Do white evangelicals have a delusional persecution complex? Barna says yes, and provides quantifiable proof

Do white evangelicals have a delusional persecution complex? Barna says yes, and provides quantifiable proof January 28, 2013

After discussing the limits of the survey research and data supplied by the Barna Group, let’s turn to the merits of it, and what such research can tell us.

Barna surveys may not always help to tell us about how behavior actually corresponds to attitudes or perceptions, but they can be quite helpful in telling us how widespread particular attitudes or perceptions actually are.

For example, a friend of mine dislikes Brussels sprouts and says, “No one likes Brussels sprouts.” That’s quite a sweeping claim, but to what extent is it true? A survey is a useful way of finding out. We can measure what percentage of people share my friend’s dislike,* and thereby see whether her opinion is broadly representative or if she is an outlier — whether she is an exception to the norm or an accurate reflection of the majority view. It might be even better to find measurements of actual behavior — sales and consumption figures, for example, but a survey can still be a valuable tool for putting her comments in context.

Here’s a more concrete example relating to an actual bit of recent research reported by the Barna Group. Libby Anne recently highlighted a comment on her blog that seems to epitomize what many of us have observed as a widespread, delusional sense of persecution on the part of many members of America’s privileged religious majority. The comment provides a remarkable specimen of what I call the “persecuted hegemon” — a person enjoying the rewards of cultural dominance while simultaneously insisting that they are aggrieved and suffering an injustice at the hands of people who are, in fact, marginalized minorities.

Here’s that comment:

As a matter of fact, it is [Christians’] rights that are being limited and we are becoming the minority in this nation. In many countries to even hint at being a Christian is the same as signing a death warrant. In our country they have taken away our right to pray in school, in some states we cannot even have private Bible study groups in our homes because it constitutes an illegal gathering, our organizations are being required to make the “abortion pill” a covered product on our insurance or be fined an absurd amount of money, our Christian doctors are being forced to consider if they even want to be doctors anymore or not because of a mandate that they must perform abortions……..and gay people are saying they don’t have rights?

As Libby Anne correctly notes, none of this person’s complaints correspond with reality. The examples of her perceived persecution are all imaginary and false. All of them.

Most of these false examples are, in fact, perversions and inversions of the actual facts of the matter. The comment is contradicted by the daily lived experience of the commenter.

This is a picture of Anne Hutchinson being expelled by the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Or, for white evangelicals, this is a picture of the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony being cruelly persecuted by the wicked Anne Hutchinson.

This is delusional, and the delusion is doubly cruel. It is cruel, foremost, to the people who are actually marginalized and disenfranchised — who are being denied full and equal participation in society because they do not conform to the majority beliefs that this commenter insists must be mandatory for everyone else, and who are then, on top of that, being scapegoated and blamed as the supposed cause of the non-existent “persecution” being suffered by the privileged majority.

But it is also cruel to the commenter herself, fabricating a causeless source of misery and aggrievement, unnecessarily introducing stress where no such stress actually exists.

Now, both Libby Anne and I regard this comment as broadly representative of an attitude that we both see as widespread throughout the white evangelical subculture in America. But is that true? It’s possible, after all, that we’re simply cherry-picking data to support our thesis. Perhaps this one comment is not representative of anything other than the views of this lone commenter.

We can certainly demonstrate that this commenter is not unique. Scroll back through the archives of Libby Anne’s blog, or of this one, and you’ll see we both can provide dozens more examples of evangelical Christians exhibiting the same delusional persecution complex. But all of those examples put together still don’t prove that we’ve done anything more than identified what might still be only a small fringe sub-set of deluded white evangelicals. It may be that all of the anecdotes and examples we’ve collected and reported over the years are still just cherry-picked data selected only because they support our thesis of a broader evangelical persecution complex.

Another indicator of support for that thesis comes from the public statements of prominent white evangelical leaders. A single blog comment may reflect nothing more than the opinions of a lone commenter, but if the sentiments it expresses are repeated by a host of prominent white evangelicals in leadership positions, that would seem to indicate that such sentiments are more widely held.

That’s one thing that can be gleaned from a recent post at Homebrewed Christianity titled “On Religious Freedom in a Pluralistic Society,” which cites several such prominent evangelical luminaries echoing the persecution complex described by Libby Anne’s commenter.

