I had to wait a while to write this post, because last Friday I became angry with Joe Carter at The Gospel Coalition regarding his blog post about conspiracy theories. (It isn’t the first time his writing has angered me—his notorious “Beware of Broken Wolves” post three years ago fired up several of us abuse survivor advocates and others, so much so that the post itself got over 300 comments. Those comments have all been removed now, but the post still stands.)
I warn you, this is a long post. I’m going to be speaking from personal experience about conspiracy theories.
But I have to start with definitions, and I hope I won’t lose you here, because it’s super important.
Defining conspiracy, theory, and conspiracy theory
A conspiracy, as I’ve explained in another post a while back, is not a loony notion that a mysterious “they” is out to get us.
A conspiracy IS, according to the Oxford English Dictionary(OED), “an agreement between two or more persons to do something criminal, illegal, or reprehensible.” That is, back room deals. Colluding. Conspiring.
I’ll add that of course the agreement is secret, because who’s going to make an agreement like this that’s public? Also, I’ll add that the purpose is always, as far as I know, for power, wealth, and pleasure, however perverted. What other purposes are there for choosing to do something illegal or immoral?
One example of many would be the conspiring that went on in 2008-2009, moving seamlessly across two presidents from different political parties, to “bail out” the banks because they were “too big to fail” in spite of the fact that 90% of the constituency was phoning in to plead for the “banks” to not be “bailed out.” You remember that collusion, right? Back room deals. Conspiring. To put money into the pockets of the uber rich while the common everyday folks were losing their houses. Remember? That was a conspiracy. (It was not a theory, but a verifiable fact.)
The OED also mentions the term “conspiracy of silence,” which indicates a plot to refuse to talk about something in order to protect someone from criminal accusations. One of the books I’m currently reading, The Franklin Coverup, is an example of a blow-by-blow description of a conspiracy of silence.
Since the word conspiracy has become so mocked, though, as if conspiracies never happen, I’ll be using the word “collusion” instead, because they mean essentially the same thing. (Somehow it seems that people still think that collusions happen.)
Next, to correct a conflation, a “theory” is not the same thing as a “conspiracy.” (I see the terms conflated all the time, as in “[This collusion] I’m telling you about isn’t conspiracy, it’s a fact.”)
Rather, a “theory” is an idea about how something works or takes place. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the scientific meaning of the term is “an explanation of a phenomenon arrived at through examination and contemplation of the relevant facts; a statement of one or more laws or principles which are generally held as describing an essential property of something.”
The germ theory of disease is an example.
The other definition of “theory,” which is looser and not as scientific, is, again, from the OED, “a hypothesis or set of ideas about something.”
Again, since in this context the term theory has become so tainted as to be deemed unnecessary when people are accusing others of “conspiracy theory,” I’ll use the word “hypothesis” instead.
When I say “A hypothesis that references a collusion,” I’m using more words, but I believe they’re clearer than the term “conspiracy theory,” which over the past few years has become completely pejorative. (If you believe conspiracy theories, the general consensus goes, then you might as well start making your tin foil hat right this minute.)
I don’t know if that feels like too many words to you, simply to explain a term. It certainly does to me. But the confusion surrounding this terminology has been . . . just crazy.
Joe Carter’s blog post
In his blog post on Friday May 8th, “Christians Are Not Immune to Conspiracy Theories,” Carter lists several conspiracy theories:
- Adam and Eve believed the Triune God was/were conspiring against them to keep them from knowledge. (Tricky, because a conspiracy has to include more than one person, so that’s why he referenced the Trinity.)
- Gnosticism (I don’t know what supposed collusion hypothesis here Joe Carter is referencing.)
- The earth is actually flat.
- QAnon (It’s a group, not a theory, but still.)
- And 5 different hypotheses surrounding the current new illness that is sweeping the globe, which appears to be the reason for his post.
I won’t be commenting on any of these hypotheses or groups or theologies. But I do have something to say about collusion hypotheses in general, and then in very specific terms.
First I want to point out the obvious, just to be sure it’s crystal clear. As Carter dismisses these hypotheses, Carter is dismissing all hypotheses regarding any collusion. He never once says anything remotely along the lines of “Here are some guidelines for analyzing whether a hypothesis about a collusion might reasonably have some basis in fact.”
