Over the last couple of months I have done some preliminary reading on QAnon, a conspiracy theory that has attracted some evangelicals (thanks, Annie!). I hope to write something about it soon, but in the meantime here is Philip Jenkins on whether QAnon is a “cult”:
…QAnon is one of the main “cults” of our age, and it has absolutely nothing to do with older ideas of what that term constituted.
Just as a mental exercise, imagine if QAnon was an actual old-style real-world cult, with its leaders and its tens of thousands of members, constantly evangelizing in streets and schools, constantly threatening to draw in your children, your family members. And of course, it would have its defensive paramilitary arm, uniformed and well armed. Let’s call them Storm troopers. It would be utterly terrifying.
None of those features applies. But we do live in an alarming world where Internet-driven activism can send very literal groups or individuals to the homes of people who are targeted, to confront them in public places, and to threaten direct violence or harm. Look at the diet of Internet-fueled conspiracy mania that inspired some recent mass killers, like the villain who attacked the Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.
Read the entire piece here.