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Sign of the times

The apocalyptic internet movement QAnon is gaining followers by the thousands, and churches are slow to respond


A May 4 “Liberty Rally” in Massachusetts calling for the end of the state-wide stay-at-home advisory and the reopening of the economy. Mark Peterson/Redux

Sign of the times
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KELLY WOLFE had been dating her boyfriend since January, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that she found out he was deep into QAnon. The apocalyptic internet movement’s central tenet is that a secret Satanic cabal is running the world and using sex trafficking and other nefarious activities to preserve its power.

Wolfe’s boyfriend started talking to her about how 5G networks caused the coronavirus and how suspicious it was that Tom Hanks became a Greek citizen recently (QAnon followers allege he and many other celebrities are pedophiles). Wolfe sent him an article from the Gospel Coalition that states how harmful slander and gossip from QAnon is to the church. He broke up with her.

More recently, she watched a Christian friend of hers dive deep into QAnon on social media over the course of a few weeks: The friend started by posting concerns about child trafficking (World Day Against Trafficking was back in July), then other friends responded by sending her posts and videos about QAnon. Before long she was posting more and more about Q and the “cabal” running the world: “She is almost militant about it now,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe and her boyfriend eventually reconciled and started dating again, and they have agreed to conversation boundaries about QAnon. But Wolfe is at a loss in knowing how to respond to such theories, and she knows of no Christian resources for it. She is not the only one.

In the pandemic lockdown, QAnon accounts exploded in popularity as people spent more time online. Many Christians have sunk so deeply into Q that it fills a lot of their conversations and most of their time online. Cult expert Steve Hassan said he is swamped with thousands of emails from family members concerned about their loved ones who are suddenly deep into QAnon.

Family members and friends of QAnon followers know and love them: They know what the backstory is that caused them to distrust the medical, political, or media establishments, and they understand why QAnon is appealing. People I interviewed, like Kelly Wolfe, wanted to make sure their loved ones were portrayed with compassion and respect.

But they don’t know how to respond when someone slides off the plane of reality and then begins actively recruiting others into the movement or spreading misinformation online. And the church hasn’t provided any help.

Churches, pastors, and denominational groups I talked to had no resources or system for approaching this. Church elders might pull someone aside to talk about spreading misinformation online, but otherwise family members I talked to grasped for a few Christian articles or podcasts online that they could send to their relatives who are suddenly into Q.

“I used to appeal to sources, but the entire point is that he doesn’t believe the sources,” Wolfe said. So she has started trying to explore what “the thing under the thing” is that motivates his interest in QAnon: “Are you hating injustice or elitism?” Another idea she has is that he might find human suffering to be difficult to understand in the face of God’s sovereignty, so he “needs to assign a bigger, demonic dark force behind it.”

QAnon followers on one level can be people who are simply suspicious that the system is rigged in favor of elites or that the media isn’t reliable so they have to find their own information. But as they go deeper, Q followers spread conspiracy theories, such as that John F. Kennedy Jr. is still alive or that Mother Teresa was a child trafficker and Dr. Anthony Fauci is her son. Online posts of such false allegations often rest on the ubiquitous Q defense to “do your own research.”

The movement’s prophecies come from an anonymous account, Q, presumed to be someone high up in U.S. military intelligence who posts cryptic messages called “Q drops.” Q posts not just about military intelligence but also writes about rampant Satanism among celebrities and the “bloodletting of children” while quoting from the book of Revelation. Q and his followers emphasize symbolism, noticing for example when 17 boxes were sitting behind President Donald Trump in a particular press conference (Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet).

Followers who consider themselves “digital soldiers” for the QAnon cause take the Q oath, a standard oath to defend the U.S. Constitution with the concluding line added from Q himself, “Where we go one, we go all.” Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, recently posted a video of himself taking the Q oath. Followers take from the online world of Q what they want—some focus more on the military aspect of it, others the trafficking aspect—but the algorithms of social media amplify and reward the most radical posts.

