Sunday, August 30, 2020

Sunday Thoughts: Lies and Liars


Lying lips are abomination to the Lord:

    but they that deal truly are his delight.

(Proverbs 12:22 KJV)


Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.  You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

(John 8:31-32, 43-44 NIV)




It feels so weird to have to write this post in the first place. Once upon a time, in my naive youth, I believed that American Christians believed in truth. That they cared about truth. That they stood for the truth.


I was so fucking wrong.


This has become abundantly clear over the last several years. Even by the standards of politics, which have always had spin, the Trump administration and Trump in particular have openly promoted lies over and over and over, and about literally everything. We are at well over 20,000 verified lies at this point, hundreds of them about Covid, and an even bigger pile of slanders against vulnerable groups and people. The ongoing GOP convention is one solid parade of easily-disprovable lies. It is lies from top to bottom. In fact, there isn’t even any concern for truth or falsehood. It is, as, Harry Frankfurt described it, bullshit


It is pretty obvious to anyone who hasn’t drunk the kool aid that Trump’s native language is lies. 


This has been the case his entire life, as those of us who came of age in the late 1980s can attest. This is who he is, and what the GOP has become. 

So that begs the question, since white Evangelicals continue to love and worship Trump, defend his lies, and often believe them:


What does this say about who white Evangelicals are?


It is difficult to come to any conclusion other than that they are the religious sorts Christ describes in John 8. They are not truly disciples of Christ, but are instead the children of the devil, the father of lies. 


Is that shocking to hear?


It shouldn’t be. Fruit matters. Truth matters. And if you embrace one whose native language is lies, an inveterate liar, one who is like his father the Devil, what is the only conclusion? 


This has been one of the most traumatic parts of losing my faith tradition. (Not my faith: I continue to be a believer in Jesus Christ.) It has been horrifying to understand that what I was taught was not what Evangelicals actually believed. And this goes for a shocking number of friends and family. I was taught that truth mattered, and that lying was an abomination. 


But, I guess that never really mattered, did it? It really was just about tribalism and political power in the end. 


Do not think for a minute that young people aren’t taking a long hard look at this. Once you go down the path of lies, you will never be trusted again. And, I’ll be honest here: I do not trust Evangelicals one bit. I cannot assume you tell the truth about anything. You have a pattern of lying, and you wholeheartedly support lies and liars. Why should you be trusted? And that’s in addition to the embrace of slander and policies that do violence to vulnerable people. 


I want to mention the Proverbs passage too. Evangelicals LOVE to say that LGBTQ people are an “abomination.” I have yet to hear that liars are an abomination - and that is definitely in the Bible. Gee, I wonder why not? Just saying. 




Please don’t start in with the “all politicians lie” thing. This isn’t particularly true, for several reasons. There are several categories here:


(1) Differences of opinion. Reasonable people can and do interpret facts differently, and this difference (unless one side is utterly unsupported by the facts) does not mean one side is lying. These are differences of political opinion, not lies. 

(2) Spin. We all do this to some degree when we want to persuade someone. We emphasise the facts that support our conclusion and minimize others. You could see this in the runup to the second Gulf War. Was it a catastrophe in hindsight? Yes. Was the intelligence overblown, and spun to support an invasion? Yep. Was it the result of outright lying? Most it of wasn’t: although a few people may have known the true facts, most appear to have been genuinely convinced of what they said - they just turned out to be wrong. 

(3) Campaign promises. First, objectively, politicians deliver on their policies more than people realize. But also, politics in a democratic government are all about balancing and compromising competing interests. That’s why the GOP’s “scorched earth” policy starting with Obama has been so damaging. It’s all or nothing. Get what they want or destroy democracy. (Trump is the pinnacle, but this started in earnest in 2008.) A politician who makes a promise and finds (s)he cannot get exactly what (s)he wants hasn’t lied, in any case. 

(4) Lies about verifiable facts. This is what the GOP does constantly right now, and to a degree I have not seen anywhere else in my lifetime. Okay, I have seen it in cults like Gothard’s cult. (He and Trump are basically twins.) Believe it or not, most politicians don’t openly lie about stuff that can be easily disproved - that used to be a quick way to get voted out. It is only in a hyper-partisan era, when one (or both sides) have given up caring about truth or reality. Right now, that is the GOP. It isn’t remotely equal on both sides. 

(5) Slander. Man, this is the GOP (and Evangelical) platform right now. Lie about LGBTQ people. Lie about immigrants. Lie about atheists and other non-Fundies. Lie about women. Lie about scientists. Lie about doctors and nurses. And these lies are slander - another sin I used to think Evangelicals took seriously. Again, I was so naive. 


1 comment:

  1. Your words are always carefully chosen, respectfully researched, and spot on. Thank you for this blog post.