CPAC Craziland

Notables of the Republican Party meet this weekend in Orlando, Florida, in their annual showcase of conservatism, The Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC. In keeping with the latest Republican buzz-phrase, “cancel culture,” the theme for CPAC2021 is “America Uncanceled.” Judging by the offerings on this year’s CPAC Agenda “Uncanceled” is code for Republican whining that Trump’s Big Lie that the election was stolen from him isn’t accepted as God’s truth by the entire populace. The forces “cancelling” his Big Lie consist of some sinister cabal of a Deep State that happens to include Republican-appointed judges, Republican Secretaries of State, and pedophilic, baby-eating, and, worst of all, socialist Democrats. I’ve never been a fan of CPAC, but at least in its early years (founded in 1974), back when featured speakers included the like of Ronald Reagan, there were ideas expressed from the podium, not just grievance at having been shunned by reasonable people.

If you are puzzled by “Why [it’s] ‘cancel culture’ when Josh Hawley loses his book contract after cheerleading an insurrection, but not when Colin Kaepernick gets drummed out of the NFL for protesting racism?” then I strongly recommend reading Doug Muder’s article, “Why You Can’t Understand Conservative Rhetoric.” 

The webpage for the agenda of CPAC2021 loaded properly for me only once despite multiple attempts using two different browsers. That one time allowed me to confirm several of the CPAC sessions highlighted in John Fea’s post of February 23rd, “What you can expect at CPAC this weekend” that I have pasted below. You can’t make this stuff up. This is craziland. But remember that prominent Republican Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) recently still could not bring himself in an interview to allow that Joe Biden won the election. (Did the injuries he suffered in the shooting in 2017 affect his ability to reason or has he always been this way?)

Yes, Trump will be at the big MAGA event this weekend. If you’re going, you can choose to attend one of these sessions:

Ted Cruz’s talk is titled “Bill of Rights, Liberty, and Cancel Culture.”

Deroy Murdock of Fox News will speak on “Voting is Democracy: Why we Must Protect Elections”

Congressman Mo Brooks of Alabama will join a panel on the subject “Protecting Elections: Other Culprits: Why Judges & Media Refused to Look at the Evidence”

Fox News’s Jason Chaffetz’s talk is titled “The Left Pulled the Strings, Covered It Up, and Even Admits It”

Radio talk show host Ben Ferguson will “emcee” a session titled “The Left’s Assault on a Free People: How Government, Big Tech, and Media are Colluding to Deprive Us of Our Humanity.” Matt Gaetz and Charlie Kirk will also be part of this session.

Florida Senator Rick Scott’s talk is titled “The Way Forward: Unlocking Our Churches, Our Voices, and Our Social Media Accounts.”

Donald Trump Jr. will give a speech titled, “Reigniting the Spirit of the American Dream.”

Former New York City police commissioner Bernard Kirk will be part of a session titled “Same Badge, Different Beat: To Protect and Serve Or Socialist Social Workers?

Two Congressman, Mark Green and Jody Hice, will be part of a session titled “Who’s the Boss, Where’s My Applesauce? Who’s Really Running the Biden Administration?”

Devin Nunes will be featured in a session titled “California Socialism: Promising Heaven, Delivering Hell”

Utah congressman Burgess Owens will be part of a session titled “In the Left’s Own Words: ‘Disrupting the Nuclear Family.”

Kevin McCarthy will be part of a session titled “Winning Back America”

Several attorneys will be part of a session titled “Did Your Vote Count? Ask the Experts”

California congressman Darrell Issa will be part of a session titled “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is…Neera, Herself: How to Block a Tyrannical Administrative State.”