SANDY STAAB IS A CHRISTIAN who lives on a ranch in north central Idaho. He watches QAnon YouTube channels like PrayingMedic, a big QAnon-evangelizing channel, and blogs about some of the ideas himself. While Staab says he doesn’t fully buy into QAnon, he tracks with its main ideas.

Staab was a University of California, Berkeley, graduate and a developer for Microsoft and in 1999 moved his family to Idaho to ride out Y2K on a ranch with its own power grid. Because of personal experiences, he has long distrusted the medical, political, and media establishments: In college a television reporter took a quote of his out of context to make him look bad, he’s seen corruption in both parties, and he felt doctors ignored alternative medicines that might have saved his mom when she died of lung cancer in the 1980s. Some parts of QAnon fit into his preexisting ideas about the world.

“His [Q’s] predictions of future events, though encoded, seem incredibly insightful,” said Staab. The QAnon movement has given him “hope and encouragement that there may actually be an alliance of patriots out there that are on our side” to stop the trend toward a totalitarian “world government.” Staab said the things he thinks are most important for society are to “tell the truth and keep your promises.”

Staab is part of an evangelical church in Idaho, but he thinks back fondly to a previous church he was part of locally that was like “the first-century church.” He explained why he’s not still there: “Y2K was the common point we all held, and it held us together till it didn’t happen.”

His 30-year-old son Jonathan Staab, a Christian who also lives in Idaho with his family, recalled that they grew up reading books like Left Behind and that his dad often reads the Apocrypha and Jewish apocalyptic literature. His dad believes the coronavirus pandemic was orchestrated by governments, Bill Gates, and others to control people. In fact, Q’s lack of posts about the coronavirus being part of a larger plan makes Sandy wonder whether Q might be “another distraction.” Jonathan’s mom—his parents are divorced now—has also been buying into QAnon more and more, and recently sent him an article about nanobots in vaccines.

Jonathan has many years of experience listening to and in some cases agreeing with his dad’s theories about the world, but they’ve had conflicts on such topics: One recent Easter he had to ask his dad to leave in the middle of an Easter egg hunt, and they didn’t speak for several months. They later reconciled, and Jonathan told him he disagreed with him but loved him.

“Just treating them like a person, someone you love, is the most important thing you can do,” he said. “If you dig down and listen hard enough, there’s something there. … Every lie has some sort of truth built into it.”

Every lie has some sort of truth built into it.

He added that he didn’t know of any resources for anyone in a similar familial conflict. What he’s found in his experience is that his dad often covers his true fears and insecurities under the discussion about such ideas and a never-ending search for truth. His dad’s marriage is over, he’s facing charges over burning brush out of season, and he’s in financial difficulty. Sandy says he has lost money because of con artists; his son says he’s too trusting so he gets into bad business relationships.

“He wants to argue with me about 5G. … I’ll say, ‘I want to talk about you,’” said Jonathan. “‘How are the cows on your property? How is your renter? Are you reading the Bible? I like it when you are around my kids because you’re a good grandpa.’”

REV. BOB AND JUDY PARDON are some of the few Christian specialists nationally who do interventions and rehabilitation for people coming out of isolated, authoritarian groups that twist the Bible to their particular purposes. When law enforcement officers or family members need help with interventions for those in certain destructive groups, they call the Pardons.

Last year when I visited them at their recovery home, they told me that these splinter groups were proliferating across the country, but the groups were so small that no one had really noticed it. Many of these groups withdraw from the wider community, medical care, or the financial system—but as they told me at the time, nobody notices “until someone dies or there’s child abuse or a kidnapping.” Quoting cult expert Jan Karel Van Baalen, Pardon has called such groups “the unpaid bills of the church.”

Right now the Pardons have a man staying at their Massachusetts recovery facility, MeadowHaven, who was raised in a controlling Christian cult. The man is also deeply into QAnon and believes Q followers are working to root out the “deep state.”

