Last time we met up, we talked about antiprocess. That psychological term means the various ways that people subconsciously protect their beliefs from challenges, as well as how they negate and ignore challenging information that should shake up those same beliefs. At the time, we briefly covered a few in-the-wild examples of antiprocess. But today, I want to take you through the florid mental hellscape of an evangelical leader whose antics illustrate every one of the different types of antiprocess.

(The Ham on Nye debate of 2014.)

(This post first appeared on Patreon on 3/23/2023. Its audio ‘cast lives there too! Both should be unlocked by the time you read this.)

Everyone, meet Larry Dixon, today’s antiprocess poster child

On his blog’s bio page, Larry Dixon claims to be a professor at a small evangelical school, Columbia International University, which is located in South Carolina. Its Wikipedia page specifically cautions us not to confuse this school with the Ivy League school, Columbia University.

Dixon does not appear anywhere on the school’s current staff list. I found a note on the school’s site about him being a “Professor of Systematic Theology” and giving a bigotry-for-Jesus speech criticizing Rob Bell on “Thursday (April 7),” though. In 2022, April 7th fell on a Thursday. So I reckon he just hasn’t had time to update his bio. (In a comment, he does mention that he’s “now retired” from this position.)

On his bio, Dixon also tells us he’s written six books. As we see on Amazon, none have a ton of reviews. One specifically criticizes Rob Bell. Its cover depicts a hapless bespectacled guy sitting in a lifeboat on the open sea, with sharks swimming all around him. In the distance, a fancy cruise-style ship sails away. Christian love, everyone.

After having read Dixon’s blog, I don’t think there exists a single sickening facet of authoritarian evangelicalism that he hasn’t wholeheartedly embraced: its culture wars, its hyper-politicization, its willful ignorance, its sheer dishonesty and disingenuousness, and most especially its all-encompassing desire to control all of our lives.

Why this guy’s our guest-star today

Larry Dixon pinged my radar while I was gathering sources for evangelicals’ love of fake friendship. In 2020, Bruce Gerencser covered an exchange the two had had on the topic. Bruce owned him completely from start to finish. Alas, it doesn’t sound like Larry Dixon has ever allowed a single fact to challenge any of his beliefs.

Because Larry Dixon is a control freak authoritarian, he descended into Bruce’s comments. There, he got owned again. For the same reason, Dixon then limped back to his own blog. There, he wrote not one but two passive-aggressive replies to Bruce.

Eventually our guest star will probably show up here. So here’s a special, sooper-sekrit, intricately-encoded message to Outraged Yet Again in Fundie-Land:

Hi, dude. I don’t expect to change your mind, and I don’t expect you to agree at all with what I have to say. I’m here to talk to people who can actually think critically and who want to learn and grow in this one life that we all get. I already know that isn’t you. If it bugs you that people talk about your writing, don’t write.)

The forms of antiprocess

Antiprocess includes four distinct types (archive). In order of descending preference for most people, these are:

  1. Selective: Most of us deliberately choose to engage or not engage with information based on our agreement with it. (See also: confirmation bias)
  2. Passive: Defensive strategies we use without being really aware of it; these include thought stoppers, as well as protests that we really do understand information when we haven’t even engaged meaningfully with yet.
  3. Rote: We begin to be more conscious of the challenges to our beliefs here, and we start using rote responses to negate and discard them; these include ad hominem and red herring redirection, whataboutism, etc.
  4. Active: We are now fully engaged with defending our beliefs, so we falsely act like we are engaging fully with the information provided; these include “yes, but” responses.

And oh yes indeedie, we’ll see all of these on display in Dixon’s work.

The two beliefs being defended with antiprocess

At the time he tangled with Bruce, our guest star had recently published a book. He titled it: Unlike Jesus: Let’s Stop Unfriending the World. In it, Dixon describes the totally-Jesus-approved way to befriend heathens.

Yes, it’s friendship evangelism all over again. Of course it is. When evangelicals suggest befriending heathens, it is always for friendship evangelism. Evangelical leaders know very well how dangerous it is for their flocks to make real friends among heathens. But Dixon thinks (erroneously) that he’s found the magical perfect way to friendship-evangelize heathens.

In a very real way, then, in his exchanges Larry Dixon defends two beliefs.

First belief: It’s okay to befriend heathens for the purpose of evangelism. In fact, it is laudable, loving, and compassionate for evangelicals to seek the conversion of their friends. Evangelicals’ stated sense of duty to Jesus, their feelings of urgency regarding others’ eternal fates, and their stated deep and abiding love for their heathen friends all override any other possible consideration (like informed consent and respect for others’ boundaries).