Christian at Homebrewed Theology mentions the “Manhattan Declaration,” a 2009 manifesto embodying this same persecution complex which was endorsed by a who’s who of white evangelical leaders. And then he points to a recent column by three of those Manhattan declarers, Robert George, Timothy George and Eric “Call Me Dietrich” Metaxas, in which they lament the supposed persecution of the Christian majority:

They say there are numerous examples, and then pick three:

1. The brouhaha over Louie Giglio and the Inaguration.

2. The contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

3. The demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

Of these three, exactly none are “religious freedom” issues.


They are, without exception, religious primacy issues.

None of these impact, in any measurable way, the ability of the Conservative Christian community to practice their faith openly and without fear of persecution in the United States.

In a pluralistic society, there’s a general rule. Your right to swing your fist ends at the other guy’s nose. That means, in a pluralistic society, for the health of the society, there’s a give and take. It’s the essence of the social contract that we live under when we decide to become a society.

When people like the authors above, or the creators of the Manhattan Declaration, complain that, not faith, but that their particular embodiment of faith isn’t given supremacy above all others and cries of “persecution” are heard, it is rightfully interpreted as an innate hatred of the rest of society and disdain for the social contract we all live under.

There’s a name for people who believe they, and their beliefs, should always be kowtowed to no matter what …

… they’re called sociopaths.

Well, yes. But it’s one thing to say that Metaxas and the Georges and the commenter at Libby Anne’s blog are delusional sociopaths who hate the rest of society — that much is obvious. It’s quite another thing to demonstrate that this hate-fueled delusion is more widely present within the broader white evangelical subculture.

And that’s where the latest survey from the Barna Group comes in. Because that survey provides what all those anecdotal examples cannot provide: Quantifiable proof that a majority of white evangelical Americans are hate-fueled sociopaths making themselves and others miserable with a perverse and delusional persecution complex.

Barna doesn’t quite put it as strongly as that, but the implication is identical. A majority of white evangelicals “want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture,” said David Kinnamon, president of the Barna Group.

“Dominate.” Or, as Christian said, it’s not about religious liberty, it’s about religious primacy.

The findings of a poll published Wednesday (Jan. 23), reveal a “double standard” among a significant portion of evangelicals on the question of religious liberty, said David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group, a California think tank that studies American religion and culture.

While these Christians are particularly concerned that religious freedoms are being eroded in this country, “they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture,” said Kinnamon.

“They cannot have it both ways,” he said. “This does not mean putting Judeo-Christian values aside, but it will require a renegotiation of those values in the public square as America increasingly becomes a multi-faith nation.”

Barna’s survey also found white evangelicals enthusiastically eager to lay blame to others for their perceived “persecution.” Nearly three-fourths of white evangelicals, “72 percent … agreed that gays and lesbians were the group ‘most active in trying to remove Christian values from the country.'”

Again, that’s a direct inversion and deliberate perversion of the daily, felt, known and experienced reality for those very same evangelicals. They cannot be unaware that evangelicals are the group most active in trying to remove LGBT people from the country. In a sense, I suppose, this survey response is an expression of that same desire to rid society of all such unwanted people — a way of restating the emphatic belief that their presence and very existence is a threat to the majority’s “values.”

That survey finding cannot be explained other than, in Christian’s words again, as evidence of “an innate hatred of the rest of society and disdain for the social contract we all live under.”

And it’s not just the attitude of a few outliers nut-picked from comment sections or of a few of the more outrageous pseudo-intellectual posers like Metaxas or the Georges. This delusional sociopathy is the majority view.

An old professor of mine used to say that social science sometimes amounted only to “the statistical approximation of the known,” and this survey may seem like that to many of us who have long observed what it quantifies. But that quantification also serves as evidence, as proof, of what we have been saying.

A great many white evangelicals have a delusional persecution complex. That delusion is an expression of a desire to dominate others and to scapegoat any others who refuse to be dominated.

Thanks to Barna’s survey, we know that’s not just a theory or just an argument, it’s a fact.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* I suspect those who agree with her are thinking mainly of boiled Brussels sprouts, which is unfair. Nothing is very appealing if you insist on cooking all the flavor out of it.

