Sunday, February 26, 2017

The Republican's predisposition to accept fake news, may have it origins in Fundamentalist Christianity.

Courtesy of Religion Dispatches:  

What is it about Republicans that seems to make them more credulous to fake news than Democrats? 

The answer to this question might have to do with the religious roots of today’s Republican Party in the Christian Right. Beginning with the Moral Majority, founded in 1979 by Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye, and continuing through church organizations such as Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, conservative Christians have helped reshape the Republican Party and its policies. Its “family values” positions on abortion, the sexual revolution, gender roles, pornography, and homosexuality have been heavily influenced by its conservative Christian theology. 

Voters have continued to “sort” themselves over the last few decades, as political liberals became less religious and political conservatives more religious. Sociologists call this the “God gap” in partisan religiosity. Conservative white evangelicals have formed a hugely important and highly motivated core group of the Republican electorate for several cycles. In 2016, Donald Trump garnered 81 percent of the white evangelical vote, higher than Mitt Romney, John McCain, and even the born-again George W. Bush.


Christian fundamentalist Bible colleges and universities, publishers and bookstores, newspapers and magazines, radio and then television shows, museums and campus ministries, together formed a set of institutions that resisted elite, secular expert knowledge. Recognizing the power of expertise’s infrastructure, Christian fundamentalists created this counter-infrastructure to cultivate and curate its alternative forms of knowledge. 

This alternative knowledge—the forerunner of today’s alternative facts— took the form of creationism and an alternative Bible scholarship demonstrating the Bible’s inerrancy and traditional authorship. This alternative educational and media ecosystem of knowledge was galvanized and mobilized when the Christian Right emerged in the late 1970s to influence the Republican Party. There were two long-term consequences for our fake news world. First, theologically and politically conservative Christians learned to distrust the proclamations of the supposedly neutral media establishment, just as they had grown to suspect the methods and conclusions of elite experts like scientists or historians. And second, they learned to seek the truth from alternative sources—whether a church sermon, Christian media (newspapers, books, radio or television shows), or a classroom in a Christian college. 

The consequence is that theologically fundamentalist Christians have for years explained to themselves that what seems to be worldly wisdom and conclusions are really the results of conspiracies, biases, and misplaced human pride in academic, scientific, and journalist communities. This cognitive training to reject expert knowledge and to seek alternative, more amenable explanations has helped disarm the capacity for critical thinking and analysis.

Well this is essentially what I have been pointing out for the last twelve years. 

The acceptance of supernatural explanations for the world around us makes us more susceptible to every kind of bullshit that gets presented to us throughout our lives.

Astrology, phrenology, numerology, past lives regression, palm readings, fear of contrails, seances, "reality" TV shows about chasing freaking Bigfoot, all of it relies on the suppression of the critical thinking skills that we need to safely navigate through our lives,

And without the ability to sniff out bullshit we find ourselves living in a country led by a cross between PT Barnum and an Oompa Loompa.

So yes I do indeed have issues with religion.

And I cannot help but feel that if more of us rejected it we would be living in a much better world, with a much brighter tomorrow ahead of us.


  1. Anonymous2:21 AM

    They live in a technological world made possible by science yet they reject science. It looks a lot like abject stupidity.

    1. Even the Amish are smarter than the Deplorables.

  2. Michelle2:21 AM

    Gryphen, you've previously written that your parents or at least your mother were fairly devout Christians so I assume you were brought up in the faith. How old were you when you escaped or was able to realize that religion is a scam? Was there a specific event that happened that triggered your enlightenment? Are your siblings religious or did they escape? I'm curious because most people that I know who were raised Christian didn't realize until early adulthood that they were brainwashed. The various ages at which atheists and agnostics stop believing is fascinating to me which is why I ask.

    1. I "fell from grace" when I saw through my Christian-ist father's hypocrisy. I was 18. Wish I could say it was much, much earlier, but those brainwashing buttons he installed (as child abuse) were hard to reach and turn off. (You first have to know they are there!)

