Evangelical academic decries spread of coronavirus conspiracy theories: 'Gullibility is not a Christian virtue'

On Wednesday, writing for Christianity Today, evangelical expert and Billy Graham Center director Ed Stetzer slammed right-wing Christians falling for coronavirus conspiracy theories, warning that "gullibility is not a spiritual gift".

"One of the sad things that I've learned over time is how Christians are disproportionately fooled by conspiracy theories. I’ve said before that when Christians spread lies, they need to repent of those lies. Sharing fake news makes us look stupid and harms our witness," wrote Stetzer. "We saw this in the last election when some of the troll factories focused on conservative, evangelical Christians. This is disappointing. So how do we respond to this?"

"First, we need to speak up and speak out to others— particularly those fooled yet again— and lovingly say,  'You need to go to trusted sources.' Your social media news feed is not a trusted source. But you can find them. That's why we created coronavirusandthechurch.com. There are plenty of others," wrote Stetzer. "Second, God has not called us to be easily fooled. Gullibility is not a Christian virtue, and we ought not to act like that. Believing and sharing Covid-19 conspiracies does not honor the Lord."

Furthermore, he wrote, "we see some Christian leaders hype up the idea that you are being persecuted if you ignore the current guidelines and try to gather a thousand people together for worship in a global pandemic. We saw a few pastors making a spectacle of themselves at Easter when we should be making much of Jesus."

"Unless you believe President Trump, Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the media, and the scientific community are all in league together (a real leap of faith), you are just embarrassing yourself when you spread Coronavirus conspiracies," wrote Stetzer. "If you still insist on doing so, would you please consider taking Christian off your bio so the rest of us don’t have to share in the embarrassment you are heaping on yourself."

"I'm grateful that many, many pastors and church leaders and their churches have used this unusual time not to spread theories but to proclaim Christ, not to feed their fears but to serve their community," concluded Stetzer. "Let's continue to provoke one another to good works, hold to what is true, and refuse that which is false."

You can read more here.