No lies about your neighbor. Exodus 20:16 in The Message
Scientific American magazine reported about something called the Illusory Truth Effect in December 2019 and it’s part of the ongoing conversation about why there is so much disinformation being spread these days. From disinformation about vaccines to misinformation about “what the Bible says” it’s not a good time to be a lazy person. If we hear that Senator X has a zipper problem or Pastor Y misuses her church credit card, we need to dig deeper. If we hear those rumors more over and over, we need to dig even deeper. From that Scientific American article:
The Washington Post recently reported that there are “more than 350 instances in which [Trump] has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times.” In fact, Trump has repeated some false claims more than 200 times—for example, his claim that his border wall is being built.
If I tell people over and over again that I was a Rhodes Scholar, I might even start believing it myself. But it’s not true. And it’s an easily provable lie. But if I tell people over and over again that the Pastor of Big Church on the Corner is an ineffective leader, her reputation will be damaged. And it’s harder to prove or disprove such a comment.
Many people believe that:
- President Obama is Muslim. (Note: It would be fine if he happened to be Muslim. But it’s not true.)
- Today’s U.S. economy is the best it’s ever been in the history of the United States. (Note: The economy is great. But it’s currently not the best it’s ever been in our history.)
- “The Wall” is under construction at the Mexican border. (Note: Photos widely shared of the promised Wall were actually taken of a different wall in Calexico, Calif. In other sections of the border, new fencing is replacing old fencing contracted prior to President Trump’s election.)
These lies have been repeated so many times that millions of people believe them. That’s the Illusory Truth Effect: if someone says it over and over again it “becomes true” in the minds of those who keep hearing it.
Unfortunately the lies that millions of people also believe have to do with their inherent worth. Millions of people are told every day that they are not worth being loved, that if they are loved it’s conditional or transactional. This is a lie.
Here is the God’s honest truth (and I mean that literally):
Every human being is worthy of unconditional love. Every skin color. Every gender. Every orientation. Every culture. Every ability. Every religion. God created each of us worthy of love. We in the Church need to repeat that fact over and over and over again – not because it is an illusion but because it’s eternally True.
For God so loved the world . . .
Not just white people. Not just healthy people. Not just successful people. Not just Americans. Not just educated people.
All people. The world. This is the Truth and souls are damaged if we fail to live accordingly. Let’s make a point of spreading this True Information as often as possible.