This week, Vice and The Atlantic published two important articles outlining the growing religious fervor behind Q-Anon conspiracy theories. They make interesting comparison reading. In The Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance traces the origins of the Q-Anon conspiracy theory and explains why faith in the unreason behind its patently false claims has the makings of an incipient religion. Leading figures in the Q movement openly declare that the conspiracy has divine sanction. One of the Q movement’s biggest names, David Hayes (a.k.a. PrayingMedic on Q forums), alleges that God has personally called him to Q-Anon. the Q-Anon conspiracy imagines an apocalyptic End Times when the blood of liberals will run in the streets and Donald Trump will usher in a new Great Awakening as the angels sing choruses of Kid Rock songs and clouds of sanctifying soot rain from a million coal-burning factories.
But seriously: LaFrance notes that the structure of the Q-Anon movement derives directly from the Calvinist strain of evangelical American Christianity, whose language and beliefs are mirrored in the Q-version of a GOP-led Millennium: “The language of evangelical Christianity has come to define the Q movement. QAnon marries an appetite for the conspiratorial with positive beliefs about a radically different and better future, one that is preordained.” One Q-believer LaFrance interviewed described the current political and social landscape—which, until the lockdown began this spring had been the one of the longest stretches of relative peace and prosperity in American history—as an Armageddon heralding the End Times. Q, she said, was her savior: “Q gives us hope. And it’s a good thing, to be hopeful.”
LaFrance doesn’t quite question why people living in a society that is, in objective terms, wealthier, safer, and more comfortable than in the past would see its conflicts as world-ending, and thus misses the broader trends of how catastrophic economic inequality has displaced anger into racial resentment that has pushed a segment of white Americans into the arms of conspiracies that seek to restore the status quo ante, ante Obama and ante Lyndon Johnson, and maybe ante FDR and the Civil War. The past wasn’t wealthier or more comfortable, but it was often more secure for individuals in the middle class, because jobs were more often for life and pensions could help secure old age. That loss of security—in large measure due to GOP policies and right-leaning corporate bean-counters—seems to be the warrant for the whole conspiracy, whose ultimate aim is to imagine fantasy scenarios where the white middle class can once again live secure lives if only the political right could be unshackled.
The ahistorical irony is rich, but LaFrance prefers to see Q-Anon largely as the latest in an American apocalyptic movement going back to the first Great Awakening. That might explain the form that panic and rage manifest in, but it doesn’t explain why this moment created a death-cult and blood-faith in Donald Trump as the soul and messenger of universal power.
Similarly, MJ Banias’s article in Vice covers much of the same ground, exploring how Corey Goode and David Wilcock have turned their Q-Anon-influenced UFO conspiracy theories into a salvation narrative, where, for a fee, you can achieve spiritual enlightenment and “ascend” to the seventh heaven of Trump and the space aliens. As I have covered many times before, Wilcock and Goode offer a similar salvation narrative centered on another apocalyptic End Times scenario where a coming global cataclysm will leave only the Ascended to bask in divine glory. When the liberals and the Democrats and the media elite are dead in the streets and the Deep State destroyed in Trump’s cleansing fire, good people who have at least 51% positive thoughts about helping others will inherit the Earth. In the meantime, you can give Wilcock money tax-free through his “spiritual” 501c3 foundation. The pay must be good. Vice reports that he bought a $1.2 million ranch in Colorado last year, all while bitching about imitators costing him money on YouTube.
Wilcock and Goode are not as doctrinaire as the Q-Anon believers, and I have noted before that they mix economic liberalism with social conservatism in a way not typically seen in American politics, but which resembles some of Donald Trump’s stuttering attempts at policy, if he had a coherent ideology behind them. Nevertheless, they are adamantly opposed to liberals and Democrats, adopting Q’s most vicious beliefs, and they routinely favor conservative political candidates as potential saviors.
Banias says the received legal threats from Wilcock’s and Goode’s lawyer after asking them for interviews, claiming that revealing information about Wilcock and Goode would be defamatory to their “brand.” It’s almost like they don’t want anyone checking what they do with their money!
