Conspiracy theories are the secular, political version of Gnosticism.
What is Gnosticism? Gnosticism was rife during the first century or two of church history. Much New Testament ink was devoted to countering Gnostic beliefs and claims. Mystery cults were all over the place in ancient Rome; these cults promised their adherents inside knowledge on how things really are that was not available to the public at large. That is the basic Gnostic premise: that there is this secret body of knowledge available only to a chosen few, that this knowledge is reflective of how things really are, and that everyone on the outside is ignorant, perhaps to their own detriment.
Today’s conspiracy theories and theorists are essentially the same thing. Only an enlightened few know what is really going on in the world; what everyone else believes is a huge, pervasive, insidious lie perpetrated by a top-secret cabal of like-minded actors all around the world in order to cover up their nefarious schemes and intentions.
You know what I’m talking about here. By “conspiracy theory”, I mean anything on the same level as anti-vax, Flat-Earth, Deep State, QAnon, etc. Shit like “9/11 was an inside job” or “NASA faked the moon landing”. Now we have “Plandemic” and the theory that 5G cell towers are spreading coronavirus.
What is most distressing is that it is Christians, and especially evangelicals, who are driving the spread of these conspiracy theories. It’s come to a point where Saddleback Church in Los Angeles and the Humanitarian Disaster Institute had to come together to craft a resource for pastors to quell the spread of false information in their congregations. And when Ed Stetzer published an article in Christianity Today calling on Christians to stop spreading coronavirus-related conspiracy theories, he had to amend it to make note of the vitriol that it received in response.
As if that isn’t enough, consider the healthcare workers on the frontlines who are daily told by conspiracy theorists and social media trolls that the hospitals are really empty and coronavirus is a hoax, and then return to their jobs the next day to see that the exact opposite is true. Think of the toll it takes on them. Christians: You should have no part whatsoever in propagating this toxicity.
As Christians we are called to be lovers of truth. We are expressly forbidden from spreading false witness. Yet that is exactly what these conspiracy theories are: false witness.
To quote from Stetzer:
Spreading unproven speculation is bearing false witness and I still believe we need to repent when we have borne such witness. We need to spend more time in God’s Word and less time being influenced by social media trolls and clickbait.
More poignantly and to the point:
If you still insist on spreading such misinformation, would you please consider taking Christian off your bio so the rest of us don’t have to share in the embarrassment?
As Christians, we are called to be lovers of truth. The world deserves better than Christians who are doggedly rushing to be at the front of the line in spreading outrageous conspiracy theories.
Come on, people. You are better than that. Christianity is better than that.
For fuck’s sake, Christians: Stop spreading conspiracy theories.