Someone named Jeff Brain will lead a session titled “So You’ve Been De-Platformed–What Now/

A session titled “Failed States” will focus on the election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nevada.
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was founded in 1974 by the American Conservative Union (itself founded in 1964) and Young Americans for Freedom (founded in 1960). William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) features prominently in the founding and intellectual underpinnings of these two organizations and of the last 70 years of American conservatism. A Yalie (like several articulate and some inarticulate conservatives, think GW Bush), Buckley was also the founder of the National Review in 1955, a magazine that became the intellectual flagship of American conservatism. To understand Buckley is to understand the trajectory of the Republican Party for the last 70 years. Throughout his life Buckley managed to hold off the extremists upon whom the Republican Party now depends. Buckley had a falling out with Robert Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society in the 1950s over Welch’s assertion that Dwight D. Eisenhower (a Republican) was part of  a communist conspiracy. Until Buckley died of a coronary in 2008, he succeeded in keeping the John Birch Society and like-minded conspiracy theorists at arms length from the Republican Party. It is more than a little telling that only two years after Buckley’s death, in 2010, one of CPAC’s sponsors was the John Birch Society–and now the Republican Party under Trump is rife with lies and conspiracy theories. 

Local hook: Caleb Collier, a man who figures prominently with Ken Peters and Matt Shea at the Covenant Church on Spokane’s near north side also serves as the executive field coordinator for the John Birch Society in 11 western states. (Collier is also a former council member of the City of Spokane Valley’s City Council.)

Keep to the high ground,

Spokane Covenant Export

Spokane is a breeder and exporter of conspiracy theorists and Christian nationalists.

Pastor Ken Peters recently migrated from his Covenant Church on Princeton Ave on Spokane’s near north side to become pastor and chief conspiracy theorist in Knoxville, Tennessee. Shawn Vestal covered Pastor Peters’ enthusiastic involvement in the events of January 6th at the U.S. Capitol in a Spokesman article January 13th. (See Spokane’s White Supremacists for additional context.) Mr. Vestal’s writes of Peters’ successor as Pastor at Spokane Covenant in another article on February 5th, entitled “Matt Shea, the Redoubt rock star, keeps riling up his followers for ‘total war’“:

Shea [until January 2021 the Republican State Representative from LD4, Spokane Valley north to Mt. Spokane], who chose not to run for re-election after an investigator concluded he had engaged in “domestic terrorism” by assisting the Malheur occupation in Oregon, has stepped into Peters’ former spot at the head of Spokane’s Covenant Church and continued his role as the rock star of the American Redoubt, serving up big, steaming bowls of alternative-universe gruel.

Alex Jones style whacko conspiracy theory runs deep in Pastors Peters and and Shea. Matt Shea featured prominently in the “Freedom Force Red Pill Expo Conference”, held in Spokane at the Convention Center, June 17-26, 2018. (The Red Pill Expo will be held this year in Rapid City, South Dakota. Check out their website for some flavor.)

Evangelical (Fundamentalist) Christians seem especially susceptible to conspiracy theories at which most of us would shake our heads in dismay. Perhaps subscription to a belief system that pins one’s understanding of the future on cryptic writing dating from the Roman Empire (the last book of the Bible, Book of Revelation) primes one to delight in interpreting Q’s bizarre posts. 

Evangelical Christianity is no monolith, however. John Fea, a published and respected author [check out Amazon for confirmation], is a professor of history at Messiah University in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvannia, thirty miles north of Gettysburg. (Like all such Evangelical educational institutions, you will find no mention of a course in geology or anything touching on evolution among the academic offerings, proof of the University’s Fundamentalist bona fides.) Professor Fea writes a prolific blog, The Way of Improvement Leads Home. Professor Fea’s February 19th blog post, Patriot Churches, copied below, helps bring us up to date with the activities of Spokane’s export, Pastor Peters:

This extended NPR piece does a nice job of covering the divisions in the evangelical community right now. The GOP is not the only group that is divided in the wake of the Trump era.

Listen [well worth 11 minutes of your time]

You can listen to the Knoxville “Patriot Church” service (January 10, 2021) referenced in this NPR piece (“Onward Christian Soldiers”) here.

The pastor of the Knoxville Patriot Church, Ken Peters, introduces the service wearing a “Rigged 2020” T-Shirt. He tells his congregation that Antifa stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020 and describes Mike Pence as “evil.”

The main speaker, Sharam Hadian, a former Muslim and pro-Trumper, tells the audience that “this is the time to run toward the battle.” He says anyone who walked away from the U.S Capitol during the insurrection is not a “good Christian soldier.” He adds, “there comes a time to overturn the tables of the temple” and “put the fear of God” in those trying to stage a coup on the government of the United States. The senators in the Capitol on January 6, Hadian preaches, have betrayed America. He refers to Mike Pence as “Pontius Pence” and claims that the former vice-president has “betrayed his anointing.”