“This is not some kind of toothless individual from the backwoods who has no experience with the world,” said Pardon, who added the man is “highly educated.” However, he also believes in the theory about a government-funded research program (HAARP) controlling the weather and in the possibility of time travel.

When Pardon asked him about Q’s prophecies that haven’t come true—such as that Hillary Clinton’s arrest was imminent after Trump’s election—the man says Q gives misinformation to throw off “blackhats,” the agents of the deep state. “All very convenient,” said Pardon.

In QAnon, Pardon sees trademark “cult thinking,” where everything is black and white, good versus evil, but he wouldn’t call QAnon a cult because it doesn’t have the authoritarian structure he usually sees in his work. He thinks of it more as a movement that is “a sign of the times,” that people feel there is no solid place to stand.

“Whenever you have these kind of social upheavals, this stuff tends to rise to the surface,” said Pardon. He recalled that the 1970s saw an explosion of cults. “I myself do think there are powers of evil that are beyond what we see with our five senses ... but on this plane of reality that we live in, it’s not always [black and white]. There are gray areas we can’t discern. We’re sinners.”

The Pardons have faced the deep darkness of cults: the Satanists, the child abusers, the murderers—all the types of destructive behavior that QAnon followers see themselves as fighting. What they’ve also seen over and over is the healing process, where people can begin to distinguish “what’s reality and what’s not,” Pardon said, as they slowly disengage from the cult community and reengage with their immediate relationships and the wider world.

For regular churches, he suggests bringing this up in adult education classes or Bible studies, where other current-event subjects might come up that don’t get to the pulpit. And he thinks pastors should address parishioners personally who are sharing slander.

Cult expert Steve Hassan, who sometimes works with the Pardons on interventions, recently did a session with a husband whose wife had gone deep into QAnon. He told them to start marriage counseling, and then asked the wife not to go on her Facebook groups for the time that they were working through it. She agreed.

For the man recovering at MeadowHaven, Pardon said, “If he gets more in touch with a healthier experience of his Christian beliefs, some of this will drop away. Not intentionally, but unintentionally, because his trust will be more in God being in control of all things. If you’re looking at this Biblically, we are to be on the alert [about apocalyptic things], but not to be so obsessed and focused that you’re forgetting everything else.”

Sowing seeds

Christian social media influencers are often spreading QAnon theories to their hundreds of thousands of followers

by Emily Belz

At the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City, I got an email: Would I report on whether the field hospital that Samaritan’s Purse had set up in Central Park was actually treating patients?

A Christian Instagram influencer with 110,000 followers, @roseuncharted, had circulated the idea that the hospital tents were placed over tunnels under Central Park and the organization was using the tents as a cover to free children from sex slavery through the tunnels. “Rose” is a follower of QAnon and spreads many QAnon theories between posts of her children and her beauty products.

I watched the construction of the tents, and I watched sick patients go in and out of the tents. I know some of the doctors who treated patients there. There was no evidence to support this theory, and QAnon accounts could only point to the fact that New York City does have a lot of tunnels. Samaritan’s Purse even had to refute the theory publicly.

“It’s hard; all they’re doing is saying, ‘This is suspicious,’” said Daniel Derrick, whose wife followed Rose, which led to an argument between the couple about the Samaritan’s Purse theory. “You can say it might be baseless, but it’s really hard to fact-check something like Jeffrey Epstein dying.”

QAnon began in 2017, but it has exploded during the pandemic as people are home and spending more time online. Influencers of all stripes promote Q theories—granola moms worried about vaccines and Trump supporters worried about liberal Hollywood. But many of the big accounts make their Christian identity central to their branding.

Several Christian social media influencers spread Q theories in between posts about cute Lululemon shorts or interior design tips. Some also sell QAnon merchandise and offer followers links to their personal Venmo accounts to send donations.

