Hi and welcome back! The other day, I showed you a story exposing the hypocrisy of Mike Stone, an extremist conservative leader in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). See, he recently filed a lawsuit against his fellow Christian leader Russell Moore. The Bible very specifically forbids this. However, I was not at all surprised to learn that Stone’s fellow extremists have found a few ways to completely square his hypocrisy with their beliefs. Today, let me show you how these authoritarians managed that trick.
(As we go along, you’ll notice I use terms like “tribe” and “tribal” to describe certain groups. I’m using the sociological sense of the word. The folks in question have a serious us-vs-them, black-or-white, with-us-or-against-us mentality. They close ranks around their own members and leaders. And they view outsiders and enemies alike as inferiors who possibly aren’t even human.)
The Evangelical Hypocrisy Rules.
- No deed exists that is so disgustingly harmful and hypocritical that evangelical Christians cannot excuse and allow it somehow. It simply needs to be committed by someone they view as important and necessary. Of course, tribal enemies and traitors can expect to face the tribe’s full wrath for far smaller offenses. And a leader who slides out of usefulness can suddenly find himself far, far from the tribe’s protective arms.
- If evangelicals can ignore hypocrisy long enough, it magically stops mattering. Similarly, with enough time the hypocrite magically becomes pure again — as long as they fit into the excused-and-allowed category. (What, are you ickie heathens seriously still talking about “Abuse of Faith?” GYAHHHH!)
- Evangelicals may reach for one of the tribe’s many snarl words to defend a excused-and-allowed hypocrite against criticism. Do not expect them to counter criticism with anything meaningful. Words stopped meaning anything to them a long time ago. Snarl words like leftist, Marxist, post-modernist, feminist, and more can be wielded at any time to distract attention from an excused-and-allowed hypocrite — even if the accusation makes no logical sense whatsoever. Yes, this is an ad hominem attack. And evangelicals love it.
- Tribal outsiders and enemies do not exist except when the tribe needs to insult them, wield control over them, or make unwanted sales pitches at them. In particular, the tribe will react poorly to being reminded of their very own rules by outsiders and enemies. Watch for sneaky attempts to forbid this form of criticism — and laugh.
When the Hypocrisy Rules Actually Apply.
Of course, when we look at Mike Stone’s lawsuit against Russell Moore, we quickly notice that Stone does not enjoy complete approval from all evangelicals for this move. I found no shortage at all of evangelicals criticizing the lawsuit. Heck, even Douglas Wilson doesn’t like the idea:
I believe that when the Scriptures plainly prohibit something, then that means we shouldn’t do it. That is my simple answer to what some will want to turn into a complex problem.
(And let’s all remember Wilson said that, shall we, once his own big scandals finally emerge.)
But Wilson isn’t part of the tribe. He’s not even Southern Baptist or adjacent. Neither are these other critics I saw. Unfortunately, those are the only evangelicals who think the hypocrisy rules should apply to Mike Stone.
Instead, Stone has the full approval of those extremely conservative Southern Baptists and adjacent types who hilariously think that someone can accuse Russell Moore of being a “leftist” without bursting into flames from the lie.
That segment of evangelicalism is Mike Stone’s tribe.
And these are his defenders.
Capstone Report, a hyperconservative evangelical blog, reports on the lawsuit with no criticism whatsoever. In fact, their writer wonders aloud if Ronnie Floyd (one of Mike Stone’s pals and a fellow former member of the SBC’s Executive Committee) will also sue Russell Moore. I saw a lot of similar Christians salivating at the very idea.
I’m sure those Capstone folks know about the Bible verses forbidding Christians from suing other Christians, 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, but they don’t mention them. That’s a strange omission from a bunch of literalists and inerrantists like them. (Or it would be, if I didn’t know authoritarians like I do. But I’m getting ahead of myself!)
Also, a very conservative SBC-adjacent pastor named “Tom Buck” actually tried to silence Stone’s critics by mistakenly comparing Stone’s hurt fee-fees lawsuit against Moore to sex abuse victims’ potential lawsuits against the SBC. I don’t know how that guy lives with himself when he can even make such a comparison.
He got some agreement from his followers, too, demonstrating just how far evangelical critical-thinking skills have dissolved.
“Um, That Depends.”
