By: Jerry S. Maneker

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)  “So if the Son makes you free, you will be
free indeed….” (John 8:36)

Jesus tells us that if we continue to abide in Him, we will know the truth about our spiritual and secular lives and by being
set free by Him we will truly be free from yokes of bondage that others, the world, the flesh, and the devil seek to impose
on us. Yet, it seems that many people don’t want to be set free to think for themselves in light of Jesus’ revelation of
what God wants for the lives of His children and for the world itself.

For example, in Nazi Germany, we saw how so many people, many of whom professed to be Christians, and were
professionals, clergy, corporate heads, and the like, who succumbed to the blandishments of a charismatic person and
bought into his lies concerning the need for “racial purity.”  Most all of Germany suspended their rational thinking
processes, and their very humanity, and bought into the big lie that this evil madman conveyed.

Hence, the mentally retarded, the mentally ill, Gypsies, homosexuals and, of course, Jews were systematically killed.  
Indeed, even children and babies were killed in the cause of building a stronger Germany.  It is suggested that Hitler got
some of his ideas for his vision of weeding out “undesirables” from the eugenics movement in the 1920’s in the United

In any case, Nazi Germany is one case that shows us that we can’t count on “human nature” to protect the most
vulnerable in a society from torture and murder in the cause of what some charismatic figure, or anyone whom the
media consistently allows to spew forth hatred against one or more groups of people, says is necessary for
accomplishing a greater good.  Not only the average person succumbed to Hitler’s blandishments, but highly educated
people did so as well.

Indeed, people got so caught up in Hitler’s irrational vision that they not only suspended their own rationality, but
engaged in such horrors as working and starving people to death, doing medical experiments on people, and
demanding a certain quota of Jewish deaths each day in their concentration camps.  Before Hitler’s rise to power, a rise
that came about by telling people what they wanted to hear, regardless of who else would be hurt, tortured, and killed,
Germany could boast of representing the height of culture in such areas as education and the arts.  

Many historians feel that Germany was least likely to have birthed the Holocaust.  If it could happen there, it could
happen anywhere.

In the 1960’s the psychologist Stanley Milgram did an experiment that confirmed this conclusion.  He took a subject and
told him or her to give what the subject was told were progressively increasing shocks, culminating in shocks that could
well kill a person, to someone who gave wrong answers to test questions.  The shocks were not real, but the subject was
told that they were real, and he or she was to give progressively increasing levels of shocks of electricity for each wrong
answer given.  

The conclusion was that many of the subjects gave what they thought were painful, if not deadly, electric shocks to
another person who, unbeknownst to them, was a confederate of the experimenter.  Therefore, Milgram concluded that
if an experimenter could successfully get a large number of people to give what they thought were painful or even
deadly electric shocks to another human being, one can only wonder what government, with all the perceived credibility
and  power at its disposal, could successfully command of its citizens.

Rather than being set free, many allow themselves to be burdened with yokes of bondage, even to the point where
innocent people may be harmed or killed.  Moreover, many people are willing to sacrifice their rationality and autonomy
to a person who promises them nirvana or utopia.  

When a person or group makes such promises in the name of morality, the Church, or God Himself, that person or
group is not only given credibility that isn’t deserved, but that person or group is seen as giving moral permission to
otherwise decent and rational human beings to stigmatize, discriminate, oppress, and even injure or kill others who are
completely harmless.  Indeed, the more harmless people are, the more likely they are to be so treated as they are
viewed as “safe” targets to persecute.

The question must be asked: why would otherwise decent and rational people allow themselves to become so twisted
that they would believe the irrational and behave in ways that boggle the mind of any decent and rational human being?  
I think it’s because that people would rather be lied to, even if they know it’s a lie, than have their comfort zones invaded
or have their worlds rocked.

Particularly in our “feel good” society, most people want and strive for “comfort.”  For example, if they have even a slight
physical symptom, they are quick to take a pill without any thought of what deleterious impact that pill might have on
other parts of their minds and bodies.

