RNS

A new survey reports white evangelicals, Hispanic Protestants and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are the most likely to believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory, a trend researchers suggest correlates with the kind of media they consume.

The survey, released Thursday by the Public Religion Research Institute, focused on the widely discredited QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits Satan-worshipping paedophiles are plotting against former President Donald Trump and a coming “storm” will soon cast out those evil forces from positions of power.

Researchers separated aspects of QAnon - whose believers were visibly present at the 6th January insurrection at the US Capitol - into three separate questions: One focused on the claim the world is run by paedophiles, another inquired about the coming “storm,” and a third asked respondents whether they believed “because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

Among all Americans, 15 per cent believe the world’s power structures are controlled by Satan-worshipping paedophiles, 20 per cent believe a “storm” is coming to sweep them out of power, and 15 per cent agree violence may be necessary to “save” the country.

The survey found these conspiratorial sentiments especially pronounced in three religious communities. For example, 25 per cent of white evangelical Protestants, 26 per cent of Hispanic Protestants and 18 per cent of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they believed “the government, media, and financial worlds in the US are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping paedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation".

When asked about the coming “storm", Hispanic Protestants (29 per cent) were more likely than white evangelicals (26 per cent) or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (22 per cent) to say they believed evil elites would soon be swept out of power.

But the reverse was true when asked about whether “patriots” may need to use violence to rescue the US: Only 12 per cent of Hispanic Protestants agreed, but nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of white evangelicals and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they were willing to “resort to violence in order to save our country".

When aggregated together, PRRI researchers found the three religious groups were the most likely to be what they labeled overall “QAnon believers". Jewish Americans were the least likely, with only two per cent listed as believers - a possible byproduct of the fact that several QAnon conspiracy theories are widely decried as anti-Semitic.

Researchers noted media consumption habits were “by far the strongest independent predictor of QAnon beliefs". Namely, those who most trusted far-right news outlets, such as One America News Network and Newsmax, were nearly nine times more likely to be QAnon believers compared with those who most trust mainstream broadcast networks such as ABC, CBS and NBC.

Among religious groups, this mirrors recent Religion News Service reporting on PRRI data that found members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (eight per cent), white evangelical Protestants (seven per cent) and Hispanic Protestants (five per cent) are most likely to watch far-right news outlets.

Observers have noted the increased presence of QAnon and other conspiracy theories in US churches, especially among white evangelicals.