Some edgelords with a site called Evangelical Dark Web similarly reported on the lawsuit. Weirdly, they also omitted the Bible verses explicitly forbidding such lawsuits. Instead, they seemed completely on board with the proceedings. They even accuse Russell Moore of plagiarizing his resignation letter, which totally means Mike Stone’s civil lawsuit is totes fine now.
This group also operates a YouTube channel by the same name. There, a smarmy guy with burgeoning Calvinist Beard praises Stone’s lawsuit. He also snarls that Moore and his crowd are all “leftists.” (Yes, he’s old enough to know how to use a dictionary. He just doesn’t want to use words correctly — not when the tribe’s created such gratifying insults for him to fling.)
And this guy hand-waves away the entire problem at about 8:55 in that video:
Is this [lawsuit] a violation of 1 Corinthians 6? Um, that depends on whether or not you call Russell Moore a brother or not. [. . .] I don’t really consider him within the church. I think he’s apostatized himself.
So there you go! Declare a Christian to be a non-Christian, gatekeep the label itself so hard that you entirely deny it to someone who’s been a lifelong and fervent Christian but just happens to think differently than you about a couple of things, and that solves the whole problem!
Sure, it’s a nasty thing to do to a fellow Christian — and itself a violation of the Bible’s rules and Jesus’ heartfelt prayer. But everyone acting like this has gone far, far past caring about what they look like to anybody, including their imaginary friend.
When the Bible’s Rules Stop Mattering to the Literalist/Inerrantist Crowd.
First: Whenever a leader’s fee-fees are hurt, the Bible’s rules stop mattering. In that case, a lawsuit is one of the weapons that leader can wield. No authoritarian can refuse to use all weapons available in a fight. To do so would be admitting weakness, which would open that leader up to the tribe’s full wrath (not to mention challenges for the sceptre).
Second: Any time a former tribemate becomes an enemy, the tribe can stop caring what the Bible says. As Calvinist Beard Lad himself declared, Russell Moore is not only a fake Christian but also a leftist and a COMMUNIST! So therefore, the Bible’s injunction against Christian-on-Christian lawsuits doesn’t matter here. That rule only applies to TRUE CHRISTIANS™ (which he calls “actual Christians” — and you can bet your last dollar that he considers himself one of them).
Third: If the hypocrites and their defenders can accuse their enemies of doing something wrong, even if they’re incorrect, then that invalidates all their critics’ criticism. That was why that one pastor focused on potential lawsuits from the SBC’s many sex-abuse victims. If that’s okay, then he figures that obviously Mike Stone should be able to sue Russell Moore for possibly costing him a cushy religious gig.
Fourth: When a fight, even an imaginary one, has started, rules stop mattering at all to authoritarians. Authoritarians cannot perceive any conflict except in a win-lose way. And they do not intend to lose. That’s why 1 Corinthians 6 is such a troublesome set of instructions: it tells these authoritarians to take the L in every single fight, and to do it with a smile. They. Don’t. Wanna. And that, in turn, is why they’ve devised so many ways to hand-wave away such instructions.
How Authoritarians Think.
As we’ve already seen, Mike Stone himself has preached about Christian-on-Christian lawsuits — as another Twitter account, “Mike Stone’s Wounded Ego-n-Income Potential™,” reminds us with an audio clip from the hypocrite himself.
In his preaching, Stone allows for no excuses in obeying his magic holy book.
In reality, he grants himself an enormous amount of leeway.
And that’s not at all surprising. After all, the dude is an authoritarian.
Authoritarians live by the adage of rules for thee, not for me. Once they achieve a certain amount of power — far less than Stone has, really — then they stop seeing their group’s rules as applicable to themselves.
Their group members, as well, tend to behave and think in very tribal ways. Thus, they put the protection of their leaders far above following their rules. If their leader gets caught in hypocrisy, they’ll work overtime to figure out a way to absolve that person and get them back into the saddle again.
All that matters to authoritarians is dominance. And that means they must decisively win all conflicts.
So no, it doesn’t bother these Christians at all that Mike Stone is suing Russell Moore in an act of hypocrisy. In fact, they hope he succeeds grandly.
NEXT UP: Speaking of power, I saw something interesting that a famous influencer did to try to control the backlash against her. I haven’t heard anyone else talking about it, and I want to show it to you next time. See you then!
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(Sorry, Augustine of Hippo. Willfully ignorant Christians still make the whole tribe look bad, even a thousand+ years after you begged them to quit doing that.)