The Trump-inspired movement’s misrepresentation of facts is an old human practice. Perhaps the first example – and one we still don’t want to acknowledge – deals with the biblical story of Eve and the serpent. The Genesis text presents a God of dubious moral character. Yet, this God has been sold by three major mainstream religions as a just one, and Eve and the serpent as the bad guys.
The consequences for moral misdirection by this striking distortion of the text cannot be overstated. Even the revisionist Jesus of the “Sermon on the Mount” could not fully undo the damage.
The “Christian” followers of enemies-loving Jesus went on to forget his central moral teachings. As time went by most “Christians” opted instead to retrieve and revive early biblical justifications for religious wars and persecutions, for torture and the death penalty, for slavery and witch-hunting, for gender-oppression, and for the embrace of unlimited wealth.
The tale of Adam, Eve, and the serpent is illustrative of cultural cherry-picking when it comes to its religious texts. Not seeing a text for what it is shows our tendency to submit to power, and not to trust our moral intuitions (the Milgram experiments come to mind).
The story, we are told, goes like this: curious woman and cunning snake have a chat in the primordial garden. The snake deceives the woman. The first sin ensues. This sin prompts various punishments at the hands of a just God.