Gullible or Malicious?

Alarmist HeadlinesWhen Christians pass along fictitious and alarming stories about how our society is under attack by leftists and gays, are they just being gullible, or is it malicious? Fred Clark argues that these are not innocent mistakes, but rather malicious and dangerous.

It I tell you that Some Guy said something foolish, and then it turns out that he never actually said such a thing, I can plausibly claim that I “fell for a hoax” or that I was “deceived.” But if I tell you that a zombie horde is shambling toward our town when, in fact, no such army of the undead exists, then I cannot defend my passing along this false claim by saying I was innocently deceived and mistaken.

Why not? Because the urgency of the alleged threat is such that it would not be possible for me to genuinely believe it to be true without also stopping at nothing to prove it such to myself and to others. It’s conceivable that I was just too lazy to confirm what Some Guy said before passing along that fake story, but if I really believe that the Scary Story is true, then I should really be scared, and that fear should have roused me from the apathy, laziness and ignorance that might keep me from bothering to confirm some less-consequential bit of dubious gossip about Some Guy.

Anyone who genuinely believes a Scary Story to be true will be compelled to confirm it and to reconfirm it with a desperate urgency borne of that genuine belief.

Clark ends with a good test for whether someone was sincere but gullible or malicious: how do they react when they discover that they are wrong?

Someone who is gullibly frightened by a fake Scary Story will be relieved and pleased and grateful to learn that the purported threat is not real, that the monster is not under the bed, the barbarians are not at the gate and the sky is not falling. When we do not see such relief, joy and gratitude on learning the truth, then we can see — we can know — that we are dealing with something other than gullibility.

Read the entire post at Slactivist: It’s Not Gullibility, It’s Malice.

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6 comments

  1. I would like to believe that such a large group of people are not purposely being malicious, however, I can’t say that I don’t believe a large chunk are. Even with some Christians hateful, hurtful, and wrong views of the LGBT community, I try not to condemn them they way they can, although it is hard. I also think sometimes people are just being gullible because they have been conditioned not to think for themselves. The gullible v malicious is a question I always had regarding the school (the school as a whole as well as staff & students) I attended last year ( after telling a professor of my plans to move to California she warned me not to for fear of liberals & leftists lol). Finding out the opinions and stories that an overwhelming majority of the community at this school had towards gays, liberals…anyone/thing not a conservative Christian, helped me to arrive at the conclusion that some people are innocently gullible. They are just believing what their parents/pastors/friends have said for years and in their mind have no reason to question it. Unfortunately, a lot were ignorant in their views; digging their heels down, taking any story and running with it as if to spread hatred.

    My opinion may be skewed because for the last year and a half, and for the next 3 weeks, I have been living in a town that is influenced greatly by a conservative Evangelical Christian school…in the south.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right – when it comes to Christians as a whole group, there are many among them who are loving and affirming. And among those who are not, some of them are just acting out of the conditioning they’ve grown up with.

      On the other hand, I have to be suspicious of those who constantly post dubious news stories that “confirm” the fears that they themselves have stirred up. And even those who may be “innocently gullible,” as you say – they should take to heart the message in Clark’s article.

      Good luck in your move to California!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It seems two things to me. The first is that so many of the fanatic virulent religious leader who are haters of LGBT people and the goals of equality have for years posted, screamed, preached, and swear all this is happening simply to back up the claims they already made. They are so sure they are right it doesn’t matter if it did happen, they KNOW it will, so to them simply saying that it did is OK. The second is it supports their hopes that the people will raise up in anger and fear over something, even if it was not true, just to hurt or deny rights to LGBT. Seems said for people who claim to have the moral high ground and following a deity. It angers me because so many time I search things and find that they were made up, there were fabricated by someone for a religious motive and that person justifies it KNOWING it was a lie or wrong. The saying is it is OK to lie if you are lying for Jesus. Sad. Thanks for sharing this. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

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