Second belief: The methods that Dixon suggests for befriending heathens are completely unobjectionable even to heathens themselves. Because he bases his suggested methods on descriptions of Jesus’ behavior in the Gospels, they are magical. They are perfect. They are not only effective, but also impervious to any and all possible criticism. And so evangelicals must get his book to learn them, then use them without fail.

As we move through his statements, be watching for these beliefs and the methods of antiprocess Dixon uses to engage with criticisms of them.

What was actually written

In his first post about friendship evangelism, Bruce Gerencser briefly describes Unlike Jesus. At first, he simply asserts that most evangelicals rightly don’t want to start fake friendships with strangers, nor to push their beliefs on others without being asked. Of the constant fruitless attempts to get evangelicals to evangelize more often, Bruce writes:

I suspect that they really don’t like bugging people. Who among us loves having door-to-door salespeople knocking on their doors? None of us. And isn’t that exactly what Dixon, Morgan, and their fellow zealots do: without invitation, inject themselves into the lives of others? Believing that they have a mandate from headquarters to go into the highways and hedges and compel sinners to come to Jesus, evangelizers will the bug the hell out of family, friends, and strangers. Never content just to be decent, thoughtful, genuine human beings, Dixon, Morgan, and company scour the countryside looking for “opportunities” to become fake friends with young and old alike.

Then, Bruce notes the ephemeral and fake nature of those evangelism-motivated friendships:

“Friends” such as Dixon, Morgan, and their fellow evangelizers, will come and go in our lives. When they don’t get what they want from us — our salvation — they move on to other marks.

Both assertions are completely and absolutely true. Evangelicals hate evangelism, and those who try friendship evangelism never stay friends after their victims have rejected their sales pitches. But Bruce really doesn’t say much else about Dixon or his book.

But Dixon engages with entirely different criticisms. It’s like he didn’t even read what Bruce wrote.

Antiprocess as a redirection

In his first comment on Bruce’s first blog post, Dixon simpers at him. He acts like he’s oh-so-honored by Bruce’s choice to include him in a post.

First, he congratulates Bruce on still being married to his first wife for 41 years, and then on having 12 grandchildren. (This comes off like the thoroughly-debunked compliment sandwich. No one cares what he thinks of Bruce’s marriage and family structure.) Then, he asks Bruce for “a favor.” He wants to send Bruce his Jesus book, because he thinks it’ll make Bruce agree with his two beliefs (and thus amend his criticisms, no doubt).

Overall, Dixon doesn’t engage at all with anything Bruce wrote. In fact, he acts like he’s already Bruce’s biggest fan and greatest new pal.

Not one bit of it comes off as sincere. Rather, it sounds smarmy—especially when he ends with “Blessings, Larry Dixon” to someone he should know without a doubt would not like seeing such a signoff. But he’s trying to sound like the oh-so-Jesus-y bigger man here: the loving Christian who can take whatever any angry ole heathen can possibly dish out. Pour hot coals on their heads and all that.

(My Evil Ex Biff acted the exact same way to people who criticized him. He thought, as Dixon clearly also does, that nobody could tell that he was doing it—or why.)

Had Bruce taken him up on this offer, Dixon wouldn’t have had to engage further. He’d have already neutralized Bruce’s criticisms. Hooray Team Jesus!

But no fish took his bait.

Antiprocess as a buckshot blast

Two days later, Larry Dixon loaded his antiprocess buckshot rifle to take scattershot aim at the broad side of Bruce’s mental barn.

Ere we go ere we go:

