We live in a confused country in which We the People are holding solid while our leaders flake off in all directions. After the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the American people responded as they always do: with decency, generosity and kindness.

Lines of good people willing to give their blood for the victims formed at blood banks. Churches opened for prayer, and donations for the victims began coming in. At the same time that the American people were doing all the right things, a small number of those who hold positions of leadership went off the rails and made statements that were both irrational and viciously bigoted.

We the People were subjected to what can only be described as raving nonsense from a few of our leaders. There was the standard call for gun control as the pretend solution to our violence ills—including, evidently, the bloodthirsty behavior of ISIS and its followers. Then we got a good dose of the inevitable irrationality of Christian bashers, claiming—in the face of every objective fact to the contrary — that “Christians” had caused this Islamic extremist to slaughter 50 innocent people.

This Christian-bashing rhetoric sought to conflate the actions of an Islamic terrorist who claimed he was acting in league with ISIS with everyone who opposes forcing young girls to go to bathrooms with boys in our public schools. In other words, people who want to keep bathrooms divided by sex are “haters” who somehow or other caused ISIS—which engages in flat-out genocide of Christians, makes money from slavery, beheads children, burns captives alive, and is waging war on civilization—to inspire this young man to murder 50 people.

These ridiculous claims that “Christians” were responsible for the slaughter in Orlando came not from mental hospitals, but from the halls of power and supposed responsibility. The people who advanced this patent nonsense included ACLU attorneys, a New York Times editorial, and a United States Congressman.

Evidently, having differences of opinion on matters of public policy and working them out in public debate is no longer the American way of government, at least not in the minds of these knee-jerk propagandists. In their twisted logic, anyone who thinks differently from them is responsible for whatever atrocity they can manage to conflate with them in whatever tortured twists of logic and flat-out lying are necessary to do it.

All this came at an interesting time for me. I had just finished reading a book called 1924: The Year that Made Hitler, and was in the process of reading Off the Planet, which recounted astronaut Jerry Linenger’s experiences when he spent five months aboard the Mir space station.

Odd as it sounds, these books created a meaningful backdrop for the cacophony of hate-filled nonsense coming from Christian bashers. Both books illustrated the power of The Lie to destroy rational thought and confound people’s ability to deal with threats and problems in an effective way.

Adolph Hitler, that old bugaboo who gets slammed into every political discussion, was a master at The Lie. Much of his success rested on his ability to blame the Jewish people for everything that went wrong in Germany. He blamed them for World War I, for the economic collapse that followed the war, and even for the reparations Germany was forced to pay.

This, like the constant drum beat of Christian bashing coming from certain powerful segments of our society, was unfounded in reality. It was a fantasy created by bigotry, upheld by blind hate and fueled by ruthless ambition.

What Dr. Linenger experienced on board the Mir was chaos and unnecessary danger to the cosmonaut residents of the station. This was caused by the constant lying and prevarications of those on the ground.

Due to Russia’s own form of political correctness, the Russian ground crew would not admit weaknesses in their system or in the ailing Mir. What they did instead was place the men on board the station in unnecessary danger. They then blamed these brave men for the failures of the Mir systems and their own politically-inspired orders. This kept them from dealing effectively with the problems themselves.

Reading Off the Planet was like reading a case study on why the Soviet Union ultimately failed.

Reading 1924: The Year that Made Hitler was a case study in how demagogues rise to power and how irrational lies can gain purchase in the public imagination.

I haven’t spent much of my time watching TV in the past few days. But what I have watched worries me.

While the American people hold steady, and the FBI behaves like professionals, far too many people in leadership positions, including members of the press themselves, are using this tragedy as just another opportunity to push their private agendas. If these are our leaders, I fear for the future of our nation.

The American people are good. Despite everything that has been and is being done to unhinge them, they remain willing to put themselves forward in service to the common good.

Unfortunately, many of those in leadership positions are so married to their ideologies and special concerns that they have rather obviously become more than a bit unhinged. Claiming that “Christians” committed the slaughter that took place in the Pulse nightclub is no less irrational and wacko than claiming that the Jews caused World War I. Both lines of thinking are based on fantastical views of events that not only defy reality, they seek to change it to fit preconceived bigotries.

What are We the People to do with this sleazy and opportunistic hate-talk emanating from the halls of power? It is such patent nonsense that there is a tendency to shrug it off with a nobody-but-a-crazy-person-will-listen-to-this dismissal. However, history tells us that whole nations can be persuaded of all sorts of crazy things if The Lie is repeated often and loudly enough.

For an example of this, we need look no further than the man who murdered 50 people in Florida last Saturday. He said himself that he was acting in the service of ISIS. Maybe we should take him at his word.

There is a strong tendency among those who want to gain political traction from this tragedy to mine this murderer’s life and actions in search of an angle that will give them something they can use. The latest story is that the murderer was himself a regular of the club, and that he frequented gay web sites.

Big deal. Presumably, most of the other terrorists attacks around the world have been committed by men who were straight. No one remarked on that.

He also evidently considered slaughtering people at Walt Disney World. I don’t know, but I would bet that the reason he went to the night club instead is that it was an easier target.

The point here is simple and straightforward. He was a murderer. A bad, bad man. And he was, by his own statements, operating on behalf of a foreign army that is engaged in mass slaughter. This foreign army engages in recruitment of more murderers for its army from Muslims around the world. 

How do we deal with the nonsensical lies of political opportunists and Christian bashers? I think our best bet is to take the Christian bashers seriously, to accept that they genuinely believe their own confabulations. Know that they are nuts, but don’t let them drag us down into their nutty vitriol. The crazier they get, the calmer we should become.

As for our crazy elected officials, we need to pay more attention to the quality of person we are electing. At this pass, the most important question we should ask ourselves before we vote is whether or not we are voting for a level, honest person with a commitment to the common good. We need to pay attention to the character of the people asking for our vote and stop electing nuts.

As Americans, we must vote. As Christians, we must stay the course on moral issues involving the sanctity of human life and definitions of who is human.

But our first call is not about how we vote. It is about what we do. We must not just talk the Gospels. We must live them. That means we must pray for these Christian-bashing crazies, and set out about the business of re-converting this culture.

We must run the course that is set before us and finish the race that is ours to run. Our Christian call is the same as it was when St. Paul spoke those words to the first Christians twenty centuries ago. Our days should begin with prayer and continue with each of us standing for Him in everything we do and everywhere we go. To paraphrase that great doubter Thomas Paine, this is not the time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots for Christ.

Pray for our country. Pray for those who were murdered in Orlando. Pray for these irrational and hate-filled Christian bashers. Pray, and trust Jesus. He will lead us through.