One of the primary QAnon promulgators online is David Hayes, under the YouTube account PrayingMedic (376,000 followers), a Christian who thinks the QAnon movement will help lead to “spiritual revival.” His YouTube channel description is “a virtual classroom on the kingdom of God.” He declined an interview, saying, “I have not found any media outlets willing to write an honest story about Q.”

The Instagram account @little.miss.patriot, which promotes Q theories, started at the end of June and already has 257,000 followers. The account’s biography reads, “Christ follower, truth seeker, digital soldier,” and it shares Q theories such as that Obama adviser John Podesta sexually abused Justin Bieber, that Taylor Swift is a Satanist, or that the furniture company Wayfair is secretly selling children under listings for furniture.

Influencer Instagram accounts pushing Q often start by talking about the evil of sex trafficking. Hillary Cripps, a Christian Instagram influencer with about 62,000 followers, posts Q theories on her stories in between videos of her stylishly dressed children or photos of her redesigned dining room. Cripps declined an interview. Cripps has also used her account to raise money for anti-trafficking organization Bochy’s Place.

Marie Duncan has watched her Christian friends post QAnon material about trafficking on their social media accounts recently, and she wondered why there was suddenly an interest in trafficking this summer, when so much else is going on in the country. She said she approached her friends about it, and they’ve had respectful conversations.

“I somewhat believe their hearts are in the right place,” said Duncan. “The timing of it all seems weird. Trafficking was an issue prior to COVID and the recent racial injustice movements. It seems to be a ‘safe’ issue Christians can rally behind without resulting in any pushback or uncomfortable conversations.”

Anti-trafficking organizations have had to subtly distance themselves from QAnon’s social media drives, as its followers have taken over generic hashtags like #savethechildren. Polaris, which runs the national anti-trafficking hotline, and Save the Children, a humanitarian organization, have both had to issue statements distancing themselves from QAnon. Polaris wrote, “A barrage of conspiracy-related reports from people with no direct knowledge of trafficking situations can overwhelm services meant for victims.”

Meanwhile some groups have raised funds from QAnon supporters through social media drives. Tim Ballard, the founder of the anti-trafficking group Operation Underground Railroad, told The New York Times it was an opportunity: “Some of these theories have allowed people to open their eyes. … So now it’s our job to flood the space with real information so the facts can be shared.”

Christian Instagram influencers promoting Q are mostly women. Rebecca Pfeiffer or @Luvbec, has 119,000 followers and promotes Q videos, with a bio reading, “Believer, Truth Seeker, WWG1WGA.” The Q phrase, “Where we go one, we go all,” is used at the end of the Q Oath.

She posts about QAnon theories in between posts of showing off designer handbags and talking about homeschooling. In one, she is wearing a bikini and wearing a Q hat and writes: “Prayer is SO powerful, y’all! Have you put it into action lately?? Try. And watch Him move grace and holiness through your life like never before. #wwg1wga GOD WINS!” Pfeiffer then has a commissioned link so followers can buy her bikini. “God wins” is another phrase from Q himself.

When Pfeiffer first began posting about QAnon at the beginning of the pandemic, one of her followers happily replied, “My fav beauty blogger … coming out of the QAnon closet so to speak.”

Some influencers are also merchandising the movement. Little Miss Patriot lists her personal Venmo for followers to send her money and has a “shop” selling QAnon merchandise like jewelry and T-shirts. Other Christians who run businesses on Instagram make QAnon merchandise and get promotions from Q accounts. The jewelry maker @Wiredforfreedom (bio: “Kingdom Influencer”) posts Bible verses and videos of herself singing worship songs. Recently, she said she was “honored to be collabing with @little.miss.patriot” in producing a 14k gold Q necklace for sale.

This whole ecosystem might be changing as social media giants like Facebook and Twitter remove more QAnon accounts for violating their guidelines. Google is even filtering out QAnon accounts and websites from its searches. As a result QAnon accounts are pushing their followers to alternate platforms, like Parler, and search engines, like Ecosia. So far YouTube has kept QAnon videos up but placed a Wikipedia entry about QAnon above the title to give viewers context. The censorship of QAnon content plays into its followers’ belief that there is a conspiracy to suppress QAnon.


