QAnon
A demonstrator holds a QAnon sign as he walks at a protest opposing Washington state’s stay-at-home order to slow the coronavirus outbreak April 19, 2020, in Olympia, Washington. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Survey: More Than a Quarter of White Evangelicals Believe Core QAnon Conspiracy Theory

By Jack Jenkins

A new survey reports more than a quarter of white evangelical Protestants believe a QAnon conspiracy theory that purports former President Donald Trump is secretly battling a cabal of pedophile Democrats, and roughly half express support for the claim that antifa was responsible for the recent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Experts say the data point to a widening ideological divide not only between white evangelicals and other religious groups in the country, but also between white evangelical Republicans and other members of their own party.

The survey, which was conducted by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, reported 29% of Republicans and 27% of white evangelicals — the most of any religious group — believe the widely debunked QAnon conspiracy theory is completely or mostly accurate. QAnon has infiltrated other faiths as well, with 15% of white mainline Protestants, 18% of white Catholics, 12% of non-Christians, 11% of Hispanic Catholics and 7% of Black Protestants saying they believe it.

In addition, large subsets of each group — ranging from 37% of non-Christians to 50% of Hispanic Catholics — said they “weren’t sure” whether the theory was true.

According to Daniel Cox, director of AEI’s Survey Center on American Life, the report suggests conspiracy theories enjoy a surprising amount of support in general, but white evangelicals appear to be particularly primed to embrace them.

“There’s this really dramatic fissure,” he said.

There was also significant support among white evangelicals for the claim that members of antifa, or anti-fascist activists, were “mostly responsible” for the attack on the U.S. Capitol — a claim repeated by former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and conservative religious leaders such as the Rev. Franklin Graham. FBI officials have said there is “no indication” antifa played a role in the insurrection.

Even so, the story has had staying power in the minds of many Americans, including 49% of white evangelical Protestants who said the antifa claim was completely or mostly true. So did 36% of white Catholics, 35% of Hispanic Catholics, 33% of white mainline Protestants, 25% of Black Protestants and 19% of non-Christians.

Among the religiously unaffiliated, 22% also expressed belief in the theory.

Asked to explain why white evangelicals appear disproportionately likely to embrace conspiracy theories, Cox noted that, as a group, they do not fit a stereotype of conspiracy theorists as people disconnected from social interaction. Instead, most retain strong connections to various social groups.

But white evangelicals stand out in a different way: The vast majority say some or a lot of their family members (81%) or friends (82%) voted for Trump in the 2020 election — more than any other religious group.

“People who do strongly believe in these things are not more disconnected — they are more politically segregated,” Cox said.

The resulting social echo chamber, he argued, allows conspiracy theories to spread unchecked.

“That kind of environment is really important when it comes to embracing this kind of thinking,” he said. “You’re seeing people embrace this sort of conspiratorial thinking, and everyone in their social circle is like, ‘Yeah, that sounds right to me,’ versus someone saying, ‘You know, we should look at this credulously.’”

White evangelicals express robust support for other conspiracy theories as well. Close to two-thirds (62%) believe there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election — despite numerous experts and courts at all levels refuting such claims — and roughly the same percentage (63%) believe President Joe Biden’s victory was “not legitimate.” A majority (55%) also said they believed it was mostly or completely accurate to say “a group of unelected government officials in Washington, D.C., referred to as the ‘Deep State’ (has) been working to undermine the Trump administration.”

Cox said forthcoming data will highlight the ideological distinctiveness of white evangelicals even among people who identify as Republicans or who lean toward the party, signaling an “increasingly important divide in the GOP among people who identify as evangelical Christian and those who do not.”

“If you’re a Republican but identify as an evangelical Christian, you’re far more likely to believe in voter fraud in 2020 election,” he said. “You’re far more likely to believe that Biden’s win was not legitimate. You’re more likely to believe in the QAnon conspiracy. You’re more likely to believe in the ‘Deep State.’”

White evangelicals also stood apart from other religious groups when asked about the potential for violent action: 41% completely or somewhat agreed with the statement “if elected leaders will not protect America, the people must do it themselves even if it requires taking violent actions.”

Jack Jenkins is an award-winning journalist and national reporter for the Religion News Service. National reporter Emily McFarlan Miller also contributed to this report.

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41 thoughts on “Survey: More Than a Quarter of White Evangelicals Believe Core QAnon Conspiracy Theory”

  1. If you read to the bottom you find: “Interviews were conducted among a random sample of 2,016 adults (age 18 and up) living in the United States, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” That’s a tiny sample size – wouldn’t even fill a megachurch.