Hadian tries to separate the true Trump followers in Washington D.C. from the insurrectionists, but I am not sure that many of the Christian nationalists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 really understand this difference, especially when they are constantly fed this militant language.

This entire service is a conspiracy theory baptized with Christian praise music, Bible quotations, and prayer.

On January 13, 2021, Peters holds a “men’s discipleship” meeting at the Patriot Church. They are discussing David Gibbs‘s, One Nation Under God: Ten Things Every Christian Should Know About the Founding of America. Gibbs They are also reading David Barton’s (Wallbuilders) Christian nationalist book The American Story.

Peters starts with a lesson on the Pilgrims and the Mayflower Compact. He has a “Rigged 2020” baseball cap on as he teaches. He talks about how “God cleared out the Indians with plagues” in order to allow the Pilgrims to claim the land and build America. Notice how this Christian revisionism is shaping the day-to-day life of evangelical churches. “When you discover that America was founded on Christian principles, by Christian men…it makes you want to fight for it, Peters says. He adds: “if America was a totally pagan country I wouldn’t have the love for it that I do.”

This is classic Christian nationalism. But what if this history is wrong, or at the very least more complex? The entire Christian nationalist movement is built on a distorted view of American history. It rests on the work of pseudo-historian David Barton and this Wallbuilders organization.

Peters then moves into providential history and Christian Zionism. “I believe that America was a move of God for the sake of Israel, protecting Israel, helping Israel get established.” At this point, Peters references an interview he did with CBS News. I am familiar with this interview because CBS also interviewed me for this story–a forthcoming video piece on Christian nationalism. I am told it will be out soon.

Peters’s “men’s discipleship class” then moves into a discussion of Trump’s second impeachment: “It reminds me of what the world did to Jesus.” There is definitely “discipleship” going on here, but I am not sure if it is Christian discipleship.

On January 14, 2021 Peters wrote on the Patriot Church-Knoxville Facebook page: “The left is going to use the Capitol incident to try and destroy me and others who have taken a stand. They will spin and deceive. They are absolutely evil and bent on our demise. Don’t fall for. It. Satan is a liar.”

On Sunday morning, January 17, 2021, Shahram Hadian was back to finish his sermon from the week before. He warns the congregation not to believe the “lie” that the Left wants “unity” or “peace” when they really “want to destroy us.” The Church, he adds, cannot “sit at the table with demons.”

In this speech, preached on the evening of January 17, 2021, Hadian tells the congregation that the 2020 presidential election was a “deep state coup” orchestrated by Satan. Now that Trump is out of office, Hadian says, we can expect “the rise of Islam, globalism and ecumenicalism converging to a one world government, one world religion and the coming of Anti-Christ system!” The coming of this new world order is directly connected to digital chips in the COVID-19 vaccine and “digital passports.” In other words, the pandemic is “paving the way for the mark of the beast.” And that is just the beginning.

I’ll keep my eye on this Patriot Church movement.We in Spokane, as exporters of the like of Ken Peters, would do well to keep the same watch. This is the sort of conspiracy theory rot within American Evangelicalism that led to the January 6th insurrection. It needs to be spotlighted and called out for what it is.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. If the Patriot Church movement looks inconsequential to you, consider that the 1996 bombing and bank robberies in Spokane Valley were inspired by the distorted theological writing of one twisted “Christian” author, Richard Kelly Hoskins. (See Phineas Priesthood Parallels.)

RCV and the Impeachment Trial

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AL) and Susan Collins (R-ME), along with five other Republican Senators, voted to convict Donald Trump of incitement to insurrection in Trump’s second impeachment trial on February 13. The vote to convict was not only a 57-43 majority, but also the most bi-partisan vote to convict a President in our nation’s history. (The Constitution requires a 2/3 supermajority vote of those present to convict, in this case, 67 votes.) In the three prior presidential impeachment trials, those of Andrew JohnsonBill Clinton, and Donald Trump (1), Mitt Romney (R-UT) stands out, up to now, as the only member of an impeached President’s party ever to vote for conviction, even on a single article of impeachment.