Emily Belz

Emily is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously reported for the The New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City.

@emlybelz

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Soapbxn

My sister and her husband are deeply steeped in QAnon.  A couple years ago I spent time reading the posts, trying to understand what they were seeing,  and found it to be so lacking and essentially false prophecy. The posts are virtually nonsensical.  I believe it to be another false God, 'answers' sought by those desperately wanting to find answers and solutions now, not necessarily in Gods timing.  My family are conservatives but not Christians.  It is tragic as what I see is the confusion and distress over horrific world events but without the understanding of Gods providence and grace.  Whomever 'Q' is, I would say likely someone(s) in the same boat of delusionment over current events but without faith or trust in Gods sovereignty and possibly even  with intent to lead others astray. 'Q' is essentially identifying evil and corruption, but not from a Biblical lense and the 'answers' or 'predictions' are faulty and not consistent. 

NTI0917

Emily Belz wrote: "...They [Q critics] don’t know how to respond when someone slides off the plane of reality and then begins actively recruiting others into the movement or spreading misinformation online."  "Spreading misinformation"? "Slides off the plain of reality"? Really? Seriously? You sound just like the mainstream media. Clearly you haven't asked yourselves why, if Q (it's simply "Q," not "Qanon," by the way)  is/was a LARP, or lies, or a psy-op meant to mislead people -- why the mainstream media has been SO obsessed with dissing it? Why would they, or should they, care? They've written dozens and dozens of articles about it, with each round of stories appearing simultaneously in multiple publications. The fact that Gen. Flynn -- with his integrity, and vast background in military intelligence -- supported Q should have spoken loudly to you, but you drew no lesson from that. It was pretty clear that Trump himself was involved. But you didn't take note of that either. It might have helped your understanding if you had seriously interviewed a few of the people who best knew/know what's going on re: Q, and found out why they're convinced it was a very real military intelligence operation. I'm a new subscriber to World. I hope that the rest of the stuff I read here is of better quality and more substance than this story.   

DSH3284

Sharon, so wise and good! I've actually been thinking about this comment for several months! I read it first back in September and it has rung through my mind repeatedly as I've encountered Christians consumed with fear and conspiracy. I pray that your words are heeded by those you encounter. God bless you and may Sharon Gambles be multiplied throughout the church!

PAMom

Thank you, Rebecca I, for stating exactly how I feel about this article. It was obvious that Emily started with her own premise and didn't give any actual Q posts. I have been VERY disappointed that WORLD constantly gives links to AP and other MSM outlets.

HANNAH.

World addresses posts that point out spelling or grammatical errors in an article -- and has on occasion changed or updated an article (or headline) when someone points out a factual error or omission. In this case ... perhaps the jury's still out.

not silent

You are obviously entitled to your opinion, but the fact that there were 27 comments on this article before I posted mine suggests that there are quite a few World readers who view it as important.  Even you obviously felt it was important enough to post a comment.

revduke

With all kinds of real news to cover, I am shocked that you gave so much space to trifiling  nonsense. What's next, Goat Yogurt and Yoga? The story from Lebanon was real news... with relevance. Please keep doing more of that, and less of this.

phillipW

After reading this article I'm still not sure what Qanon is.  But I will say that anything that takes up more of your time than God in your life is what you worship or idolize, which violates the Ten Commandments.  Take that information any way you choose.

