I attend many secular MeetUp discussion groups around New York City. The animus expressed against Christians is common and flagrant. It has become so acceptable to denigrate Christians and the Church, that the participants freely express their distaste of Christians without a worry of being called a “Christophobe.” Rather, they seem to regard such expressions as a sure way of gaining group acceptance, certain that the others will regard them as a sympathetic comrade-in-arms.

This climate has become so toxic that the very few Christians I meet in such groups will identify themselves as “theists” rather than as “Christians.” Privately, I asked one why she had identified herself in this manner. She confessed that she didn’t want to be automatically regarded as inferior by coming out-of-the-closet as a Christian.

Bashing Christians has also become a favorite ploy of the secular Mainstream Media to de-legitimize and deconstruct the Christian message and influence. To deny this is to show either a profound ignorance, disregard, or callousness for how Christians are being characterized and treated in our secular society.

It is even more disturbing to see Christians partaking in the vilification of fellow Christians. Ed Stetzer serves as a dean at Wheaton College and a Christian basher. In *Christianity Today*, he has written:

· Christians are disproportionately fooled by conspiracy theories. I’ve also said before that when Christians spread lies, they need to repent of those lies. Sharing fake news makes us look foolish and harms our witness.

Even if Christians are more gullible than others, is it fitting for them to “repent of those lies.” In order to make such a charge, Stetzer would have to present an unassailable model of what is true about this coronavirus and then provide evidence that Christians had been lying about it. However, gullibility is not the same thing as lying. Instead, Stetzer has to line up his charges in a logical framework instead of accusing Christians of two contrary charges.

But is Stetzer correct in promoting either charge? At this point, it’s just hard to say what’s the truth about this Virus. However, Stetzer claims that he knows and castigates Christians from believing otherwise:

· mistrust too often leads believers not to be more discerning but instead to become more gullible to any alternative narrative…If you want to believe that some secret lab created this as a biological weapon, and now everyone is covering that up, I can’t stop you. If you want to believe one of the dozens of conspiracy theories already circulating, that’s your call. But if you do, what will you do when you start believing that the vaccine is also part of this conspiracy?

According to Stetzer, once a conspiracy theorist, always a conspiracy theorists. If we are willing to believe that China had masterminded this Virus, then it logically follows that we will also regard any alleged cure as a conspiracy, right?

Stetzer repetes his charge often: “Christians are becoming outraged about things that are not true. The end result is they are being easily fooled and join into ideas that can bring real harm, particularly when we do develop a vaccine that can bring substantial help to our communities.” However, he also correctly acknowledges that all of us can fall prey to untruths, but are Christians more susceptible than others, more than those who put their faith in the *NY Times* or the *Washington Post*?

Stetzer goes even further by alleging that those who believe in things other than he should not longer call themselves “Christians”:

· If you still insist on spreading such misinformation, would you please consider taking Christian off your bio so the rest of us don’t have to share in the embarrassment?

Evidently, we are the “deplorables” in the eyes of Stetzer. Therefore, he wants to distance himself from us as far as he can. However, it is not simply that we are “deplorables,” Stetzer claims that we are a liability to ourselves and our communities:

· Long story short, you’re ultimately bringing harm to yourself and your community. You may make yourself feel like you’re making a difference when you are not. You are undermining important information.

What is the “important information” to which Stetzer refers? Is there any hope that he can extend to us, who are “bringing harm?” Stetzer does not leave us forlorn:

· First, we need to speak up and speak out to others— particularly those fooled yet again— and lovingly say, “You need to go to trusted sources.” Your social media news feed is not a trusted source. But you can find good sources if you are willing to look. That’s why we created, to provide credible information for churches. But, there are plenty of credible news sources— generally from outlets that do not have a track record of conspiracy peddling.

We just need to go to the reliable sources and turn our backs on *Fox News* and *Breitbart*. But if we do that, will we no longer be counted among “those fooled?” Let’s not get our hope up to high.

Besides, is the *NY Times *the gold-standard? I think that if Stetzer believes this way, it is incumbent upon him to provide evidence to support his assertion. Instead, he claims that he and others have created the authoritative source of info about the Virus. Fat chance!

Perhaps instead, it is Stetzer who is the source of harm, disparaging an entire group of people, his own family, in a sense. Perhaps he ranks foremost among “those fooled.” Where are his stats to prove otherwise?

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