Brussels sprouts should be broiled — cut in half, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper or lemon, then cooked in an oven, not boiled on a stove. Just saying.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • EllieMurasaki

    If you ever actually talked to me instead of the made-up version of me in your head, you would immediately notice that I NEVER “sneer” or behave unpleasantly in conversations. I NEVER have “two-hour arguments” with anybody.

    But you’ve been behaving unpleasantly in an argument that’s lasted more than two hours. I’ll give you that it probably hasn’t been two continuous hours and I can’t point to anything I am certain is a sneer, though.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’m surprised so many people have spent so much time researching and typing things in for me, an anonymous stranger on the Internet. Are you sure it’s worth it? What if I’m a “troll”?

    Feeding trolls is a spectator sport around here.

  • Robert Hare coined the term “subcriminal psychopaths” for such people.

  • Yup, I understand that you’re reporting your personal observations, and I understand that you grant the voice of, for example, Michele Bachmann more weight in your model of what religious people are like than you grant the voices of, for example,  commenters on this blog. (Not me personally; I’m not actually especially religious, and am in any case not Christian.)

    You’re far from alone; lots of people do that. The result is that their views are more shaped by mass media than by the actual experience of people.

    In the 80s, those people had very distorted views of queer life (I use “queer” to describe myself and my community, rather than “gay”, because I want to include bisexuals and trans folk and various other communities) because mass media portrayal of queer life was highly distorted. Of course, here in 2013… well, they still have distorted views of queer life because mass media portrayals are still distorted. (Which is fine. It’s not actually the job of the producers of “Will and Grace” or “Queer Eye” to create accurate portrayals of queer life in America.)

    They have similarly distorted views of Black life, Chinese life, musicians’ lives, religious people’s lives, etc. etc.

    So, anyway, if your goal is to report your personal observations, your goal has been achieved. I’m merely pointing out that there do exist other sources of information you could choose to avail yourself of, if you wished.

    If there are highly religious people who espouse a liberal, tolerant, sophisticated viewpoint, I would love to hear from them.

    Awesome. Perhaps you can start with some of the people on this thread who have been describing themselves as highly religious and politically liberal, and to whom you could listen if you chose.

  • I’m surprised so many people have spent so much time researching and
    typing things in for me, an anonymous stranger on the Internet. Are you sure it’s worth it? What if I’m a “troll”?

    The local convention is to treat anonymous strangers on the Internet like real people, and to feed trolls while complaining about them. As I understand it, the theory behind the latter is that the resulting conversation may prove useful to third-party observers.

  • EllieMurasaki

    they still have distorted views of queer life because mass media portrayals are still distorted. (Which is fine. It’s not actually the job of the producers of “Will and Grace” or “Queer Eye” to create accurate portrayals of queer life in America.)

    It is actually the job of the producers of any show you care to name to not erase people and to not fuck up their portrayals. Succeeding at this is not always possible, but they are required to try.

    And yet somehow the only people who get portrayed constantly and not in a manner that fucks up perceptions of their demographic are straight white cis men, usually Christians with no disabilities and some substantial amount of money. Funny that.

  • Isabel C.

     Right, this.

    Assholes don’t generally know they’re being assholes. Therefore, when you say “I’d NEVER blah blah blah”, and your behavior shows otherwise, I’m likely to believe your actions, not your words.

    Mark, you jumped onto a thread to talk about how super-religious people are horrible folks and worse than the Taliban, expected everyone to know what super-religious meant in your own headspace, stated multiple times how very very tireso0me you found this conversation and how you’re done with it only to come back five minutes later, and otherwise acted like an ass.

    I have no problem, therefore, believing that you actually do get in lengthy arguments with people whose worldview you disapprove of, and that you actually are prone to sneering.

    In fact, I’d bet cash money that at least two of your friends have had a conversation that could be roughly paraphrased as:

    “…well, I’m really looking forward to setting up the Easter decorations at my church this weekend, but don’t mention that in front of Mark. You know how he is.”
    “Dude, I know, right? It’s a shame, because I heard the coolest thing at my temple the other day…”

    And so forth.