While Banias’s piece might have benefited from examining some of the political elements that help draw in believers, one theme recurs in both articles that is worth pointing out: an almost obsessive rejection of mainstream authority figures and especially imagined elites, particularly intellectual and media elites. “I mean, another thing I want to point out, too,” Wilcock said in a February interview on Jenny McCarthy’s podcast, “is that we are not elite or special.” He said “everybody” could dream their way to alien contact. Similarly, LaFrance quotes a Q-believer in remarkably similar terms of egalitarianism as she described how she fell into the Q rabbit-hole: “What caught my attention was ‘research.’ Do your own research. Don’t take anything for granted. I don’t care who says it, even President Trump. Do your own research, make up your own mind.” There is, of course, a disingenuousness—while making a big show of not being “elite” both movements have elite leaders who, like the French Revolutionaries and the Bolsheviks of yore, pretend to be just folks. But the undercurrent of populism and the sense of grievance against perceived elites can’t really be ignored.
5/16/2020 09:12:37 am
"... but which resembles some of Donald Trump’s stuttering attempts at policy, if he had a coherent ideology behind them."
Play Economisty For Me
5/16/2020 02:41:43 pm
An robust economy inherited from OBAMA, who rebuilt it after the destruction and banking debacle under BUSH.
5/16/2020 04:30:21 pm
1.6 percent annual GDP growth says what? Yet he still, sine eo, saves the day!
5/18/2020 09:55:57 am
"An robust economy inherited from OBAMA"
5/18/2020 05:57:26 pm
If Joe Q Scales wants to rewrite history he should take a Q from Wolter and stick to things from a more murky distant past.
An Anonymous Nerd
5/18/2020 09:21:35 am
As soon as I saw the headline of this article I knew you would be the first reply and what the content of that reply would be.
5/19/2020 10:07:39 am
"Once again I remind you that (most likely) neither Donald nor your other favorite Fringe/Right celebrities know of your existence, or care about you."
5/19/2020 12:40:14 pm
I know for a fact that Miley Cyrus does not know about my existence or care about me. Neither does Hillary Clinton. Where I get hung up is in trying to figure out how that is at all relevant to anything.
An Anonymous Nerd
5/20/2020 07:37:38 pm
[This is where Mr. Anonymous fails. He doesn't make the case that whether or not someone knows about me or cares about me matters.]
5/20/2020 09:32:11 pm
"I've noticed that the defenders of the Fringe on these comments have a lot in common with folks who love sports or entertainment celebrities, and seem to think that those celebrities love them in return."
5/21/2020 02:08:44 pm
"I'll do my best to convey the short version of why I belabor this point."
5/16/2020 09:55:31 am
" Q-Anon conspiracy imagines an apocalyptic End Times when the blood of liberals will run in the streets and Donald Trump will usher in a new Great Awakening"
5/16/2020 11:56:33 am
I haven't followed the "Q" movement because a) I just don't care, and b) as I understand it, it's basically just one guy. Interesting that it's named after a godlike character in STNG I suppose.
5/16/2020 07:23:42 pm
Violent crime and deaths in war are down. Iraq and Afghanistan had very low casualty rates.
5/16/2020 09:12:43 pm
"Iraq and Afghanistan had very low casualty rates."
5/16/2020 09:45:54 pm
As a whole the world is still safer now than ever. That includes the wars in the Middle East. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/excellent-beauty/201607/is-the-world-more-dangerous-now-ever
5/16/2020 11:31:23 pm
We haven't yet killed ENOUGH people in Iraq and Afghanistan? Since you seem not to care about Libya and Syria I'll set those aside for the moment.
5/17/2020 11:54:51 am
First let me make clear that I believe war should be the last option to resolve an issue but once that decision is made then the goal is to win the war - by any means necessary. I firmly believe that if you are going to fight a war the only way to do so is by the total war doctrine. Anything less is a waste of men and materiel.
5/17/2020 03:15:25 pm
You are an interesting case. "Any means necessary"? Churchill ordered the bombing of civilian populations and wanted to use poison gas but people who weren't batshit crazy alcoholic plagiarists who needed to make up for earlier failures prevailed so the bombing went ahead but the poison gas didn't.
5/17/2020 04:26:17 pm
"As for Libya and Syria, our involvement there was limited"
5/17/2020 05:06:42 pm
5/18/2020 02:55:30 am
"Any means necessary doesn’t mean use nukes, It means take the actions required to win. If that requires destroying civilian population centers then you do so. You still however operate within the accepted rules of war you have signed up for." You're talking out both sides of your piehole here. People of the "let's have a bunch of other guys go out and kill a bunch of other people" ilk often do that.
5/18/2020 08:33:34 am
Anyone would get frustrated trying to wade though Kent's/American Negro's incoherent combination of stream of consciousness, Gish Gallop, and insults.
