The Church’s Faithful Responses to Conspiracy Theories — The Modern Gnosticism — Journal of Lutheran Ethics

Pastor Matthew Best
17 min readSep 26, 2022

[1] Over 20 years ago I worked on Capitol Hill for a Member of Congress. We would receive letters, phone calls, and emails about an assortment of issues. And we were required to send a response to every correspondence we received. Most of the time, those responses contained information or a constituent’s opinions about up-coming legislation.

[2] But there were other letters that gave us pause. These were the ones that we read and said “What in the world? I haven’t heard that one before.” To this day, there are two favorite letters that I remember well. The first one was from someone who was concerned about the Russian troops who were apparently training in the Allegheny mountains. The second letter came from a constituent who was concerned about the forcefield that protects the nation; they worried it was turned off at night in order to save energy. This person was arguing that the nation was left defenseless from attack and that we should keep the forcefield on throughout the night in spite of the cost. Both of these letter contained false premises. Where these ideas even came from, I’ll never know. But these people firmly believed what they wrote was pertinent — there was no shred of doubt in their mind evidenced by the numerous pages they sent. They had special information that they were sharing in order to protect the country from an enemy — or so they thought.

[3] But these people were sharing conspiracy theories.

[4] Christianity.com posted an article in August 2020 on conspiracy theories. According to the poll, 61% of Americans believe some variation about the assassination of former president JFK other than the official story. And this is decades after the event.[1]

[5] The poll also showed that five years after the 9/11 attacks, one in three Americans believed that the US was either responsible for the attacks or had foreknowledge of them and did nothing.[2]

[6] Goodfaithmedia.org posted an article in February 2021 that sited a report that claimed that 49% of Protestant pastors agreed with the statement, “I frequently hear members of my congregation repeating conspiracy theories they have heard about why something is happening in our country.”[3]

[7] Conspiracy theories are a major problem in the US and always have been. They are as American as apple pie, present ever since…

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Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.