It’s not just contorted history and science that predominate: it’s also twisted, constricted politics. Since democracy is never found in the Bible and since it is only applied in very limited ways in the largest denominations, it’s held with some ambivalence by many Christians. Recalling our discussions of patriarchy in previous chapters, we can see why Christians might feel that the Christian/biblical God prefers patriarchal monarchy, maybe even dictatorship, and only tolerates democracy as a liberal concession. When given the choice between our side (which is God’s side) losing democratically and our side winning non-democratically, the choice for many Christians is easy: it’s better for the good guys to win while breaking the rules than for the bad guys to win according to the rules. After all, God as the rule-maker is bound by no human rules. This attitude offers one more explanation for the bizarre levels of support for morally compromised leaders like Donald Trump by a majority of white Christians in America in 2016, 202, and beyond. Since many Christians see God as an absolute authoritarian, we shouldn’t be surprised when they prefer authoritarian leaders to democratic ones.
Mix constricted Christian attitudes toward democratic politics and a shallow political agenda with Christian twisting of history and science, and you have an intoxicating cocktail that renders millions of Christians dangerous actors in a democracy. Having imprisoned themselves inside the great wall of bias, they lose the capacity for critical thinking and become susceptible to the siren songs of conspiracy theories and the seductions of authoritarian leaders. As a result, they put not only themselves but also the rest of us in danger.
I’m writing these words in the aftermath of the coup attempt of January 6, 2021, in which insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, many raising Bibles and Jesus Saves signs and wearing clothing with Nazi slogans. They erected crosses – and gallows – as they shouted to hang the vice president and murder members of Congress, baptizing their violence with prayers “in Jesus’ name.” This violent outbreak didn’t just happen out of nowhere.
For years, ridiculous and dangerous conspiracy theories had been spreading like a Pentecostal revival in churches across America. Having strained out qualified experts, journalists, and scientists, gullible Christians swallowed any number of frauds and fools, rendering themselves susceptible to the actual shallow ideologies and “empty deceit” I was warned about in Colossians 2:8 as a boy.
From “Do I Stay Christian: A Guide for the Doubters, the Disappointed, and the Disillusioned” by Brian McLaren