With more white evangelicals embracing conspiracy theories what are we to see? Conspiracy theories leading to more violence. Expect to see that violence be committed by some carrying a Bible or cross in one hand and an AR-15 or pipe bomb in the other. Likewise conspiracy theories will do what gay marriage and pornography could not do. They will destroy and divide the evangelical family. The death of facts will propel evangelicals into a new Middle Ages where science, education and art will be downplayed at a level not seen before. And as evangelicals are gullible and and easily played the scandal of the evangelical mind will change to the manipulation of the evangelical mind
“Instead of a man of peace and love, I have become a man of violence and revenge.”
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9 NIV
In the sermon of the mount Jesus spoke about how the peacemakers are blessed and that is the desire of God as they will become children of God. As modern white evangelicalism continues its decline and its long term implosion its the worry of this blog that some white evangelicals have entered a new phase. Its one that is chilling and of deep concern. Recently; I read an article in the Washington Post that gave me pause. I struggled to comprehend what I was reading. I also noticed that the same article got the attention of John Fea. The article I am referring to can be read in, “In a Disturbing Story The Washington Post Writes About How Conspiracy Theories Are Dividing One Family.” Lets start by talking about the death of facts.
The Death of Facts and Moving Toward a New Middle Age?
The United States was built on the principles of the enlightenment. Thomas Jefferson is a key founder in the United States who believed in the enlightenment. The enlightenment started as a European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. It was heavily influenced by 17th-century philosophers such as Descartes, Locke, and Newton, and its prominent exponents include Kant, Goethe, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Adam Smith. The key aspect of the enlightenment is the belief in facts and science. But it went above that as well. In the late 20th century United States there used to be agreement on what anti-Semitism is or the importance of vaccines. When I was in evangelicalism from 1999 until 2017 I heard the movement support those issues and addressed them in other ways. Today it seems that if an issue is fact driven then some people will reject it. It appears as if some people are adopting un-proven and unscientific beliefs that are not proven and accepted. Actually some of them can’t be accepted or proven as its an impossibility. What is actually happening is that its almost leading us in another direction, which anyone who values education should be deeply troubled about. In that Washington Post story it references as to how this mother is determining her own facts and how she is deciding what to follow. And even if that includes white supremacist material, then that is acceptable. How did we get here? In world history Europe entered the “Dark Ages” which many historians like to call the Middle Ages as the Roman Empire declined. It lasted from the 5th until the 14th century with the rebirth that happened under the Renaissance. In this period of the Middle Ages there was a demographic, cultural, and economic deterioration which took place. My fear is that the United States is moving in this direction and that many American evangelicals are leading the way.
The Manipulation of the Evangelical Mind
You no doubt have heard of Mark Noll’s “the scandal of the evangelical mind.” Well the question remains what is next? What is the next step? What happens when you have a group of people who reject logic and intellect? Where do they progress to or what happens? I’d like to propose an idea that those evangelicals who do down this path have entered a new period or era. Maybe what can be called the “Manipulation of the evangelical mind.” This is just a natural step to take in the evolution of this train of thought. Those who reject education, intellect, and much more become gullible to becoming manipulated. This is what Jerry Falwell Sr did in creating the Moral Majority. He eventually ended up manipulating many evangelicals, whether it is intentional or not is up for debate. Many evangelicals don’t think for themselves and nor do they know theology. And that is what is happening with those evangelicals. There are many who sadly can’t fact check for themselves on the internet. Everything on Facebook is true. Modern evangelicalism is like pornography or junk food. You’ll get that rush but after five minutes you are back from where you started. My prediction is to expect to see more evangelicals be manipulated as time passes.