5/16/2020 07:30:13 pm
“The past wasn’t wealthier or more comfortable, but it was often more secure for individuals in the middle class, because jobs were more often for life and pensions could help secure old age. “
5/16/2020 07:57:23 pm
We're speaking of the middle class. No one really imagines themselves being poor in the past. Our idea of the ideal past is still stuck in the sitcom world of the 1950s and 1960s, when today's senior citizens were kids, remembering their childhoods as ideal. That said, the postwar economic boom is historically an anomaly but one we have taken for both an ideal and a historical average.
5/16/2020 08:26:19 pm
I know we are talking about the middle class, that is who I was talking about not the poor. The poor worked till they died until the advent of social security and some of the other social safety net programs.
5/16/2020 09:30:23 pm
Mr. Crash makes several good points. Last time I had occasion to look at a mortality table 85 was the magic number. For people interested in this sort of thing I recommend the book "Life Contingencies", But be warned: It assumes high school level math skills.
5/16/2020 09:37:20 pm
Crash, I don't mean that they want to return to the specific policies of the antebellum years. I think ti was fairly clear that I was referring to their imaginary version of white-dominated "freedom." I hope it's obvious that there was no ideal period of perfection. The nostalgic pick and choose bits and pieces of previous time periods to create a perfect past that never was.
5/16/2020 09:51:24 pm
Not so much the policies of the past but the status quo as you put it. That status quo was long hours of work with no expectation of retirement. The past and its status quo that they want to return to never actually existed on that we can agree.
5/17/2020 11:25:11 am
I have been thinking that things are about to get much worse.
5/17/2020 03:44:17 pm
If you can't figure out what the obvious question to you is I don't know what to tell you.
5/17/2020 07:26:42 pm
Let me just throw this in here for no apparent reason.
5/18/2020 09:53:18 am
Kent, I am not particularly interested in your views.
5/18/2020 02:24:13 pm
Actual Chinese Person
5/18/2020 05:39:04 pm
I remember that! Isn't it enough that he does his cultural tourism with Native Americans? He has to involve Chinese people too? I will translate for E.P.: "We no likee!"
The Atlantis Expert
5/17/2020 09:58:20 pm
"the Q-Anon conspiracy imagines an apocalyptic End Times when the blood of liberals will run in the streets and Donald Trump will usher in a new Great Awakening as the angels sing choruses of Kid Rock songs and clouds of sanctifying soot rain from a million coal-burning factories."
An Anonymous Nerd
5/18/2020 09:33:24 am
It's great to see the mainstream press catching on to the historical connection between the Fringe and the Right. I've posted references for this (figuratively) countless times -- if you want the references again, Mr. Colavito, please let me know. I think the references are helpful for understanding this.
5/19/2020 10:20:39 am
Certainly things may connect without intertwining, despite your facile musing. Once your confirmation bias finds a "connection", it also works to confirm your faulty generalizations... the illogic of which you'll never see with your partisan blinders.
5/18/2020 09:42:27 am
If only you knew what you were taking about.
5/18/2020 11:55:15 am
Has anyone seen my shovel ?
5/19/2020 09:24:35 pm
Holy shit, that's some crazy. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Gonna need some cannibalism evidence. You need to prove your outlandish claims, not tell others to find the sources to prove what you are claiming.
5/18/2020 11:21:05 am
It was inevitable that Q would attract fundamentalists and those obsessed with the end times. If there is a redeeming quality in the movement, it is that at least they do try and research things. Data accumulation, mostly, but lots of it. There are some twitter threads from Q supporters that really do uncover things and is a worthwhile endeavor and has been adding to a real knowledge base about the elite. Some of them will no doubt ditch the Q nuttiness and segue into less bias and more skepticism.
5/18/2020 01:59:43 pm
"I've been around, and involved with, conspiracy thinking since the 90s. The obsessive "research" aspect of this movement is something new"
An ANonymous Nerd
5/18/2020 04:12:41 pm
[ they do try and research things]
5/18/2020 05:14:15 pm
I'm thinking of people on twitter like Dr Quigley and a few others. At one point they were posting massive threads on various topics, everyday. It spurred me to check their initial research and the data mostly checked out, though the conclusions of the size and scope of things were a bit naive. At a certain level everything is connected, and they were/are looking at the elite and its behemoth apparatus.
An Anonymous Nerd
5/18/2020 10:11:57 pm
[I'm thinking of people on twitter like Dr Quigley and a few others.]
