The ‘CharlieCharlieChallenge’ doesn’t lead to demonic possession — but it can nurture credulity and willful ignorance, which is worse


The “CharlieCharlieChallenge,” like Ouija boards, is pretty dumb. But neither of those is as bad as the overwrought condemnation of such things by Christians who fear them because they believe they’re actually supernatural. See, Robert Johnson folklore is not actually orthodox Christian theology. And even if you play “CharlieCharlie” at midnight at a Delta crossroads and sign a contract in blood, you can’t actually sell your soul to the devil. That’s not an actual thing. [Read more...]

Back to the ’80s, because we never left them (part 2)


Any skeptical questions about the reality of these alleged horrors was reinterpreted — and fiercely condemned — as a defense of those same horrors. Questions such as “How did they have time to fly the children to Mexico?” or “Why are there no records of such a flight?” wouldn’t be answered directly because answering them would threaten the fantasy. Instead, anyone asking such questions would be recast as a defender of Satanic ritual abuse by Mexican soldiers. [Read more...]

Back to the ’80s, because we never left them


The D&D backlash of the 1980s wasn’t sustainable because the unreality of the imagined threat eventually became impossible to deny. But while this particular form of symptom spiked and dissipated, the disease remains — with the moral entrepreneurs continuing their role-playing fantasy by concocting and warring against ever-new sets of imaginary monsters. [Read more...]

‘We must be careful about what we pretend to be’: How tribal cheerleading creates new tribal dogma and changes the tribe to conform to it


Over time, these kinds of tribal-cheerleading responses to pollsters and other catechists eventually become required responses. And thus, over time, the things that people pretend to believe as a “way of showing that they’re members in good standing” of their political faction become the things that members of that faction actually believe. The fluff becomes substance — becomes dogma. And the tribe is transformed to conform to this new dogma. [Read more...]

James Dobson cannot really believe what he says about legal abortion and the Holocaust

If you're living under the Third Reich, your first moral obligation might not be to make a fortune peddling books about how to spank your children.

James Dobson isn’t alone in making this claim. The legal-abortion-is-worse-than-the-Holocaust line is so frequently repeated by anti-abortion white evangelicals that Dobson’s remark is really just a bit of “pro-life” boilerplate. But repetition hasn’t made this claim any less outrageous or any more credible as something anyone could possibly say in good faith. If you try — really try — to imagine the implications of someone saying such a thing whole-heartedly and in good faith, you’ll be forced to conclude that can’t be what Dobson is doing. [Read more...]

For some it’s a con, for some it’s a game, and for some it’s a gnostic cult. And sometimes it’s all three at once.


I used to think that the audience supporting any given conspiracy theory was made up of three distinct kinds of people: Cynics, true believers, and hobbyists. That’s in the past tense because I no longer quite believe that. What I’m starting to believe, instead, is that any individual supporter of any given conspiracy is made up of all three of those things. [Read more...]

How Bruce and Patti prove that Huckabee and Scalia are lying (and that they know full well they’re lying)


Antonin Scalia is also fully aware of the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and practice on divorce and remarriage. He is fully, completely aware that any Catholic with a valid civil divorce has every legal, civil and constitutional right to remarry. And he is fully, completely aware that this has never in any way, shape or form ever meant that a Catholic priest could be legally compelled to consecrate such a wedding. Justice Scalia knows this. Everyone knows this. [Read more...]

Setting half the trends we know

Two of these guys are still acting.

When somebody claims to be just like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that’s usually a big clue that they’re nothing like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Also: A premillennial dispensationalist “Bible prophecy scholar” explains how Psalm 83 disproves the nuclear deal with Iran; the deadliest enemy force; the undifferentiated “we” strikes again; and an excuse to revisit Brian Ritchie’s bass solo on “Please Do Not Go.” [Read more...]