It Isn’t Gay Marriage or Pornography That Killed the American Family…It is Their Conspiracy Theories
Back in my time in Campus Crusade I often heard about how sacred the family is and how its essential for faith. James Dobson and like minded individuals reinforced the importance of the family. If the family dies the church will die, as will western civilization. Think of it like a theological version of the domino theory. And with this I heard about the danger of gay marriage or pornography. They will destroy the family and the church. Lets fast forward twenty plus years. I have left evangelicalism and what am I reading about? Conspiracy theories based in delusion tearing about families. Children from parents or a husband from wife. The wife believes in Q Anon and she is spending her day looking for messages on YouTube. She has lost her job and is neglecting her kids and all the weight has shifted to the husband. What will kill the American Christian family? Conspiracy theories. Why? How can you stay connected if you are not tethered by fact? Honestly you can not. Its profoundly sad but its what is happening today.
The Embracing of Violence by Some White Evangelicals
This is hard to write but after what has transpired recently and reading that Post article there is another realization I am coming to. You will see more violence and it will be white evangelicals engaging in this activity. Please note this is not a Civil War as I reject that belief. But the acts of violence will occur. They will be spurred on by their conspiracy theories and what is troubling is that this violence will be more mainstream. In the 1980s and 1990s’ you had the radical abortionists who shot, bombed or engaged in terrorism. These were the radical anti-abortionists. You will see violence in this strain of thought but it will be directed toward local, state and federal. What kind of violence will you see? You will see bombings , shootouts, rioting, storming federal buildings or offices or more. Expect to see in one hand the Cross of Christ or a Christian flag, and an AR-15 or a Molotov cocktail/pipe bomb in the other. My deep fear is that we will have more Oklahoma City bombings in the years ahead. What makes this trajectory all the more frightening is that you couple this with the false feeling of persecution evangelicals scream about and you will see more hysteria and fear. All of it self generated and manufactured and based on delusions. But in this group you will see some charismatics, Southern Baptists and others who will become the equivalent of Christian terrorists. A home grown group that is not far in ideology or theology to Al Qaeda or ISIL. Expect they will likely have roots in places like South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, California and other locations. When some white evangelicals go down this road its important to note that they will have abandoned their faith as they no longer believe that it works or is applicable. It will be the end result of going from building a spiritual kingdom to wanting to create a physical one on earth. Who else will be targeted by these white evangelicals who choose to embrace violence? Those who try and speak logic to them? Moderate evangelicals. Anyone deemed a “liberal” which is 99% of those outside their word view. Also included will be violence toward gays, atheists, Muslims and others who “persecute” them.
Evangelicalism Will Continue to Spiral Downward
As these acts of violence occur some evangelicals will be horrified and walk away. The dones will grow significantly form what the numbers are now. Those who have been paying attention know that organizations like the Southern Baptists are losing members. That hemorrhage of people will continue. When this starts to happen the bottom will be out of the tub, A number of evangelical churches will close as they will not have the financial means to sustain themselves. The healthy evangelicals will have left while the unhealthy ones will stay behind thinking the movement can be reformed. It will be hard to watch but just as a company moves jobs to India expect to see this decline and free fall in evangelical churches to continue to be met with pain and division in families. Like a plane spiraling toward the ground trying to stabilize itself so it can land, but that is not what will happen.
Their Evangelical Faith Will Not Be Recognizable and They Will Crucify Jesus a Second Time
Those who stay in evangelicalism at this point will not be considered theologically normal or of an orthodox faith. They will be more inclined to use to use violence which is defendable from their perspective. The peacemakers will not have a home or belong in this wing of Christian nationalism evangelicalism. They will also be hostile to others and wont respect them at all. This group of evangelicals will still cling to Donald Trump. It will be something like I wrote about in the following post. “The Coming Fracture of White American Evangelicalism Will Be Over Christian Nationalism and Donald Trump.” They will become like the Pharisees and they will crucify Jesus a second time. This will be done to drive home the the point and make clear who they belong and serve. When that happens the process will be complete. No one will recognize it as it will be a quasi faith system that is mired in terrorist activity, involved in acts of violence and still following Donald Trump.