Jun 8, 2021 - News

What Des Moines religious leaders have to say about QAnon's influence

Chart of poll on QAnon conspiracy theories

Poll: 5,625 U.S. adults. Margin of error for full survey: ±1.5%. Graphic: PRRI

A recent poll suggests QAnon's bogus conspiracy theories are taking root in churches across the U.S., and some religious officials in Des Moines say they've seen an uptick in the number of people who believe the wildly inaccurate claims.

Why it matters: The spread of false narratives around the government, media and other institutions cultivates distrust, particularly at a flashpoint in our country as we try to recover from the pandemic.

By the numbers: 15% of Americans agree with the QAnon allegation that "the government, media, and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation," according to the survey.

  • Hispanic Protestants (26%) and white evangelical Protestants (25%) were more likely to agree with the QAnon philosophies than other groups, Axios' Mike Allen reported. Black Protestants were 15%, white Catholics were 11% and white mainline Protestants were 10%.
  • The online poll taken by Ipsos in March for the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core involved a sample size of 5,625 U.S. adults. It has a margin of error of ±1.5%.

Catch up quick: Q emerged about four years ago and hooked people with its video game-like structure.

  • Its theories were amplified by followers of President Trump during last year's elections.
  • The group has no headquarters or public leader and the FBI views it as a domestic terror threat.

What they're saying: Religious leaders in Des Moines are not actively promoting Q, the Family Leader’s Danny Carroll told Axios.

  • Yes, but: "There’s an echo chamber" among some congregations who promote versions of QAnon conspiracy theories, including about last year's election, Brad Crowell, an associate professor of religious studies at Drake told Axios.
  • Religious leaders have a moral obligation to denounce false narratives because “it’s not OK to have your own made-up facts or behave abominably against others,” Rev. Amy Petrie Shaw of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines said.

Of note: Doug Jensen, a Des Moines resident who allegedly led insurrectionists into the U.S. Capitol in January while sporting a QAnon shirt, asked Monday to be released from jail, claiming he's a victim of multiple conspiracy theories.


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