BFRA3599

Imagine the traction the Kennedy assassination conspiracy of the 60s and the "Illuminati" of the 70s would get if the Internet was in place during those times. We humans seem to have a propensity to assign dark cultural happenings to a small single group. During the apostle Paul's time it was the Gnostics who had the secret higher knowledge and he strove against this idea when he said in 1Co 1:23, "but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles." A conspiracy isn't needed to explain what is happening in our culture. The world, the flesh, and the devil have been our enemies from the beginning and the Truth of the Word of God, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation and prayer are our tools to fight them (Eph. 5:10-18). Thanks for the article. 

not silent

I can't helping thinking of the difference between acknowledging that something "makes sense" and doing due diligence to find out if it's actually true. When Galileo was alive, it made sense to many people that the sun revolved around the earth; but that didn't make it true.  For most doctors in the early 1800's, it made sense that disease was caused by "bad air" (after all, people who lived near swampy areas got sick!); but that didn't make it true.

It's human nature to accept things more readily when they go along with other beliefs one already has, as in the examples above. Some call that "confirmation bias."

It's also human nature to make things seem "all-or-nothing."  But life is full of grey areas.  A person can be right about SOME things but wrong about others-in fact, I suspect that's true for ALL of us. 

It's one thing to be willing to listen to other viewpoints; but, as Christians, we are called to use discernment. I pray that God starts with me.  

Mister_K

Note that in this article WORLD seems to echo only the “weird” stuff (like sex trafficking, pedophilia, Satanists and their agendas at work in our country) that the mainstream media uses in its portrayal of QAnon and followers (and references a number of examples that Q has not addressed in any posts), but yet not mention any of the other subjects that Q posts. Topics such as the house-cleaning that Trump’s administration is conducting right before our very eyes in agencies such as the FBI/DOJ (think numerous career officials resigned/fired/forced/cooperating witnesses in ongoing investigations), FISA abuse and the continual declassification of material that points the laser at the highest levels of the Obama administration, multiple ongoing investigations by federal prosecutors such as John Durham/John Huber, a record number of sealed indictments in the federal court docket system with no publicly-provided reason, etc. Not to mention the numerous “Q proofs” that are used by QAnon followers as validation of Q’s authenticity, such as zero-delta posts against Trump’s Twitter timeline or uncannily-accurate references to classified material or events that did come to light into the public domain until days/weeks/months later. Or mention any of the several times Q has posted “Trust God” or “Think for yourself/research for yourself/trust yourself” when portraying the Q following as cult-like following. I would appreciate for once an article on QAnon that honestly tries to address even one of the subjects Q has posted extensively on instead of charging out the gate with the “don’t touch this because it’s weird/conspiracy” and continue on to tell us readers why we should stay away from QAnon. This article does a disservice to many of the individuals who are interested in Q and casts them in a broadly-negative light.

OldMike

Thank you, Emily Belz, for your article on QAnon, and thanks to all who commented.

Based on both the article and the comments, I've decided it's safe for me to ignore QAnon from here on out.  It's always nice to be able to determine that something is wacko enough that I don't need to waste time on it.  ;-)

 

Salty1

World quickly dismisses QAnon without critical thought. Is some of there information pure nuts? It appears that way to me if World covered it accurately.

 

“The apocalyptic internet movement’s central tenet is that a secret Satanic cabal is running the world and using sex trafficking and other nefarious activities to preserve its power.”

 

This sounds like a John Bircher Society 02 version with their secret societies running the world.  I wouldn’t give any credence to these stories given the  few number of people who have enough power to actually carry this out. Have there been groups that have tried to carry this out before in history? Yes. Is there groups today that attempt this? Yes. But is there this group of people that treat the world leaders as puppets controlling there every little move? I doubt it, but I don’t deny there are powerful forces attempting such activity. From a spiritual perspective, Satan is the ultimate force behind all the evil in the world which God will take out at the second coming. This is not to say that there are evil people who push their evil without the influence of Satan - they are captives for evil. 

