Has Evangelical Christianity Become Sociopathic?

By Tim Rymel, M.Ed. | 11 May 2017
The Huffington Post

Since Evangelical Christianity began infiltrating politics, officially in the late 1970s, there has been a disturbing trend to limit or remove rights from those who don’t meet the conservative idea of an American. Many of these initiatives come in the form of “religious freedom” laws, which empower discrimination, while other legislation targets immigrants who believe differently. The result has been a sharp division in American culture, and the redefinition of Christian theology.

Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, said Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s by positions of “pro-life” and opposing gay marriage. “Suddenly theology fell to the background,” he said. And somewhere in the middle of all the change, Evangelical Christianity crossed the line of faith and belief to hatred and abuse. Those who cruelly implement the actions of their faith are oblivious to the destruction they cause to their religion, or the people their beliefs impact. Is it fair to call it sociopathic?

Psychology Today listed sixteen characteristics of sociopathic behaviors, which include: Untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).

We see examples of these kinds of behaviors in church leaders and followers. Franklin Graham, for example, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue.” His stand fits well with his conservative politics and vocal support of Donald Trump, but his callousness toward immigrants and those seeking asylum in the United States goes against everything he says he believes (Lev. 19:33-34, Mark 12:30-31). Yet, Graham doesn’t see one bit of irony between his political stance and his religious belief. Nor does he seem to notice the horrific casualties in war-torn countries these immigrants are desperately trying to flee.

Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento said after the Orlando, Florida terrorist attack on a gay nightclub, “The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!” This “minister of God” showed no compassion for the families of the men and women who died. He appeared incapable of laying aside his religious beliefs for even a moment of shared human connection to a tragic event.

And recently, Kim Higginbotham, a minister’s wife and teacher with a master’s degree in special education, according to her website, wrote a public blog called “Giving Your Child to the Devil.” She claimed, “Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children.” She listed Matthew 10:37 as justification, which says, “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

In a self-righteous, self-aggrandizing, martyr’s rant, she claims her son turned his back on God, and she was left with no other option but to abandon him. It turns out her son is gay and – it turns out – the day the diatribe was posted was his wedding day. Sharon Hambrick, a Christian writer, posted a wonderful response to this mom.

But mostly, rather than calling these people out for sociopathic behavior fellow Christians agree. Many of the comments on Higginbotham’s website say, “So sorry for your loss,” or, “Praying for you and your son.”

It’s common for us to avoid cognitive dissonance, when our beliefs dictate one thing, but our experiences show us something else is true. We call this living in denial, and we all do it on one level or another. But when we choose our “truth” while coldly watching a fellow human being suffer, we’ve crossed a line of mental health.

The 2016 election demonstrated an especially high level of insincerity, shamelessness, poor judgment and pathological egocentricity among Christian evangelicals. James Dobson, who once said of Bill Clinton, “Character does matter. You can’t run a family, let alone a country without it. How foolish to believe that a person who lacks honesty and moral integrity is qualified to lead a nation and the world,” and then said of Donald Trump, “I’m not under any illusions that he is an outstanding moral example. It’s a cliché but true: We are electing a commander-in-chief, not a theologian-in-chief.”

The evangelical Christian message is loud and clear. They care for no one but themselves. Their devotion is to the version of Christianity they have created, which calls for ruthless abandonment of immigrants, women, children – even their own – and anyone else who doesn’t fall inline with their message. Social justice, which is mentioned in Bible verses over two thousand times, has been replaced with hardline political ideology. Principle over people. Indifference over involvement. Judgment over generosity.

