February 10, 2018

Demons Everywhere

Angels, demons and representations of flesh and the devil cr Wellcome V0007640ETRI feel like I've spent the last couple of years ranting about how our tendency to demonize our political opponents is not only not helping the various causes about which many of us claim to care but is likely making things worse by fostering a destructive climate of incivility, tribalism, and polarization. It probably goes without saying that when I've referred to "demonize" or "demonizing" in this context, I haven't had literal demons in mind. That is, I haven't been accusing anyone of claiming that his or her political opponents are actually demons...until now.

According to Kyle Mantyla's post at Right Wing Watch, Christian extremist pastor Carl Gallups referred to the Democratic Party's response to President Trump's State of the Union by claiming, "You could see the demonic." I guess that once we remember that many Christians still believe in demons, we should not be surprised when they accuse their political opponents of being literal demons. After all, demons are among the worst sort of (fictional) creatures they can likely imagine.

Who cares? I mean, isn't this just one more in a long series of silly examples of some of the strange things many Christians believe. Perhaps it is. And yet, I can't help thinking about how Christians throughout history have treated those they regarded as being involved with demons, devils, witches, and so on. When one turns one's opponents into literal demons, one's opponents cease to be human. With history as our guide, it seems like this path from demonization to full-blown dehumanization is one we would do well to avoid.