what dishonesty does to beliefs
Reading Time: 6 minutes (Marian Kroell.) Credit: Marian Kroell / Unsplash
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Hi and welcome back! Yesterday, we covered the so-called Testimony of Josephus. Many Christians think that Josephus provides PROOF YES PROOF that their historical claims are true. However, we discovered that the entire Testimony was inserted centuries later by a pious Christian fraud. The situation got me thinking. Christians’ dishonesty around their lack of evidence matters way more than that lack of evidence itself. Today, let me show you why.

(Marian Kroell.) Credit: Marian Kroell / Unsplash

Dishonesty: The Thunderbolt That Hit Me.

Years ago, when I was a wee Pentecostal lass in the 1990s, I noticed that my husband Biff had left his Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) manual in our apartment while he was off volunteering at the fake clinic. Usually, he kept the manual with him. He told me it was top secret and had to be guarded carefully. But this evening, he left it behind. Who knows why?

I was supposed to be studying, but I was bored and hard up for reading material. When I saw the manual, I couldn’t resist. It didn’t even occur to me that anything in its pages might challenge any of my beliefs.

After all: how could such a thing even be possible? The CPC was completely compatible with my beliefs, or so I thought. It was a hard-right religious organization that opposed human rights while pretending to care enormously about women in rough situations.

So I read the manual.

When I opened it to the first page, I was a firm, faithful, zealous forced-birther.

By the last page, I was a shambles, a wreck: tearful, shaken, mortified, horrified, humiliated. It was wall-to-wall lies, mangled Bible verses, and emotional manipulation. Even I could spot them, as new to the lying-for-Jesus game as I was.

One thing kept running through my mind:

Nothing true needs lies to prop itself up.

Soon after realizing that the entire forced-birther culture war was based upon lies, I realized that my entire religion was as well. And I deconverted from Christianity.

Dishonesty is Built Into Christianity From the Ground Up.

Back then, the standard advice for doubt for Christians was to go read the Bible. Study it. Allow its truths to flow through one’s body, and thus strengthen one’s faith.

Boy oh boy did I ever choose the wrong topic to study that fateful night:


I was already wobbling a bit because of a dramatic example of prayer not bringing about a hoped-for miracle cure. So I hoped that by studying the Bible’s assurances about prayer, I’d be able to fortify myself enough to confront all the other stuff.

What actually happened:

I learned that the Bible makes all kinds of promises about prayer. Those promises are clear, emphatic, and completely testable. And prayer just doesn’t work like that in reality. Thus, the Bible cannot be trusted about prayer.

Hmm, I thought, what else can I not trust the Bible about?

Dishonesty: Rampant in Christianity.

While I studied, I couldn’t help but think about other examples of Christian dishonesty:

I’m not even counting all the self-deception involved in the religion, just dishonesty toward other people. But there’s a lot of that too. And I’d seen all this stuff off and on, but had managed to compartmentalize it away — to hand-wave it as just a few bad apples. I didn’t allow myself to see just how widespread dishonesty is.

Dishonesty is not only built into Christianity from the start, but it utterly permeates the religion. I discovered to my detriment that the more fervent and zealous the group, the more dishonest its members must be — to themselves and others — to maintain that facade.

It dizzied me, back then, just to imagine all these people in all these churches just lying to each other nonstop, and everyone convinced that everyone else was telling the truth.

A God of Love and Truth.

And what makes this situation so bizarre is that Christians universally imagine that their god values truth and honesty while condemning lies and dishonesty.

From Got Questions, we see this:

Honesty as a character quality is a sign of the Spirit’s work in a person’s soul. God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); therefore, His presence in a person gives rise to truthfulness. God’s people are honest.

A Church of Christ website tells us:

If you lie, steal, cheat you damage your spirit and relationship with God and others. Being honest will enhance future opportunities and your ability to be guided by the Holy Spirit. Be honest everywhere, choose not to cheat in anyway.

Learn Religions agrees:

Christ said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If Christ is Truth, then it follows that lying is moving away from Christ. Being honest is about following in God’s footsteps, for He cannot lie. [citation needed]

And Bible Info summarizes the topic in a way that should resonate greatly with Christians:

God values honesty most. It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 21:3, TLB. “God is more pleased when we are just and fair than when we give Him gifts.”

In fact, I found no Christians anywhere who thought that their god approved of dishonesty. They are united in condemning dishonesty and praising honesty. Heck, even the Christians who fantasize about being forced to lie to save lives don’t entirely approve of the idea.

And yet we find endless examples of dishonesty in Christianity, endless numbers of Christians who think nothing of spreading dishonesty and living in dishonesty

Christianity: Once Again, Not Unique or Special.

Every religion out there likes to think that its central ideas are supported by real-world evidence. It doesn’t matter if it contains one god, no gods, or many thousands of gods and whatnot.

I know of very few religions that abstain entirely from making any claims about what their ideology can do in the real world. The smart ones keep to claims that can be easily supported.

But there are plenty of religions whose leaders aren’t so smart. They make tons of claims about their ideology.

Christianity just happens to be one of the religions whose leaders make oodles of claims. They make claims about their earliest history, their founder, their cosmology, what their ideology can do for followers, and what’ll happen to those who accept or reject that ideology (in this world and an imaginary one that they claim people enter after death)

And, of course, they lie about what groups adopting their ideology are like and how they operate versus groups that reject it.

Dishonesty Matters More Than Having No Evidence.

When I first deconverted, the fact that Christianity contains so much dishonesty bothered me enormously.

If Christians were simply honest about having no supporting evidence for their claims, I’d probably cut them a lot more slack. As I said, no religion has that kind of evidence. And I’ve met a lot of believers from other religions who were blissfully unconcerned about their beliefs being totes for realsies true.

Years later, Christians’ dishonesty still bothers me. Of course. But I’ve come to realize that it springs from a very pragmatic source.

Christians regard true claims as a stepping-stone to power over others. After all, a lot of their claims come with threats against those who reject their control-grabs, and their lies get told with an eye toward gaining power in their groups (or in general society). Without the prod of Hell or goad of Heaven, without their false promises of rebirth and security, they’d make a lot fewer sales (and their retention rate would look even worse).

But they can’t make true claims. They lack the evidence needed to support their claims in an honest way.

So they just make up whatever they need.

What a religion’s believers do with having no evidence matters more than them just not having evidence. Their choice about how to handle their lack of evidence speaks to their quality as a group and to the validity of their ideology.

Christians as a whole, unfortunately, have chosen the pious fraud route.

NEXT UP: Many pious frauds insist that the ends justify the means. Tomorrow, we’ll examine why that’s a bad rationalization for dishonesty. See you then! <3

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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,...