The U.S. Senate was conceived by the framers as an august deliberative body of senior statesmen relatively insulated from the voting masses. Not only were Senators given a six year term (unique among federal elected officials), but the Constitution specified they were to be selected by state legislatures, thereby removing them an additional step from the voters. It was not until the 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, that Senators were elected directly by the people of the states they represent. (Click the link for the story.) Furthermore, the framers did not plan on the rise of political parties or the role such parties would play in backing their partisans and demanding loyalty, but political parties arose early in our history and play an significant role in the calculations of most elected officials. It can be argued that today’s Senators are more answerable to voters and, therefore, potentially less independent and deliberative as statesmen than the framers intended.

Each of the Republicans who voted in favor of convicting Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial is in one way or another relatively isolated (for a while) from Republican electoral backlash an isolation that allows them to hear the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s guilt. Only one (see below) will face the voters in 2022. [2] (See Why Seven Republican Senators Voted to Convict Trumpfrom the NYTimes, February 14th, for more detail.)

Ranked Choice Voting plays a role for two of the seven, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME). Alaska and Maine have recently changed their electoral rules by adopting a version of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), an electoral method currently under consideration in the legislature here in Washington State. There is good reason why Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is alone as the only one of the seven Senators who must stand for re-election in 2022. By passage of an initiative in the November 2020 election, Alaska became the third state with jungle primaries [1] for all statewide races (like Washington and California), the second state with ranked voting (along with Maine), and the only state with both. Alaska’s new system is unique in that the jungle primary advances the top four vote getters to the general election regardless of the party preference of the candidates. In the general election the winner among the four is determined by ranked choice voting. If one of the four takes more than 50% of the vote they win outright, but if none of the four reaches that threshold then then second choice votes of the lowest vote-getter are re-allocated. With the passage of the 2020 initiative in Alaska the parties no longer control access to the general election ballot, something many feel reduces the chance that an extremist faction will be able to advance a candidate “to primary” an incumbent. Lisa Murkowski adds this reassurance from Alaska’s new voting system to an impressive electoral history: Ms. Murkowski was appointed to her seat to replace her father, Frank Murkowski, in 2002, when the senior Murkowski resigned his seat to become Governor of Alaska. She won elections in 2004, 2010, and 2016. In 2010 she was successfully“primaried” by a Republican Tea Party candidate but went on to win the general election on a write-in vote campaign, only the second U.S. Senator ever to win on a write-in vote. Lisa Murkowski has certainly earned her independent streak.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), also from a state recently converted to a form of Ranked Choice Voting, was re-elected in 2020. Maine retains partisan primaries, but, unlike Alaska, uses Ranked Choice Voting in the general election and the primary. In 2020 Ms. Collins had a weak primary challenger; in the general election Collins garnered 50.99% of the vote. That greater than 50% vote avoided triggering the re-assignment of 2nd choice votes under ranked choice voting rules. In the impeachment vote Senator Collins was insulated from party backlash by her new six year term and, perhaps, by the knowledge that if she were to face a far right primary challenger in 2026 the new ranked choice primary might work to her advantage.

I highlight the potential role of Ranked Choice Voting in the electoral calculation that Senators Murkowski and Collins undoubtedly made, to point out that the details each state’s voting system matters. Ranked Choice Voting offers a chance for campaigns that are more civil, attract a broader array of candidates without fear of being a “spoiler,” and result in more equitable representation. HB1156, currently under consideration in the Washington legislature, would modify Washington law to offer local Washington jurisdictions the chance to try Ranked Choice Voting in local elections. The path to state level RCV in Maine was not a straight line. It took years. HB1156 is a first step here in Washington. Keep it in your sights.

Keep to the high ground,

[1] A jungle primary (aka a “nonpartisan blanket primary”) is a primary election in which all candidates for a political office run against each other at once, instead of being segregated by political party. Multiple winners are selected and become the contestants in the general election, in a two-round system.

