This article in The Atlantic is really disturbing – so read it at your own risk. Newt Gingrich boasts about the effectiveness of name calling and smear campaigns and he see these tactics as essential “if you want Western civilization to survive.”
Imagine a preacher trying to pull this off:
- Declaring “I am a servant of God’s people” (while taking advantage of the congregation financially, emotionally, spiritually.)
- Persistently lying, misdirecting, and contradicting leaders, therefore confusing and destabilizing them.
- Manipulating supporters into doubting their reality. Parishioners are told they are unconditionally loved and yet they are shamed and blamed for personal and congregational failures.
The trend towards gas-lighting is killing our culture. Individuals fall victim to this in unhealthy work situations and – believe me – it can be deadly.
But our culture is being gas-lit by our national leaders in several fields – especially in politics. As the Mid-Term Elections are soon upon us (and early voting is now open in many states) the levels of political gas-lighting – even by self-professing Christians is troubling. As a Christian myself, I’m trying to get my head around political leaders who:
- Lavishly lie. They stand before cameras and microphones and make statements that are easily disproved scientifically, mathematically, and historically. And then they declare that science, math, and history cannot be trusted.
- Claim that what we are seeing with our own eyes is not real. It looks like someone was bowing to a tyrant, but that’s not what was actually happening.
- Call people names.
- Mock the weak.
- Respond with cruelty instead of respectfully agreeing to disagree.
- Sowing seeds of doubt in the very institutions that bring order to our civilization.
I still believe in a world in which all human beings are created in the image of God. I still believe that we will be judged by how we treated “the least of these.” I still believe that God is love. I still believe that we who claim to follow Jesus have been commanded to make disciples throughout the world (and disciples are made when they see what God’s love looks like.)
I will be voting for candidates of any party that espouse these values. The power of love is stronger than the power of manipulative self-service. Gas-lighting leads to the death of relationships and the death of Truth. Please considering voting for leaders of good character.
Image from the 1944 film Gaslight about a husband who manipulates his wife into thinking she’s insane.