I feel the need to quote myself again. Consider whether this commentary on Jesus’ warning against false prophets, penned by me back in 1998, resonates with anything concerning current news accounts surrounding “town hall” meetings this August.
Consider a preacher or politician who sets out to raise the alarm about some threat to the comfort or values of his audience. He tells stories of horror or atrocity designed to arouse fear or revulsion. He identifies as dangerous some individual or group that is clearly foreign to the persons to whom he speaks, whether it is a racial group, or an ideology, or an opposition political party, or a religious movement, or a foreign political or military leader. He calls his hearers neither to repentance nor to reconciliation, but instead seeks to arouse anger and indignation against the identified source of threat. He proposes ways his audience can protect themselves, warn their friends, and counterattack against the threat described. Note that the content of this type of preaching could be almost anything. The individual may be denouncing religion, or atheism, or big government, or liberalism, or conservatism, or Satanism, or pornography, or fundamentalism, or communism, or capitalism, or sexism, or feminism, or homosexuality, or homophobia, or militarism, or pacifism. The fruit he produces, however, is the same in all cases: fear, mistrust, alienation and ultimately hatred.
Or, in this instance, health care reform.