Alex Jones and the Theology of Bad Faith

Alex Jones and the Theology of Bad Faith October 13, 2022

A jury determined today that Alex Jones must pay $965 million to the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims.

Alex Jones
Photo: © Sean P. Anderson / cc-by.

Jones is often characterized as a conspiracy theorist. This is a little generous. Art Bell was a conspiracy theorist; Alex Jones is a bearer of false witness and well aware of the fact that he is one, according to his divorce attorney. This puts him in a different category. He’s not a kook; he’s a huckster at best, a predator at worst. How is he able to justify this kind of behavior?

There are several answers. None of them are particularly interesting as explanations for Alex Jones’ behavior, because Alex Jones is not interesting, but they may be useful if you want to make sure you don’t repeat his mistakes:

  • Alex Jones sincerely believes he’s good, and that the people he criticizes are evil. This is immediately clear if you’ve watched his rants about Democratic politicians who smell of sulfur; he may not believe everything he says, but on some level he clearly managed to convince himself that he’s engaged in spiritual warfare. Since he’s on God’s side, nothing he’s doing can be entirely evil in his eyes if it benefits him; since his enemies are on the devil’s side, nothing he does to harm them can be wrong. Do you ever find yourself relaxing your ethical standards because you’re sure you’re a good person, or sure another person isn’t? Be careful; that’s where your worst character traits can sneak in.
  • Alex Jones became rich and powerful off his lies. None of us can entirely avoid complicity in evil systems, unfortunately, and none of us can entirely avoid conforming to unethical norms from time to time. But be mindful and intentional about the compromises you make, and make sure you’re not losing your own moral center through these compromises.
  • Alex Jones was, at one time, idolized by millions. People who make terrible moral and strategic mistakes, as we have recently seen with Putin in Ukraine, often make them because they’ve surrounded themselves with people who reinforce their decisions no matter how foolish or wicked those decisions are. We live in a culture that tells us to cut out toxic people, to distance ourselves from our haters, to purify our social networks. A certain amount of this is necessary for self-care, but you should also be mindful that you’re not limiting your circle to flatterers and enablers. As with many things, finding a good balance is key—and you have to find that balance yourself.

For his entire public life, Alex Jones has been a moral and political parasite. But he has something to give us: a warning that the roads are slick, and the bridge is out.

Browse Our Archives