Pilate's really good question

What is truth?

Why are Christians so allergic to it?

Do the ends justify the means?

Can you break one commandment in order to fulfill another?

The ongoing furor over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has highlighted for me the tenuous relationship that some Christians have with the truth. I've noticed that many of those who are the most fervent in their opposition to the new health care law are conservative Christians. Aside from the US bishops, who opposed the law because it would "force" them to pay for contraceptive care, many of the law's opponents (at least those of my acquaintance) are aligned with fundamentalist and conservative Christian groups.

Which is fine. If you don't like Obamacare, that's your business.  But where I have been bewildered is the degree to which these people are willing to pass along the most absurd and outlandish claims about the effects of the bill.

The latest has been the story that the computer sites responsible for signing people up for care are costing the taxpayer over $660 million! The precise figure, taken from theHotAir, is a whopping $634,320,919! Now, I work in IT. And you could buy an awful lot of servers, and get a helluva lotta coding and networking done for $600 mill! If this figure were correct, the conservatives' wrath would be justified. Talk about wasteful spending!

But a little sleuthing would several things:

  1. The only news outlets speaking about this figure are far-right, government hating  conspiracy sites
  2. The Republican congressional leadership, which could use all the ammunition it can get to fight O-Care, has not used this figure
  3. No major news outlets  -- CBS, CNN, NPR, etc. -- have run stories on this
  4. Many of the news outlets carrying the story use very similar titles: "WE PAID $634 MILLION FOR THE OBAMACARE SITES AND ALL WE GOT WAS THIS LOUSY 404," basically meaning that "concerned citizens" were linking over and over to the original story 

This doesn't mean that the story is wrong, of course. You'd have to find out more about the way the ACA's IT work is being funded. But it certainly raises any number of red flags about the veracity of the story.

Yet right wing Christians continue to flog the story as though it was, um, gospel. And I suspect that the most work they did was to copy the link and paste it into their news site.

What is this all about? Do conservative Christians really feel it's OK to lie in the pursuit of their agenda? Or do they just get really overexcited when they find the perfect rejoinder to those pesky skeptics and lukewarm Christians who dog them so much for pesky facts?

No doubt there are some Christians who feel their lies are a form of civil disobedience to the forces of evil. If Hitler (sorry Mr. Godwin) were to ask you where the Jews were hiding, wouldn't you lie and say "I don't know"? I would.  But Der Fuehrer aside,  are there other people or groups that Christians would feel honor-bound to mislead? Given the hatred that some of these have for Democrats and for Obama in particular, I wonder.

But maybe these Christians are just so convinced of the rightness of their arguments that they don't look too closely when a news story comes along that fits their preconceptions. Did pro-choice protesters bring jars of feces into the Texas Lege? That sounds like the work of monsters who would kill babies. It must be so! Is Obama planning to shoot millions of US citizens as Glenn Beck recently claimed? Sure -- the Antichrist would stoop to any evil! But shouldn't the first red flag about a news story be whether it confirms what you already believe? I have seen folks on the right and the left fall for this one. Anyone looking for the truth ought to worry when a story is just too good to be true. It's a form of moral negligence to pass along stories that paint yourself as good and your enemies as ungodly.

There's sadness about this situation on several fronts. First of all, Christians, at least as much as anyone else, should cherish the truth. After all, they follow the one who claimed to be "The Way, the Truth and the Life, " and who said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." Except under unusual circumstances,  wouldn't honesty be the best policy for his followers? The other sad aspect of Christians flirtation with dishonesty is that it makes them pawns in a political game that does not have their interests at heart. No politician is impervious to manipulating the masses, But at this point in history, it's the Republican party that has painted itself as the party of virtue, good stewardship and patriotism --however much the facts might belie that self-assessment.

Christians have a duty to find the truth, to protect the truth and the honor the truth. Anything less puts them in league with the Father of Lies, who has drawn many to destruction in the supposed pursuit of the good and the holy.