He decided to dig into the topic after hearing from dozens of pastors asking for advice on how to stop its growing influence in their communities, he told me. “Although this movement is still fringe, it is likely that someone in your church or social-media circles has either already bought into the conspiracy or thinks it’s plausible and worth exploring,” Carter wrote. “I can see people I care about, respect, are great, are just super-susceptible to this thing,” said a youth pastor who declined to be named in this piece for fear of retaliation from QAnon believers but has been raising the alarm at his conservative-leaning Lutheran church. “If we can get ahead of this, we might be able to do some damage control before it metastasizes.
But Jason Thacker, chair of research in technology ethics at the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says Christian followers of QAnon are wrong about what side it’s on. “QAnon is not about sex trafficking,” he says, but “taking advantage of gospel conventions and manipulating them for purposes of power. “It’s wrong. It’s evil,” he says. “The reason—Christians of all people should be the first to stand up and fight against these things—is that it’s not true. “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
This environment might not always seem hospitable to religion: on 4chan, for example, those who adhere to Christian traditions too earnestly are called “biblefags. ” But Q invoked God early, says Brian Friedberg, a senior researcher at the Harvard Shorenstein Center’s Technology and Social Change project, who has studied QAnon since almost the very beginning. “QAnon community construction, from the start, has emphasized a traditionalist American morality that is closely aligned with popular Christianity,” he says. “Q himself posts in a style that both invokes evangelical talking points and encourages deep scriptural research.
QAnon followers will often repeat a commandment they learned from Q: that in the presence of doubt, you should “do your own research. ” And that impulse will feel especially familiar to evangelicals, says William Partin, a research analyst at Data & Society’s Disinformation Action Lab, who has been studying QAnon. “The kind of literacy that’s implied here—close reading and discussion of texts that are accepted as authoritative—has quite a bit in common with how evangelicals learn to read and interpret the Bible,” he says.
But they knew they agreed with what they were hearing—that liberals were evil, and that Trump was going to stop them—and they found that good enough reason to share QAnon’s ideas on their own social feeds, helping them spread. “These are not the people who were spending time on 4chan or 8chan four years ago,” Howerton says. “They’re getting their info from other Facebook posts.
QAnon is manipulating evangelicals to spread its conspiracy theories. https://t.co/tWAAAZvMMk— MIT Technology Review (@techreview) September 8, 2020