Assuming the Worst (Let’s Not)

Church trolls are the worst.Trolls riding Slugs

Like run of the mill trolls, they denigrate our character and malign our motives.  But in Church World, their demonization of people and selective truth-telling has cosmic  – as well as earthly –  consequences.

Attempting to set records straight with trolls is basically a waste of time.

Nevertheless, it’s not true I want to turn the PCUSA General Assembly into a year-round Wild Goose Festival.  It’s not true that the other Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly said that we Christians are just like the Orlando shooter.  It’s not true that the Presbyterians prayed a Muslim prayer at General Assembly.   (What is true:  I find Wild Goose inspiring and fun.  We Christians are often guilty of doing violence against LGBTQ people.  And one of our interfaith guests at the General Assembly said something in his greetings about Allah which means “God” in Arabic.  Note:  Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all Abrahamic religions.  We all worship the one true God.  Also, our Stated Clerk actually apologized for “anything that might have offended.)

A bigger issue is this:  Why Do We Assume The Worst About Each Other?  

Why are we quick to believe that someone on the other side of the theological fence is evil? Why do we spread half-truths about people?  Why do we take words out of context in order to create a better story?  Why do we presuppose that someone we don’t like or don’t know has said/thought/done something vile without knowing what we’re talking about.

Trolling is the cousin of gossiping, and we would serve God well to stop doing both.  Random lie-spreading is just evil.

Before TDA and I decided to stand for co-moderators of the PCUSA General Assembly, we asked former moderators their best advice.  These two suggestions were shared more than once:

  1. Go to the rest room every chance you get.
  2. Brace yourselves for evil.

Duly noted.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Regarding #1 – just ask if we’d like to visit the rest room before we speak/preach. And regarding #2 – If you hear something that sounds off (e.g. Jan eats babies, Denise worships the Sun God) please check into it.  This goes for your neighbors and church friends – and church enemies – too.  Thank you – for the sake of the gospel.

Image of trolls-riding-on-slugs statues on sale at Big Lots recently.

10 responses to “Assuming the Worst (Let’s Not)

  1. Hear, hear!! Let’s all be like Jesus, people.


  2. Several times during my years of ministry, I’ve had someone come up to me saying, “It’s just UNBELIEVABLE that… [fill in the blanks – i.e. TDA worships the Sun God]!!!” My response: ‘If something seems completely unbelievable to you, that could be the Spirit saying that it’s actually not true. I encourage you to check it out.” Which may involve talking to someone who was on the committee that made that decision, or looking into the website that reported something ‘unbelievable’ and find out that it’s a satire site, or going to or whatever. My motto is ‘ask the follow-up question.’


  3. Will you be at Wild Goose?? The S-D clan will!

    Thanks for this post. Helpful indeed.


  4. Pauline Coffman

    Thank you, Jan! Amazing to know what you are hearing and to know how you are responding. Much appreciated.


  5. Craig Williams

    Thanks Jan. My colleagues and I know the truth of this first hand. I tell people I lost my job because of social media. The meanness of speculation, innuendo and down right lies is rampant I our church. However all this talk of truth telling and civility is lost on me until there is repentance that leads to action institutionally. It’s not about generalizations but real people get hurt. Glad to hear your voice. Prayers for you both. Be protected!


  6. Thank you. We are already getting calls in our presbytery about these things (I am COM moderator). Good reflecton. God bless your ministry as co-moderator Jan and Denise!


  7. Carolyn George

    It was not the Allah part of the prayer that got people upset – it was what was said later in the prayer. You might check it out when you have a chance.


  8. As I commented on Sarah Morgan’s share of this…they’re gnomes riding slugs! Trolls are much uglier, and have lots of boogers…watch Harry Potter movies to see what they look like in “real life.” If watching Harry Potter isn’t evil…nah, we’re PC(USA).


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