What It’s Like to Pastor QAnon Believers
Pastors tend to the spiritual needs of their congregations. Conspiracy theories have made their jobs a lot harder.
Vicar Derek Kubilus, a United Methodist pastor, has one of those voices — knowing but full of levity. When we attended church camp together as teenagers, I often wondered if he was telling a joke I didn’t quite understand. Today, I hear a matured version of this voice on his podcast, Cross Over Q, which offers healing for QAnon followers and family members from a Christian perspective. On the podcast, his tone is heavier, that of a faith leader who’s been trying to hold his church through dual crises, a pandemic and spiritual upheaval as QAnon has torn churches and families apart.
To Kubilus, QAnon is a pastoral concern. He sees the movement’s conspiratorial thinking as heresy, a “spiritual pandemic” that is destructive to real people’s lives. Unlike so many pastors who have spent the past year weaving together Christian nationalism, Trumpism, and Q ideology, Kubilus is on the other side, trying to unravel these conspiracies and bring Christians back home.
A January survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute showed that 27% of white evangelicals, 18% of white Catholics, and 15% of white mainline Protestants believe QAnon conspiracy theories are completely or mostly accurate. The disproportionate acceptance of debunked delusion doesn’t stop there. It also extends to almost half of white evangelicals who believe it is either completely or mostly true that Antifa activists were responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
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And there are others who aren’t sure what to believe anymore. Jaded Q followers are now forced to reconcile with a Biden presidency, tens of thousands of QAnon accounts have been purged by social media companies, and Donald Trump is de-platformed and out of office. Their “prophet” Q has not posted since early December, but a mood of uncertainty and isolation still remains. Extremist groups are…