    1. Actually a random sample size of 2,016 is a huge sample size and statistically significant for about all levels of confidence.

  2. It all depends on how you ask and tabulate the questions and answers. Surveys are notorious for getting the answers they want. I have Christian friends who bought into QAnon, and I warned them all to pay no attention to that nonsense. Remember, however, that our FBI director famously said that Antifa is only an idea. Really?!

  3. I would be curious to see a copy of the survey, for sure. However, even taken with a grain of salt I find it mind-boggling that any significant segment of the evangelical community actually buys into this insane “Q-Anon” rubbish. If we supposedly represent truth, love and rational response then it’s time to accept the truth of the election outcome and admit that there is no credible evidence that Antifa (as reprehensible as they are) had anything to do with the storming of the capitol.

    1. I find it troubling too, but not that surprising. If you’ve been discipled for 20-30yrs to think the absolute worst (always!) about a certain group of people (in this case Dems), your mind/heart can believe anything.
      I have to guard against the same thing with my feelings against far-right, rural christians… I have to be wary of anyone who comes along and says those people are planning/doing more than just being fallen human beings who may have a few bad ideas or made some mistakes…like me…
      I suspect that 25% is at a place where they think there political/cultural opposites are “evil all the time, all the way through, irredeemable…” It’s easy to believe all kinds of lies, slander, theories and exaggerations at that point.

    2. Headless Unicorn Guy

      It’s a lot more than “Just Buying Into It”.
      It’s becoming the latest Litmus Test of Salvation.
      QAnon is now SCRIPTURE(TM), and Donald Trump is LORD and God.

  4. There are a lot of nice, normal, decent people, who have succumbed to some strange, irrational ideas. I think the mental/ emotional stress of the virus/ lockdowns/ etc. play a large role in much of the extreme behavior we have witnessed on both sides over the past year.

  5. IDC if the survey was conducted in a phone booth. If u run in Christian circles then u know that many theist overwhelmingly believe most of the unsubstantiated MAGA nonsense

  6. This is a small sample and doesn’t speak for all that many, no matter what the survey concludes. 25% of 2,016 comes out to about 500 people. This doesn’t speak for me. When surveys say “voted for Trump” they don’t consider that many, and I would say most, of the 74 million did not so much vote for Trump the person as vote against an increasingly loopy and narrow woke, progressive, cancel culture.

  7. On The Other Hand

    It’s no nuttier than:

    1. Critical Race Theory which argues that State sponsored exercise of racism is needed to cure racism.
    2. The idea that one’s sex is not determined by genes but feelings.
    3. Arguing that race is an inborn genetically innate aspect of human life while sex is a cultural construct.
    4. Trump is a Nazi working for the Russians.
    5. Anyone who says anything that hurts the feelings of minorities or women is guilty of hate speech and should not be able to work or communicate on the internet.
    6. A poor Appalachian White child who lives in a rural America, without running water and electricity, with parents addicted to Meth, enjoys White Privilege, while a Black child of multimillionaire parents is disadvantaged.
    7. Saying a “forbidden” word is genuine violence while killing, burning, looting, and rioting are peaceful protests.
    8. Strip clubs are essential services but religious services aren’t.
    9. Combining Hispanics and Whites in FBI crime statistics to calculate White crime rates.
    10. Arguing that a city like Chicago with a Black mayor, Black police Chief, Black deputy police Chief, Black Chief of Internal Affairs, and Black civilian head of the police oversight committee suffers from White racism in policing.
    11. Tom Brady is racist for defeating a football team led by a Black quarterback during Black History Month.
    12. Mark Cuban arguing that the NBA shouldn’t play the National Anthem, players should be able to disrespect the Anthem, but dismisses his lack of criticism of China’s totalitarian oppression as just a matter of picking one’s battles.
    13. The US was founded in 1619 with the arrival of the first slaves, rather than in 1776 after the American Revolution.
    14. Arguing that the rare police shooting of an unarmed Black is a crisis that requires the shrinking, elimination of police forces, and the elimination of bail while in these same cities hundreds and hundreds of young Blacks are gunned down by other Blacks–that somehow this is an iconic expression of the idea that Black lives matter.
    15. The a former President of the U.S. can be impeached (hint: removed) from an office he no longer holds by a Senate hearing without the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to lead it (as required by the Constitution).
    16. The legal fiction that if a woman is caused to lose her fetus in a car wreck or assault, the fetus counts as a person. If the mother doesn’t want the child, it counts as pile of indiscriminate tissue.
    17. Arguing that the distribution of melanin in a group is a good measure of diversity.
    18. Arguing that the high incarceration rate for Black men is proof of racist courts, but the fact that men vastly outnumber women in prison is not a sign of sexual bias in the legal system.
    19. Arguing that the medical system is biased against women when women outlive men by four to five years and also access the system more frequently for care.

