its time to address the QAnon’ers

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QAnon has been making headlines in recent weeks. It’s going to make more.

QAnon is, among many things, an expansive conspiracy theory built around the idea that a “deep state,” or cabal of elite leftists, is clandestinely working against President Donald Trump. A person (or small group) known as “Q” drops revelations in various forms online. At the core of the appeal is its ability to generate fear. Suggesting that there is a powerful figure or group subverting the country and empowering all manner of evil is frightening.

Some of the headlines about QAnon in recent days have connected it with evangelical Christians. In addition, many proponents describe their mission in religious and quasi-religious terms.

Legitimizing a new religion?

Some talk about QAnon as if some messianic figure is at work. Similar to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism in the early church, it lures people with promises of secret knowledge. It provides a sense of identity and belonging with code phrases like: “Where we go one, we go all.” Many people, including active church members, are being drawn in.  

QAnon is starting to shift things in ways that will particularly impact churches. According to a recent NPR article, many pastors believe it already has.

QAnon demonstrators on Aug. 22, 2020, in Los Angeles, California.

Here are ways Christians can engage this issue.

First, cultivate discernment:

In a 2018 poll we conducted at Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Research Institute, we found that 46% of self-identified evangelicals and 52% of those whose beliefs tag them as evangelical “strongly believes the mainstream media produces fake news.” 

The level to which people attended church correlated with this belief; the more active in church, the less trusting of news media.

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