infighting ahoy
Reading Time: 8 minutes (Birmingham Museums Trust.) A 1789 prize fight. I'm assuming this is Birmingham, England and not Birmingham, Alabama.
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Hi and welcome back! In recent days, we’ve been discussing the shocking insurrection attempt that occurred on Wednesday. That’s when a bunch of Donald Trump worshipers stormed the Capitol Building of the United States to try to stage a coup to keep their idol in power. Since most of his worshipers also happen to be fervent evangelical Christians, the infighting over the attack began almost immediately. Today, I want to show you some of that infighting — and remind everyone of exactly what this infighting tells us Christianity itself.

infighting ahoy
(Birmingham Museums Trust.) A 1789 prize fight. I’m assuming this is Birmingham, England and not Birmingham, Alabama.

Infighting Ahoy!

In John 17:20-23, Jesus prayed that his followers would achieve unity. As Neil Carter once noted, Jesus seemed to feel certain that if Christians managed to hit that mark, then the whole world would know that Christianity was a true and valid ideology based on facts.

But his prayer utterly failed.

Nothing about Christianity could ever be called monolithic. Nothing has ever been monolithic for them, either. As far as I’ve ever been able to tell, only two beliefs could ever be considered completely universal within the religion throughout its entire history:

  1. Some kind of god probably exists.
  2. Jesus is important to at least some extent.

This aspect of Christianity absolutely outrages quite a few Christians. Indeed, you’ll discover lots of them out there doing their best to close the gates to their sheepfold to Christians they don’t think deserve the title because of their beliefs — or their hypocritical behavior.

But so far, not one single Christian group has ever been able to completely set a lockstep creed for the entire religion — not even Catholics, who even at the height of their power always had various heresies (read: differing interpretations of theology and doctrine) erupting somewhere or other.

So infighting represents as intrinsic a reality for Christians as, well, belief in Jesus himself.

Evangelicals Attacked Our Capitol.

It’s no secret at all that Donald Trump’s worshipers are largely evangelical Christians. Their idolization of him might represent the only near-universal belief they’ve ever had. Without evangelicals’ wholehearted, full-throated support, this repulsive degenerate would never have gotten near the Oval Office.

Thus, I hope nobody was super-surprised when it turned out that many of the Capitol attackers were evangelical Christians.

The Atlantic flat-out called the attack “a Christian insurrection,” though their article’s original title seems to have been “Storming the Capitol for God and Trump.” They describe a mob carrying Christian signs and screaming religious slogans while they attacked our government’s beating heart. Their story’s lead photo depicts a very fervent-looking prayer meeting, with heads bent and hands raised around a big wooden cross.

It’s absolutely terrifying to see just how far evangelicals have degenerated in their naked pursuit of political power. About the only saving grace I can perceive is that the mob wasn’t larger. I don’t think evangelicals are really fond of self-denial, so not as many showed up for the terrorist attack as could have.

In short, we can lay almost all of the blame for this attack, this domestic terrorism, at the feet of evangelicals. Their Dear Leaders have carefully led them to this exact point through decades of indoctrination.

The Infighting Begins (Again).

Immediately after the attack, evangelical leaders rushed to distance themselves from the blame they richly deserve for their inept and power-focused leadership. Their warbling shouldn’t surprise anybody. After all, they sing this same song every single time one of their followers takes their teachings to their logical conclusion and commits an atrocity.

Evangelical flocks rarely realize that their leaders are just playing a Happy Pretendy Fun Time Game and don’t expect anyone to take anything they say really seriously.

While the flock’s Dear Leaders rushed to cover their asses, other evangelicals started up one of the side quests to the Happy Pretendy Fun Time Game. This, too, happens every single time someone takes the game too seriously.

Christians love this side quest, by the way.

It’s called More Hardcore Than Thou.

To win, the Christian playing must out-Jesus all the other Christians in the game.

In this case, the players seek to disqualify their enemies from the title of “Christian” while at the same time demonstrating their own ultimate Jesus-osity.

And hooboy, were Christians ever enjoying this side quest this week!


Over on Twitter, Beth Moore declared that she couldn’t recognize the Jesus the attackers worship (did he wear a mask?!?):

I don’t know the Jesus some have paraded and waved around in the middle of this treachery today. They may be acting in the name of some other Jesus but that’s not Jesus of the Gospels.

And the infighting was off to a good start. I found echoes of this opinion all over Twitter. By the way, these are just normies, regular ole Christians, nobody in high-ranking positions:

Jesus was never behind this whole movement. From day one, it was all the work of Lucifer – deceive, steal, kill, and destroy #CapitolRiots [source]

As a Christian pastor I do not recognize the rhetoric or actions of yesterday’s violent mob carrying signs about God as in any way representative of the life and teachings of Jesus. Sad that has to even be stated. #CapitolRiots #Christian [. . . ] The “faith” they proclaim is not Christianity. [source]

If you participated in the #CapitolRiots yesterday: [. . . ] I suggest you go home and think very hard about peace (which Jesus is FOR) and idolatry (which He is AGAINST!) [source]

They erected a noose… a noose… Think about that for a second. Then try and explain to me HOW you are representing Jesus Christ of Nazareth in any way, shape or form… [source]

I can’t stand the way these people are portraying Jesus…I’m so sick of it! Just so we’re clear not all Christ followers act this way #Christian #CapitolRiots #Disgusting #Jesuswouldnotdothat #TrumpOutNow [source]

Jesus would not approve of the #CapitolRiots [source]

Incidentally, I found all of these infighting Christians by searching Twitter for “#CapitolRiots Jesus.” They popped up within the first couple of scrolls.