Every generation redefines what it means to be, or belong to a religious group. Religious ideologies, interpretations, and doctrines are fluid. But whatever it is, or whatever it becomes, is made by the people who belong to the religion and what they collectively decide to make it.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

Tim Rymel, M.Ed., is the author of Going Gay (2014), and the upcoming book, Rethinking Everything When Faith and Reality Don’t Make Sense (2017). He is a former minister and a member of the American Psychological Association, APA Division 15 Educational psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual Issues. Buy Going Gay at: http://GoingGay.net. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRealTimRymel

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130 COMMENTS

  1. Not quite sociopaths. This is learned behavior. They were taught taught to behave this way. It is not the outcome of a specific mental illness. The same people that can be remarkably unfeeling and even abusive of others like gays and lesbians can act with remarkable self sacrifice for the poor and destitute. The ones that are boiling racists on domestic issues can still band together for African relief. They do not lack empathy, they are only selective about it. They are the kind of people that can “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.” In a sense, this terrifies me far more than mental illness. It’s the image of Christ on a shattered mirror. What can be more disturbing than a fractured faith?

    • Cluster B personality disorders (which can lead to sociopathy) are often created as learned childhood behaviors. (From either or both Cluster B parents.) The children may be abused or spoiled, but both methods create dedicated cult members (with or without church involvement). If the parents are teaching a false mortality and the kid is looking for approval from them, the kid eats it up, because parental wrath is the alternative. Not all church goers/believers are evil, but it’s definitely an environment loved by sociopaths because of the leadership positions available.

  2. No question about it. Many Christian talking heads have become Sociopathic Pseudo Christians and strayed from the teachings of Jesus Christ. The phonies include Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Paul Crouch, Rodney Browne, Kenneth Hagin, Pat Robertson, Paula White . . . and on and on and on. These pseudo Christian sociopaths shape the beliefs of many, simple minded, uneducated people in the USA and the result is the chaos we have now.

      • Olsteen may be included in part because of this:

        Pastor Joel Osteen has an estimated net worth of $40 million.

        I don’t begrudge someone making money, but Olsteen has done so using Christianity as his product and he sells it well.

        Olsteen is like a Used Car salesman that has enough of a soul to not sell you a lemon like it’s a BMW, but he’ll take as much money he can get from you for that sedan that does the job, but is not even close to what he says it costs.

  3. I am usually censored for stating what I believe, especially at the Huffington Post. Even if I am not censored none will discuss my positions, why is that, it will be so simple to resolve quickly. Here goes: No gods exist is reality, and I can prove it. First of all, none can prove, nor has any proved the existence of any god. In Reality our Constitution says there are all gods or there are no gods, (oh oh, I’m getting a censor notice, the freaks are manipulating comments again. It’s what they have to do, because they can’t face the truth. Anyway) so that in no case can any god be dominant. That of course places reality outside the worldview of all those religious fanatics that hold that their belief in a single god places them in dominance because of their belief, and they as directed by their god must bring that about. So we have two immovable forces, the belief that a non-existent supernatural being must dictate our being, and a Constitution that forbids that belief to power. This is REALITY, and it’s time we addressed it rather than wait until we are torn apart.

    • “Here goes: No gods exist is reality, and I can prove it. First of all, none can prove, nor has any proved the existence of any god”

      I am an ex Christian strict agnostic (not religious agnostic or atheist agnostic). The problem is not being able to prove something is not the same thing as disproving it. In fact your entire quest to prove a god does not exist is folly. You fall into the existential fallacy, that you cannot prove something does not exist.

      This is not to say that god exists or does not, just that you cannot prove he/she/they dont. It is the only logical answer a Christian has for you.

      Second the Constitution does not forbid the belief in a power, but that the belief of it cannot be tied to the government.

      • “Second the Constitution does not forbid the belief in a power” – I don’t think that was what Jimbo was saying; if I read it correctly, the sentence says “forbids that belief TO power”, i.e., that the religion cannot rule.

  4. Thier uncaring stance is doing the exact opposite of what they are trying to achieve. Young people are leaving the church at an alarming rate due to their uncaring, hard-line stance on gays, women, and abortion. To be honest, these dinosaurs can’t die off fast enough. They have disgraced the church in every way possible. It isn’t only their stance that is driving people away, it is also the fact that so many of these so called leaders are being caught doing things that are completely against what they preach. Priest in the Catholic church being pedophiles is a perfect example. The way Christian leaders have sneakingly inserted themselves into government to further their agendas and attempt to force all American citizens to adhere to their beliefs is very damaging and will only strengthen the divide between them and everyone else.