No, they are all ridiculous. He dismisses them all.
In fact, in dismissing all collusion hypotheses, he refers to Christians who “post claims they cannot possibly know to be true.” And then he accuses these Christians of slandering those they reference.
Really? How does he know they can’t possibly know those claims to be true? Could it be that he, according to his own definition of the word, is slandering by saying that?
“Conspiracy theorists may contend it is not slander when the claim is true,” he says. (Of course when you’ve stated truth, it’s not slander.) “For that to be the case, though, they must have knowledge the conspirators are involved in a specific secret plot—and knowledge is what they never have.”
That is a bold statement!
Joe indicated in a Facebook comment that even when someone makes an accusation in passive voice without naming anyone (such as “the moon landing was faked”) that is slander. By his own definition, then (which is not the true definition of the word), he is guilty himself of the very slander he accuses others of.
“Because the sole ground for conspiracy theories is unreliable hearsay, they do not meet the standard for knowledge. They are therefore not in possession of the truth, and thus guilty of slander.”
(This is where I began saying “How dare he” and started pacing the floor, not the best time to write a blog post.)
I disagree strongly. Some collusion hypotheses are grounded in what I and others would consider to be reliable sources—even the voices of those who have first-hand experience of the collusion—and yet their voices have been dismissed.
A brief hypothetical example (one of many I could have chosen)
Suppose you work at a certain facility where you have a certain job, and other people around you have different but somehow related jobs. You all know you’re all working on certain parts of the same general project, but none of you know what it is exactly, because it’s a secret. But you have been assured that none of you need to know, because you all have great faith in your government authorities to have the best interest at heart for you and for all the world.
Then one day a co-worker whispers, “I’ve been researching, and I think I know what this is all about. I think they’re having us make Weapons of Mass Destruction that will kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people.”
You can jeer at the conspiracy theorist, get the tin foil to make him a nice crown, and definitely accuse him of slander. How dare he accuse your government authorities of doing such a thing.
Until you hear about the atomic bombs dropping over two cities in Japan, killing thousands of innocent women, children, handicapped people, and old people. And then you find out where those bombs were made.
Oh. They were made in your facility, there in Oak Ridge. That’s the work that you were doing–the Manhattan Project that created the first (and so far, only) atomic bombs.
You co-worker had a hypothesis that described a collusion. He didn’t have hard evidence, but he had put pieces together that gave him a pretty good idea. And his hypothesis was right.
And yet, Joe Carter would have insisted that this co-worker was committing slander, because he couldn’t prove for sure that what he was theorizing was true.
Joe even says it is scandalous that those who form such hypotheses are not church disciplined for it.
Then, as if that weren’t enough, Joe Carter gives the final kicker. He says that anyone who forms hypotheses that indicate plots and collusions is “embracing the demonic.”
A side visit to Carter’s post about Satanism
Joe Carter’s post last fall about “modern Satanism” ironically didn’t mention anything about the demonic, instead referring to the evils of Satanism with such cute and dismissive language as “adolescent rebellion,” “internet trolls and pranksters,” and “reactionary stunts.” (It sure is a relief to know that Satanists, by and large, are not conspiring. Those playful adolescents.)
And also, no worries, because he assures us that in the entire world of almost 8 billion people there are only a few thousand theistic Satanists—the ones who actually worship the devil. That means in my state of South Carolina, with 5 million people, according to Joe there are perhaps 5 theistic Satanists. (They apparently do a pretty rotten job of attracting anyone to the promises of power and pleasure that are part and parcel of worshiping Satan.)
So, no significant worries about the demonic when it comes to Satanists. That sure is a relief. Thanks Joe.
But not us Christians who believe that evil collusion is going on in various groups and organizations but can’t prove it. No. We, according to Joe Carter and I can only assume everyone at The Gospel Coalition, are embracing the demonic.
If you read the concluding paragraph of Joe Carter’s article on Satanism alongside the concluding paragraph of his article on conspiracy theories, it will be very clear which he thinks is a more serious problem.
