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QAnon, the conspiracy theory followed by millions of social media users in the U.S., has crossed the Atlantic.
Christians in Europe are fielding questions about the movement. Jordan Arnold, who recently returned to the U.S. after serving Churches of Christ in Slovakia for seven years, said he receives texts and messages from Slovak friends about QAnon “with increasing frequency. Most involve George Soros, mask mandates and coronavirus conspiracy theories.”
Members of Churches of Christ across the continent gathered online recently to discuss QAnon as part of “Faith Talks,” a program launched last July by Arnold and Jaro Marcin, regional director for Eastern European Mission and member of the Church of Christ in Prague, Czech Republic. Participants heard a presentation by Chris Rosser, theological librarian at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City, about the movement and its dangers.
QAnon adherents vary in their beliefs, Rosser said, but “at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy is a mythos, a story, about a powerful cabal.” This secret society of political leaders and celebrities kidnaps, kills and consumes children, according to the conspiracy theory.
That “diabolical story,” as Rosser called it, seems outlandish, “but such stories, though monstrous, are not new. In fact, the trope spills out of medieval stories of Jewish blood libel — anti-Semitic tales of Jews stealing Christian children.” Elements of this can be seen in “The Prioress’ Tale” in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” from the 14th century, Rosser said.
“These tropes just keep returning,” he said. “There’s nothing new under the sun, and there’s nothing very creative about them either.”
Marcin said that the presentation demonstrated that “we, as Christians, need to pay attention to media literacy, especially at times when there’s a lot of conspiracy theories making the rounds.”
People of faith should ask if such theories “breed any fruit of the Spirit,” Marcin said, “and use this as a criterion when we come across internet nonsense.”
While the pandemic and information technology may have facilitated QAnon’s rise, Rosser said he was encouraged that European Christians have taken the opportunity to provide “Faith Talks” to inform and encourage each other.
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