    Seriously. I’ve had similar conversations myself, from time to time: there’s that one guy you don’t talk about Star Wars in front of, the girl around whom you don’t mention religion, and let’s not even get into sex.  We all work around them, because they’re okay otherwise, but most of us think somewhat less of them as a result.

  • If “Queer” is not palatable, how about the lovely snuggly QUILTBAG? :)

  • Madhabmatics

    Yeah, and the people who whine about ‘moderate’ (hahaha this is a dumb measure) Muslims “not speaking out” are assholes with an agenda. The majority of violence perpetrated by extremists is against normal Muslims – terrorists have killed way more everyday Muslims than westerners, and Muslims die all the time struggling against them

    they totally don’t count though, where are the ‘MODERATE MUSLIMS’ at ya’ll

  • ValPas

    I wish he had simply said evidence, not proof. Proof is a term scientists use with great caution, if at all. Showing that 60% feel that religious freedom is threatened, and 72% feel that it will be threatened in the future, illustrates that a third or more of evangelicals DON’T seem to feel threatened! I find that amazing, since I tend to conflate religious fundamentalism and paranoid in my mind.
    It seems to me that, in general, if people dislike or treat other people badly, they feel afraid, and they will tend to project their hostility onto the object of the fear. Rather like the white fear of blacks.

  • ValPas

    But where’s the Brussel sprouts survey?  I bet that 60 – 70 percent of people don’t like Brussel sprouts! Does that “prove” that nobody likes Brussel sprouts?

  • Nikolas Z

    Church attendance figures (which in Australia are very much lower than 60%) are a more meaningful indicator of genuine religious affiliation. To some extent, the misleading census figures are a generational thing. Younger people with no religion have few qualms about saying so in a census, whereas their older relatives, who may be equally non-religious, often still think it’s too “controversial” to choose “no religion” in official forms – it seems somehow impolite or vaguely anti-establishment. They’ll call themselves Christian usually on the grounds that they believe in “do unto others” etc, not because they actually subscribe to Christianity as a supernatural belief system.

  • Nikolas Z

    There’s actually not much difference between steamed and lightly boiled brussels sprouts. I usually lightly boil them, then cut them in half and serve with a little butter. People who hate brussels sprouts hate them no matter how they’re cooked – they just don’t like the taste, which I find pleasant.

  • cipher

    I haven’t read the blog post in question, but decades of observation off conservative evangelicals has convinced me that the majority do, in fact, qualify as psychopaths. Indeed, it would be hard to argue that someone who is comfortable with the notion of billions of human beings tormented for eternity isn’t profoundly mentally ill. The attitudes they manifest are those currently defined by the DSM as being symptomatic of Antisocial Personality Disorder – lack of empathy, willingness (even eagerness) to see others suffer – which itself falls under the umbrella of psychopathy.

    Moreover, there is a growing body of evidence that is strongly suggestive of a neurological foundation for ideological orientation in general, fundamentalism/authoritarianism in particular. At this point, you’d have to work very hard to convince me that the vast majority of fundamentalists aren’t congenital psychopaths.

  • Rob Marold

    The only use for a catholic school is to provided an environment for children who are mentally disabled. Despite their impairment, they can still get a passing grade because these schools have lower standards of education and testing. If you think this is wrong then look at the data from the standard testing. I have never seen a private school within the top ten places. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, that totally explains why my siblings and I had so much better educational experiences at Our Lady of Fatima Elementary than at Jeff Davis Elementary. Even with the pesky ‘Thursday Mass’ bit.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Also, holy ableism, Batman.

  • Rob Marold

    Thanks, I was about to post a similar thought, but I don’t have to now. Lucky I read on further while composing it in my mind ormy comment would have been repetitive and redundant.

  • In Australia last year, the 16th top primary school was Catholic. The 15th top secondary school was Catholic.

    In other words, you’re talking out of your arse. Shut up.

  • Rob Marold

    Unless a Jew kills Gentiles. We Gentiles are not “human” to them, and killing a gentile, for as little as touching a Jew,  is considered the right thing to do.

  • AnonymousSam


  • …I’m sorry, would you like to repeat that?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I must not have heard you correctly. I prefer to assume commenters are here in good faith, and no one with that much antisemitic vitriol could possibly be here in good faith.