In essence, Joe Carter is saying, it is a sin to believe that any evil is going on in leadership in any organization (unless you have what he calls “reliable evidence,” and I don’t know how he’s going to determine that your evidence is reliable).
No, the sin is in your own heart for believing that.
My own story
I’ve been asking the Lord for some time when He would want me to tell this part of my story. Apparently now is the time. So here we go . . .
I began to learn about the financial string-pullers in our government (and other governments) in 2011 through an old documentary called The Money Masters. That began the opening of the door to learn more and more. In those days there wasn’t quite as much disinformation on the internet as there is now, and it was a bit easier to dig and sort through to find actual facts and testimonials from people who had actually experienced certain things, experts who were willing to speak against the established narrative, and primary source documents. I kept reading and watching, for months. The rabbit hole, as we say.
— My response to what I was learning
Another blog post published last week by a different blogger, Joe Forrest, also spoke condescendingly of Christians who believe that collusions occur. The author gave three reasons Christians are so foolish as to believe hypotheses about collusions, one of which was “Conspiracy theories make us feel special.”
No, thank you. I can watch Mister Rogers for that. Understanding that collusions were taking place in high levels of government, the military, and businesses, for the purpose of amassing and retaining money and power and the pleasure that goes with those—understanding those things did not make me feel the least bit special. On the contrary, it made me feel afraid. (I would like to encourage Joe Forrest, the author of this second blog post about conspiracy theories, in the “radical empathy” he wants the rest of us to embrace, to listen to those of us who believe that these collusions are taking place and our reasons, instead of simply telling us to do such things as “watch boring news.”)
In direct opposition to Joe Forrest’s condescending conclusion, I most certainly did NOT want to learn these things. I was horrified, and my world was turned inside out and upside down. Nothing was the same. I said to God, “Lord, what in the world is the purpose of learning all this? My life was going along fine; why should I be finding out about all these horrible things?”
I struggled, even though somewhere deep inside I knew I would rather walk in difficult truth than a comfortable lie.
Then I asked, “What’s the point, unless I can help someone?”
With my general way of thinking—“I don’t want to know about it unless I can help someone with what I learn”—I began to try to discern the reason God had pushed me into the rabbit hole.
One of the many things Tim and I had learned in our research was the massive debt people were being encouraged to go into for college, often with little hope for ever being able to repay the debt after graduation. So one way I thought to help people was to present alternatives to the college debt system that for so many amounted to slavery to the financial kingpins. I developed a three-hour seminar and was able to present it several times over the next two or three years to enthusiastic groups. A few people told me it changed their lives.
But that wasn’t really the direction the Lord wanted me to go at that time.
After a year, I knew I had done enough research at least to understand basic patterns of the collusions taking place. Here are the basics of what I had learned by the summer of 2012:
I saw that for the most part, those who are “in charge,” in the government or military or mega corporations consider themselves far above the peons they order around. Through their illegal and immoral collusions, they amass huge amounts of wealth and power. As sociopaths, they have no trouble with the bothersome conscience that many of the rest of us deal with, so they can take action in whatever way will best serve their purposes (their purposes being to amass power and wealth for themselves).
Yes, I do understand that what I just said is considered a conspiracy theory. And yes, by the strict definition I gave above, it actually is. But did I mention that hypotheses about collusions used to not be scorned the way they are now? (Collusion hypotheses used to be taken one at a time rather than all being lumped into the same bucket.)
— Overcoming the fear
I remember one night in June of 2012, being filled with fear that could even be described as terror, because of the massive evil we had learned about. At that time I said, “Lord, I don’t want to be afraid. I want to trust You, just trust You. I know You’re bigger than this evil. I want to stop this research and just trust You.”
Immediately a deep peace settled over me. The fear was gone. I was done. I knew He was bigger than this evil. I could trust.
Two weeks later . . .
Two weeks later . . . a woman I barely knew was on my couch having a flashback because of the sexual abuse of her past. I didn’t even know what a flashback was.
She asked me to read certain internet information that could explain her situation better, about abuse and cover-ups in the Christian community, specifically in the case of Bob Jones University (but as I would find out later, extending far beyond that).
Well, I was used to researching, so I did, with a ready will.