      He himself had the same buttons that just buried themselves deeper and deeper over his 90 years. He was a victim. I can see that now and remember him for his wonderful qualities which are the best part of me and I am thankful.

    2. No mom was not devout, she just believed.

      She had a friend when she was younger who convinced her to attend church with her since my grandmother was not religious at all.

      Anyhow my Mom sent my brother and sister and I to Sunday school because she thought it was the place to learn about morality.

      It wasn't.

      I got kicked out at age seven for arguing with the minister about Jonah and the whale.

      I essentially knew it was bullshit from the very beginning.

    3. Anonymous6:44 AM

      Not Gryphen, but I'm happy to give you my story:

      Raised Roman Catholic, at a parish with a bad manager, absentee in all but body pastor, and another priest who hated kids, told off color jokes, and gave ranting sermons that had nothing to do with the people in the pews in front of him. I realize now, that they were inflammatory, racist rants; it was the 1970s. He wouldn't let the kids even use the gym after school, and they had NO programming outside the school day or Sunday mass, even though the church grounds had tons of empty buildings. WE (kids and teens) even started a folk choir on our own; he refused to have us at his masses. This parish also neglected to even send a priest to visit our home when he was terminally ill, even though my parents had been lifelong members who gave what little they could, and my grandfather, who lived with us, was a superogatory contributor in time and money. So, I went to the nearby suburb where I had heard there was a more welcoming church. It was- complete with teen club trailer, kids and young adults in and out of the rectory all the time, and they had the same for seniors - everyone was simply nice and welcoming- THREE folk choirs, one traditional. Went to tell the old parish I was leaving. Ended up bringing quite a few friends with me, too.

      The "nasty priest" not even letting me IN to the business office of the rectory, asked if I had "envelopes" used to keep track of parishioner Sunday donations. When I said no, he said it didn't matter where I went to church and slammed the door in my face. Went to the other parish for quite a few years (a decade), until I began to notice a falling off, a weird "feeling" there. Found out years later, one of the priests who I (a female) had really liked as a priest was a child sexual predator (now serving time.) Found out the pastor knew and when the diocese had just transferred the priest, he begged them not to hide it.

    4. Anonymous6:44 AM

      cont'd from "NOT Gryphen above:
      In between, I went to college, where in my first philosophy class, I tried to do a defense of my religion in answer to some general question. Logically finding none, wrote a failing and flailing paper that would have done a Lou Dobbs proud. Failed the course, as I should have.

      I let the question slide for a few years, not necessarily going to mass weekly, but more than holidays. Tried to become a parishioner at my more local church when I moved. Dealt with unwelcoming priests - there had been a building boom, so it was now watching formerly dying parishes try to foist newcomers to other churches.

      Then, there was the wedding. Like most other 1980's couples, my fully adult (late 20's self) and late 30's fiance lived together before getting married, largely due to finances. When informed of our mutual address for the ridiculous pre-Cana conferences (yeah, let's listen to a never married guy who has a parish paid for cook and maid, tell a couple how to live together and raise kids) that pastor said " we have another problem", that was it. NO WE DON'T.

      Ended up at a United Church of Christ (only because I didn't know what Unitarian was and there was no Quaker group in the area, whTHe UCC was a bit better, but still not really what I wanted - which was a sense of belonging in a community. Because by then, I'd really started questioning the theology and realizing how silly belief itself was. Went back to university and took a good philosophy course among others - history, natural and social science, even literature etc. I'd always been pretty logical and now felt a great sense of no longer being divided in mind when I rejected religious belief and all other sorts of spiritualism, because now I had a firm foundation on which to do so. As unchallengeable as 2 +2=4. Ad in the misogyny of most religions -- here atheist me has happily remained for decades. And raising my atheist kids.