    1. My eyes are rolling

      Meanwhile, On the other hand has made it very clear that he is a white male who is unable to see the world from any lens but his own.

      1. @ “My Eyes Are Rolling” – Wow! You must be clairvoyant to know the writer of “On the Other Hand” is a male and white. With that reasoning, I’d believe you are female and black.

    2. For Such a Time as this

      Very well stated, On the Other Hand. It’s very concerning how many people refuse to acknowledge the vast amount of evidence from credible witnesses both of the corruptions from some in the current administration, (look up Tony Bobalinski) but were fine with piling on investigation after investigation into Trump and his family.
      There’s a serious disconnect when people refuse to see that the riots all last summer were violent and lawless, terming them “mostly peaceful” despite the widespread destruction, but feign outrage over a march on the capital, where the vast majority of the thousands of Americans were truly “mostly peaceful”.
      There’s enough evidence of massive voter fraud with credible sources trying to raise the alarm, but being denied the opportunity to speak, since leftists hold the reins to most of the mass communication. These aren’t wild conjectures, but highly provable allegations that deserve scrutiny. Yet silencing those who are trying to bring serious charges to the light of day is the foremost aim of those who are desperate to dismiss and bury them.

      Why can’t the video of data compiled by Mike Lindell be made widely available for everyone to see and determine if what he and his many qualified guests claim are true or not?? The very use of the tactics of silencing, censoring and intimidating leads one to believe that they’ve uncovered the smoking gun. Desperate people try to cover up. People who have nothing to hide would welcome the opportunity to get to the truth by allowing scrutiny of their machines and a full determinative investigation.
      Instead, those of us who love Jesus and see the darkness of this world increasing, are being called crazy fringe radicals. It just reaffirms what the Bible says, ”right will be called wrong and wrong will be called right “ and “God will send strong delusions that people will believe the lies”. We are seeing that happen right in front of us, so we must not lose heart, but recognize that Gods judgment is growing ever closer.
      Speaking the truth (which is actually the more loving thing to do) is all the more urgent as our time to work while it’s light is drawing to a close.

      1. “Why can’t the video of data compiled by Mike Lindell be made widely available for everyone to see and determine if what he and his many qualified guests claim are true or not??”

        Maybe, just maybe they don’t have any evidence? (but want you to keep buying pillows and/or sending money their way somehow?)
        Has that ever dawned on you that the far right are masters at grifting? I hightly doubt Mr Lindell has any evidence, at least not anything that would stand in a court of law.

    3. So about the strip club thing (#8). The godless liberal government wanted to shut the clubs down here in San Diego, but for some bizarre reason, a Republican Judge over-ruled the order to shut down the clubs. Eventually the county prevailed and the godless liberals were able to keep the strip clubs closed.

      Speaking of strippers. Upon starting his 2016 campaign, Trump gets several Non-disclosure agreements to hide the truth from his evangelical base. Trump can’t win without the evangelical vote. Turns out, evangelicals don’t seem to care. In fact they fall head over heals for the guy. The more crass and asinine he gets, the more people love him. Do his followers really think he’s trustworthy? Based on what? He’ll turn on anybody who doesn’t fall in line with his God-complex, something Mike Pence found out the hard way. Do you really think he wouldn’t turn on Christians if they didn’t line up behind him? Trump doesn’t care about you. Trump only cares about himself. People throw the word “Narcissus” around too much. But if you’ve ever dealt with a real one, you’ll understand fully what’s going on with Trump. Are there no other decent, honest Republicans evangelicals can get behind? But so many evangelicals are like a lovesick teenager who’s fallen for a guy with a sordid history, and think things will turn out beautifully if they stick with him.

    4. Your comment is on point! Why are “we” focusing on “Q” and not all the problems plaguing this country? Censorship being one of them!. Thank you for your response.

  8. We can quibble about the exact magnitude of the numbers, but it is obvious to anybody paying attention that the number of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who have been deceived by the QAnon craziness is not insignificant [of course any number above zero is tragic for such horrible lies]. And an even larger fraction has been deceived by the lies about voter fraud, and lies about who stormed the Capitol.

