Roman emperor Nero promoted a misinformation campaign blaming Christians for the burning of Rome in 64 AD, setting off a wave of brutal persecutions carried out over a period of 250 years.
In the Middle Ages and following, Muslims were portrayed as a threat to Christian civilization that could only be eradicated by force, resulting in tragic military Crusades that have forever stained the reputation of the Christian movement and contributed to perpetual hostilities that persist today.
For centuries Jews have been portrayed by Protestants and Catholics alike as evil Christ-killers and as a danger to Christian nations and institutions. The resulting pandemic of anti-semitism has led to inquisitions, banishments and the unimaginable horror of the Holocaust.
Thousands of sixteenth-century Anabaptists were tortured, exiled, drowned and burned at the stake for advocating the kind of religious freedom we take for granted today. State church officials called these free-church proponents "damnable heretics" and a threat to Christian law and order.
Belief in European Christian supremacy and "Manifest Destiny" led to the annihilation of millions of native Americans and the enslavement of African-Americans, and has fostered the kind of deep seated racism that led to a horrific Civil War and years of Jim Crow-era discrimination, segregation, and lynchings, along with remnants of systemic oppression that still exist today.
The McCarthy hearings of the 1950s perpetrated the myth that Communists bent on destroying America were infiltrating every US institution, including the Congress and the State Department, and that entire educational and entertainment establishments were a part of a dark plot to turn the country into a socialist/communist regime.
In the 1960 election even ministers like Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale supported the widespread belief that a Catholic president would lead to the nation becoming subject to Vatican control (a position Graham later publicly regretted).
Barack Obama was believed by millions to have been born in Kenya rather than Hawaii and as being not only ineligible to be president, but a Muslim who hated the U.S. and wanted to bring about its demise.
More recently, Central American immigrants and refugees from other nations have been demonized as criminals, drug dealers and worse, and as threatening our very existence and identity as a nation.
Today there are millions of Americans who are convinced that COVID-19 restrictions have been arbitrarily imposed as a way of exercising political control, that the 2020 election was riddled with fraud, and that human activity has nothing to do with the kind of global warming that has created wildfires and hurricanes of apocalyptic proportions. An increasing number of Americans subscribe to a "QAnon" deep state conspiracy theory that claims the Trump administration is waging a secret war against Satan worshiping pedophiles that include high ranking Hollywood actors and politicians.
"…a time is coming when people will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths." - The Bible
Harvey Yoder lives in Rockingham.