Series Topic : Fundamentalist Myths
This post is the second in a continuing series that examines the origins of commonly held positions promoted within modern evangelical American Christianity.
- The links page for this series of posts can be found here: https://edgeofmindandbeyond.wordpress.com/category/fundamentalist-myths/
Comments, corrections and clarifications are welcomed, as always.
Beliefs vs. Myths
Throughout my lifetime some persistent themes have circulated in the conservative evangelical and fundamentalist Christian groups that have become almost mandatory beliefs of “true believers”. Some of these ideas I now consider to be myths or misunderstandings, since they seem to advocate support for agendas other than advancing the Kingdom of God.
Here are some examples (continuing the list from the previous post)…
4. A “One World Government” under the control of the “New World Order” is a sign of the coming of the antichrist. The UN and other groups trying to push for global unity are a part of this hidden conspiracy as well.
Unfortunately, this idea seems to have originated with those who were trying to convince the populace of some vague external threat in order to distract attention from what they were doing themselves. In other words, this belief was the result of a propaganda campaign that was created to be a smokescreen for those who were seeking private gain at the expense of the rest of us.
Two early proponents of the conspiracy angle in the 1950’s and 1960’s were the John Birch Society (founded and funded by wealthy business interests) in the political realm, and on the evangelical side, the Christian Anti Communist Crusade (CACC). Both of these organizations began to decline after the fall of communism in the USSR, when the “red threat” seemed to be gone. However, recently other groups (under different names), have taken on the same mission of promoting fear and division using the same paranoid stories that were advanced in the 50’s and 60’s. The most visible successor to the John Birch Society is the Tea Party “astroturf” organization that has been very active in recent political elections. While the first Tea Partiers may have been genuinely concerned citizens with a libertarian leaning, the group was taken over by well-funded interests with a formal agenda and deep pockets to push their message out to the American public. The agenda and tactics of the interests behind the current Tea Party movement become very clear when compared to the rhetoric advanced by the old John Birch Society, since they are nearly identical. In fact, by noting which political candidates are supported by the Tea Party, it becomes easy to identify which ones are supportive of the political agenda of the interests behind the Tea Party “machine”.
One of the most disturbing observations is that many “Christian” leaders now promote ideas that are very similar to those promoted by these same financial and business interests. A legitimate question would be “Why?”. Doesn’t this apparent collusion violate the admonition to avoid being unequally yoked with unbelievers? Or do the Christian leaders also have some vested interest in spreading the propaganda to their followers?
Things to think about…
5. The environmental movement is related to worship of gods and goddesses of the ancient mystic cults, which is now manifested as the New Age movement. This will be the religion that ushers in the New World Order by unifying all world religions under the direction of the Antichrist, which will result in the Tribulation.
To map these interrelated beliefs, consider the assumed relationships and progression of events expressed by the statement above:
- Environmentalism = earth worship = paganism
- New Age = paganism = Unified World Religion
- Unified World Religion = worship of the Antichrist
- Worship of the Antichrist leads to God’s judgment in the Great Tribulation, which leads to destruction of most of mankind, which leads to Christ’s return, after which the “old earth” will be destroyed with fire, then God creates a new heaven and a new earth for His chosen who remain faithful.
- Depending on your chosen belief, some assert that Christians will be rescued by the rapture (snatched from the earth to meet Christ in the air on the way to heaven), while others think that Christians will need to persevere through the Tribulation in order to be saved.
As a consequence of believing that these interrelationships exist, the environmental stewardship of the earth (that God has given us to use and enjoy) is equated with pagan worship at worst, or at least a foolish waste of time, since this earth is soon to be destroyed anyway. In either event, many conservative Christians group are being taught that we should not be worried about the condition of this earth when we leave it behind. (Since it is soon to be destroyed by God anyway.) Yet there are others who have a vested interest in promoting these beliefs for a non-religious materialistic agenda.
An objective way to evaluate possible interests of stakeholders (in promoting this self-destructive worldview) would be to look for answers to the usual questions used by investigative journalists and media analysts. These include: “Who is advancing what message directed toward whom?” and “What is intended action of the audience toward what end?”. Simply by asking “who has something (or the most) to gain by this position?”, will lead to some of the most likely beneficiaries of this message.
For example, some interests that would most likely benefit from this apocalyptic anti-environmental message are:
- large industrial interests who want to limit or eliminate restrictions on their activities by the federal and state governments,
- religious leaders who want to draw crowds to their organizations by creating contrived spiritual enemies,
- Christian writers who sell books about the end times, and
- conspiracy theorists who sell books or ad space on their websites.
Others with vested interests are:
- various groups that gain supporters in perilous times by preying upon fear and general anxiety,
- politicians, who gain financial and political support from large industrial interests,
- those who sell merchandise to “prepare for the end times” or “collapse of civilization”, and
- sellers of gold and other “inflation hedge” financial advice.
In short, there is big money involved in selling the idea that the end of the world is near, that the apocalypse is inevitable, and therefore trying to save our physical earth is pointless. Under this premise, Christians should focus on sharing the gospel as rapidly as possible. However, according to some, in case Christians are not raptured out of the world before the tribulation, we also need to prepare by stockpiling material goods to ride out the collapse of civilized societies.
In fairness to earnest Christians who accepted the above assumptions and predictions, there might have been some past alignment, or at least overlap, between nature worshippers (pagans) and the environmentalists. For example, many of the “tree-huggers” or “hippies” who lived on communes during the 1960’s and 1970’s were very aware of the sanctity of nature and wanted to protect our natural resources. Some might have claimed to reach this realization in a drug-induced altered state of consciousness. Others became “enlightened” through mystic rituals or practices of “earth magic”. So the confusion between the mystic nature worship and godly earth stewardship is understandable, even if not actually true.
However there is also a current alignment between some Christian groups and the pro-capitalist libertarians, as well as some right-wing extremist groups. If we apply the same logic that is used to create bias against a responsible environmental obligation, then Christians must also accept the label that we are all economically exploitive white supremacist fascists as well. If we would like to distance ourselves from these negative stereotypes, we must extend the same courtesy to those in the environmental advocacy community, especially since their aims would benefit us all in the long run.
By the way, we should not forget that part of the first direction given to Adam (mankind) in Genesis 1:28 was:
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
However we know from the words and example of Jesus that this dominion or rule was not intended to be oppressive, cruel, self-serving, exploitive, or destructive. Instead, mankind was to care for the creatures of the earth and utilize it’s potential (without irreparable damage), just as God had done by His own example. The perversion of this directive into a license to ruin the earth for future generations is a result of insane human selfishness, and was obviously not God’s original intention. Taking seriously our responsibility to care for this planet, which was given to us as a stewardship rather than ownership, is not the same thing as worshipping nature!
6. President Obama is completely evil, a closet Muslim, actively advancing the New World Order, and possibly the antichrist, or even Satan incarnate.
This message was probably advanced by a directed campaign of conservative political groups, right wing oriented Christians, and bigoted hate groups who use the President’s alleged missteps as an underhanded way to express bigotry disguised as “honest criticisms” or “upholding righteousness in America”. The methods and message are consistent with the same type of smear campaign that was directed toward President Clinton by right wing political interests. Of course Clinton contributed to the critic’s positions by his own mistakes, but looking at the news about ethical and financial lapses of many GOP elected officials, there is not much difference between the two major parties. Looking back over the history of American politics, we find that the same tactics of attack have been around since the founding of our nation, and have been used by all the major political parties. It seems that some of the contemporary caricatures of President Obama could almost have taken directly from the political cartoons found in newspapers a century ago, with only the name and face changed.