Churches and Conspiracy Theories

Time to call our church leaders to account and to not accept unscientific hogwash dressed up as preaching.

I am perplexed and worried by the number of church “leaders” who discourage their congregations from getting a covid vaccination and who participate in crazy conspiracy theories.

Once upon a time clergy were seen as leaders by virtue of their education and wisdom. Now some clergy show their unbelievable lack of education and wisdom for all to see.

I found this article by Joshua Drummond (hosted by David Farrier) insightful.

Drummond points out that conspiracy theories get reborn through the ages and some that we know from medieval times and earlier are reappearing.

Dr Siouxsie Wiles in a RNZ interview mentioned this study which shows that 12 people in the US are responsible for most of the conspiracy theories that get repackaged by church leaders and others.

Drummond nails it I think when he says that this is part of the “The Evangelical fundamentalist worldview — that the World is itself suspect”. This worldview filters everything through a delusion that the Bible can tell you everything you need to know for 21st century living and that the bible/ church is good and the world is bad.

Drummond does not write people off though and says “We need to help them understand that they don’t have to live in a fragile reality constructed from fear.” We need to reach out and help people back from this scary place of fear and anxiety.

I reflected on this in my sermon for today on the letter of James (James 1:17-27)

You can watch the sermon here (the sermon starts 10 minutes in)

James has some great lines:  “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19)

Guidelines for lockdown living, for social media, for any interactions really.

Listen deeply, speak only when we really have something to say, and watch our anger, in particular our fast reactions.

James is perhaps best known for his phrase “be doers of the word, not merely hearers, (1: 22) meaning act on what you hear from God, don’t sit on it.

As people of faith we are called to live our faith. It is not just an internal, spiritual thing.  True religion he says is to “care for orphans and widows”. (1:27)

Think of this as code for the most needy and vulnerable in our society, including those suffering with conspiracy theories.

James has a word for leaders too who mislead people “they are like those who look at themselves in the mirror and immediately forget” who they are called to be. “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless.” (1: 23, 24, 26)

Time to call our church leaders to account and to not accept unscientific hogwash dressed up as preaching.

Prof Peter Lineham talked about this on Newshub Nation yesterday (34 minutes in).

I am getting my first vaccine tomorrow and I can’t wait.


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