 

But is everything that the QAnon say just bogus made up stories? How about the attempted coup by the Obama administration and the “deep state”? Having followed this very carefully and knowing the individuals (from the media and interviews given), I would say these are accurate in many ways. The people doing the research were NOT QAnon followers.  They are experts in their fields who gathered the evidence, wrote books and spoke out in the media such as Fox News. I have provided many links over the last few years from sources NOT affiliated with QAnon but providing clear evidence of wrongdoing by many Obama officials and government workers. Even World had an article on the “pay to play” scheme that Hillary Clinton had going where she used the State Department so that individuals or countries who paid donations to the Clinton Foundation would be put to the head of the line, oftentimes resulting in a favorable outcome for their requests. The notion that this wrongdoing was just a made up conspiracy theory is grossly in error! The abuse of the FISA Warrants was another area of gross abuse.  This abuse is well documented and many should have been indicted but nearly all were not - except for the one recent one. 

 

The impeachment of Trump was another case where individuals in the “deep state” used their voice in an attempt to remove the president. Let me be clear here where the QAnon “deep state” seems to be different than the definition of those doing the research on it say. There are people in the government who hate President Trump and are all too willing to use their positions to hurt the president politically. Many of these people have connections in the media, in the Democratic Party, and internally with other government workers. This loose network work together to discredit the president, set up traps for the president, attempt to sabotage the president’s agenda, attempt to mislead the president’s officials (e.g. Sessions), and attempt to push leftist agendas in the government. The QAnon type seem to propagate a much more organized and directed “deep state”.

 

I think World has to be careful about labeling the QAnon followers as a cult since this has definite spiritual connotations as a false gospel.  They aren’t bringing another gospel but just a political viewpoint that many disagree with - like myself- but that doesn’t make them a cult. There may be individuals who take it to an excess but then again people take many different things to an excess and we don’t necessarily call their activity a cult. 

 

Emily shows herself to be grossly naive to suggest that the IT companies such as Facebook, Google, or others should be allowed to censor the QAnon information or people.  I find this outrageous, dangerous, and troublesome since World should be a magazine protecting the Christian cause and not allowing the conservative voice to be censored - a voice that fights for many of our Christian ideals: pro-life, Christian liberty, individual liberty, Family values, etc.. The idea of giving the IT companies the power to control the political voices is so dangerous that it should alarm Christians since many of these companies would be glad to destroy the Christian voice given their radical atheistic viewpoint. 

 

Another concern I have is who is behind the QAnon agenda. Is it a foreign government such as China? In the world of disinformation, one tactic is to take your enemies legitimate arguments and wrap them with very clear deceptions to discredit their arguments. For example, China would want to discredit the idea that the 5G network is compromised since China has designed it with back door methods to monitor and collect the data. If they can create the impression that this is a conspiracy theory by sub planting the original concern with a straw man one, then they can win the propaganda war. The straw man argument is that the 5G network caused the coronavirus. Creating confusion on what is the concern about the 5G network is effective.

 

Another angle on this is that the “deep state” actors who feel the heat of the investigation are the ones behind it attempting to discredit the legitimate concern of the corruption in government and the attempted coup of the president. There are a bunch in the Intelligence communities and State Department that would be well qualified to take on this disinformation campaign. 

 

Or all this could be the John Birch Society type wrapping up the legitimate concerns with their more radical concerns. If this is the case there is no disinformation campaign.  Here at the end I am only speculating but one would have to gather much more evidence to prove this in any of the directions that I pointed out. 

 

World Magazine needs to be careful in their reporting on this topic because there are legitimate concerns such as the attempted coup on President Trump, the corrupt government officials (called the deep state), Hillary Clintons corruption with the Clinton Foundation and some others which need to be taken seriously. Labeling QAnon a cult is also unfair because it is just a political ideology which may be misguided but isn’t a spiritual cult bringing a false gospel with all the trappings of a cult. An interesting story would be on who is behind the QAnon phenomena.

GWI0642

No conspiracy theories for me!  But, is it more than coincidental that the most well-known third party presidential candidates in recent history -- Ross Perot and Ron Paul -- both have the initials RP?  And what letter comes between R and P?  Do your research!  And did you notice that if you add up the number of letters in both of their names (of course you need to use the most common name for Perot, who usually was known as H Ross Perot), you get the number 17?  Which is the number of ...?  Do your research!