[2] Of the seven Republicans to vote for conviction only Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) plans to stand for re-election in 2022 (see above). Two others, Richard Burr (R-NC) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) would be up for re-election in 2022, but have announced plans not to run. Mitt Romney (R-UT) faces the 2024 election, but seems secure as a maverick in Mormon Utah. The other three, Ben Sasse (R-NB), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) don’t face re-election until 2026, completing a picture of relative immunity to being “primaried”. 

P.S. Since the U.S. Constitution left the details of voting up to the states, each state has cobbled together its own rules. This makes understanding election strategy in any one state a complex task–and grasping more than the basic rules in two or more states a massive challenge–a challenge typically taken on only by dedicated strategists looking for an edge. It is time we pay more attention. 

Phineas Priesthood Parallels

The Phineas Priesthood Story

In the last half year the Spokesman has published articles on the re-sentencing of the four domestic terrorists claiming allegiance to the “Phineas Preisthood.” The four men were convicted of bombings and armed robberies in Spokane Valley in 1996. Bombs were detonated at the Spokesman-Review’s Spokane Valley office and at a Planned Parenthood clinic in the valley. A U.S. Bank branch was robbed at gunpoint. It is something of a miracle that no one was maimed or killed. All four men were caught, tried, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms in 1997. At the time of the bombings in 1996 the men ranged in age from 37 to 50. Now, after 24 years in prison, they range from 61 to 74. The latest article covering the series of re-sentencings appeared on January 25, 2021, and concerned the re-sentencing of Charles Barbee, one of the four. The re-sentencings from the original life sentences were made necessary by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2015 holding that some of the federal laws under which these men were convicted was unconstitutionally vague.

Of these four domestic terrorists, the youngest, Brian Ratigan, a former U.S. Army sniper, now age 61, was released from prison in June 2020 in recognition of good behavior and the 23 years he had already served in federal prison. The Spokesman articles were not specific enough about the crimes of which each of the four was convicted to understand why Ratigan was released even as the three others were re-sentenced to prison terms that condemn them to spend the rest of their lives in prison. Combing through the four articles that describe the re-sentencing of each of these men one thing stood out: three of them (including Ratigan) had given up the beliefs that had led them to commit their crimes. Those three had been model prisoners. A recently retired prison employee even came to court and testified that Charles Barbee had become a model citizen during his time in prison. For what little picture one can glean from the coverage in the newspaper articles, one is left feeling a little sorry for Charles Barbee and Robert S. Berry. Despite their leaving behind the malignant belief system that once motivated them, each of them was re-sentenced to the equivalent of life imprisonment. Mandatory sentencing guidelines for the particular crimes of these two removed the option of leniency from the judge’s toolbox.

The fourth terrorist, Verne Merrell, now age 74, stood out from the rest. The Spokesman article (somewhat vague) quotes Merrell as saying at his re-sentencing that the crimes he committed almost a quarter century ago were meant to make people aware of “the degradation of our Constitutional system.” To that he added, “It [the awareness] just didn’t happen.” He had not been a model prisoner. Re-sentenced to 58 more years in prison, it seems likely that Merrell will die still believing in his righteousness as a “Phineas Priest.” 

So what is the belief system to which these men once subscribed? Here’s where things get interesting–and disturbing. The Spokesman articles don’t flesh out the story for their readers. The articles mention these men were “members” of something called the Phineas Priesthood, as if the Phineas Priesthood were an isolated, shady organization that held meetings somewhere and actually had a card-carrying membership. The truth is much darker–and instructive for our present day travails.

