Ever since the start of the coronavirus crisis, I’ve had a number of readers request a Sunday newsletter addressing Christians and conspiracy theories. Until now, I’ve resisted. The honest reason is that I was too optimistic. As the inexorable reality of the pandemic bore down upon us all, I’d hoped (prayed) that the conspiracies would fade.
They have not. At least not in my world. I still see references to the utterly discredited “Plandemic” video. I still see claims the coronavirus death tolls are being intentionally artificially inflated. There are rampant rumors of people receiving false positive test results when they never took a coronavirus test. There have long been claims that the lockdowns weren’t designed for public health, but rather to destroy the Trump economy.
And I haven’t even touched all the wild claims about masks or the alleged microchips in the “Gates vaccine.”
I can list some of the cultural and sociological reasons for the willingness to believe, well, virtually anything about our political and cultural opponents. Combine negative polarization—where partisan Americans often believe the worst about their opponents—with undeniable political and media failures, and you’ve got a recipe for suspicion and mistrust that can spiral out of control.