The similarities between QAnon and evangelism

The similarities between QAnon and evangelism August 24, 2020
By Barbara Alvarez
Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern
Freedom From Religion Foundation

You have probably heard of the QAnon conspiracy theory. But you may not be aware of the similarities between QAnon and the Christian Right, as an article in The Atlantic incidentally reveals. For those unfamiliar with QAnon, it is basically a far-right concoction about a “secret plot” between the deep state and elites operating an international child sex trafficking ring. QAnon followers believe that Trump has been sent to save us and set the children free. “Q” first burst in the news in 2016 after a related “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory resulted in an attempted shooting at a popular Washington, D.C., restaurant where a child sex trafficking was supposedly based.

There are alarming parallels between QAnon and evangelical indoctrination. Here are just a few:

• There is a battle between “good and evil.”
• The end times are coming and an apocalypse is inevitable.
• Injustices are largely out of our control because they are orchestrated by a secret cartel that pulls the strings (“God has a plan”).
• Science, evidence and reasoning are thrown out the window.
• You have to interpret Q and his prophecies — there are hidden meanings in his messages. (This is like people quoting scripture who say things like “God didn’t mean it like that . . . you have to understand the historical context … it really means this.”)
• Phrases like “The Great Awakening is Coming” and “Trust the Plan” are key.
• Q regularly quotes scripture and tells his followers to “put on the armor of God.”

Other connections between QAnon and evangelism are more apparent. Take this quote from a QAnon follower: “I feel God led me to Q. I really feel like God pushed me in this direction. I feel like if it was deceitful, in my spirit, God would be telling me, ‘Enough’s enough.’ But I don’t feel that. I pray about it. I’ve said, ‘Father, should I be wasting my time on this?’ . . .  And I don’t feel that feeling of ‘I should stop.’”

A recent article in Salon even posits that QAnon may be the new Christian Right.

But why is there this strong connection between QAnon and evangelism? Sarah Posner, author of the recently published Unholy: Why White Evangelicals Worship at the Altar of Donald Trump, explains in an NPR interview how the Christian Right is ripe for conspiracy theories: “They’ve been told by their leaders throughout Trump’s presidency not to listen to the fake news media or not to listen to the deep state . . . the distrust of the media and of science and of the government has been baked in.”

To believe in QAnon is to believe in spiritual warfare at the expense of science, reasoning and logic; to deny science, reasoning and logic is critical to believing in religion. But beyond those similarities, the QAnon cult does not operate in a vacuum. Rather, evangelical leaders weaponize QAnon to push their own agenda, leaving dangerous implications for the separation of state and church. The consequences for American society are far-reaching and deeply troubling.

Barbara Alvarez is from Madison, Wis., and attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working on a Ph.D. in library and information sciences with a minor in gender and women’s studies. Alvarez was a major winner in last year’s FFRF essay competition for graduate students, writing about the bible’s role in the abortion battle. She is FFRF’s first Anne Nicol Gaylor Reproductive Rights Intern, a program set up to memorialize FFRF’s principal founder, who was an early abortion rights activist and author of the book Abortion is a Blessing.

Photo via Shutterstock by By M.Moira

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