  •  That turns out not to be the case.

  • You
    named three examples of things you call issues of “religious primacy.”

    The brouhaha over Louie Giglio and the Inaguration.

    The contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

    The demise of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.

    You said,
    these three, exactly none are “religious freedom” issues.”

    I am prepared to respond to your comments about these


    When you use the term “religious freedom” you seem to
    mean something different from the terms used in the First Amendment. I have not
    seen an official definition of “religious freedom.” I have used the term myself
    to be equivalent to the words of the First Amendment, but clearly you do not mean
    that. Two of the three issues you list do represent issues surrounding the “free
    exercise” of religion, the right protected by the First Amendment. Every time I
    have heard people use the term “religious freedom,” I have understood them to
    mean the right of “free exercise” protected by the First Amendment, but perhaps
    you meant something else. The people you so scornfully dismiss certainly meant
    that when they used the term “religious freedom.”

    The subject is the First Amendment. Here are the relevant

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
    religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

    The first two issues are very much about the free exercise
    of religion. The third is simply protection of the human institution of
    marriage. People certainly have religious views about marriage, but The Defense
    of Marriage Act is not about perpetuating any religious view.

    The definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman
    is a definition that grows out of human understanding since the first humans
    and permeates all cultures. There are both biological arguments and cultural
    traditions growing out of the natural social nature of human beings that have defined
    marriage as the union of a man and a woman for as long as there have been
    humans. You may argue with my position, but you cannot argue that this position
    is an issue of “religious freedom” or “religious primacy.”

    With regard to Louie Giglio, there was apparently a lot of
    angst about him among people who choose to be homosexual and among people who
    support the political and social agenda of those who choose to be homosexual. Louie
    Giglio expressed a view of homosexuality that included his religious conviction
    that a) homosexuals choose their lifestyle, b) they can change their lifestyle,
    and c) Christ died for them as he died for all human beings. Louie Giglio did
    not say that homosexuality was worse than any other sin. He simply said that
    homosexuals can be forgiven and transformed by the grace and power of Christ,
    just like any other sinner. Louie Giglio expressed his religious convictions in
    a sermon, and when the homosexual community learned of it, they became upset
    about it. It is easy for me to understand why he withdrew and why the president
    would have been glad he did so, because the president obviously was unaware of
    Giglio’s position on homosexuality when he invited the man to pray at the

    The president has a right to invite anyone he wants to the
    inauguration. It is his party. Giglio has a right to his Christian convictions,
    which do not, by the way, appear to be an attack on homosexuals or an attempt
    to eradicate anyone.

    With regard to the contraception mandate in the Affordable
    Care Act, this controversy is completely rooted in the First Amendment right to
    “free expression” of religion. When the administration became aware of the
    problem with this mandate, it was necessary to evaluate whether an objection to
    the contraception mandate was the expression of religion or not. The fact that
    the administration attempted to write a definition of religion for the purpose
    of consistently identifying those who qualify for a conscience exemption says
    that the administration acknowledges that there actually are people for whom an
    objection to contraception, abortion and sterilization is part of their “religious
    expression.” If the administration had not reached this conclusion, no
    exemption at all would have been granted.

    The problem was not solved by the definition they used,
    because their definition limits this sort of “religious expression” to people
    in what some would call the “business” of religion. The exemption applies only
    to “religious employers” and it limits a “religious employer” to organizational
    support for a church. The words of this definition make it appear that the
    administration believes that only those who lead worship for and teach doctrine
    to existing adherents engage in “religious expression.” This concept does not
    fit any religion I ever heard of. Every religion teaches theological, moral and
    ethical principles that every adherent is expected to live by. The First
    Amendment protects much more than a citizen’s right to attend any church or no

    As documented at
    this is the federal definition of those who are entitled to a conscience
    exemption from the employer mandate of the Affordable Care Act:

    A religious employer is one that: (1) has the inculcation of
    religious values as its purpose; (2) primarily employs persons who share its
    religious tenets; (3) primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets;
    and (4) is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code section
    6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii). 45 C.F.R.

