QAnon, Conspiracy Theories and the Coronavirus

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(Photo: Marc Nozell/Wikimedia Commons)

The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps…

The simple inherit folly, But the prudent are crowned with knowledge. – Proverbs 15:15,18

When natural disasters strike it is natural for people to seek a reason and to cast blame. Natural disasters create fear, insecurity and anxiety, whether they be earthquakes, locust plagues, fires, floods or virus pandemics. When these feelings are combined with a sense of the loss of personal control, alienation or disenfranchisement, there is fertile ground for the development of conspiracy theories. People want to ‘connect the dots’, find an explanation and, above all, find someone to blame. There is comfort in identifying a scapegoat which makes the world seem more understandable and controllable.

Most conspiracy theories reject the mainstream explanations and claim that some covert, malignant and influential organization is orchestrating the disaster or crisis. Some conspiracy theories sound plausible, others are just plain wacky, but all have one thing in common – they are not supported by objective, verifiable, or factual evidence. Often these conspiracy theories come from anonymous sources who claim to have secret knowledge. This provides those who believe the theory a seductive ego boost in that they feel they are part of an elite in-group party to ‘insider information’, not available to the ‘deluded masses’. Another reason conspiracy theories arise is because the alternative explanations for the disaster are too frightening, either that the natural disaster is some random, inexplicable event, or it is the punishment of God.

Recently a number of conspiracy theories seem to have coalesced into a mega-theory propagated by the QAnon movement. QAnon is a far-right-wing conspiracy theory that alleges that an elite cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles is covertly ruling the world. This cabal includes, among others, Hollywood personalities, leading philanthropists, Jewish financiers and Democrat politicians. QAnon also claims that this cabal is running a global child sex-trafficking ring that is plotting against the US President, Donald Trump. They believe that only Trump can bring this cabal to justice by means of a secret plan referred to as “The Storm” or “The Great Awakening”.

QAnon began in 2017 with a posting on the imageboard 4chan by an anonymous individual (or perhaps group of individuals) identified as Q, claiming to have access to classified information. Q is a reference to the Q-security clearance used by the U.S. Department of Energy. Since the original post, others have expanded the original claims across multiple media platforms, and other conspiracy theories have merged with it. The QAnon theory is based on the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, which claims that an underground cabal of powerful Jews secretly rule the world. The Protocol libels were used to justify the virulent antisemitism in Europe which gave rise to the Nazi movement, Hitler and the Holocaust.

There is no factual or verifiable basis for any of the QAnon claims but it has become a deeply entwined in the U.S. political scene with many democratic supporters appearing at election rallies wearing the Q symbol. Indeed, Trump seems happy to allow Q supporters to garner political support on his behalf. Thanks to the internet, what was once dismissed as an extremist U.S. based conspiracy theory, is now spreading around the world and gaining a mainstream following, feeding on feelings of anxiety and confusion, and the growing distrust of the government actions designed to control the current corona virus pandemic. QAnon is fueling anarchic protest movements around the world, undermining law and order, and encouraging people to civil disobedience. The QAnon movement is also feeding on and blending with many other conspiracy theories, including the anti-vaccine, 5G, the flat-earth and the moon-landing-lie theories. The line between left-wing rebellion and protest, and right-wing conspiracy theories seems to be blurring and turning into a general atmosphere of anarchy and lawlessness.

The QAnon conspiracy is based on occult and new age belief systems, but adherents often use the vocabulary and prophetic concepts relating to Christian end-time theology. For this reason many evangelical Christians and Messianic believers around the world seem to be getting caught up in these conspiracy theories.  Speaking of his second coming, Yeshua warned us not to be ‘easily shaken’ or alarmed (2 Thessalonians 2:2). We need to keep our heads and judge all things against the Bible and objective fact. When confronted by conspiracy theories we need to ask three things:

  • Who is promoting this idea, and what is their agenda?
  • What are their sources of information, and are they legitimate?
  • What evidence do they have to support their claims, and are their claims verifiable?

Anonymity and claims of inaccessible secret knowledge from unidentified sources should wave a red flag. Of all people, followers of Yeshua should remain solid, sensible lovers of truth, especially in times of crisis. We do not need to be anxious or fearful. We need not find someone to blame, and neither should we be infected by the spirit of anger and lawlessness. Indeed, we are commanded to obey the authorities.

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. – Romans 13: 1-2

 

The spirit of lawlessness is powered by Satan and is the hallmark of the Antichrist who will establish his rule when ‘he who now restrains’ (the Holy Spirit who dwells in us) is removed,

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. – 2 Thessalonians 2: 7-8

 

Far from participating in this spirit of lies, anger and lawlessness we followers of Yeshua should be fighting against it.

 Natural disasters will come, and they are a result of living in a fallen world. A virus pandemic is a natural phenomenon which, biologically speaking, is one of nature’s ways to control population. When populations become very dense a virus can then easily spread between individuals. In our modern world we live in densely populated cities and move freely around the globe. These are conditions perfect for the spread of an infectious disease. We do not have to come up with a scapegoat to blame for this crisis.

In the days of the prophet Joel the nation faced the effects of a devastating locust plague, like the one currently running rampant in eastern Africa, parts of the Middle East and India. Did God send such a plague as a punishment for disobedience and sin? Is the current coronavirus pandemic a punishment for our sins? Perhaps, but that is not the point. The point is that these crises are an opportunity for people to repent of their sins and call upon the name of the LORD. Conspiracy theories are yet another tool Satan uses to distract us from the important thing here – the need to repent of our own sins, and to call upon the LORD on behalf of our people, and all the people of the world. In the face of the natural calamity of Joel’s time the LORD declared,

“Even now
return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing
….Joel 2:12-14