For this post, I’m straying a bit from my usual political line and delving into the murky waters of organized religion.
To be sure, there is a political message here as well. Consider that Trump overwhelmingly won the white evangelical vote in 2016. Trump is also a serial liar and when facing an opponent who feels free to just make stuff up on the spot, it’s tempting to counter a lie with a lie. That, however, is a terrible idea and this D&D vs. Evangelism thing, I think illustrates why.
Now, to the best of my recollections, the right-wing evangelical movement kicked off in the early 1980’s. I was in my teens back then and I clearly recall picket lines outside 7-11 stores protesting the sale of Playboy magazine. Speakers came to my school’s auditorium, addressing us on the subject of Satanic rock music. To be sure, the religious right was on the rise, and with cable TV came the advent of a new show with a new star, The 700 Club featuring Pat Robertson.
Where was I back then? I was the new kid in a town called Kettering, Ohio. Friendless, I washed uppon the beaches of that Midwestern suburb at the hight of the Dungeons & Dragons craze. Suddenly, I had friends and something to do on the weekends, as I rolled dice and vanquished imaginary monsters with other juvenile acne victims.
One of my friends was the son of an Evangelical minister who had gone so far as to burn the lad’s D&D character sheet. I visited that friend frequently and when his dad learned that I was into that horrible hobby he read me the riot act. The game, he claimed, was satanic! He went on to state that by playing the game I was casting spells on my fellow players, and summoning demons that would whisper suicidal thoughts into our ears. To be honest, I had to suppress my inclination to laugh at this guy as he ranted on.
Further “research” into the subject came from watching The 700 Club itself. There, I got it straight from the horse’s mouth; Pat Robertson declared that D&D was the devil’s way of leading this younger generation astray.
And I can now honestly say that watching The 700 Club changed my life…just not in the way Pat would have hoped.
You see, I was young, very young. As a child, I had trusted adults to tell the truth and look out for my best interests. But now in my early teens, I discovered that adults did, in fact, lie and were not necessarily concerned for in my best interests one whit. You see, I’d played the “devil’s game” and read all the rules for over a year by the time all the hysteria came along.
Being a reasonably intelligent guy, I could easily distinguish reality from imagination. The spells in D&D weren’t real. No demons were summoned and nobody in my gaming group was committing suicide. None of us were Satanists, and for the most part, we obeyed our parents, did our homework and made our beds. Thus, I concluded, the Evangelicals who spouted this “devil’s game” malarkey was either ignorant of the game, lying to me or both.
My friend with the minister dad often invited to come to his pop’s church any time. It seemed his father (after the rant incident) had taken a liking to me and was eager for me to join their family on Sundays. I declined and am still glad I did. Because once somebody lies to you, trust goes out the window, and without trust you have nothing.
But there is a positive lesson to be gleaned from all this as well. In my life as an adult, I have endeavored to be as truthful in my dealings as possible. If I don’t know much about a subject, I admit it and ask questions. If I am in a position where a lie would yield some temporary advantage, I decline to fabricate.
Once trust is gone, it is gone. If you lie about the small stuff, you will lie about the big and why should I waste my time in such company. Trump, of course, lies so often, it’s become a drinking game. And when dealing with the victims of his lies, I must remain truthful, even if admitting I don’t know appears weak.
Remember, one lie is enough to turn someone away from an entire movement. To defeat Trump, we must draw people in who will trust that we offer a clear contrast to him. So in all our dealings, let’s be honest folks.
By Clayton Callahan