Recall the 1990s. In 1995, the year before the bombings in Spokane Valley, Timothy McVeigh (since executed for his crime) and Terry Nichols, a pair of Army buddies from basic training at Fort Benning, killed 168 people, many of them children, with a truck bomb detonated at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Also in the 1990s just north of Hayden, Idaho, Richard Butler and his Aryan Nations were still in full swing, annually hosting white supremacists from across the nation for confabs at Butler’s compound. Published in 1990, Vigilantes of Christendom: The Story of the Phineas Priesthood, was conceived in the toxic mind of Richard Kelly Hoskins. For forty years Hoskins had written (and sometimes self-published) pro-Nazi, white supremacist, anti-semitic, and blatantly racist literature, but Vigilantes of Christendom found fertile ground in the minds of 1990s white supremacists. The book was found among the effects of the Spokane Valley bombers, who self-described as “Phineas Priests.” Not only was the book the inspiration for the Spokane Valley bombers but was also found among the effects of Buford O. Furrow, Jr. a man hailing from Lacey, Washington, made infamous by the Los Angeles Jewish Community Center shooting in 1999. The “Phineas Priests” Hoskins detailed in his book are exhorted to take solo or small group “Phineas action.” Such action is biblically based in the story of Phineas, a Hebrew man who, according to the Old Testament book of Numbers 25:6, was rewarded by God for killing an interfaith couple (a Jewish man and Medianite woman, a worshipper of idols) with a single spear thrust that pierced both of them. (For me it was worth noting that in the 1960s Hoskins became a member of the Southern Baptist Church, inspired by attending Jerry Falwell’s church, possibly the basis for Hoskins later biblical meanderings.) Hoskins suggests in his book that any righteous man is automatically ordained into the Phineas Priesthood merely by seeking to destroy God’s enemies, including race-mixers, homosexuals, abortionists and Jews. (Read more about this sickening man’s life and work here.)

Richard Kelly Hoskins spent a lifetime of pushing ideas that clearly inspired violence, some in our own community, and yet I only recently learned of his existence. Has he paid for his incitement of violence in any way? Well, no. A simple google search suggests that he remains alive at age 92 at 2111 Link Rd, Lynchburg, Virginia, the city of his birth. You can download his most famous, and, arguably, his most vile and consequential work, Vigilantes of Christendom, for free from the internet or you can purchase a vintage copy as a keepsake (gag) from Amazon for around $300

This putrid underbelly of American culture has always been around, but most of us choose to look away, preferring not to imagine the bile that spews forth from these people. The ideas put forward by “thought leaders” like Hoskins still fuel the simmering and twisted hate and sense of victimhood nurtured by the pastors of the Covenant Church in north Spokane, organizations like Northwest Grassroots in Spokane Valley (discussed in my post, Spokane’s White Supremacists), and the Marble Community in northern Stevens County. Equally twisted is the cloaking of these ideas and organizations in the mantle of Christianity, Christianity that has gone off the rails like that of Hoskins’ Phineas Priesthood, a Christianity thoroughly wedded to a warped idea of Patriot piety and the righteousness of parading with assault weapons, a warped Christianity that has burrowed itself firmly into the rightward side of the local Republican Party.

The local Republican Party, like many Republican members of the U.S. Congress, now express horror at the violence displayed in the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. Earlier they stoked the fires of Trump’s baseless assault on our elections systems and now expect to escape from the consequences of their own inflammatory rhetoric. Richard Kelly Hoskins, flying largely under the radar, escaped responsibility almost entirely. 

It is a shame that many Christian Evangelical Republicans have been so poisoned against anything with the word “Democrat,” “liberal,” or “progressive” attached to it. Were they not poisoned in that way, were they more clearly aware of the perversions of the Christianity that fester on their right flank, rather than being lulled by the term Christianity itself, they might recognize that real Christian values better flourish to their left.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. For more on this link between twisted Christianity (Christian Nationalism and Christian Identity) I recommend Thomas Edsall’s excellent opinion piece published in the NYTimes January 28, 2021, entitled “The Capitol Insurrection Was as Christian Nationalist as It Gets.

P.P.S. I occurs to me there might be a reason that so many of the followers of QAnon, Hoskins’ Phineas Priesthood, various “Patriot” groups, and followers of the conspiracy theories of the ilk of Trump and Alex Jones seem to share warped, far right interpretations of Christianity. If one’s worldview, before all else, depends on the absolute and literal truth of the entire Bible, then accepting something like Hoskins’ interpretation of Numbers 25:6 in deriving the “Phineas Priesthood” is only a small step away. Reining in warped interpretations of the Bible leading down these roads depends on which interpreter catches the imagination of the listener. I am by no means suggesting here that all Evangelical (Fundamentalist) Christians go down these paths, only that their worldview is fertile ground for manipulation.