Anybody who’s ever been a Christian (or been around them) has heard these same disavorals, and probably even said these same things at some point in their faith journey.

The Problem With Infighting.

Our infighting Christians are experiencing one big problem, however. It’s possibly the biggest problem within Christianity. In my humble opinion, it’s the worst dealbreaker in the religion.

The Problem of Evil? Oh, I mean that’s a big one, sure. But it’s not as big as this one.

The Problem of Hell? That one’s definitely a dealbreaker, yeppers! But it’s nowhere near as absolutely faith-busting as this.

Indeed, Christians have come up with lots of hand-waving about every other dealbreaker they face except this one. They’ve never, ever found an adequate way to explain this one away.

“It” is simply this:

The Doctrinal Yardstick.

For every ideology and doctrinal belief within Christianity that a believer is certain are both utterly true and the most Jesus-y positions possible for Christians to take on those topics, there exist believers who believe competing ideologies and doctrines with equal fervor who think that first believer is utterly wrong.

And every one of those believers can argue their beliefs with equal numbers of Bible verses and various logical-fallacy-riddled arguments.

There exists no ideology or doctrinal belief within Christianity that can be successfully argued into superiority over its competitors. There also exists no real reason to consider any ideology or doctrinal belief within Christianity as being the most superior to all others, because all of them have the same level of support.

So. All these Christians condemning the Capitol attackers and Trump worshipers? The people they’re accusing of Jesus-ing incorrectly consider them the fakers who believe all the wrong things. I guarantee you they’re saying the same exact things about their opponents as are being said about them.

Infighting and the Doctrinal Yardstick.

When I was a Christian, it wasn’t the huge hypocrites that proved themselves to be my biggest “stumbling blocks.”

It was the fervent, sincere Christians who simply believed different things than I did.

Those were the people who threw the biggest wrenches into my beliefs, simply because there was no way whatsoever to persuade them that they believed all the wrong things (or vice versa).

I cannot stress enough just how devastating that simple truth was for me. When two of us argued, we couldn’t both be correct. We were arguing mutually exclusive ideas. And yet nobody could ever win any of those arguments.

I knew that when something is factually true, then real facts can be brought up in support of it. My friends and I might have joked back then about Wyoming being a fake state, but we knew it truly existed. Real, physical signs of its existence could be found everywhere, albeit not in our dormitory’s parking lot. (See endnote.)

By contrast, Narnia does not exist. I knew that it didn’t. There existed absolutely no real, physical signs of its existence. So if a fan of that series were ever to argue that Narnia really did exist, they had no real facts to support their contention.

The arguments I pitched at my friends matched the ones they pitched back at me. We all believed our particular beliefs with equal intensity and fervour, and we all had exactly the same justifications for holding those beliefs. And we all desperately wanted to hold nothing but the most correct beliefs possible!

Despite all of that, none of us ever convinced any of our friends that they were wrong.

And if one of us had held beliefs that were actually factually true, we really should have been able to.

What That Means Now.

Want to blow molinistic excuses for the problem of evil out of the water? Calvinists have already done the work. Want to undercut Sola Scriptura? Catholics have that covered. Want to illustrate the absurdity of the Trinity? Ask those Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to your door next Saturday. Want to show how evolutionary theory isn’t compatible with Christianity? Look no further than Answers in Genesis. What do all of these groups have in common? They all use the Bible to knock down each other’s theological systems. [A Pasta Sea]

I don’t disagree with the general attitude of these gatekeeping Christians. Sure, I’ve never encountered any form of Christianity that actually adds so much value to anybody’s life that it’s worth adopting. But some forms of it are less toxic and malevolent than others. The many Christian critics of the Y’all Qaeda are calling out a form of Christianity that does a lot of demonstrable harm to everyone’s lives, and I appreciate that they are.

Nor do I disagree with the general sentiment I’ve seen from these critics about these evangelical domestic terrorists’ doctrinal beliefs being both poorly-informed and childish.

Those are all just plain facts.

It’s just this:

Not one Christian actually believes anything factually true and real about their imaginary friend of a god. They’re all picking and choosing the version of Christianity that works best for them, then declaring their doctrine-golem the One True Way to Jesus Out of All Competing Ways to Jesus, and then declaring that all different doctrine-golems are made wrong.

Whenever any Christians feel the need to start their infighting game, they need to remember that their enemies say the exact same things about them and with the exact same justifications. Really, they’d all do well to remember that they remind us of that fact every time they wade into yet another doctrinal slapfight.

But I guess this side quest is too fun to drop!

NEXT UP: It’s a little late for evangelicals to worry about their long-ago lost credibility. But here we are. See you tomorrow!


The whole Wyoming thing started because some idiot was stealing license plates from cars parked in the dorm parking lot one year. He was clearly trying to collect-the-set, because he was only taking one plate from each state. There was a guy who owned the only car with plates from his home state, and he and his friends had set up a 24/7 watch on it.

The cops discussing the matter joked that the thief wouldn’t be able to complete his set, though, because nobody in our dorm was from Wyoming. So me and my friends (all evangelicals of various kinds) began joking that Wyoming didn’t really exist. Looking back, it’s just astonishing that I didn’t realize the sheer irony of our very public joking-around. I can’t even imagine what non-evangelical students thought of us. 

So now you know. Seriously, I was a wingnut. (Back to the post!)

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...