      So in short, it was being driven out of the RC church, by abusive hypocrites (even though I wasn't physically abused) I saw others were. And the hypocrisy and church as (bad, protected) business were lessons I'll never forget.

      Today, I do have some respect for (good) churches and even individuals in bad churches where it is more of a social justice club. I strongly suspect that they would be good people doing good without religion, but were likely raised in a religion and just too fearful to try life without it. Religion is indeed the opiate of the masses and the wallpaper of their lives.

    5. Anonymous8:58 AM

      A couple of those stories sound absolutely believable. And one sounds like some, off the cuff, cliche', made up bullshit. I'll let you all decide. lmao.

    6. Anonymous9:26 AM

      A couple of WHICH stories 8:58? I'm here and happy to answer further. And it's all a pretty common experience; being a bit older one tends to have quite a LOT of experiences, don't you think?

  3. Anonymous3:10 AM

    Interesting article. But I can't agree with you on astrology, numerology, palm reading, or past life regression. None of them has anything to do with religion and are all very profound. You should have your astrology chart or numerology reading done. I'm sure you would be very surprised.

    1. Nikki Munson5:11 AM

      Are you serious?

    2. Anonymous6:45 AM

      Good one. Were you able to keep from laughing as you typed that?

    3. Anonymous9:00 AM

      There is a lot more proof of past lives than there is a virgin gave birth to a Gawd's baby.

    4. Anonymous9:27 AM

      No, there are a lot more stories of past lives - all that have been examined, debunked.

    5. Astrology used to be a part of religion. I think Chinese Astrology still is. The rest is more recent charletonism. You failed to mention Scientology with is beyond religion and into a cult.

      It's ALL hokum.

    6. Anonymous11:40 AM

      I happened to see a commercial for that Long Island medium and she went to a Dr. for a brain scan to assess her "powers" and lo and behold they found she had breast cancer, and guess what, she didn't know it. Funny that, huh?

      As far as astrology, the earth has an axial processional "wobble" that changes our relationship with our background stars over time and the horoscope signs have migrated out of their actual stellar constellations, making any predictions based on the predictions of 2000 years ago rather worthless.

  4. Anonymous3:13 AM

    I'm reminded of an acquaintance in Wasilla, Cesar Davila, who loudly and publically claims that Obama's crowd sizes were larger because all of the Trump supporters were at work. He's a big supporter of the DAPL as well as a big bible thumper. It's a shame people like he and his family are so goddamn fertile.

    1. Anonymous8:35 AM

      Ignore him. He's a redneck idiot punk who thinks he knows everything.

  5. Anonymous3:34 AM

    GOP brains fire more on the center of fear as well. They hate what they fear and they fear anything that threatens their narrow world view.

    1. Dr. Oz. of all people, did a show last week on Fake News. He showed brain scans of people watching fake news and that is exactly what they showed. The fear centers were targeted and firing on fake news.

      It was a surprisingly good show as he also had an expert on to instruct people on how to vet their sources, a mini information literacy course. He stressed to "Beware before you share" as that is the best way to shut down fake news. Stop spreading it around.

      Remember when we were constantly getting e-mail warnings from friends about coke cans and toilet seats that we were constantly debunking with Snopes? Well, now it's fake news and it's much harder to shut it down because the stupid always want to believe the shit that supports their "beliefs." (The beliefs Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones have already put in their tiny pinheads.)

  6. Randall3:51 AM

    The problem with "religious" people is: they concentrate on the story and miss the moral.
    They memorize Bible stories like the wheat and the tares but haven't a CLUE what the moral is...

    Jesus never once said to hate anyone.

    The bottom-line of Judaism, Christianity and yes, even Islam is:
    Do Unto Others as you would have them do unto you.