Similarly, if people want to believe that they can achieve utopia in this world, they will go to any lengths to achieve that
goal at the behest of one or more people, particularly if those people say they are speaking for God.  More to the point,
if people are told over and over again that they are to believe in what the self-appointed representative of God is telling
them in order to be in God’s will, they are likely to believe and do anything consistent with that admonition, even if the
means used and the ends sought completely contradict God’s admonition to love and not judge others.

During my university career, I was quite active in administrative and political functions.  Among other things, I was a
department chairman, delegate, vice president, and president of the local union, and president of the Faculty Senate.  
In those capacities, I dealt with a lot of people.  And I saw how empty it all was!  The phoniness, the self-absorption, the
indifference to others, and the selfish short sighted thinking of so many “formally educated” people made me, and still
makes me, sick.

After I turned my back on these very limited human beings, I read the following verse of Scripture that jumped out at me
from the page and made me understand like nothing else did what I had been dealing with.  The verse is: “For our
struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic
powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

I have now come to realize that this verse is also applicable to much of what has been going on in the name of the
Church, Christianity, and of God Himself.  When I see how so much of the Church has been willingly co-opted by
politicians to advance their own political agendas; how those churches have convinced so many of their members to
vote for programs that call for an unprovoked pre-emptive war against innocent people, the favoring of large
corporations at the expense of others, the “outsourcing” of jobs that wreak havoc with lives and families by keeping
wages depressed and increasing unemployment, and other such programs and goals, that, too, makes me sick, as I’m
sure it does every decent person, Christian and non-Christian alike.

These programs and priorities are clearly un-Christian and fly in the face everything we’re taught in the Bible.  Yet, so
many who claim to be Christians have been manipulated into thinking that Jesus favors capital punishment, favors large
corporations at others’ expense, is against welfare but in favor of corporate welfare, views health care as a privilege and
not a right, and other such irrationalities in a society that claims to be civilized and “Christian.”

Recently, according to a transcript of the program, the self-proclaimed Christian, Jimmy Swaggart, told a cheering
audience the following: “I’m trying to find the correct name for it … this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men
marrying men. … I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks
at me like that, I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.”

What kind of Christian would think or make a statement like that?  What kind of people would cheer a statement like
that?  How could professing Christians give such accolades to someone who advocates killing another person and then
go “…and tell God he died?”

If Jimmy Swaggart can get that kind of reaction from an audience of professing Christians, what could happen in this
country, and what is now, in fact, happening in our country, that allow people to feel free to do horrible things to
innocent people who mean them no harm?  And these horrible things in large part stem from a perversion of the Gospel
message of love on the part of ignorant and mendacious clergy and their malleable followers along with some politicians
who use that ignorance, mendacity, and malleability to further their own selfish ends and political goals.

After listening to such rhetoric from Swaggart and his ilk, what intelligent, sensitive person would want to become a
Christian?  Although I know that what I’m about to say is harsh, it may well be that Swaggart and his ilk are agents of the
devil.  If I were the very devil himself, I could think of no better way of discrediting Christianity than by putting such
people center stage claiming to speak for God and for Christianity.  And so many people are gullible enough to believe
in and approve of hateful sentiments and statements that they are told are spoken “in the name of God.”

Many years ago I was teaching a senior seminar and one of the students asked me, “What is a Christian?”  Before I had
a chance to answer him, a woman in the class, an intelligent woman who was being quite serious said, “Christians don’t
like sex.”

I was shocked until I realized that, of course, she’d feel that way.  Look at most of the people who claim to represent
“Christianity” in the media, and whose “holier than thou” false gospel of perfectionism that no one, including them, can
live up to, is broadcast for all the world to see?

We are not to be fooled or manipulated into believing any other Gospel than the one Jesus has delivered us.  The
Gospel of grace, faith, love, reconciliation, and inclusiveness is still and always will be the true Gospel to which all
Christians adhere and to which all people are called!  

If people don’t adhere to that Gospel, they are not Christians!  And these are many of the people that many politicians
are counting on to further their own political and career aspirations, even at the expense of our country and even of
Christianity itself.  


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