— Researching the worst kinds of abuses
Over the following months of researching abuses and cover-ups in the Christian world, as I began to post on Facebook about what I was learning, the Lord began bringing me more and more survivors of abuse from a Christian background.
I began to see some common threads between what I was learning in the Christian arenas and what I had seen in the government/media/military/ corporation circles.
I cried out to God. And again found Him faithful.
In 2016 I wrote a blog post telling the story I’m telling you here, but it remained unpublished because I was convinced that the time wasn’t right. Here is something I observed about my year (2011-2012) of uncovering collusions in the top echelons of the government/military/industrial complex:
As I researched, there was one topic I refused to click on—I just couldn’t go there. In my internet searches, the topics kept popping up of pedophile rings, child pornography, and horrific abuse in Hollywood and in high political circles, but I just couldn’t look at it. The things I was learning were bad enough, devastating enough. For almost a full year of research, as far as I can remember I probably clicked on only one or two. They were too disturbing, and I didn’t go any further.
But now, now I knew it was time.
As I asked the Lord for a greater capacity, I began to take those steps, in 2013, to go into the research of the places that were far deeper and darker, the places I had been unable to go before.
It was a darkness even beyond anything I had imagined through that year of research. The kinds of things that once again caused me to reel and cry out, once again caused my world to be up-ended.
I read books that were meticulously documented. I watched congressional testimony, I read memoir after memoir. I read about the top secret plan to secretly bring brilliant Nazis to the United States after World War II called Operation Paperclip. (And why was it top secret? Because the citizens of the United States would have justly cried out for criminal trials instead of what these Nazis received—new identities and prestigious jobs in rocketry and in psychological arenas, the study and manipulation of the human brain and mind.)
I learned about the surge of returning satanic ritual abuse (SRA) memories that happened in the 1980s and early 1990s and the False Memory Syndrome Foundation that was started in the 1990s to seek to discredit the survivors and their therapists. (The woman whose mother started that foundation is a very respected university professor and the author of the book Blind to Betrayal.)
I watched and read testimonial after testimonial from brave survivors who were actually willing to speak about what had happened to them at the hands of those who were seeking power and pleasure from the devil. (Those theistic Satanists that Joe Carter says there only a few hundred of in the United States, you know.)
“Why is this?” I asked God. “Why do You want me to learn about these horrors? I don’t know any of these people.”
I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard God speak to me very plainly and clearly. This was one of those times.
He said to me four words. “You will know them.”
I studied trauma, learned more about prayer, and studied dissociative identity disorder, because almost everyone who has experienced SRA and mind control has dissociated parts of themselves.
And true to His Word, within the next two years, He began to bring me those people. I recognized dissociation. I recognized demonization.
And I began to hear the stories.
— Listening to the survivors
These were people who were living normal lives, but double lives in a way. Not in the evil way of abusive sociopaths, but in the quiet way of survivors who live in a dismissive society. This society has so completely dismissed the horrific systematic abuse and other evils associated with it by slapping the “crazy conspiracy theory” label on it that these survivors could rarely speak safely about their past to friends, and only very cautiously to carefully vetted counselors.
If I had not understood the evils of the top leaders in our government, I would have had no context for the accounts I was hearing from the survivors themselves, regarding high-level sex trafficking, SRA, and human experimentation and mind control, including MK Ultra. But I did have that understanding, and so I did have context.
Bit by painful bit I have heard them, in some cases over the course of years. Flashbacks, nightmares, and spontaneous memories that have caused the survivors themselves to think they might be crazy, but that I recognize to be stories of satanic ritual abuse and in some cases experimentation in labs on military bases or in other top security locations. As children. Yes, in this country, in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
“How did you learn about this evil?” they’ve asked me. “I’ve met almost no one who knew about it and believed it except others who were abused the same way, and a few therapists.”
And I would say, “Well, it’s a long story. . . .”
The three “conspiracy theories” I want to put forth
So, there are three “conspiracy theories”—hypotheses about collusions for the purposes of immoral and illegal amassing of power and wealth—that I want to name here. These are ones I am utterly convinced of, because of years of research and years of listening to the survivors themselves. All of these are concepts I’ve heard other Christians mock and deride as ridiculous and unworthy of consideration.