    As you can see, this definition completely excludes every
    member of the church who is not employed by the church. The First Amendment,
    however, applies to every citizen who is an adherent of any religion
    whatsoever. The First Amendment means that the government is prohibited from
    imposing the purchase of contraception on any citizen who believes, because of
    his/her religion, that contraception is a sin.  If an employer in a church that teaches this principle is expressing a religious conviction, then everyone else who holds adheres to that teaching is equally eligible for exemption according the First Amendment protection of “free expression.” The employer mandate imposes
    that purchase on a person, and requires that the employer also purchase it for
    other people, who may or may not have the same religious conviction. Every
    individual who is an employer, and every private person who must buy his/her
    own insurance is faced with the requirement to pay for this coverage, regardless
    of his or her faith convictions that make participation in such services a sin.

    As we all learned during the 2012 presidential campaign, a
    person can be accused of participating in the activity of anyone to whom he
    provides money. During the campaign season, if a candidate had given money to
    any cause, the cause was subject to intense scrutiny to see what the candidate’s
    participation revealed about the candidate. By the same token, an employer who
    must spend his money on something is being asked to be complicit in the purpose
    for which that money is used. People who believe that contraception is a sin,
    because this conviction is part of their faith, a faith that is rooted in 2000
    years of teaching and practice, must not be required to participate in the
    underwriting and use of contraception.

    Your post appears to limit religion to worship, and you seem
    to believe that people have religious freedom when the churches are not locked
    by the government. That is a much more limited view of the meaning of religious
    freedom than the authors of the Bill of Rights. It isn’t about one religion
    dominating the culture; the same liberty applies to every religion. Until such
    time as the citizens choose to amend the Constitution to mean something else,
    the First Amendment freedom is the right to the “free expression” of religion
    in faith and life, the sort of religious expression every religion expects.

    I anticipate that your first reaction will be to say that a
    conscience exemption for any employer at all is unfair to female employees who
    do not share the faith convictions of their employers. You may even try to tell
    me that those employers are trying to prevent their female employees from
    exercising their own right to possess and use contraception. This argument does
    not hold water. Contraception is readily available in the US, and it is very
    cheap. It is available free through many channels. A woman who feels that this
    is what she wants and needs would have no difficulty obtaining contraception in
    any form that suited her. A conscience exemption for her employer deprives her
    of nothing. It does appear that the federal government will do something to
    assure free contraception for all, no matter who receives an exemption, so it
    cannot be said that protecting the First Amendment rights of the employer
    deprive anybody of anything.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Somebody hasn’t been reading Fred’s Chick-Fil-A Biblical Family of the Day posts. Marriage as defined throughout most of the Old Testament is one man with all the women he can afford. For Jacob, that was four. For David, dozens. For Solomon, a thousand.


    With regard to Louie Giglio, there was apparently a lot of
    angst about him among people who choose to be homosexual and among people who
    support the political and social agenda of those who choose to be homosexual.

    And with that, we no longer have to give a damn about anything you say.

    You’re entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts.

  • PrestonWheatley

    There is a quite a difference between a clinical sociopath and sociopathic behavior. The attitudes being identified here do meet the definition of sociopathic. I wouldn’t presume to know how pervasive those attitudes are in other aspects of the commenter’s life.

  • PrestonWheatley

    There is also a strong correlation between sociopathic  views and projection. A very fine example can be found in the sessessionist movements in the 1850s and 60s as they accused the North of wanting to enslave white Southerners, many insisting that the Abolitionist’s true desire was to make whites the slaves of blacks.

    You see this in many extremist Right Wingers who will insist that the objective of the Left is to silence and marginalize anybody who disagrees with them, or the anti LGBT extremists who will insist that the goal of the the LGBT community is to convert straight people to their life style, despite that Evangelicals are the only ones actively trying to change the sexual orientation of others.

    I have no idea how pervasive any of these modern attitudes are, but the correlation between extremists/sociopaths/narcissists and projection is strong.

  • Fun fact that I’m posting two months late because I can: Brussels sprouts contain a very, very bitter chemical which only certain people can taste–and I think it’s more common for children to be sensitive to it than adults. So if it tastes bitter to you but fine to someone else, that just might mean that you have receptors for that bitter chemical and they don’t.