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What Pelosi’s Attack Says About a Post-Truth Church

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The image was of a pair of underwear with a hammer, and the caption read, “Get it now: Paul Pelosi’s Halloween costume.” After a friend sent me the link, I was almost shaking with rage. In less than an hour, Donald Trump Jr. would post the same image with a similar message, but this is the first one that made me angry because it was posted by someone claiming to be a follower of Jesus -Christ.

Keep in mind what we witnessed this week: A man with a history of conspiracy theories, including denial of the 2020 election, broke into the San Francisco home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi , took a hammer and beat the president’s husband until he needed critical surgery.

Police report the man ran through the house yelling “Where’s Nancy?” The language is a direct echo of the cries of Jan. 6 insurgents, who swarmed the president’s office after attacking and ransacking the Capitol.

Within hours of the Pelosi attack, typical internet mobs were spreading lies and conspiracy theories about the event, some of them too vile and obviously fabricated to even mention here.

A friend asked me why I was so upset about the supposedly evangelical man who posted the “joke” about Pelosi’s attempted murder. After all, we’ve seen his troll behavior on and off social media for years. “Why are you surprised?” my friend said. “This guy has shown who he is for years. I feel sorry for him.”

But that’s the point. This isn’t an isolated incident of a sad, angry, “extremely online” guy. It reflects a upward trend among some Christians.

Take for example Charlie Kirk, who responded to Pelosi’s attack by saying“If an amazing patriot out there in San Francisco or the Bay Area really wants to be a mid-term hero, somebody should go bail him out. … Release him and ask him a few questions. That’s is the same Kirk who claims to be a born-again Christian and whose name was merged with that of Jerry Falwell Jr. in the “Falkirk Center” of the largest Christian university in the country (until Falwell left).

While all of this is going on, hordes of online commentators and conspiracy theory websites either deny the attack happened – like a Deep State “false flag” – or positively revel in the humor of everything. that. Many of them have “Christian.” Husband. Father” or a similar designation in their social media bio.

All of this would be bad enough if it just happened in the “fog of disinformation”. But even after the official affidavit from the Department of Justice was released with details of the police interview with the alleged assailant – who admits to breaking into the Pelosi house to harm the President – where are the excuses for spreading the lies? Where is the shame of reveling in what could easily have turned into murder?

Looking at some of the responses to Pelosi’s beating, Mona Charen asked, “What’s wrong with these people?” The answer, of course, is hell.

James, the brother of Jesus, tells us that “the tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). He goes on to tell churches that “bitter envy and selfish ambition” lead to “denying[ing] the truth,” which leads to “disorder and all bad practice” (vv. 14-16).

This imagery from the fires of hell shows how damaging lies can be and how easily they can spiral out of control. The threat of political violence looms over our country in a way perhaps not seen since the fiery days of the 1960s.

Indeed, the situation could easily become even more intense. After all, people back then didn’t have social media incentives to draw attention to character debasement, which could lead to large numbers of people reaching out to sympathize with Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray or Sirhan Sirhan.

Where does much of this violence or the threat of it come from? Lies. The idea that the election was stolen by a vast conspiracy of liberals is a lie. That chosen ones are part of a secret cabal to drink the blood of babies is a lie. That the Jews are pulling the strings of the “globalist” order is a lie. That the federal government engineered COVID-19 as a hoax is a lie. That your pastor is a “cultural Marxist” for preaching what the Bible teaches about race and justice is a lie.

Worse still, many people spread such lies to know let them be lies.

God is a God of truth, and He forbids both bearing false witness and taking human life. Jesus himself said that the devil “was a murderer from the beginning, not holding on to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his mother tongue, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

The apostle Paul, too, emphasizes the connection between lying and murder when he speaks of those under the power of sin as those whose “tongues work deceit” and whose “feet are quick to shed blood. (Rom. 3:13-15). ).

We are in a precarious and dangerous time, and even worse, we have become used to it all. In early December 2020, when a Republican election official in Georgia called for an end to lies about a stolen election, he warned, “Someone is going to get shot; someone is going to get killed. Just over a month later, police officers were beaten at the United States Capitol. People were chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” And, yes, people were shouting, “Where’s Nancy?”

Is this really the kind of society we want to live in? Is it really the United States of America that we want to bequeath to our children? And, more importantly, is it the testimony of the church that we want to display?

It will rightly be noted that the personalities spreading conspiracies or joking about this recent assassination attempt are fringe and hyperpoliticized personalities, not respected spiritual leaders. They will rightly observe that most evangelical Christians tolerate neither lies nor political violence. That’s absolutely correct. And that’s why we have to say it.

This is why we must say to those who spread lies and fuel violence: “You will not do this in our name, and you will certainly not do this in the name of Jesus Christ.

Moreover, we are ethically obligated to tell these bad actors Jesus’ warning – that the path of lies leads not only to violence against the innocent but also to the damnation of the liars themselves (Rev. 21:8 ).

We should be people of truth. And at the Judgment Seat of Christ, when every lie is exposed, don’t be the person to say, “I left my soul in San Francisco.”

Russell Moore is the editor of Christianity today.