What Makes Christians So Gullible?

by Mar 27, 2007

geuu_03_img0618_thumbnail.jpgHow many times have you received this email in the past few years?

The President of Procter & gamble appeared on the Phil Donahue Show on March 1, 1994. He announced that due to the openness of our society, he was coming out of the closet about his association with the church of Satan. He stated that a large portion of his profits from Procter & Gamble Products goes to support this satanic church. When asked by Donahue if stating this on T.V. would hurt his business, he replied, “THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH CHRISTIANS IN THE UNITED STATES TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.”

I remember someone standing up in our college ministry back in 1993, telling us the same story and asking us to boycott Procter & Gamble products. My roomates and I spent a whole night cleansing our apartment of Crest toothpaste, Tide detergent, Zest soap, and every other abomination we could find that had the moon & stars mark of the beast.

The next day I visited the campus library to search the microfiche archives for more about this incredible revelation (does microfiche even exist anymore?), where I discovered that we’d been bamboozled by a false rumor that had been circulating since the early 80’s. It was started by a bunch of Amway distributors in the midwest who wanted to put P&G out of business.

What made me remember all this was the news that justice finally caught up to these guys last week. I guess slander really is a crime:

Procter & Gamble Co. has won a jury award of $19.25 million in a civil lawsuit filed against four former Amway distributors accused of spreading false rumors linking the company to Satanism to advance their own business. …

Rumors had begun circulating as early as 1981 that the company’s logo – a bearded, crescent man-in-moon looking over a field of 13 stars – was a symbol of Satanism. The company alleged that Amway Corp. distributors revived those rumors in 1995, using a voice mail system to tell thousands of customers that part of Procter & Gamble profits went to satanic cults.

Amazingly, there are still Christians boycotting P&G products. But this isn’t the only case of Christians being duped into blind outrage. During the wild days after 9/11, we were urged to call the FCC because Madalyn Murray O’Hair was seeking to ban Christian television. Nobody seemed to care that O’Hair had been dead since 1995: thousands of angry emails and phone calls deluged the FCC (10 million people have contacted them since the rumor actually started in 1974). presdollar-stack_thumbnail.jpgA few years later we were pushed to boycott Pepsi because they deliberately omitted “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance on a patriotic Pepsi can. Have you seen this can? Me neither. Just last month we were exhorted to refuse the new dollar-coins if any supermarket cashier dared place them in our hands. Why? The heathen U.S. Mint had ripped “In God We Trust” out of the coin’s design in an attempt to purge God from public life. Evidently, none of us trigger-happy email forwarders bothered to check the edge of the coin. Check it out for yourself in this picture.

What is it that turns Christians into raving lunatics at the slightest hint of opposition? Why are we so gullible when we hear dubious conspiracy theories like these? Is it because we’re as dimwitted as most liberals assume we are? Maybe, but here’s another answer: I think we like being victims.

For the past few decades, victimhood has been very cool. Every subgroup in our society wants to find an external aggressor to blame for its troubles. Christians want to join the victim party too, but there’s a big, glaring problem: 95% of Americans say they agree with us about God’s existence, and more than 40% of Americans say they’re born again. Even here in the multicultural islands of Hawaii, more than 60% of the population call themselves Christians. It’s hard to be the victim when you’ve got 120 million people on your side, and that’s why we invent our own stories of persecution when we can’t find a legitimate reason to complain.

Persecution has strong spiritual appeal to Christians. We know that many of our forefathers along with millions of believers around the world today have faced death for their faith. Fat and happy Christians in America feel left out, so even though we probably have the least defensible claim to victimhood of any Christian community in the world, we tend to shriek like the church will collapse at any second under the intense persecution of secular humanists in the government, universities, media, and godless companies like Procter & Gamble.

Instead of wasting time wallowing in our own contrived suffering, why don’t we spend more time supporting and praying for brothers and sisters in Christ who are experiencing really- for- real- life- and- death persecution? And I’m talking about more than our mechanical “Jesus, help all the Christians in China” prayers. If you want to think and pray intelligently for persecuted believers, this blog is a good place to start. If you want to help persecuted churches by sending covert Bibles through the mail, go here.

As Paul put it, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor 12).