5/19/2020 08:38:38 am
Hadn't heard of the real, late, Dr. Quigley before this? Ya, he was a historian and quite important to right leaning Birchers as they used his research to prop up their own conspiracies.
5/19/2020 10:48:38 am
"I'm thinking of people on twitter"
5/20/2020 10:15:35 am
"Left-leaning Conspiracy Fantasies surely do exist and have existed in the past, wherein they were more numerous. However, the issue, as I have explained repeatedly, is that they were and are recognized as fantasies whereas on the Right they are mainstream."
5/20/2020 01:05:50 pm
Leave us not forget the Russian gummint flooding the infosphere with fake UFO stories to bamboozle the American public.
An Anonymous Nerd
5/20/2020 09:39:25 pm
[You must have been asleep for the past three years. Russian collusion anyone? ]
An Anonymous Nerd
5/21/2020 07:31:47 am
My post appears to have cut off. Here is the rest.
5/21/2020 10:47:05 am
Mr Nerd, I am not sure I totally agree with this part:
5/21/2020 02:16:53 pm
"There you go again, Mr. Scales. Unfortunately, it takes but a few lines to spread bunk, but far longer to debunk it."
5/21/2020 04:33:37 pm
It's known that the Trump campaign wanted backchannel communications with the Russian gummint.
An Anonymous Nerd
5/21/2020 04:34:12 pm
[insert the latest random Joe Scales post here]
5/21/2020 05:42:00 pm
Joe Q Scales: "And Russian Collusion remains a conspiracy theory."
An Anonymous Nerd
5/21/2020 07:08:31 pm
[As for Dr. Quigley on twitter: During the Epstein affair, the threads he would put together - the minutia just for the sake of data accumulation - made it's way into pieces by Whitney Webb weeks later, and then msm outlets at least a month or more later. Reporters were following him during this time (or had him on a list so it wouldn't show that they were "following" him).]
5/21/2020 11:55:51 pm
"Kentypoo: "It's known that colluding with someone who doesn't want to collude with you is really difficult to say the least.""
5/22/2020 10:11:29 am
A strawman argument ???,,really ?
5/22/2020 10:33:42 am
This is the first I'm hearing of Mrs. Clinton being tied to Epstein's murder so I wonder how widespread this theory actually is. But you are right to point out that prisons are probably the safest most secure freest of toilet wine places on earth.
5/22/2020 10:46:28 am
If I write about Epstein I'll be sure to cite who was first to bring attention to what piece of evidence. I'm meticulous about things like that and have reams of articles and web pages saved on my computer from those days when everyone was investigating him and his life. My own contribution will be to what extent had his membership in both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission aided his ascendancy into the elite stratosphere. I have all the membership lists, year by year, for the CFR beginning in 1922 and most of the Trlateral membership lists since its founding in 1973. He joined both think tanks in 1995 and was a member in both until 2008. The corporate boards who fund these orgs are important as well.
5/22/2020 10:59:32 am
"There you go again, Mr. Scales. You have attempted to counter detailed posts of mine with a few one-liners."
An Anonymous Nerd
5/22/2020 12:48:35 pm
[insert latest read-alike Joe Scales post]
An Anonymous Nerd
5/22/2020 12:51:47 pm
[This is the first I'm hearing of Mrs. Clinton being tied to Epstein's murder]
5/22/2020 03:44:03 pm
5/23/2020 08:54:14 am
"Facts and reason take time and space. Bunk is easier and, sadly, has a wider audience. Oh well. I'll stick with facts and reason, just the same."
5/23/2020 10:37:17 am
"You've accused me of using informal fallacies over the years and not one single accusation of same has stuck."
5/24/2020 09:50:19 am
Well Jim, considering that argumentum ad populum is yet another informal fallacy, your vote would certainly not be an educated one in this regard. Given that fact, no need to call on your "friends" either...
5/24/2020 01:50:02 pm
Well Joe, your argument that nothing has stuck is irrelevant.
5/24/2020 05:46:12 pm
5/25/2020 12:40:59 am
"Never did Scales defend the actions of Obama"
5/25/2020 09:53:34 am
5/25/2020 09:59:03 am
"Perhaps because Obama wasn't regularly being vilified on the thinnest basis of the most tenuous imaginary connections to fringe views by the host?"
Dr. Twigley on Quitter
5/21/2020 04:49:53 pm
Just so we're clear, the "Dr. Quigley" on Twitter isn't the guy from Georgetown who died in 1977. And he's for darn sure no Cincinnatus.
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