Zoom conversation, held on Friday, May 8, 2020: Do conspiracies exist? Are too many Christians getting lost in the conspiracy jungle? How does indulgence in conspiracy theories affect the quality of our faith in Jesus and our witness? These are some of the questions we cannot avoid in the days when numerous conspiracy narratives are spreading like wildfire. Listen to Tihomir Kukolja (Renewing Our Minds Director, 2001-2019), Julia Bicknell (former BBC journalist), and Heather Nicola Staff (emerging UK politician) as they discuss these questions.
A few starting thoughts: Not everything that is labeled a conspiracy theory/narrative is a lie. Murders, plots, scheming, coverups are happening daily, and have been happening since the beginning of our human history until now. But most of the conspiracy narratives are fake, consisting of a deliberate blend of lies and some truth. And most of them are not new but recycled narratives that have been around for a long time. At this time they have a covid-19 spin in them.
What are we talking about? In the words of Joe Forrest, “by conspiracy theory I mean, ‘a well-organized effort initiated by an elite group of powerful men and women secretly working toward a singular goal or vision that often involves collaboration between government agencies and the media.” In other words, we are talking about deliberate acts of deception distributed, received and spread by many as the only truth to be trusted. They are a modern day gnosticism, or a false gospel about a possession of a special truth given only to a “discerning” group. Moreover, conspiracy narratives are about deliberate plotting, with manipulative intention, designed to delegitimize and bring harm, and spread fear and confusion by creating and spreading false, misleading and discrediting accounts about people, organizations, events. Often there is some truth in them, but there is always a twist.
It is a sad fact that too many Christians, a vocal and aggressive minority to be clear, seem to be the most zealous distributors of all kinds of conspiracy narratives. When Christians join the choruses of conspiracy-narrative advocates they are becoming (many of them with the most sincere intentions) false witnesses, active contributors to spreading of deception, idolatry and a populist form of gnosticism, and by doing so they are discrediting Christ and the Christian faith. Time 1:22:06 min.