    But it's as if the "religious" people read Aesop's Tortoise and the Hare and have endless debates on whether the race was a straight or crooked course. On whether it was cloudy or sunny and what the implications of either would be.
    Some worship the Tortoise and will defend their faith in the "shelled one" to the death while others put their faith in The Hare and worship everything hare-like.
    And neither side even remembers that "slow and steady wins the race."
    They're too busy fighting over whether one should be fuzzy or hard-shelled in one's undying faith. And they're willing to kill for their belief.
    Same with today's "Christians"
    ...they get so wound-up they're willing to shit on the poor and their creed seems to have turned into: If They're Not One of Us then Fuck Them. Praise Jesus, of course, but still... Fuck 'em.
    Refugees? Fuck 'em
    Too poor to afford insurance? Fuck 'em
    Desperate dreamers? Fuck 'em
    Too old to work? Fuck 'em
    Not a white Christian? Fuck them very very much

    1. Garbage in. Garbage out.

    2. Anonymous9:02 AM

      Randall - can't thank you enough for this example- I swear you nailed it. I live with this Tortoise and Hare pattern daily. Can't discuss anything as it always gets side-tracked just as you describe!

    3. Substitute "political" for "religious" and you have the exact same thing.

      If you're not "hare-like" enough or say anything critical of the hare-y one, then you're a "Bernie bot" and they bash on you like no one's business.

      So what do people do when they are neither hare nor tortoise?

  7. Anonymous5:48 AM

    Like many areas in our lifetime we have witnessed those that hide in religion and do harm to others. It is their hateful greed that drives them. Victim after victim come forward hurt and damaged by predators, con artist, bully and thugs in the name of religion. From the beginning of Mankind, Man has used religion to enslave his fellow Man. Seven steps to personal freedom by Gerry Spence a short book and sweet explanation.

  8. Anonymous5:58 AM

    Hey Donald, How about overhaul tax exemption status for the fraudulent scientology and certain religions that continue the practice to deceive and prey on innocent humans. If they display a political party and view than they are not exempt from taxes while their profit driven religion and scam business thrive to con.

  9. Anonymous6:20 AM

    I do not believe that believing in something is wrong. I believe that most so called religious folks are good people. Something to believe in and love is not wrong. Even marriage is a form of this. It is wrong when one uses this to extort, harm or control another. I lean towards worshipping the earth and each and every living thing. The science of how it all works together. The beauty and constant of the tides, moon, stars, sun each day. It is a wonderful big beautiful world of diverse cultures and people. Cherish it and take care of it.

    1. Anonymous8:10 AM

      Be Kind.
      Sums it up for me.

    2. What I object to is using religion as a shield for "bad" behavior, from adultery to theft/cheating to hate. And we're seeing a lot of HATE under this administration.

  10. Anonymous6:52 AM

    Really 6:20 - think about that. Something to believe in is not wrong - so racism and misogyny are not wrong? Worship of the dollar , as the prosperity gospelists would have it, is not wrong?

    While at first I would agree with the second half of your post, it really is a part of the former - "love" things so big, so amorphous, so impossible, that the statement is meaningless and that is much of religion. Religionists claim to "love everyone" but then shit on their neighbor and hate the person next to them in traffic. They love them some "diverse culture - have a taco bowl -- but build a border wall and rip a woman awaiting surgery for a brain tumor from the hospital and throw her in jail and keep her form seeing her family.

  11. Anonymous8:06 AM

    Once again Gryphen goes after the low hanging fruit, the US christians... yet turns a blind eye to the absolutely horrific modern day practices of medieval like torture and killing sanctioned by so many Islamic countries, Islamic groups and sects, and individuals, all in the name of Islam. And I'm not even talking about the Islamic terror part. This is Sharia Law, or other Islamic masturbation against their fellow countrymen, neighbors, fellow Muslims.

    Islam is the worlds fastest growing religion. Being exported en masse to the western world. Culture clash anyone.

    Hypocrisy, Gryphen, is thine middle name.

    1. Actually my middle name is Studmuffin.

      And if you read here with any frequency you would know I damn all religions equally.

      However Christianity happens to be the cancer eating away at America's internal organs therefore it deserves special attention.