CherylQuilts

Emily, thank you for an excellent article! I have heard about QAnon and never understood what it is about. This is so helpful, and I truly appreciate the details and am thankful that God is always in control. I agree that we must continue to spend more time in God's Word. Blessings to you!

nevertheless

Some Christians believe it is their calling to understand and effect change in the political sphere. I think the obsessors (in this case) should be taught that their calling is elsewhere, and then be helped by the church to find it. Maybe a little leading by example wouldn't go amiss.

not silent

In scary times like these, it's very tempting to grasp onto something that promises knowledge (particularly if it is presented as "special" knowledge or "insider info"), a way into a group that claims to have the solution (even if it's a simplistic one), and power. It's not wrong to want knowledge, solutions, and the power to make changes, of course; but, as Christians, we must bring things into the light of God's Word, we must listen to wise council, and we must seek God earnestly in prayer. 

Years ago, I found that certain brothers and sisters in the Lord seemed to be willing to pass along info that was untrue but fit their political views or other views (i.e., about science, medicine, etc).  I am skeptical by nature, so I researched some of it; but, even when I pointed out that the info was false, they never retracted it.  Instead, they cut me out of their contact list.  If I asked questions about something, people would say, "You never believe ANYTHING!"  

Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."  He also said, "I have come into the world-to bear witness to the truth."  Jesus said of Satan, "he is a liar and the father of lies."  Satan's most powerful lies are mixed with truth.

I am human and can be deceived like anyone else, and we must all be very cautious and discerning-particularly with all the info we have now.  Social media has great potential for good (i.e, to spread the gospel), but it also has great potential for harm.

Deb O

Unfortunately my husband believed some of this garbage before I researched and showed him the lies. We moved for Y2K as well back in the day, so I think there's a theme here. I'm tired and sad that so many are so willing and susceptible to some charlatan puppetmaster hiding behind a facade of stubble that will be burned up along with everything else in the world. May God have mercy on the people who fall for this ignorant and arrogant deception.

Allen Johnson

One of my longest and best committed Christian friends is caught up in QAnon. No dialogue possible, he just says I'm not doing the research. Yes, my research finds Satanic deceptions and lies at the root, seducing people who are confused and frightened about the complex and rapidly changing world we live in. The ancient heresy of gnosticism involved secret, hidden keys to knowledge that the initiated elect would be able to unravel. QAnon that infiltrates the Church is a heresy to be soundly denounced and fought against with Truth.

Steve SoCal

Thanks for this article.  I have heard plenty of these ideas from people, and the term QAnon, but didn't know the coordinated aspect of it.  In this sinful world that is shaking in so many ways, it's understandable that people are searching for some overarching explanation for the hard things they are seeing.  Hopefully, many Christians who tend to get sucked too easily into apocolyptic theories can be encouraged to re-focus on the firm foundation of Christ and His written word.  There is more than enough stability and explanation of all that we're seeing to be found there.  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment." (II Tim 1:7 CSB)

My Two Cents

I'm wondering if or how QAnon and Trump supporters are connected. (I'm only referring to the posted picture.) Nothing in the article mentioned the "cult following" of the MAGA gang. I have only briefly wondered what QAnon was all about, and appreciated this article explaining a few things. In my research, I found that one belief of QAnon was that Trump was going to expose this child sex trafficking ring.

As for why the church hasn't done anything, I'm not sure they need to address this specifically. 1 John 4 gives that task to the believer. "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." Holding current events up to the light of scripture, allows believers to discern good from evil, truth from error, and light from darkness. Let preachers preach the Word of God.

 

 

Sharon Gamble

FINALLY. I have been waiting and watching for WORLD's take on QAnon. I have waaay too many dear friends who have "dived deep" into this and it is so distressing for me. My challenge to all of them would be: For every minute you read something there ... spend at least 2 minutes reading the Bible. I fear QAnon has become favorite reading for many and the Bible a distant second, or only read through the lens of this group.