Evangelicals struggle with alternative facts and beliefs which often turn out to be false. Evangelicalism suffers from alternative facts. This post looks at some alternative beliefs which don’t stand up as well outside evangelicalism. Then as we are dealing with post truth era, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post wrote a column the other day about how to exit this era.
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.“
that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NIV
Many people who stormed the Capitol this week clung to conspiracy theories or alternative facts. From my perspective one of the damning aspects about evangelicalism is the alternative facts. Evangelicalism is firmly about alternative facts. And in this post truth era is that why evangelicals have merged more with Christian nationalism and the culture wars? Or as evangelicalism continues to decline have some become more desperate in their world view.
What Are Evangelical Alternative Facts or Beliefs?
These are some of the sayings or alternative facts or conclusions that I have heard that are false inside evangelicalism. Remember these are told inside a bubble and don’t work outside the bubble in the world. Let’s look at a few of them.
- People are gay because they are molested. I remember when I heard regularly from some evangelical leaders that people are gay because they are molested. Today I look at it as it being warped to hear and it ignores the fact that homosexuality also happens in nature. I recall the time I assumed a gay friend was molested because I accepted this line of thought.
- You need God to have peace in life. God in evangelicalism is oversold. Whatever the issue people sometimes saw you need God. Really? I remember when I realized that there were times I didn’t need God and yet I was told I did.
- You need God to be a moral person. Really? Why are atheists and other people outside the faith at times have better morality and ethics than evangelicals? Look at the scandals that keep happening inside evangelicalism. If you need God to be a moral person how would one explain all the constant scandals.
- You need to be plugged into a church to be a good person. Again really? Why are there people who never go to church who have strong character and turn out better than evangelicals?
- If you drink alcohol you’re going to be an alcoholic. I heard this a couple of times and it was used as a means frighten people into not drinking alcohol.
- If you have sex you make a mistake you can never recover from. Over and over I heard frequently how if you had sex you committed an act that you can not recover from. Its done, and your guilted over a long term. And if you were female you the scarlet letter of shame is far worse.
- Giving money and tithing helps you to learn budgeting and pay your bills. How many times did I hear this? That in giving money you will be in a better financial position afterward. Is that always true or can you give so much that financially you are struggling to pay your bills?
There are many more but those are but a sampling of some of the alternative facts or sayings that I heard over the course of time.
Jenifer Rubin on How to Exit the Post Truth Era
The other day Jennifer Rubin wrote a column about dealing with the post truth era and how to exit it. Jennifer Rubin is a conservative columnist at the Washington Post. She raises some ideas that are interesting to consider. While the column may be political in nature for evangelicals there has to be ramifications for bad information. But maybe that is happening when you see the people walking away from evangelicalism. If you want to read the column in the paper you can go to, “We must end the post-truth society.” As always I encourage you to subscribe to your local paper but you can read the column below.
It does not matter that the seditious attack failed. Nor does it matter that Trump failed in his attempts to cajole — and even threaten — Vice President Pence, Congress and state election officials into overthrowing the election results. The coup took place in an environment that must change. As Hill argues:
Unless the Big Lie is thoroughly refuted, we can expect more attempts to subvert the constitutional order from Trump’s supporters—and we still have to get through the January 20 Inauguration. The president’s actions and his falsehoods have shattered America’s democratic norms, exacerbated its political divisions, and put people’s lives at risk. …If we are to restore democratic norms and make sure this does not happen again, these congressional Republicans will have to take personal responsibility for their actions in support of Trump’s coup attempt. They must tell the truth to their constituents about the election and what the president tried to do in January 2021. They owe it to the people they represent as well as the country they serve.
The “Big Lie” to which Hill refers — that the 2020 election was stolen through rampant voter fraud — is one of many in the post-truth world that right-wingers have propagated to gin up their base and promote a sense of panic and grievance. In this world, masks don’t work and Ukraine has the DNC server. White evangelicals tell their flocks there is a war on Christians. Radio talk-show hosts tell us there are terrorists among refugees fleeing violence in Central America. There is a whole industry — extending to issue-oriented advocacy groups and think tanks — designed to con the mob and infuriate them.
Lawmakers who fanned the flames of sedition and who continued to object after the failed coup attempt were incentivized to do so by right-wing media, donors and, yes, their constituents. Several conclusions flow from this sorry state of affairs.
First, this is not “polarization.” It is the systematic radicalization of the right. It is authoritarian and, hence, resorts to deception and fear as political organizing tools. This is a problem that only those on the right can address, although others may be needed to address criminal activity and violation of congressional rules.
Second, the incentive system must change. We already see some corporate donors such as Comcast and Hallmark say they will not give money to those who objected to the electoral count. That should be the permanent rule across the board for public companies; private donors who fear for our democracy should adopt it as well. Imagine if political donors such as Charles Koch cut off lawmakers and conservative institutions that propagate the Big Lie. Think tanks need to reject “scholars” who churn out propaganda, not fact-based analysis. Cable and broadcast networks have to end post-truth programming from lying hosts and their equally dishonest guests. The issue is not ideology; Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) — both of whom rejected the efforts to challenge the electoral college certification — are as conservative as they come. The issue is reliance on a web of lies that radicalize and incite the base.
Third, primary challenges should be mounted against every single Republican who promoted the Big Lie or sought to overturn the electoral college results. Some of the culprits may be hard to rout. The ideology of the challengers should match the constituency at issue (super-conservatives in deep-red districts, moderates in light red or purple ones). The only requirement is that the challenger not swim in the sea of sedition.
Fourth, the lawmakers who did participate need to be identified as such for as long as they participate in public life. They must be cited, introduced and chyroned as members of the bad-faith effort to overthrow the election results. It does not matter if the offender is House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) or a little-known member of Congress.
Fifth, bar associations must devise rules for those who file and advance demonstrably false and frivolous election challenges. Judges must apply sanction mechanisms already available to punish lawyers making frivolous claims.
There is no law or congressional rule that will bring this about. This is not a violation of anyone’s First Amendment rights, since government is not involved. (Bar associations, for example, have every right to police their own, and judges have the power to sanction those who abuse the courts.) Only through the conscience of those who know better and who comprehend that democracy cannot survive in the Republicans’ post-truth world can we accomplish these ends. That requires business leaders, donors, public-opinion makers, politicians and voters to put a halt to the mythology of victimhood and white grievance. Without it, our democracy will not recover.