How come so many Christians fall for conspiracy theories?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/05/15/how-come-so-many-christians-fa.html

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If you believe a burning bush can talk… You’ll believe anything.

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This tendency predates all of that by about 2000 years. The early Christians were persecuted by both the Romans and the Jewish clerical establishment from the beginning. Coupled with the Apostolic interpretation of the “Great Commission” to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15), mistrust of governance was hardwired in from the beginning. Science is just another “authority” that conflicts with the magical thinking that the Jews “chosen” status transferred to them because they ignored the Messiah and the New Covenant.

If you want a sense of how this jumps immediately into conspiracy thinking, all you have to do is read the next few lines:

[ 16 ] “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. [ 17 ] And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; [ 18 ] they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

This obviously impossible reality of this means that true believers must feel that their particular brand of lunacy simply cannot be understood by the faithless, creating a permanent rift between those who align with their particularly narrow interpretations and those who can’t comprehend them.

I grew up going to these churches 3+ days a week. Every male in my father’s family (including my father) was an evangelical preacher. Every single sermon was peppered with self-victimization, conspiracy mongering and direct political appeals.

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I’ve been thinking about The Lord’s Prayer recently.

Most people just recite it like a magical incantation, not paying any attention to the meaning of the words, particularly the bit about “forgiving our debtors.”

For the great mass of humanity religion is really just superstition.

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This obvious point make the whole question irrelevant, IMHO.

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It’s worth noting that modern evangelicals completely ignore all parts of the Old Testament that they don’t care for. Not this example per se, but whole swaths of the most direct commands from god. Of course, they can also be used to justify the persecution of any group they like with the most spurious of links. Christ never condemned homosexuality, but evangelicals will pull any spurious quote out of the OT to back up their assertions while also completely ignoring the Sabbbath commandments.

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Christianity is a conspiracy theory.

“Everyone’s out to get you, isn’t that right Judas. Judas? Judas? Ahh, what’s with all the Romans there Judas? Is there domething you need to tell us?”

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The question answers itself.

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Gullible people believe in stuff, shock.

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tenor-3

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The idea that some believers were on to secret knowledge is as old as the faith. This heresy is called Gnosticism.

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I mean… they don’t call Satan the Father of Lies for nothing.

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In part of the Italy, until 1871 the church was the state, actually. The fact early nchristians were prosecuted didn’t stop them to get accepted an the Christian religion becoming the state one.

On the other hand I think there is a difference between a self defining Christian, and one behavin like a Christian, making things like helping the poor. The latters normally don’t look to me prone to believe in conspiracies.

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Christians believe in conspiracy theories because they are taught every time they go to church to accept wild impossible claims and to never ask for evidence.

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Yeah, it seems like if you are willing, and indeed conditioned to believe in a thing with out any supporting evidence, take a thing on faith, if you will, then it becomes much easier to buy into believing literally ANYTHING else. And the whole “poor me” thing is a popular point of view anyhow.

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There is a cognitive dissonance thing happening too, I think. If you go to a church that tells you that the apocalypse is imminent or that God will give you money if you just pray hard enough and then those things don’t happen, you are either forced to revive your beliefs or come up with some explanation as to why they are true but those things didn’t happen anyway. It is really hard to revise your beliefs so people are forced to do something like “I didn’t get my money because there is a conspiracy by the libs to keep it from me.” or “Jesus hasn’t returned because Hilary is sacrificing children to Cthulu to stop him.” That’s why there’s all this QAnon stuff, too. If you believe “Trump is a good person.” but then he doesn’t actually do anything that is good, then you are forced into something like “Trump is a good person but he has to do all his good stuff in secret to fight the secret evil bad guys.”

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Speaking as an European Christian, this tendency for conspiratorial thinking, and what a lot of the posters here seem to be ascribing to Christianity in general, like “to accept wild impossible claims and to never ask for evidence”, seems to me as problems with the incredibly toxic American Evangelical protestantism, which increasingly sounds like Christianity only in name to me.

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I have come to the conclusion that the salient point for conspiracy theorists is not the story but the idea of control. If there is a conspiracy that controls everything that is happening then that means they can control the world too. The world makes sense, has a recognizable story with clear motives and exact consequences which always work out. There is no chance, there are no accidents, and everything has a purpose, even if it may now be nefarious. All the conspiracy theorist has to do is wrest control away from the nefarious conspiracy and they can now control the world.

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True, but my broader point was that self-victimization, magical thinking and conspiracy theories were baked into Christianity by the apostles. That a theocracy or two arose from this doesn’t negate that fact. I would even say that Protestantism was the inherent anti-authoritarian mindset rearing its head in spite of or because of the control the Roman Theocracy and HRE
exerted.

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“I have FAITH that is stronger than STEEL BEAMS and your LIES cannot melt them like JET FUEL!!”

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