Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Similarity of Christian Fundamentalists to Conspiracy Theorists

Over the past few years I have noticed a close similarity between Christian fundamentalists and people who believe in conspiracy theories, especially those who consider themselves part of the “truth movement”. The truth movement in the UK is a loose grouping of (often one man) “organisations” promoting the idea that British society is controlled by some malevolent organisation who work in the background to control events and ultimately hand over sovereignty to some outside body as part of a one world government. The usual suspects for these accusations are Common Purpose, the Fabian Society, the Freemasons or all three. The current trend of “truth seeking” is similar to the “millennium bug” hysteria of the late 90’s which saw people storing food and building shelters for the coming catastrophe. The main catalyst for the recent growth in conspiracy thinking has been the 9/11 Truth movement in the USA which grew after the bombing of the World Trade Center in an attempt to find other explanations for that hard to believe catastrophe. However, many of the same ideas have been continually promoted by David Icke and others over the past 12 years.

This US connection may be why evangelical fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists have so much in common. Here is a list:

  • Belief that Britain is being sold out as part of a New World Order.
  • Dislike of the European Union.
  • Interest in the traditional family and denial of validity of homosexual relationships.
  • Distrust of organisations promoting progressive ideas.
  • Dislike of freemasonry.
  • Dislike of Islam (elthough with some envy of their value of the family unit).
  • Belief that all change is regressive.
  • Inability to recognise the zeitgeist (the majority consensus position on current issues).
  • Disbelief in climate change.
  • Belief in impending apocalypse (either the end of the Mayan callendar in 2012 or the imminent second coming of Christ and Armageddon).
  • Belief that debit and credit cards will be replaced by an electronic implant (the mark of the beast to Christians) as a means of controlling trade.
  • Support for alternative theories of science (e.g. free energy, anti gravity or creationism).
  • Putting greater trust in people if they have academic titles even if they are false or honorary.
  • Playing to specific enclosed audiences of fellow believers and not being open to external criticism, brushing it off as either the “unsaved” or “government agents”.
  • Fielding parliamentary candidates who often poll very few votes.

Both sides rely on their own gurus promoting very similar ideas. As an example, for Christians the late Barry Smith and for secular conspiracy theorists Brian Gerrish.

Both the christians and the truthers claim to have life changing information, but decide to sell it to a select group of followers rather than giving it away to the general population free of charge. Digital distribution can be achieved at virtually no cost, but they still choose to distribute by DVD, book, magazine or paid ticketed events.

My thoughts
Its quite surprising how close the two groups are in beliefs and ways of operating. Whilst I agree that there are actually some things about modern life which are heading in the wrong direction, I do see some good too. The recent deposing of Mubarak in Egypt was possible because of the greater freedom of communication possible with the Internet. The increasing freedom of communication means that if their ideas were true more real evidence would have emerged.

If I had the secret of free energy or how to change peoples lives I would give it away free in the knowledge that not only would I be helping people but I would also be securing my financial future through the fame his would bring me. I suspect that what we are witnessing with Christian fundamentalists and conspiracy theorists is a case of “the emperors new clothes” with very few small boys pointing the finger at their state of undress.

I can't help concluding that a lot of this is about earning an income for the people involved rather than revealing anything that is really true about the world. They certainly don't do anything publicly to help other people. It is all very self validating and self congratulatory in an "I told you so" kind of way.