Jesus Freaks in the Taylor Swift Era

Blessed are those who are weird for righteousness’ sake, not just dabbling in baseless conspiracy theories about a pop star and the NFL.

“By now, everyone knows Taylor Swift is a government psyop,” wrote right-wing influencer Benny Johnson last week, summing up the buzzy new conspiracy theory that the pop star’s relationship with Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce is a secret plot orchestrated by Democratic mega-donor George Soros to help President Joe Biden get re-elected.

The theory has been touted by figures including erstwhile presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and Fox News host Jesse Watters, and it has occasioned a rash of commentary exploring the increasing weirdness of the Right. American conservatism, in the words ofNew York Times columnist Ross Douthat, has a self-sabotaging “inability to just be normal.”

The emerging consensus, even among some conservatives like Douthat, is that the Right generally, and the Christian Right specifically, harbors a cultish band of losers and freaks. And a movement that looks at a happy, traditional romance and starts hyperventilating about psyops is not attractive. It pushes educated, high-status moderates with generally conservative dispositions into the arms of the Left.

There’s some truth here. In electoral terms, Republicans have indeed bled support among the educated and affluent, and the idolization of politicians like former president Donald Trump is both morally wrong and politically imprudent. The Right’s culture of victimhood and baseless conspiracy theorizing have gone way too far. This is undeniably destructive and requires serious self-examination and reform.

But for Christians, acknowledging that kind of weirdness shouldn’t keep us from seeing that graver problems in our culture tend to come from elsewhere. We can reject bad, stupid weirdness …

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