  5. They are dictators and sociopaths and I’m sorry I was ever one of them. How will we ever colonize exoplanets while we’re at each other’s throats?!

  6. They crossed over the boarder of Sociopathic into Psychopathy and Sadism LONG AGO, but this article stops at Sociopathy.

    Their collective psychopathy targets minorities and women to become servants, women to be sex slaves and brood mares, children to become in the end obedient child brides (or sacrificial altar boys.) Gay people must convert of be damned, though given the social power, evangelicals would have them killed outright. Basically all who are not bible/chest thumping white men are demonized, including historically, all of nature. These beliefs go beyond sociopathy into delusion which brings the system way into psychopathy. Given a dollop of permitted sadism completes the snapshot of mental illness and abuse of just about the entire planet.

    Their beliefs and organizations are a clear and present danger to our freedoms and our very lives.

  7. This is an attack on organized religion, so would we be a better world without some beliefs? Many great teachers have come and gone from this earth leaving thoughts behind. Life is a true mystery and beautiful too. Good and evil is among us. Figuring out the difference is hopefully found in the scriptures by past teachers. Who can do better?

  8. Nicely stated. Church goers preach high morals to others but in turn they are the worst offenders against the teaching of Christ. In my experience I have found that the worst offender against the teaching of Christ are pious church goers. I once knew a pastor and his wife who had nothing but hatred in their hearts. They taught babies, little children and who else to hate their parents. Ugly, very ugly. They will all end up in the last cave (worst punishment) of Dantes’ hell. The sinners who betrayed they benefactors such as Judas, Brutus, Cassius and …

  9. One thing is quite certain: these so-called evangelical churches long ago abandoned any connection to the teachings of Jesus. They are profit-making businesses operated by demonstrable lunatics

  10. Delorus “This is an attack on organized religion, so would we be a better world without some beliefs? Many great teachers have come and gone from this earth leaving thoughts behind. Life is a true mystery and beautiful too. Good and evil is among us. Figuring out the difference is hopefully found in the scriptures by past teachers. Who can do better?”

    You missed the whole point of this article. There are facts, obvious to everyone, and then there are delusions. Delusions are not healthy, and usually dangerous. Facts are things that non-delusional people can agree on, and can be confirmed by objective reality and eyeballs.

    Religion is a delusion invented by High Priests and Kings to oppress everyone else. God gave us critical thinking ability. The only true sin is to waste one’s brains on nonsense and delusions.

    The sins described in this article are crimes incited and committed in religious cults and churches. You’re damn right “This is an attack on organized religion”, you delusional mother f**kers have been committing crimes in the name of God long enough. Be Gone!

  11. I don’t care what anyone “believes” behind closed doors -BUT all the “religious” groups & organizations that SPREAD “their beliefs” as FACT, CONDEMNATION, JUDGEMENT, & CLOAKED DISCRIMINATION, -Absolutely 100% need their Tax Exempt Status REVOKED immediately. If there TRULY was a Separation of Church & State, there would NEVER be another REPUBLICAN Elected. The BS will walk when a REAL threat of MONETARY loss talks. There aren’t enough RICH Right Wingers to keep getting elected-But the Uneducated POOR Right Wingers (led by the Demons in disguise) are the countless MILLIONS that are going to the Polls because of twisted WRONG Jesus BRAINWASHING. If there were “Watch Groups” or “Investigative Reports” done REGULARLY, & KNOWN to expose “them”–Maybe one day the CrAzY could stop. Or at least not be so damn loud when Electing Government.. -And yes, “they” are Sociopaths. Behavior is BEHAVIOR. Whether its from DNA, being TAUGHT, or simply the PRODUCT OF AN ENVIRONMENT -The result is the same. “They” actually project HATE using Jesus as an alibi, while sending thoughts & prayers. “They” appear incapable of feeling REAL Empathy or Sympathy unless it affects them directly. And “they” are definitely incapable of acknowledging COMMON Logic that proves them to be doing harm. The Definition of a SOCIOPATH..

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