catholic church has plenty of weird relics stored in ornate boxes around the world. Tourists flock to these churches to get a glimpse of the vessels that allegedly contain the original Crown of Thorns, or some of Christ's dried blood that turns to liquid every now and then.

And then there's Jesus's foreskin—the last (allegedly) surviving piece of flesh from God-made-flesh, chopped from the tip of his penis on New Year's Day, according to the official Roman calendar.

The fact that Jesus's foreskin still allegedly exists in the world somewhere is pretty weird, but its existence alone is not the weirdest part. No, the weirdest part is that Jesus's foreskin has been missing for more than 30 years—and that in true Dan Brown style, it may have been stolen by covert agents of the Catholic church.

According to "records," Charlemagne received the foreskin from an angel, and gifted it to Pope Leo II on Jesus' 800th birthday. It moved around a bit before being stolen during the Sack of Rome, then eventually turned up in a small village north of Rome called Calcata, where it remained until 1983, when it was stolen under mysterious circumstances. Calcata had become a sort of pilgrimage destination thanks to that little slice of petrified baby foreskin.

The Catholic Church started to downplay the foreskin in the early 20th century, even threatening to excommunicate those who mentioned it. Meanwhile, Calcata went through some changes on its own. The whole town was condemned in the 1930s, deemed unsafe by the local government due to the crumbling volcanic cliffs nearby. Read the rest