Katelyn Beaty spoke with pastors of Evangelical churches about the spread of QAnon in their churches. The isolation of created by the pandemic exacerbates the spread.
Her op-ed appeared in RNS:
Mark Fugitt, senior pastor of Round Grove Baptist Church in Miller, Missouri, recently sat down to count the conspiracy theories that people in his church are sharing on Facebook. The list was long. It included claims that 5G radio waves are used for mind control; that George Floyd’s murder is a hoax; that Bill Gates is related to the devil; that masks can kill you; that the germ theory isn’t real; and that there might be something to Pizzagate after all.
“You don’t just see it once,” said Fugitt. “If there’s ever anything posted, you’ll see it five to 10 times. It’s escalating for sure.”
Beaty was interviewed by Ari Shapiro on NPR:
SHAPIRO: Your piece is called “QAnon: The Alternative Religion That’s Coming To Your Church.” Do the people you interviewed really see it as a belief system comparable to organized religion?
BEATY: They do. They are picking up on the overt spiritual language that Q, whoever that is, is using in his messages on the Internet, and they see that as connecting directly to the Bible, to the God of Christianity and to God’s hand at work in the world. So they see the QAnon messages as revealing truth in the world and that they are supposed to take up a spiritual battle to reveal truth.
SHAPIRO: And your reporting suggests that there’s something about this moment that makes it spread that much faster.
BEATY: Yeah. So a lot of pastors I spoke with noted the fact that, you know, their churches are having to continue to do virtual church. They’re not meeting in person as much due to the coronavirus and restrictions on worship. And in that time, the pastors I spoke with sense that there is this isolation and loneliness that their members are experiencing. You know, the pastors only get one hour a week with people in their church. The people in their church are probably spending hours on Facebook, on other social media forums, taking in this information. And the pastors I spoke with just felt like they couldn’t do enough to counter the false messages that some of their church members were receiving through the Internet.