The unintended message of the Church’s wildest critics
This kind of thing — the Nations/Swaggert view of Catholicism — is certainly a byway in American Christianity with little effect on anyone else. There aren’t a lot of people like this, but there are more of them than you might think and, most importantly, they represent the pure version of beliefs some other Evangelicals, people with whom we may work, have in diluted form.
was true, but
is true. I said it wasn’t, he said it was. He was not to be dissuaded. He turned out to believe a lot of stories like that one.
But the Church as part of a secret Freemason/Muslim/Catholic alliance, this goes several steps beyond the usual prejudice. The usual explanations for extremism must apply to this group: cultural marginalization, economic vulnerability, the creation of social cohesion through scapegoating, fear of the other, a history of prejudice inherited from the past. It’s also an easy bigotry to indulge, as these people rarely have to engage a Catholic. They can say rude things about Catholics as they might about Martians. Their words will never come back to bite them.
I think there are at least a couple of other reasons. One is the great attraction of seeing through something, of knowing the real story behind the story everyone else believes. We all know the attraction. It’s one reason we gossip. “Of course everyone thinks he’s a good Christian. But you know,
really . . .” For various reasons, people like Nations lack that alarm that tells them when they’ve crossed the line from plausible explanation into absurdity.
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