QAnon | Cult or Conspiracy
By Dr. Stephen Phinney

There is a lot of talk about the cult group QAnon – also known as "Q." The sub-culture has even gained the attention of the President of the United States. And for a good reason.  

The official group began less than three years ago, yet it's already gathered one of the largest cult following in American history – including many evangelical leaders. So…who are they?

Initially, QAnon started as a far-right conspiracy theory alleging a secret plot by a supposed "deep state" against President Donald Trump and his supporters. The theory began with an October 2017 post on the anonymous imageboard 4chan by "Q," who was presumably an American individual, but probably was a group of people. Q claimed to have access to classified information involving the Trump administration and its opponents in the United States. NBC News found that three people took the original Q post and expanded it across multiple media platforms to build internet followings for profit. QAnon was preceded by several similar anonymous 4chan posters, such as FBIAnon, HLIAnon, CIAAnon, and WH Insider Anon.

QAnon means "a supposed government insider with top security clearance." In the world of insiders, "Q-level" is a security clearance. Thus, the original insider who posted the "deep state" classified post became known as "Q." While the intelligence related to a "deep state" conspiracy is considered true, and 4chan having 22 million monthly visitors, the cult following became an overnight success.

While it would be tempting to dismiss this movement, our daily news reveals otherwise. This self-feeding frenzy is validated by the "Russian probe" and other related newsworthy items.

But wait. There is a "deep state" to the "deep state" conspiracy!     

As it turns out, QAnon has evolved into a conspiratorial group that took a ride on the internet's new trending movement - Biblical prophecies. Within a short period, the "Q" movement adopted other internet movements, such as the trendy posts on the book of Revelation. For example, during the COVID crisis, 86% of the pastors surveyed said they would be shifting their online sermons to teach on the book of Revelation. So they did. Their shift created an internet trend that is increasing by the day. While QAnon has been posting since 2017, when the evangelical leaders began proliferating their messages on the end times, "Q" took a free ride on their topics. As a part of their ride, they quickly accumulated restless "Christians" who were seeking prophetic reasons for the world's secret movements.

At this point in their history, they are not an official organization with a primary leader that we know. Right now, they are a collective group of online trolls feeding off the prophecies found in the Bible, but with a twisted "deep state" obsession. The main fuel for their movement is in bringing to light conspiracy theories by pinning true to life names and organizations to their claims. They are obsessed with "secret meanings" behind speeches, symbols, and members of high-level organizations. The best way to describe their function is compared to a multiplayer global video game, inviting droves to join them in the game.

The dark side of this cult following is they are successful in gaining the attention of conservative evangelical Christians. So much so, surveys are popping up, claiming their movement has captured the lion's share of Christendom.

Their primary platform includes misinformation about COVID-19 (and mask-wearing) plus speculation about JFK's assassination, 9/11, UFOs, vaccines, flat-earth, and many more. They claim to be the originator of the fallacy of wearing a mask during the COVID crisis, let alone stating a secret society started the virus. While they propagate their conspiracy theories on social network sites, the top networks are removing their postings due to the group encouraging violence to make their point. As an example, one QAnon activist has 379,000 YouTube subscribers. Thus, investigations are underway by the FBI, labeling them a "domestic terrorism threat." Since the group claims to be conservative, some researchers are convinced that QAnon is behind the violent protest within liberal cities. Could this be true? Well, right now, it is a conspiracy theory.        
Overall, this cult movement started as a result of the anti-authority movement that has been sweeping the internet. Many churchgoers are no longer attending church. Instead, they are combing the internet for answers to their once church-related questions. While it is true that most pastors have not been addressing cultural issues, these attenders are now clinging to mainstream social surfers, liberal influences, and relativism quickly made available through conspiracy theories provided by QAnon.

"Q" thrives on weak and curious minds. Their target, Christ-followers who do not adhere to church authority and restrictive beliefs of being born-again. They feed off of Christians who aren't getting answers to their Biblical prophecy questions, concluding, the Bible is too complex for the average Christian mind.   

QAnon isn't the first conspiracy theory cult group, but it might be the largest. Most of the other conspiracy theories you know (faked moon landing, 9/11, JFK) are all encapsulated by QAnon.

That's because 'Q' claims that "everyone is in on the game." The government, the media, Hollywood, the education industry, the health care industry, and probably your next-door neighbor is working in cahoots to exploit you, take away your privileges, and run your life—removing the right to freedom of speech, protests, and political & religious beliefs. In short, they are Millennials on steroids.

While it is an authentic Biblical prophecy that Satan will rule the earth at some point, "Q" advances the dark side of most Biblical prophecies. They focus NOT on the message of hope the Bible provides but rather the conspiracies, or truth, behind the global leaders and their followers. Most view conspiracies as lies. This is not true. Many conspiracies are truths, at times exaggerated truths, hidden behind a system run by covert leaders to gain control over the masses.

The QAnon group is apt to have a major impact on the church of tomorrow. The group doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. They passionately desire to divide interested onlookers. They want race wars, class wars, and political wars while claiming they want to unite God and country. Q is so confident and so "well-informed" because it's a "military entity," allegedly comprised of high-ranking officers. They self-identify themselves as the militant branch of the conservative sector. Worse yet, some Q's believe they are the information network for evangelical church members. The fear of many sound pastors is QAnon will replace the believer's pursuit of reading the Word of God for their answers.   

As QAnon posts their "drops," they believe to be the founders of the new "Great Awakening" – a remake of the Great Awakening Revival, which occurred in America in the mid 19th century. Authentic believers should not confuse the two. The first was based on a purely Christian movement, while Q's version is based on revealing conspiracies for the people, which might be tied to the Bible.

One of their primary websites claims QAnon will save the world, with an organized plan, to bring the people out of darkness into the light. That, of course, is accomplished in "Where we go 1, we all go." Thus, their purposeful method of recruiting groups to protest at selected locations.

Here is our conclusion…

We believe that QAnon has evolved into an alternative religion. Not only that, but we also agree with them on one point. It's coming to your church.  QAnon has features akin to syncretism — the practice of blending traditional Christian beliefs with other spiritual systems, such as Santeria (a pantheistic religion) – worship that admits or tolerates all gods. Pantheist belief does not recognize a distinct personal god, anthropomorphic or otherwise, but instead characterizes a broad range of doctrines differing in forms of relationships between reality and divinity. The birthing place of conspiracies. Q explicitly uses Bible verses to urge adherents to stand firm against evil elites, not the devil directly.  

While they take great pride in calling themselves "the new Christian right," or Patriots, they are a dangerous cult. This group vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors. Thus, their meaning behind being "true patriots." Avoid this group at all costs. This dark and mysterious cult could be the greatest threat the authentic church has seen to date. In the end, this group will attempt to detach God from His sovereign prophecies by associating each with the dark underworld of conspiracies.  

Could this be Satan's new way of deluding the potency of God, His Word, and sovereignty? The facts say, "yes." Is QAnon themselves a conspiracy? That would be a "no." They are real, public, and are growing beyond comprehensible numbers. Soon, they could become as dangerous as a venomous snake. Could they replace the conventional church? I fear, "yes." People of the "Q" are rapidly becoming the thief of the traditional church of Jesus Christ.   
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