Is Evangelical Christianity Sociopathic?

Is Evangelical Christianity Sociopathic? May 10, 2019

There is a decent article in the Huffington Post that grapples with this question. At first, I thought it would be a reactionary piece, but it is a thought-evoking piece that had me agreeing.

It opens with giving a quick summary of sociopathy before giving a few examples of such behaviour:

Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).

We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. Franklin Graham, for example, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue.” His stand fits well with his conservative politics and vocal support of Donald Trump, but his callousness toward immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States goes against everything he says he believes (Lev. 19:33-34, Mark 12:30-31). Yet, Graham doesn’t see one bit of irony between his political stance and his religious belief. Nor does he seem to notice the horrific casualties in war-torn countries these immigrants are desperately trying to flee.

Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said after the Orlando, Florida terrorist attack on a gay nightclub, “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!” This “minister of God” showed no compassion for the families of the men and women who died. He appeared incapable of laying aside his religious beliefs for even a moment of shared human connection to a tragic event.

And recently, Kim Higginbotham, a minister’s wife and teacher with a master’s degree in special education, according to her website, wrote a public blog called “Giving Your Child to the Devil.” She claimed, “Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children.” She listed Matthew 10:37 as justification, which says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

In a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, martyr’s rant, she claims her son turned his back on God, and she was left with no other option but to abandon him. It turns out her son is gay and – it turns out – the day the diatribe was posted was his wedding day. Sharon Hambrick, a Christian writer, posted a wonderful response to this mom.

But mostly, rather than calling these people out for sociopathic behavior fellow Christians agree. Many of the comments on Higginbotham’s website say, “So sorry for your loss,” or, “Praying for you and your son.”

It appears that ordinary humanity and morality are shelved in order to maintain a religious “truth”.  The way that evangelical Christianity has infiltrated politics since the 1970s has shown a very worrying trend. The question appears to be, according to many pollsters at least, whether (white) evangelicalism will hold out and maintain to continue being a political force going into future elections. Some evidence and arguments suggest that its power is on the wane but I guess there will always be those who adhere to such supposedly theological and certainly religious doctrines.

As the article goes on to suggest, there is an element of self-preservation to evangelicalism. It is not a case of adapting one’s moral outlook in reflecting changes in society as we progress and evolve, but a case of maintaining a stalwart idea of what conservative morality must be to bind that in-group together.

I have certainly moaned about conservative evangelical Christianity a great deal here on this blog, including the noting of the number of homophobic evangelical preachers who end up being gay themselves. There is certainly a weird dynamic going on there.

Leaders of evangelical Christianity have enjoyed a great deal of power, both in their local communities and in society as a whole, and this has paid into ideas of sociopathy.

Of course, it is difficult to tar an entire group of people with one simplistic brush. It’s not to say that every evangelical Christian is a sociopath. It also needs to be, perhaps, a much clearer delineation between evangelicalism and fundamentalism. These are the extreme ends of evangelicalism, one might say, and therefore are not representative. But, in general, the movements and behaviour of many evangelical Christians are rather sociopathic. I say this because you just don’t hear the evangelical community itself calling out the claims of its most extreme and vocal leaders and mouthpieces. This leads to implicit endorsement of those views. Yes, you might have an evangelical family stating that such people don’t represent them and their views are so much more humanistic. But outside of those personal conversations, they remain pretty silent, it appears. And, therefore, this stands for endorsement and those opinions will continue to maintain.

As one commenter on the article states:

Religious institutions are political movements, firmly embedded with the ruling elite in every religious country. Therefore, they maintain a deafening silence on unjust laws which benefit the rich at the expense of the poor, wars-for-profit, etc. In return they get the usual perks bestowed on pillars of the Establishment. This church/state mutual back-scratching goes all the way back to Emperor Constantine. It became more prominent in ’70’s U.S. to coincide with the increasingly right-wing lurch which has resulted in the U.S. now being a corporate-controlled oligarchy, confirmed by a Princeton University 20 year-long research.

[See here for that piece of research.]

What is fairly ironic is that Jesus railed against the most evangelical and openly vocal Jews of his time. There are several parables and sermons that lead to such positions.

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