  1. He’s thought a lot about how to reply. (So? Nobody asked him to reply. His writing should stand on its own merits without needing his defense.)
  2. He knows that “a few years ago,” Bruce criticized his “position on premarital sex.” (JFC, who cares?)
  3. He’s certain that Bruce would agree with him on many points if he’d just read his Jesus book. (Again, who cares? Writing, merits, etc.)
  4. After accepting Bruce’s comparison of friendship evangelism performers to the recruiters in multi-level marketing schemes (MLMs), he states that he’s still “deeply concerned” that many evangelicals refuse to perform evangelism at all. (Again, we don’t care about his motivations.)
  5. Then, he insists that he totally doesn’t want any evangelicals to form “fake friendships.” Again, he pushes his book on Bruce. (Sir, this is a Wendy’s. Put that away.)
  6. Immediately after this point, he asserts that he thinks that everybody, Bruce included, “all have a worldview we want to ‘share’ with others, right?” (ACTUALLY NO WE DO NOT. If we did, it’d be because the other person asked first. And we wouldn’t expect them to adopt it. Dixon knows he’s made an invalid comparison, which I can tell cuz he put “share” in scare quotes to begin with.) Dixon just wants to make friendship evangelism sound exactly like the way that others freely share most opinions, but that’s a dishonest assertion as well as an invalid comparison.
  7. He remonstrates with Bruce about his criticisms of another writer, Katy Morgan, which seem to Dixon to be “unfair.” For reference, Morgan wrote about using friendship evangelism on the residents of nursing homes and care facilities. Proving that he has no idea what fake friendships are, he hints that he doesn’t think Morgan advocated thaaaaat. (Yes, she did.)
  8. He asks Bruce if he’d consider visits from evangelicals attending nearby churches to be “fake friendship.” (Who cares? And yes, he likely would. I sure would.)
  9. He asserts that it is super duper meaniepie deluxe of Bruce to say he and Morgan are “never content just to be decent, thoughtful, genuine human beings.” (Who cares? It’s an accurate description, from everything I’ve seen.)
  10. He hints that his method of friendship evangelism would result in “true friends” who don’t “move on to other marks” if their pitches get rejected. But he only “want[s] to be an exception” to that rule. (I guess he knows that right now, he isn’t one. To be sure, he offers no evidence to support this or any other assertion he makes.)
  11. After conceding with the idea that friendship evangelism is “repugnant,” he slides into another assertion that he and Bruce “have a lot in common.” (He will demonstrate the hilarious falseness of this statement in 3.. 2.. 1..)
  12. Obviously he, as a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ (he even uses the t-word! YES!), wants to meet his friends’ “temporal needs.” (What is he, their social worker? Who decides what these are and how they shall be met? Do the heathens get asked permission first?) But he still “deeply care[s] about your eternal needs.” (I suppose this means he’s 100% on board with befriending heathens to evangelize them, which means friendships made with an agenda, which means friendship evangelism, which we all just agreed was “repugnant.”) Gosh, he asks disingenuously, “wouldn’t that be consistent Christianity?” (Well, sorta. Evangelicals are predatory and controlling. So yes, it’s perfectly consistent with evangelicalism. He’s got us there. As for if it’s part of TRUE CHRISTIANITY™, lol nothing is, because that’s not real.)

What antiprocess kept our guest star from noticing

Last time, we noted that smart people’s antiprocess tends to be smarter as well. They use a multidisciplinary approach to avoiding and negating unwanted information. I say that not to say that Dixon is smart, because he seems really incurious and belligerent in the way of someone who likes his ignorance.

But he’s had time and inclination enough to master a great many antiprocess techniques.

It must be an absolute hoot to have any kind of disagreement with Larry Dixon. And by “hoot,” I mean it must be incredibly frustrating for the person with facts on their side. He seems utterly incapable of staying on task. However, he’s very good at throwing out the kinds of baffles and redirections that evangelicals learn to use. He’s also learned to lean very hard on personal connections to steamroll away any problems someone might have with him.

Alas for him, none of it works on people who’ve tangled a lot with evangelicals and who’ve had a little time to think about why evangelicals act like they do.

Not once, not ever does Dixon present any evidence for any of his claims. Therefore, we may discard them all. Indeed, his omissions tell us a lot more than his assertions do!

Not once, not ever does Dixon engage with the idea that befriending heathens with any intent to convert them indicates an ulterior motive. Nor does he engage with the idea that seeking to change one’s friends isn’t loving. Indeed, he drills down hard on the idea that this is entirely consistent with loving them as true friends. Oh, and it’s ultra-Jesus-y, so he has to do it.

He just seems so very, very dedicated to not engaging with one central idea: having an agenda in friendship makes for fake friendships, and if he has any desire in his heart to change his friends, even if he feels it’d be good for them, that is, itself, an agenda.

Sidebar: No Jesus Aura lasts long against pushback

Not once, not ever does Dixon gain buy-in from Bruce to treat him like a valued friend.

But I know why he doesn’t ask.

He’s trying hard to act like Jesus here. He wants to Jesus-tapdance his way right into Bruce’s heart! Alas, he forgets that the gospels aren’t history, nor a biography of anyone much less the founder of Christianity. Indeed, they contain more mythmaking than they do trufax. The gospels’ writers, whoever they might be, pushed their conceptualization of Jesus to suit each of their own groups’ beliefs and agendas. That’s why the character of Jesus comes off as such a delusional, inconsistent, grifting jackass in so many of those stories.

