Evangelical Christian theologian Russell Moore has warned that QAnon’s conspiracy theory has “all the hallmarks of a cult,” as a poll has shown that evangelical Christians are particularly likely to believe baseless claims of the conspiracy.
Followers of QAnon believe that the United States and its institutions are largely controlled by a satanic cult of Democratic politicians and Hollywood elites who traffick children for sexual purposes and ritual sacrifice. They also believe that former President Donald Trump somehow fought this Satan-worshiping group during his tenure in the White House. Recent polls have shown that evangelical Christians, and in particular white evangelicals, are more likely to believe in conspiracy theory.
Moore, who is a public theologian and director of the Public Theology Project at Christianity today, told Axios that QAnon “takes on all the hallmarks of a cult, from authoritarian gurus … to predictions that don’t come true.”
QAnon supporters have made multiple predictions about Trump’s return to power, believing he would succeed in reversing President Joe Biden’s election victory. When those dates have not passed, believers tend to simply move the goal post and pick new dates.
The theologian explained to Axios that he “speaks literally every day to pastors, of virtually every denomination, who are exhausted by these theories blowing in their churches or communities.” Moore said that “several pastors have told me that they once had to speak to dismayed parents about the unchristian beliefs of their adult children,” but now the situation is reversed.
A poll released last week by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 15% of Americans believe that “the government, media and financial world in the United States are controlled by a group of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who run a global operation child sex trafficking ”. Belief was even higher among white evangelicals and Hispanic Protestants. In both demographic groups, about a quarter said they agreed with QAnon’s beliefs.
Conservative evangelical Christians – and especially white evangelicals – have long been closely associated with the Republican Party. This was especially true with Trump, as evangelicals were politically animated by their opposition to women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and protections for the transgender community.
In 2016 and again in 2020, exit polls showed that about eight in 10 white evangelicals voted for Trump. Polls have suggested that the religious community is also more likely than others to believe Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” by Biden and the Democrats.
“This is not just a problem for religious communities, of course,” Kristin Du Mez, Calvin University professor of history, gender, faith and politics told Axios. “It is deeply troubling in terms of the health of our democracy.”
Newsweek contacted Moore for further comment, but did not immediately receive a response.