    One reason for this deplorable situation might be that critical thinking is frowned upon in some church circles. But I suspect a bigger reason is that many alleged Christians have allowed their devotion to the Cult of Trump to surpass their devotion to Jesus.

  9. On Jan. 15 I received a warning I believe is from God that a civil war is coming and it is inevitable. I saw “Christian” militia groups preparing for a violent battle over mere politics. The group I saw was on the right, but there are also people who would claim to be Christian involved in the current violence on the left. None of this is consistent with Jesus’ actual teachings. People claiming to be Christians have committed many war atrocities in the past so do not think that cannot happen in our near future.

    What was clear to me is the need for people who care more about Jesus actual Kingdom is the need to become fully politically neutral for the practical purpose of helping the many victims that are going to be bleeding and very much in need of Christ’s actual love. The answer is not in politics and no one in that is wearing the white hats. It is more like two mafias having a turf war. Yet Jesus died to save everyone even those who will commit violent acts but then repent. I am calling for Jesus body to prepare for war, not with guns but with bandages and medical supplies…

    1. Yep. Yet we have a lengthy video of the leader of an ANTIFA related insurrectionist group inside The Capitol boasting to his female companion “We did it!” and going on to say “I couldn’t say much.” But no ANTIFA involvement.

    1. They are giving themselves a bad name by buying into such hate-filled rhetoric and doing damage to the name of Christianity in the process. Shame on these “believers” who promote hate in the name of Christ. This is truly taking the name of the Lord in vain.

  10. I don’t buy that “survey”, as a non-American outsider. There are plenty of “white” Evangelicals who would be anti-establishment, who don’t take Trump seriously or trust him. There are plenty of “white” evangelical supporters who have absolutely nothing to do with Q. These days I don’t trust surveys and “studies” that are agenda driven and especially when they are done on the fly. This left-right stuff has honestly become ridiculous. The mob rioting stuff whether “left” or “right” is the work of fiction. Actually the one American friend I have, who seems to follow a bit of the q stuff (which I quietly caution him about) is not white at all, he is from another country. This “white” or any race labelling stuff is dangerous. You have a false premise assumed in the undertones in ‘studies’ like this. There is mainstream media vs Q conspiracy, and it is choice between those two as your source of learning an information. I have no idea how the world always gets locked into these two’s dialectic patterns. On another day I could talk about all the problems associated with the term and mentality “fake-news” which the “left” and conservatives and alternative folk are all using. Its not a healthy paradigm to think about the nature of truth and how we acquire knowledge and learn.

  11. Only 25% of evangelicals believe in QAnon… I would thought it was much more…

    Add in the large percentages of evangelicals who believe in the Deep State and that Antifa was responsible for the Capitol insurrection… it tells me the future of the evangelical church in America is in doubt…

    My guess is in 50 to 75 years from now, the evangelical church in America will be much much smaller… similar to Europe where only 20 million out of 550 million people are evangelical…

    Image an evangelical who believes in QAnon, a Deep State and that Covid is a hoax… and then says to someone do you want to believe in the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ…. Ummmmm No Thanks….

    1. Headless Unicorn Guy

      “Imagine an evangelical who believes in QAnon, a Deep State and that Covid is a hoax… and then says to someone do you want to believe in the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ…”

      St Augustine wrote pretty much the same thing some 1600 years ago:
      If you talk nonsense about something I know, why should I believe you when you tell me something I don’t?

  12. I think this article would be more conplete if Julie listed the main conspiratorial beliefs of Q so readers would understand why this is a concern….

    1. Abigail,

      Yes, I believe there is a massive institutionalized policy of protecting powerful pedophiles–if anyone doubts that let them look at the sweetheart treatment Epstein got. However–it sure as heck isn’t only Democrats involved, and Trump sure as heck isn’t the savior (remember–a woman accused him of raping her when she was thirteen–plus he was BFFs with Epstein for years).

      Anyone who gives their life to the Q nonsense is on a fast track to the Darwin Awards as Ashli Bennett proved.

    2. Headless Unicorn Guy

      OAnon’s SCRIPTURE is basically a retread of that of The Satanic Panic of the Eighties, just with different buzzwords and the addition of Donald Trump as a Messiah/Savior figure. Others have traced it further back through Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the Blood Libel of the middle ages.

      Me? I figured “The Cabal” or “The Deep State” was just the latest Code Words for “The JOOZ”.

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