How conspiracy theories became bigger than God and ultimately hijacked the Republican Party
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Let’s be honest about this, that’s why your church, and your way of life, are dying. You talk as if you had a big God, but you don’t act like it. If you had an all-powerful God on your side, you wouldn’t be so fearful of change. If you had an Old Testament God who protected His flock while scattering His enemies before you, you wouldn’t need so many guns. If you believed we are all loved as we are, you wouldn’t be so frightened of others. If you believed God was in charge, you wouldn’t need so many laws to protect your flimsy ideas. Your God is small because you put Him in a tiny box of your own creation. Your God is just too small.
The past few decades have seen the withering of so-called evangelical Christianity in America, as the church has become increasingly more political, and progressively less relevant. As their political power grew, their God became smaller and smaller. As they relied on their ability to remake the world in their own image, their God became less and less relevant.
The evangelism of fundamentalist Christians became much more centered on politics than theology. As a group, they’re more concerned with your stance on abortion than prayer. More concerned with restricting who can marry, than with how to love one another. They turned to political solutions rather than theological ones to fill the emptiness inside and became the very thing Jesus taught against becoming. Hypocrites in love with the law.
The fact that the type of judges that oppose abortion are the same ones who believe in free markets and unfettered capitalism, conveniently means that conservatives of all stripes could embrace a single political philosophy. They ultimately rejected the love of Jesus, in order to embrace the egocentricity of Ayn Rand. Do unto others before they do unto you. A prosperity gospel for the perpetually corrupt.
Once you added in an unscrupulous media environment of radio talk show hosts who existed solely to feed off of anger and fear, it wasn’t going to be long before the faithful grew tired of waiting for Moses and demanded something else to worship. They chose a golden clown, made in their own image. A poor man’s idea of a rich man. A fool’s idea of a genius. A strongman in the mind of the powerless.
What happens when your reality begins to unravel your cognitive dissonance? When life no longer makes sense because you’ve believed so many lies for too long? You open yourself up to more and more ridiculous theories and impossible explanations.
The fact that you were taught to believe in magical thinking and mythical stories about spiritual beings and miracles on earth, makes it all the more likely that you might now believe in other fantastical thinking.
If God is all-powerful and yet unknowable, incapable of being anything but fair, and yet seemingly capricious in action, then why would anything else in your life need to be based in logic or science? If God used magic to create the earth in a week, then why believe in the science of climate change? If God made heaven and earth, then why be concerned with our own destruction of it? We’re all just passing through, right? The desolation of the planet is a good thing because it means we all get our mansion on a street paved with gold. It’s Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, trying to create public policy while complaining about the commercialization of Rudolph.
I rather like the idea of a deity that may or may not be all that concerned with whether or not I find a parking space near the front, but still gives a shit in some small way about our comings and goings. The universe seems like a really inhospitable place, so it seems rather insane that we’re poisoning the only inhabitable rock within earshot. For what? For an extra cookie or a fancy car. How do you convince yourself that this is what God wants for you?
Your God is too small and your faith too weak, for you to continue to believe in a message that love conquers all. Fear is so much stronger. Hate is so much more delicious. A powerful God would require you to be humble. A merciful God would require you to forgive your neighbor. But that is simply too hard, too difficult, and makes you feel inferior.
It’s much easier to create a God in your own image that hates all the same people you do, has a long-term plan for vengeance, and wants you to win the lottery in the meantime.
It’s a lot like the sort of God we would write for television.