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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169 COMMENTS

  1. My experience of evangelical Christians and those missionaries that I’ve met in Thailand are worse than sociopaths. On the political front just look at Pence and his wife. Both utter nutcases. These type of people don’t live in the real world. They are as dangerous as extreme Muslims or extreme Jews. All come out of the same bag. Selfish people who want power over you.

    • I attended and Evangelical Church in the early two thousands. Not only did they take Visa MasterCard for tithing they also talked about how it was good that we were going to Iraq because Iraq had a basin of oil..

  2. Thank you for a great article with which I wholeheartedly agree. Last year I had a skirmish with modern day Christianity. It came after my having discovered a whole body of ‘new’ teachings related to the Courts of Heaven. While the teaching is sound my immersion into the world of christians was nothing short of traumatic and abusive. If Love is the measure of truth then I certainly was not on the receiving end of that. I was regarded little more than a number of ‘participants’ with no care for me as a person whatsoever. It was only my attendance to the various meetings and ‘heavenly encounters’ that seemed to be of any consequence. That is not love. Sadly, this was also my experience: The 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.” I think this man got it right when he talked about an emergent ‘malignant normality’ that is being created in the Christian church as positioned by Donald Trump. Those interested can read this enlightening article here: http://billmoyers.com/story/dangerous-case-donald-trump-robert-jay-lifton-bill-moyers-duty-warn/

  3. Lord Acton (1834-1902) once opined “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
    That is what ends up warping the minds of clerics and their followers.
    Being a sociopath just helps the process along a little.

  4. ''Become…''?? No.
    Evangelicals and fundies have always been sociopathic –
    but
    they were always the authority
    Thus
    they were never viewed as a social threat.

  5. Very caustic unChristian article. Perspective of author is that of the Antichrist, not Christ who preached traditional marriage. Matthew 19:4-6
    And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

    • Gary, before issuing a “judgement”, that proves the validity of the article, respond to what’s been said. What’s your response, to a minister, who says “The tragedy, is that more weren’t killed. He should’ve finished the job.” Where’s your response to the hypocrisy of those like Franklin Graham, and James Dobson, who’ve clearly spoken out of both sides of their mouths? Unless you’re willing to deal with the topics at hand, your comment is meaningless.

    • Nice bit of cherry picking Gary. Here’s another question for you to ponder – why should anyone pay any attention to what the bible says? Anything that might be true in the bible is equally accessible to rational non-biblical thinkers. Rationality also allows a thinker to reject the obvious accompanying bulldust in the bible.

  6. Evangelical christianity has always been sociopathic. What's happened is that psychopaths have united under the banner of evangelical christianity/white supremacy, and all those smiling people in those churches are actually embracing nazism. The whole thing is a sick cult of hate.

    • It must be nice to judge all Christians by what you saw of a few. Yet you wouldn’t say that about Muslims, or gays or blacks. Why?

      • Probably because those groups don’t act like this article details as a common issue with evangelical Christians. They also don’t hold any actionable power in this country, and when 90% of lawmakers in this country report to be Christian, its time to stop whining about how they’re victimized.

  7. At this point, I'm just too depressed to do anything but hope for another asteroid. Maybe 10 miles in diameter this time.
    "Burn it down and salt the earth"

  8. I think the focus on evangelical Christianity is to miss the point. It is inherent in monotheistic religions for them to want to take control over other’s morality, to establish theocratic governance, and to cast off those who are “impure”. They have cannonical support for such desires. The problem is not evangelical Christianity, Christianity itself.

  9. Today,all The Biblys , GOD’S authorites,IT has gone away, The peole Are forgotten all what Our God’s Word tell us.The Trueth has loosed out,also here on North States,i am very sorry about thisone , what shall we do,i nevertime know,i am only praying,so on

  10. Why’d you overlook or bypass the infiltration of right wing politics into evangelical Christianity? That’s the point where you loose me.

  11. Yes, well.

    The Abrahamic god and Jesus are genocidal maniacs. The Abrahamic Satan killed less than 100. Yet all Christians merrily follow a God and his son who didn't just kill, but wiped out entire civilisations out of Envy. Envy being, of course, one of the seven deadly sins.

    I care not whether there is or isn't a Deity. What I care about are the millions of people who see the ways of not one, but two mass murderers, and call it love. Much like the millions of followers who believe in Allah. Allah started the war and then forgave the few survivors of the civilisation he butchered.

    You want to know why Religious Psychopaths exist? Look at what they call love.

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