But very few Christians can actually read the Bible for comprehension. Instead, they carry this idea around in their heads of Jesus as the ultimate good guy and loving person. That’s what their Jesus Aura is: their attempt to channel that image in their heads. They think that when they try really hard to be like Jesus, it makes them glow from the inside with a bright light that both repels and attracts heathens (depending on how close the heathens are to conversion, and how persecuted the Christian wants to feel right then).

All that said, it’s always funny to watch Christians try to emulate what they think Jesus acted like. Their Jesus mini-me act always crashes on impact with pushback. That crash is as predictable as that geyser thing in Yellowstone Park, Old Faithful. And lucky us, we will see it happen in just a minute here.


Up until now, we’ve only seen the first three types of antiprocess. Now, we’re going to see the full-meal deal of active antiprocess. This is where Dixon pretends to actively, meaningfully engage with Bruce’s criticisms, but really he’s in this fight to protect his beliefs with active antiprocess. See, now Dixon knows that his second comment didn’t trample Bruce’s criticisms but only revealed more things to criticize.

And I gotta tell ya, it’s downright exhilarating to see Dixon trying so hard to unload both barrels four days later in a third comment. I bet he was a stunningly great teacher! (/s)

Hot damn, y’all, let’s goooooo:

  1. He begins by trying to shame Bruce. How dare Bruce make him “fight to get the benefit of the doubt from you.” (Great start! Um, we can have whatever personal boundaries we want. I don’t trust evangelicals right off the bat either, and I don’t think anyone should. Dixon is definitely not the combo breaker here, either.)
  2. He attempts some moral leveling. Yes, he might not have pure motives. BUT DOES ANYBODY EVER? DOES BRUCE? CHECKMATE, ATHEIST! (Yes, but…)
  3. Then he tries to shame Bruce again for making him really sad. Boo hoo, Dixon feels so judged! Having judged heathens for an entire book and through two comments, Dixon now shames Bruce for apparently judging him. (We’re not under any rules about judging others, of course. Christians are. AHEM. Also: writing, merits, etc.)
  4. Then he launches into four questions to try to guide Bruce down a Socratic-style cattle chute that ends at: Oh gosh, Designated Adult Daddy, you’re so right! I guess evangelicals are totally all right in how they befriend people only to turn them into human fix-it projects without first gaining consent. (Ideally, evangelicals go one step at a time with a cattle chute trap, then ensnare their victims. I guess Dixon knows he has to let loose all of his fake Just Asking Questions questions at once in this format.)
  5. In his questions, Dixon tries to shame Bruce again. This time, he insinuates that Bruce just doesn’t care about the urgent feelings evangelicals have about converting others. Surely, Bruce agrees that those feelings should outweigh little niceties like respect for boundaries and informed consent. (They don’t and he doesn’t.) Does Bruce want evangelicals to ignore the oncoming bus that is totally barreling down on heathens and not even warn them?!? That’s so mean and hateful! (Doesn’t matter. If evangelicals can’t credibly, verifiably demonstrate the reality of the threat, they don’t get to push it on others without permission.)
  6. Then Dixon tries to invalidate Bruce’s right to an opinion by saying that Bruce must be working “so hard [. . .] to prove Christians and Christianity wrong” because he secretly feels uncertain of his “rejection of Jesus.” (That’s just an ad hominem, as well as gaslighting and a disgustingly blatant attempt to manipulate. He seeks to invalidate Bruce’s argument by invalidating Bruce himself rather than engaging with his actual argument. It works nicely on evangelicals, who will be instantly cowed by any hint of impure motivations. It doesn’t work on people who know about logical fallacies. Here Dixon reveals his hand at last. He tells us, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that he is a coward who knows that he has nothing really effective to say to Bruce’s actual argument.)

It’s just amazing. Every one of Dixon’s statements in this third comment seek to silence opposition rather than engaging with it. And in writing it, Dixon illustrates exactly why evangelicals are in decline, and why they deserve to be there.

But the antiprocess ride doesn’t end there!

As I was reading the page, I was already laughing so hard at this point that my cheeks hurt, y’all. And then I burst into laughter again. Because after Bruce completely (and gently) takes him apart again in his swift reply, Dixon has to return to make a fourth comment a few days later.

This one’s solid active antiprocess. I won’t bore you by going over all of it. Definitely read it if you want to see an absolutely enraged narcissist in the middle of a meltdown, but one who is still trying to cling to his few remaining tattered shreds of Jesus Aura.

