What we need to know about this conspiracy theory
Most likely you’ve seen media headlines mentioning Q and QAnon. The subject got a huge bump in August when U.S. President Donald Trump gave an appreciative nod to the group. There’s no evidence Trump really knows much about Q or QAnon beyond his acknowledgement that it’s a growing movement that supports him.
QAnon is a huge conspiracy theory that began Oct. 28, 2017 and is linked to a figure known as Q. Most of this person’s followers are anonymous (hence QAnon), and they believe Q is a high military figure who works in tandem with Trump to help fight the "Deep State" and the evil cabal they believe runs the world – think of the Saudi royal family, the Rothschilds and George Soros, the superwealthy Hungarian-American.
Since all this centres around U.S. politics and Trump, why should Christians in Canada and other countries care? First, because millions of Christians in the U.S. and elsewhere have adopted QAnon teachings. Second, belief in Q is tearing families and churches apart. And third, key elements in the Q paradigm are false and dangerous, based on a huge internet scam, one fuelled by clever manipulation, all baptized in dizzying patriotic and Christian themes. Who would not want to join the fight against this evil cabal and help set the stage for the return of Jesus?
While the QAnon belief system is a fiasco, parts of Q’s teachings are true and important. For example, QAnon teachers are rightly worried about losses of freedom for conservatives Christian and otherwise. This is partly why the likes of Billy Joyce of the People’s Party of Canada have embraced QAnon. Q also makes some credible complaints about the biased slant of major media. Likewise, QAnon disciples are right to be concerned about child sex trafficking, though QAnon teachers go off the deep end on the topic and hurt real rescue of children.
Despite the minimal positives my view on Q and QAnon is this – avoid at all costs. Why?
First, the setting for Q’s teachings gives an indication of the moral and spiritual peril ahead. Q has always issued his drops (or posts) on the worst platforms on the Internet. These internet locales (4chan, 8chan and 8kun, based in the Philippines and run by American father and son Jim and Ron Watkins) are also where you get vile racist language, hardcore pornography and other offensive realities on the same pages where Q delivers his missives. Granted, QAnon teachers quite quickly learned to build other platforms to pass on Q teaching, but the ground base site remains 8kun, probably because either Jim Watkins (a devotee of Trump) is now Q (yes, there may be more than one Q) or Q is tied somehow to the Watkins’ enterprise.
Second, large swaths of Q’s teachings and those of QAnon evangelists have turned out to be false or so wild as to be unbelievable. For example, the second Q post (Oct. 29, 2017) and other early ones predicted Hillary Clinton would be arrested soon. Did not happen.
For a while QAnons believed the Mueller investigation on Russian collusion was actually run by Trump as a false flag to cover the ongoing investigation of Hillary Clinton and other members of the cabal.
Going even further, some QAnon teachers push the view that JFK Jr. is still alive and will emerge from hiding to work with Trump. If this is not sample enough to earn some doubts, various QAnoners argue George Floyd is still alive, U.S. senator John McCain was executed for treason and the Wayfair company uses its furniture boxes to transport kidnapped children to pedophile customers.
Third, the Q paradigm has led some followers to embrace outright hate and crime. There have been repeated calls in Facebook accounts linked to QAnon for the execution of Hillary Clinton and Soros. On the Canadian QAnon front, Justin Trudeau has been accused of links with an international sex ring.
More tragically belief in the QAnon paradigm has led a few individuals to engage in assault, kidnapping and murder. Look up the incidents involving, for example, Jessica Prim, Anthony Comello and Scott Gudmundsen. It brings to mind the adage from Voltaire – "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."
QAnon is now so popular it is being viewed by some scholars as a burgeoning new religion or cult. As a political ideology Q and QAnon are here to stay, even if Trump loses on Nov. 3. Q’s views are spread as far as Australia, and there is also an enormous market for Q merchandise (JFK Jr. sweaters emblazoned with Q, for example). My last column was titled "Believers beware." We can now add "Buyers beware."
James A. Beverley of Moncton, N.B., is research professor at Tyndale University. His latest book is The QAnon Deception (Equal Time, 2020). Read more of his columns at www.FaithToday.ca/ReligionWatch.