Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Q Anon Competes With Religions? Of Course, Given It's A Quasi Religious Personality Cult


                       Members of QAnon Cult - Possibly Awaiting the "Storm"/

 According to preliminary exit polls obtained from Edison Research  (after the 2020 general election) 28 percent of voters identified as either white evangelical or white born-again Christian, and of these, 76 percent voted for Trump.   This is not surprising given Trump is an authoritarian demagogue and evangelicals as a rule adopt an authoritarian posture - well, because they worship an authoritarian, cartoon god.

Flash forward now to the current news  (Sunday Denver Post, p. 6a,  headline)  that 'QAnon Is As Popular As Some Major Religions'.  But why be surprised?  We've already known for some time that QAnon bears all the hallmarks of an authoritarian personality quasi -religious cult- so why wouldn't it compete with major religions?    Recall Jim Jones' cult was also powerful as it seduced thousands into believing the U.S. government was after them.  But Jones lacked the power or pervasive social media (and computers) which QAnon's wacky adherents have.   

In any case it is useful here to examine  the properties of authoritarian cults - in whatever guise- whether as bible pounding evangelicals, or Trump -worshipping QAnons

  Generally, four characteristics can be used to make an identification with a quasi-religious, authoritarian cult:

1-A belief system that is independent of facts, logic, or even one’s own intuition. In other words an absolute and blind acceptance of recycled garbage as undeniable fact. Thus, white evangelicals believe the hokum that a vengeful god with malignant personality disorder vented his wrath on his human creations via a "flood" and later on assorted other groups that had gone astray (e.g. in  Sodom and Gomorrah).  Rather than take these fables for what they are...fables, the evangelicals believe them literally.  In an analogous sense, QAnon cultists believe a biblical-scale "storm" will sweep away the "evil elites"  and "restore the rightful leaders" (namely Trump and his cabal)

2-A pre-meditated choice to isolate from the rest of society, usually justified by the assertion that those outside of the faith/cult  are wicked, lost, or "just don't get it"  and lack the inside info.   This belief underscores a lot of  Xtian (and Muslim) fundamentalist thinking, as well as Jim Jones' cult and QAnon.  The latter two cults in particular believed strongly they had the inside track to what was really going on.   This in turn has led the members of the cult to basically isolate themselves in a little cocoon of insanity and unchecked conspiracy ideations - such as the belief Democrats are Satan -worshipping  child cannibals.   Or that the Covid-19 vaccines contain a surveillance microchip that is the sign of the "beast" in biblical prophecy.  (Another point of close analogy)  

The Fundies believe almost the same about atheists, and was one reason my late, youngest brother ("Pastor Mike") advocated at one time for an "Atheist registry" e.g.

Atheist "National Registry" Proposed by Florida Pastor Discovered by the Internet a Year Later | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

3-The compulsive need to recruit others into the cult.   This need - as my psychologist post doc niece Shayl has observed- is driven by the need for validation. The more recruits brought into the cult (or religion) the more confident the existing members feel about their cause and belief system -as cockeyed as it may be.   This can be done in various ways.  For Fundies and evangelicals, "witnessing" fills the bill.  For the QAnon cultists, sharing a tweet or post that elicits interest from a relative or friend - performs a similar function.

4-The complete loss of individuality, logic, and objectivity. The only reasons for continued existence becomes the serving of the cult’s raison d’etre.  All one need do to confirm this is inspect and read any online confrontation between an evangelical Christian and a rationalist. You will quickly see before two responses are made that the former unquestioningly adopts what’s been read in biblical texts, as his own truths. Thus, he lacks any truths forged on his own, by his own brain. He simply masticates what’s in his bible (usually the corrupted KJV) and provides that as his truth.

Seldom, if ever, do Christian fanatics - of whatever faith (cult) -   make their own conjectures about nature, the phenomena of life and morality. They accept without question everything imparted to them by their pastors or bibles- even when the information is contradictive of science, history, logic. In its place they impose and insinuate their own corrupted and debased information, which is actually carefully crafted propaganda.

Now go to the QAnon cult and one sees exactly the same dynamic of  lowbrow, indiscriminate acceptance of horse manure and unproven bull crap.  This ranges from idiotic beliefs about Covid-19 and the vaccine or Trump having the election "stolen" from him by the "Deep state".  It's all of a piece: looneytunes!   Worse, it appears to be infecting one political faction of the nation as bad or worse than Covid taking down the elderly before the vaccines arrived. 

According to the Denver Post piece,  only "one in five Republicans rejects QAnon beliefs".  This is versus 58 percent of Dems who reject them.   That means 4 in 5 Reeps either accept them or are ambiguous.  Hence by one conclusion:  "If QAnon were a religion it would rival all the white evangelical Protestants".   Thus, "it lines up there as a major religious group".   

Even more concerning is how these rancid beliefs are linked to a certain kind of apocalyptic thinking and violence, e.g.  all the liberal, anti-Trump elites will be destroyed in the  "Storm".  Compare that to the wacky beliefs of fundies and evangelicals that the "unsaved"  are  destined to be destroyed in Armageddon.    

But while the latter derive all or most of their apocalyptic phantasmagorias from the Bible (mainly Revelation), the QAnon cult has mainly been infected by getting most of their misinformation from right wing media - as well as cockeyed shared baloney e.g. on Facebook or Instagram.   Thus, the Public Religion Institute has found a strong correlation between where people get their news and how much they believe in QAnon ideas.   In this regard, fully 48 percent of those who get their "news" from the likes of One America News (OAN), and Newsmax subscribe to core QAnon ideations.  In this case, the "Storm" to soon wipe away the elites.   By contrast, for those who regularly watch FOX News, 18 percent turned out to be QAnon believers.

Given all the above, one of  Peggy Noonan's remarks in her most recent WSJ column (June 5-6, p. A13) makes eminent sense:  "Church affiliation and practice have been falling for decades, but people always have a spiritual hole to fill - and now Q will do it."   Adding:  "The unrealized and unhappy are always in search of a cause to distract themselves from the problems of their lives."   

The latter statement, indeed, is one I believe could uniformly explain the attachment to most religions.  It certainly also explains the mental gravitation toward QAnon especially during a raging pandemic that has ravaged so many millions of psyches kept in isolation and unable to fulfill - or justify -  their reasons for existence.

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by Thom Hartmann | June 8, 2021 - 7:30am | permalink


There are people in this world who don't like—and even hate—democracy. They're on the move against it, particularly here in America, and the Qanon religion/cult is the glue that's bringing them all together.

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