Why do many Christians seem so prone to believe in conspiracy theories?

One thing that has really surprised me during this COVID-19 pandemic is how quickly and easily some Christians believe in and advocate conspiracy theories. I have witnessed intelligent and seemingly mild-mannered Christian friends feverishly promoting conspiracy theories that are utterly bizarre. For example:

“COVID-19 was invented in a laboratory by Democrats with the goal of killing as many old people as possible because they know old people usually vote for Republicans. COVID-19 was included in this year’s flu vaccine because they know that most old people get the flu vaccine every year.”

At first I thought the person was joking. It turns out that he was serious. Umm…wow… Let’s think through this conspiracy theory a bit.

It is true that, generally speaking, older people are more politically conservative than younger people. So, if the goal is to get rid of a bunch of people who are politically conservative, finding something that would predominantly kill older people would be deviously effective.

But, let’s look at another factor. Almost all the major COVID-19 outbreaks have been in large cities. People who live in large cities are far more likely to be politically liberal. Just look at the red vs. blue breakdown on any nationwide election map. Typically, even the older populations in heavily populated cities lean to the left, politically speaking. So, if COVID-19 is predominantly killing older people who live in large cities, it will be ineffective at making the electorate more liberal. The actual statistics on who is dying would give more evidence of a Republican conspiracy theory to kill Democrats.

Let me be clear. I do not believe COVID-19 is a conspiracy by anyone to kill anyone else. The above is simply an example of a conspiracy theory I have heard. And, like most conspiracy theories, it falls apart once you truly dig into it.

So, why do many Christians seem so prone to believe in conspiracy theories? I have two primary observations.

(1) The Bible seems to teach that, in the end times, there will be some form of one-world government, led by the antichrist. As a result, many Christians have their eyes fixated on anything that even remotely resembles a covert government attempt to get more power. According to conspiracy theorists, world governments placing restrictions on their citizens to slow the spread of COVID-19 appears to be somewhat of a test run to see how people respond to some of their freedoms being taken away. Therefore, the virus itself must be part of the conspiracy.

If this is why you see a conspiracy theory under virtually every stone, what is the point? If the Bible predicts that the one-world government is going to happen, no amount of you complaining about it or even fighting against it is going to prevent it from happening or even slow it down. Posting conspiracy theories on Facebook is not going to change anything. Since the vast majority of conspiracy theories are not true, you are far more likely to damage your testimony than you are to actually help someone spiritually. If the antichrist is about to arise, and he is behind COVID-19, then we are all going to have much bigger things to deal with than having to wear masks and not being able to go to our favorite restaurants.

(2) Since we cannot fathom why they believe the things they do, some Christians tend to demonize their opponents. The thinking goes like this: Only a truly evil person would be pro-choice, and only stupid people think that socialism will ever actually work. Therefore, those who support these, and other politically liberal positions, are either malevolent, or idiotic, or both. Some Christians who opposed Barack Obama’s policies believed him to be the antichrist. Some Christians who oppose Donald Trump’s policies believe he is the antichrist. Many Christians just can’t seem to accept the fact that someone can disagree with them politically and still be a decent person. So, they attribute the absolute worst possible motives and conspiracy theories to everything their political opponents say and do.

If this is the reason for your conspiracy-itus, you need to remember that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world. Conservativism may be a much better political system than progressivism, but conservativism cannot save us. Some socialists, gasp, believe that way because they genuinely think it is a fairer system, not because they want to enslave us and force us to work on the alien spaceship repair crew at Area-51. Stop placing your faith in politics. Stop demonizing those with whom you disagree.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, God is truth (John 14:6, 17). God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). We are to be people of the truth. Every word that comes out of our mouths should be the truth expressed in love (Ephesians 4:15). Every time we espouse a conspiracy theory that isn’t true, we are liars.

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.” (Proverbs 19:9)

When we promote falsehood, we are serving Satan, not God:

“He [Satan] … has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)

It doesn’t matter how juicy the conspiracy theory is. It doesn’t matter how plausible it seems. If you do not KNOW that it is the truth, you should have nothing to do with promoting it.

S. Michael Houdmann

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Why do many Christians seem so prone to believe in conspiracy theories?