    2. Anonymous8:30 AM

      Oh I do read here frequently Gryphen, and it is all about hating on the Christians, and having the liberal sads for those poor Muslims.

      Your overzealous attitude towards the US Christians is by and large way over the top. Most people who identify as Christian barely believe and 'practice' even less. Just enough to hopefully squeak thru the pearly gates if they exist, which most are not sure about either, they are just hedging their bets. And the US Catholics, 99% go as basically a social club, same they grew up in, and place to send their kids to school. Been that way for decades.

      If there is a religion to have extreme concern over in the modern world, it is Islam, whether your liberal tendencies want to believe it or not.

    3. Anonymous9:36 AM

      Hey, lying? or illiterate? or both? You can't conflate the actions of mainstream religion (social club, amorphous beliefs mostly tempered by reason) with evangelicals and fundamentalists - their whole lives revolve around religion, reason doesn't penetrate their willful cocoon even to shunning things that could make them question. Those are the folks that push their religion onto others, and they get the older, riled up about generational changes in society mainstream to go along with them at times (see anti-choice protests and murders.) These fundies are your US Christian extremists.

      Similarly, there is Islam mainstream and Islam extremists. But that analogy is unlikely to penetrate your racism.

    4. Anonymous10:00 AM

      Oh there have always been the christian and evangelical kooks 9:36, and they have done damage. But frankly, they are not even close to being on the same page as the Muslim extremists/terrorists (which the original post wasn't even addressing), and don't cause nearly the same concern for the security of the nation. Not even close. Sorry to tell you that being realistic and honest, does not constitute racism, even though that is the new (and failing) liberal come back every time. Anyone with a realistic opinion is an automatic racist according to your type. That is why the left lost the election. Reality is winning out.

    5. Anonymous10:51 AM


      So when christians blow up abortion clinics, kill doctors and just the other day murder two innocent Indian's thinking they were middle eastern muslim terrorists, that's okay with you?

      Get off your high horse, all religions suck, equally.

    6. Anonymous11:15 AM

      What part of: "there have always been the christian and evangelical kooks 9:36, and they have done damage." don?t you understand 10:51?

      The original post wasn't even about comparing terrorism by the Christians vs by the Muslims... It was about Muslim states and countries and the very abhorrent punishments they carry out against their own people under Islamic legal systems. Are you even aware at all?

      And if you want to go the route of Christian extremists... well I'll take that threat any day over terror. Does this country or the western world in general need both?

      Might I remind you of all the acts of terror and violence that have occurred in the last ten years in the US and Europe in the name of Islam vs Christianity? You can stay blind to reality if you want, it doesn't matter what you think, or I think really, it is what the masses think and vote. And the masses around the western world are growing very weary of the obvious problems associated with Islam, and the apologist left wing politicians that have further enabled this growing problem. Hell they won't even discuss it in realistic terms.

    7. Anonymous11:23 AM

      Islam and Christianity are just two slightly different flavors of the same cancer.

    8. Deplorable, just deplorable.

      Stop reading Trump's twitter feed and stop watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones.

      You'll be surprised how quickly the world "improves."

      You are a victim of Fake News.

    9. Anonymous11:47 AM


      You are ALL interchangeable, and guess what you worship the same.fucking.god, but can't seem to get your shit together.

      Perhaps the current Islamic unrest is payback for your Crusades? Ever think about that?

      History shows that you are all part of the problem, yet you people only tend to dally in the present, history seeming to be not one of your strongpoints.

    10. Anonymous12:15 PM

      Keep your head in the sand while the rest of the world deals with the very real problems.

      Is this fox news mlaiuppa?