1. Child sex trafficking and child pornography, even torture porn, in a highly organized manner at high levels of government, military, intelligence, entertainment, and business organizations, and yes, Christian organizations too.
The primary way I’ve seen this mocked is through the term “pizzagate.” Because Comet Pizza, when it was investigated, turned out to be just an ordinary pizza place, all theories and testimonies of child trafficking and child pornography at high levels were mocked, scorned, disbelieved, and dismissed, even by Christians. No worries that Tony Podesta had images in his home depicting child abuse. Tut tut, you’re raising an eyebrow about the names in Jeffrey Epstein’s flight log?
And by the way, here is my post from last fall that referenced Epstein.
Because I cannot prove that Jeffrey Epstein was bringing big names to his island for child abuse (but concluded it because of evidence that Joe Carter may not deem to be “reliable”), according to Joe Carter I need to be church disciplined for slander.
If you are willing to bypass a massive trigger warning, you can go to page 103 of the book The Franklin Coverup, which I am currently reading, and read the halting account by a teenage boy in which he described torture pornography that he and two other boys were forced to engage in before one of the boys was murdered.
In that case, very big names were implicated in the child sex trafficking / pornography ring that was exposed by several young victims. Very, very big names, similar to those that have come out in the Epstein case. The grand jury, not having the term “conspiracy theory” at the ready—seeing as how it was 1990 and that term was not pejorative in those days the way it is now—called the whole thing a masterly crafted hoax, and—wait for it—prosecuted and imprisoned the child trafficking survivors.
And regarding sex trafficking in the churches? I’ve written about it many times on my blog. But I’m aware that the Christian leaders who engage in sex trafficking compose only a small part of the world of international sex trafficking. Church leaders enjoy having access to high-level prostitutes. But they make up only a small percentage of the whole picture.
I am ready to be church disciplined.
2. Satanic ritual abuse (SRA). This “theory” was so thoroughly mocked, scorned, and debunked in the 1990s that those who talk about it now are completely marginalized.
And yet, for the sake of the survivors, I must speak.
If I point out that Marina Abramović, a close friend of many in positions of power and influence, depicts full-size three-dimensional “art” that represents satanic ritual abuse, you might say, “It’s just art.”
For SRA to be the massive problem that I believe it is, there would have to be more than a few hundred theistic Satanists in the United States. In fact, there would have to be thousands of them in our country alone, masquerading (as sociopaths love to do) as respectable citizens, even in very respected and influential positions.
I understand this means you may believe me to be a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist.
I understand that if I explain to you that the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, founded in the 1990s to debunk the returning memories of those who had experienced SRA (which increased greatly after World War II) had on its board a man who promoted pedophilia, you may shrug and say that was only a coincidence.
If I were to tell you that people all over the United States, asking therapists for help with their flashbacks and nightmares, or speaking quietly with understanding friends—people who didn’t know each other and hadn’t researched the topic—were describing the same phenomena, you may roll your eyes and figure they all must have seen the same movie or something.
And I also know that if one refuses to believe that the evil is great and collusion among the evil people is taking place, then one has to commit to a belief in a whole lot of weird coincidences, assigning the word “random” to phenomena that are anything but.
But these survivors are all around you. And for their sakes, I must speak.
3. Human experimentation and trauma-based mind control in laboratory settings.
One day at a coffee shop in 2015, as a friend and I were discussing SRA, she asked me, “Do you know about the Nazis?”
“You’d better believe I do,” I said. I showed her the book Operation Paperclip on Amazon.
“Huh, that’s good to know,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked. “Isn’t this what you were talking about?”
“Well, yes,” she replied. “But I never researched it and didn’t know books like that were out there. I just experienced it firsthand.” Then she described to me her abuse in a laboratory setting.
For what purpose? Why would scientists in the United States be so evil? So without regard to any human kindness? So devoid of empathy? (And I emphasize, many or most of these sociopathic scientists and others present as normal or even wonderful human beings in their public life.)
The purposes are numerous. The scientists want to learn more about the brain, of course. (How handy to have the children of secret cult members to experiment on.)
