In researching my latest book, The Quest: A Way To Enjoy Life, I came across a book by Dr. James Hollis called Why Good People Do Bad Things. It was written twelve years ago, but a passage I read this morning could have been written today.
He asks, “What happens when ‘the good people’ are themselves the agent of evil, whether through overt acts, looking the other way, or benign indifference?” As Edmund Burke observed in the eighteenth century, all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is the good people’s silence.
As with Trumpism, the number of people who perpetrated the Holocaust was a distinct minority. Even though the Black Lives Matter protests have been the largest in a century, we know that the number who protest is minimal compared to the population of America—and so it was during the rise of Hitler.
The vast number are the bystanders, the indifferent, the intimidated, the ordinary people who take no interest in political matters beyond their scope of responsibility—people like you and me.
We know that the Holocaust’s work and other such dreadful visitations to our history were possible only because of the cooperation and complicity of the ordinary folks—particularly Christians.
Thankfully, there are not many psychopathic leaders in history. But collective insanity occurs because charismatic madness (as we see in Trump) activates the “mad parts” in otherwise sane people. Even the most terrible things are justified by noble-sounding reasons such as the pro-life movement.
Today we watch in horror as police brutalize and callously murder people of color. Studies of the Nazi police battalions reveal that those who had sworn to uphold the rule of law and order were quite accommodating in committing atrocities. When brought before the bar of justice, their defense was stunningly simple: The law changed, and thus they were still upholding the law!
As we watch Dr. Atlas and the “demon sperm doctor” dispute science, so Nazi doctors were able to affirm their Hippocratic Oath—the guiding principle of doing no harm—and then participate in deception and horrific deeds in the name of their leader.
Christians serve Trump by numbing their conscience—they believe they are participating in something so powerful that they dare not challenge it or alter it.
One has to wonder if the Holocaust and Trump’s election would have happened if enough Christians had refused their souls’ compromise, thus sparing others’ harm.
Most of Trump’s base are ordinary people, like you and me. Yet, they continue to ignore the truth and thus increase the pain of their fellow humans. They lack personal integrity, or courage, to resist and protest no matter the cost.
It is easy to sway groups—or else tyrannical politicians and authoritarian Evangelical leaders would quickly be out of a job. Hypocritical leadership, and the emptiness of personal consciousness, lead Christians to collude with what they would otherwise repudiate.
I was an eyewitness as the Southern Baptist Convention chose to affirm the Bible as the normative standard of their faith, rather than the life of Jesus Christ. They would never submit their bodies to the ancient era’s medicine. But they are perfectly willing to accept the medieval values of a culturally isolated and sadistically violent tribal culture.
It may seem that this shift by the largest Evangelical denomination in America would not matter. But what these leaders were subtly doing was moving away from the troubling teachings of Jesus Christ of “loving one another” to an earlier and far harsher set of tribal values.
Not long after that shift, I watched as my Pastor and others purged the Southern Baptist seminaries and universities of dissenting professors. They did it under the guise of conservatism. They deified the Bible in the name of Jesus, who preached inclusion—the one who was once the foundation of their faith.
The Bible replaced Jesus. A book whose context is extreme violence, exclusion, masculine superiority, feminine inferiority, slavery, and laws such as an eye for an eye. Sound familiar. Those of us who questioned this shift had no choice but to leave the church.
This action paved the way for a violent, racist, sexual predator like Trump to refute the teachings of Jesus and become the new god of Evangelicals. Trump’s cult of worship is chilling. It defies explanation in the context of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
And so Christians betrayed Jesus for Trump. They moved away from the Beatitudes and his troubling teachings of loving everyone because they cause a disconnect compared to Trump, the Republicans, and their politics. They much prefer evil bullies who are like the leaders of the tribal culture of the medieval Bible, which they now worship.
The teachings of Jesus are dead, and his “good” followers have killed them. It is much easier to hate rather than love. To gather people around us who look like us and believe as we do. To blindly follow an empty leader whose charisma calls to the emptiness and anger deep inside.
“Good” people beget holocausts, and these “good Christian” people have bequeathed America and the world a ruthless leader like Trump. And they intend to do it again.
People like you and me are the majority. We must pull our heads out from the sand and do something. Now that the “good” people have betrayed Jesus and become “bad,” we must become the good people. We must vote Trump and his fellow Republican cronies out of office.
Will it fix everything? No. But it will be a good start. It’s time to choose someone willing to lead us through a global pandemic, police brutality, climate change, and economic disparity. Rather than say, “I take no responsibility.”
I believe Joe Biden is truly a good man. Let’s give him a chance to pull us out of this mess the “good” Christians got us in.