    11. Anonymous12:50 PM

      Hahaha. Are so dense as to actually think I'm a christian or religious at all 11:47? And are you really also so stupid as to bring up the crusades in modern times? Holy fuck you people are stupid. You are the very definition of cut off your own nose to spite your face

    12. Anonymous7:23 PM

      Go fuck yourself 12:15. Splc has a listmuhc longer and much more dangerous. Not to mention the slow mo terrorism of the fundernuts trying to make women into incubators without rights. The terror of not being able to access healthcare if poor is right up there too.a ll courtesy of the right wing mostly religious conservotards.

    13. Anonymous7:22 AM

      The SPLC is a scam left wing hate organization that pushes lies for their agenda. What a joke you are for mentioning that hate group that has zero credibility.

  12. Grey One talking sass9:05 AM

    It has been said by greater minds than my own that what is magic to a primitive is science to the enlightened.

    That said, I remember my past lives. As a child every Deity ever created talked to me. Yeah, I was an odd child. Still am to be honest.

    I searched the religions for why I am only to discover no one faith has the complete answer. As I see it religion distills to which priest class gets to control the power. As I see it, most religion is about 'not' sharing.

    I turned to science, only to discover they don't have all the answers either. In fact, the hierarchy is more dogmatic than many religions.

    Do I identify as psychic, of having talents of the mind? Yes, I do.

    Will I out myself? Not this life! Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, coffee cup, and complementary pen, thank you very much.

    Those who are important in my life know who and what I am. It's enough for me.

    Guess my point to Gryphen is to keep an open mind. Dark Matter accounts for over 90% of the Universe. Our puny human minds have just scratched the surface of understanding. Perhaps life isn't meant to be so black and white. Perhaps there is room for those of is who are Grey.

    1. Anonymous9:38 AM

      Hey Grey One, I suggest you call 1-800-( I need help and a shrink) STAT.

    2. You'd be surprised what a few meds will do to improve your life.

  13. Anonymous11:00 AM

    The majority of humans tend to be followers, this comes from our tribal origins, where individuals tended to fare poorly on their own. This has translated through the ages to groups following religious leaders and their particular brand of deity.

    How do you think Mark Zuckerberg got over a billion people to join Facebook? Groupthink and a tendency to follow others, just as religion profits so do many business when they bet heavy on humans being followers rather than individuals. People simply fear being left out.

    The majority of humans want to be part of a group, hell, when I was in college there were girls who would skip meals if they didn't have anyone to dine with.

    Most don't do well alone and but the desire to be in a group can have dire consequences as we see with religious brainwashing.

    This trait which was so necessary in our hunter/gatherer societies is actually a detriment in modern societies.

  14. Religion Dispatches? Never heard of it. It's probably fake news.

    Assigning labels to large groups of people is illogical. We are complex and we don't fit into pigeonholes.

    President Obama is a case in point. He is a profoundly religious man who intellectually arrived at his position of belief in adulthood, after an un-churched upbringing. No one can call him brainwashed, narrow-minded, unenlightened, or hypocritical. His reflections on the writings of Reinhold Niebuhr and other theologians reveal that President Obama is a brilliant existential thinker and a man of deep faith. He is a Democrat. President Jimmy Carter, who is cited even by Gryphen as an example of a good, humble Christian, is also a Democrat. These are just anecdotes, but they provide powerful examples.

    As a retired English language/lit teacher and parent of four middle-aged children, I know that many children immediately realize that stories like Jonah and the whale aren't intended to be taken literally, but are small metaphorical hints pointing toward an understanding of a larger picture. In spite of Piaget's stages of cognitive development, some children have intuitive insights into the deeper meaning of archetypal myths. Typically, such children know from the get-go that Santa and the tooth fairy are make-believe games they play with their parents. And they also intuit, to paraphrase some famous cosmologist, that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the laws of the universe.

    An important part of the bigger picture is unity. In the Republican administration of Trump, we see the danger of an "us versus them" mentality. This blog post and some of the comments--probably many of them written by Democrats--echo the theme "I'm 100% right and everyone who thinks differently is inferior." This ideology is dangerous regardless of political party affiliation.


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