They want to exercise mind control. Having highly controlled subjects in a variety of occupations is extremely attractive to sociopaths.
And according to what I now know, above all, they want children to traffic for their insatiable perversions, for their massive international child sex trafficking rings, and they have learned ways to destroy the will of children to such an extent that these children will robotically believe they have no choices, they cannot say “no,” and they must obey.
This kind of control can bring in millions upon millions of dollars for the traffickers of a church or Christian college who buy one of these women who has been sex trafficked all her life so that she has no idea she has any other choice, who in some cases is so completely dissociated that she doesn’t even know in her “day self” that she is being trafficked.
The stuff of conspiracy theories? You’d better believe it. But this is my world. This is what I live in Every. Single. Day. Every day I am in correspondence with these people—the vast majority of them women—who years later have experienced the return of these dissociated memories and need someone in their lives who actually believes them and understands what’s going on.
And I do. Because I was willing those years ago to read and listen to the “conspiracy theories.”
On my 59th birthday blog post, which is here, I spoke about going down into a dark, dark valley. It was these kinds of evils I was referring to, the ones that conspiracy theorists talk about and some Christians openly deride.
The spectrum of collusion hypotheses
I want to point out—as neither Joe Carter nor other Christians I’ve read have done—that hypotheses about collusions fall on a spectrum. This spectrum stretches from “having significant evidence to support them” on the one hand to “hmm, pretty far out there without clear evidence” on the other hand, and all places in between. They are not all of the same stripe.
(And in some cases, our views of an “unsubstantiated” collusion hypothesis may change, as we find out that a hypothesis we thought had no clear evidence to support it does in fact have significant evidence behind it, if we’re just willing to look.)
When you say, “Oh, that’s not a conspiracy theory, because you have evidence,” I beg to correct you. Regarding these collusion hypotheses, I can present you with evidence, but you can still decide that this evidence, as Joe Carter indicated, isn’t “reliable.” The survivors who talk to me have their own testimony to present, but we see how they have been ignored, disbelieved, and even blamed in the past, even though the testimonies of various survivors throughout the decades and in different places bear remarkable similarity.
The evidence that has been presented for the last 60 years, through survivor testimonies, has been routinely ignored and dismissed, as the “justice system” and what some call “reliable news sources” refuse to talk about these things (and yes, as the OED said, this in my mind would be considered a conspiracy of silence).
Today, right now, May of 2020, I am watching Christians become very divided between those who believe that any conspiracy theories are true and those who condescendingly mock us for giving any of them any credence.
Granted, there are some conspiracy theories I don’t even care about investigating. But when it comes to lives and eternal souls, you’d better believe I care, I care very, very much. I will fight for these who have survived these most horrific of abuses.
When you say you don’t believe any “conspiracy theories,” you are in effect, saying that you won’t believe the stories of some people that you most likely know personally. They read your posts and your comments and they say “You are not a safe person for my story, because you don’t believe these things happen.”
Because as I’ve said many times, these kinds of survivors are all around you. Will you kick them to the curb through your condescending words?
But . . .
As soon as you tell the Lord honestly that you are willing to walk into that dark valley and understand what’s true about the most horrific of deeds, as soon as you say you want to understand how to be a safe person for these survivors, as soon as you tell the Lord you want to be part of the army of strong compassion, as soon as you’re willing to humble yourself to learn (well maybe not as soon as—for me it was a couple of years), as soon as your faith is strong enough to face massive evil, you will begin meeting them.
If you can understand dissociation on a spectrum, if you can recognize the signs of dissociative identity disorder, if you can understand how demonization works (it’s quite different from what Joe Carter presents, I assure you), and above all, if you have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to lead you and show you the way, not only can you be a compassionate companion for these survivors, you can actually help them on their journey.
I do still fully believe that Jesus Christ is sufficient even to these evils, but oh how I long for Christians to become aware.
“Awake O sleeper, and arise from the dead. And Christ will give you light.”
My prayer is that many, many Christians will awake.
When they do, may their lives be filled, not with fear, not with vitriol, but with strength and compassion, living and loving in the light of Jesus Christ, who sustains us even as we shine light on the darkest of evils.
Other blogs of mine that I referenced in this post:
Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.