But I reckon most of us have had that dubious pleasure already. Instead, I’ll reprint Bruce’s accurate summary of Dixon’s lengthy attempt to manipulate him again through shame, invalidation, and distastefully-inappropriate expressions of sadness and ego injury:

So this is your takeaway from my post and responses to your comments:

“I’ve recently been corresponding a bit with a couple of people who hate Christianity and have attacked me. Some of the things they have said about Christians are true. We often come across as holy know-it-alls. We are guilty at times of trying to manipulate conversations to spiritual things. And the “friendships” we develop with “lost” people are conditional and sometimes shallow and end when the other person refuses to become a believer.

I’m not sure any of us do anything out of 100% pure motives. But that’s no excuse for not loving others the way Jesus loved them. But I think if Christians were almost perfect in their interactions with those not yet in God’s family — they would still be criticized and hated.”

Hate Christianity? Attacked you? Really? My aren’t you the persecuted one. Another “martyr” for Jesus.

You probably already guessed this, but I’ll note for the record that Bruce did nothing of the sort at any point. At this point, Dixon knows that he has failed to bring Bruce around to his point of view, which has clearly upset and angered him. In response, Dixon reverts to the tried and true toxic Christian authoritarian power moves: bullying, false accusations meant to cow and shame a recalcitrant victim, and endless attempts to manipulate. Indeed, Dixon doesn’t even sound vaguely friendly or loving by the end of his screed.

As for our guest star, I think he realized at this point that he’d just keep getting owned if he wrote more comments. He retreated to his own blog at that point. There, he wrote a couple of blog posts about what an awful meaniepie Bruce was to him. Naturally, in those posts he completely mischaracterized Bruce and made himself sound way better than he had in his comments. WWJD? Oh, I’m sure he’d do exactly the same. Yep yep.

Why this guy used antiprocess instead of engaging meaningfully

Larry Dixon is, as I’ve said, an authoritarian evangelical. He very clearly views his religious beliefs as a Jesus-issued permission slip allowing him to mistreat other people and treat them as less-than. And he ain’t too picky about which heathens he mistreats, either. In addition to supporting the idea of preying on old folks in nursing homes, which we witnessed in his comments on Bruce’s blog post, he’s also made a big deal out of preying on incarcerated prisoners. He’s always on the lookout for a new victim to fake-befriend!

Right now, he’s embarked on an ambitious 52-part series on the supposed “blessings” that he has as a TRUE CHRISTIAN™—but which poor widdle heathens entirely lack, bless their poor widdle cotton sockies. Dude’s up to part 36 of the series, which is the blessing of, um, “a biblical understanding of the devil.” But that was written a solid year ago, with no updates on the topic since. (BTW: I’ve archived all of the entries so far. Page 1, page 2, page 3, page 4.)

I heartily suggest you check out his blog, especially that series, for an insight into antiprocess in the wild. Now that you know about antiprocess, you’ll be able to tell exactly why he blew up like he did at Bruce’s initially very mild, brief criticisms of his work, as well as why he unraveled more and more as their exchanges continued until he finally sounded like a furious, control-hungry parent lecturing a teenaged child who’s trailed home after midnight.

Antiprocess as a way to protect toxic beliefs and behaviors

Christians like Larry Dixon have created their entire self-image on the basis of being wise, discerning, and smart enough to join the winning team: TEAM JESUS. Their membership in TEAM JESUS is what gives them such a sense of entitlement over other people’s lives, boundaries, and needs. So no, they won’t engage meaningfully, ever, with pushback from those very people.

In the exchange we witnessed today, Larry Dixon refused to accept Bruce’s assessment of his behavior as accurate and valid (which it really was). But if he had, then he’d be morally obligated to stop preying on heathens, smearing them, dehumanizing them, and ultimately seeking to control them. And he really doesn’t wanna stop doing that stuff. His desire to do that very stuff is why he’s on TEAM JESUS in the first place!

So antiprocess in all its varied forms protects Dixon’s belief that he’s in the right in his behavior, motivations, ideals, and methods. With the help of a veritable suite of antiprocess tools, he even left that disastrous fight thinking that he totally won—except darn it, he was totally mistreated by a meaniepie heathen who totally hates him jes’ fer bein’ KRISchin.

As my husband likes to say: In our dreams, we are free indeed.

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Captain Cassidy

Captain Cassidy is a Gen-X ex-Christian and writer. She writes about how people engage with science, religion, art, and each other. She lives in Idaho with her husband, Mr. Captain, and their squawky orange tabby cat, Princess Bother Pretty Toes. And at any given time, she is running out of bookcase space.


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