“Why Are So Many Christians Falling for QAnon?” asks the white evangelical magazine Relevant (which is why they just use “Christians” in that hed to mean white evangelicals). The answer, according to this collection of pulled punches, seems to be Jeez, dunno, but it seems bad.
Or it may be that the writers of that piece do know more than they’re quite willing to say explicitly there. This bit, for example, nods in the direction of what it seems like they wanted to say, but were worried about saying directly: “The lack of a shared epistemology means that debates are often doomed to frustration, as what one side considers a trusted news source may be considered a propaganda machine by the other.”
Some family business goes unmentioned in this piece. Relevant describes itself as a magazine by and for “20- and 30-something Christians seeking God and striving to impact the world around us.” So there’s a sense in which the headline of that article implicitly reads “Why Are So Many of Our Parents Falling for QAnon?”
That’s generally true for millions of white evangelical Millennials whose parents are being discipled by Fox News and Facebook. It’s also very specifically true because Relevant was founded by Cameron Strang, son of Steve Strang, the shameless grifter who publishes Charisma magazine and the far-far-right and totally bonkers charismanews. Steve Strang has been an enthusiastic supporter of QAnon, just as he has been of every other right-wing, pro-Trump conspiracy mania that has ever come down the pike.
Does Steve Strang “really believe” in QAnon? I doubt it. I haven’t seen much evidence that Steve Strang “really believes” in much of anything other than making lots of money by peddling scary stories and narratives of fear to credulous white Christians. That’s not a compliment. And neither is this: He’s very good at it.
Steve Strang is not the only skilled salesman selling QAnon to the white evangelical market, but it doesn’t take a skilled salesman to do that. This is a product tailor-made for the white evangelical audience. And it seems to be catching on.
I want to look at several reasons why white evangelicals are so susceptible to being bamboozled by the nonsense of QAnon and its universe of “alternative facts.” But first let me share some links to a host of recent articles worrying, or confirming, or predicting, that this toxic nonsense is going to find fertile soil in white evangelicalism.
- “Evangelicals are looking for answers online. They’re finding QAnon instead,” by Abby Ohlheiser for MIT Technology Review
- “QAnon: The alternative religion that’s coming to your church,” by Katelyn Beaty for Religion News Service
- “Questions about QAnon,” by Emily Belz for World Magazine
- “Evangelicals need to address the QAnoners in our midst,” by Ed Stetzer for USA Today
- “QAnon, Conspiracies, and Discipling the Way Out” by Ed Stetzer and Andrew MacDonald for Christianity Today
- “Why Someone You Love Might Join QAnon,” by Morgan Lee for Christianity Today
- “QAnon Didn’t Just Spring Forth From the Void — It’s the Latest From a Familiar Movement,” by Adam Willems for Religion Dispatches
- “QAnon, conspiracy theories and the Church – faith and fear don’t mix,” by John Stonestreet and Shane Morris for “BreakPoint”
- “Journalist Enters The World Of QAnon: ‘It’s Almost Like A Bad Spy Novel’” by Dave Davies with Adrienne LaFrance for “Fresh Air”
- “The Prophecies of Q,” by Adrienne LaFrance for The Atlantic
- “Is QAnon the new Christian right? With evangelicals fading, a new insanity rises,” by Amanda Marcotte for Salon
- “How Conspiracy Theories Are Shaping the 2020 Election—and Shaking the Foundation of American Democracy,” by Charlotte Alter for Time