Transcript of Jack Crabtree’s 2020 Talk on Q Anon, Other Conspiracy Theories

The following transcript is from Jack Crabtree’s 2020 audio series “Dr. Jack’s Philosophy Shop.” It is a transcript of Crabtree’s answer to Question #18, which is about “Q and the Q Anon phenomenon in modern culture. Crabtree is a former teacher at my alma mater, Gutenberg College. The series is hosted by the Sound Interpretation Project. To listen to the audio, please click here. For my summary of the transcript, please click here.

In this session of Dr. Jack’s “Philosophy Shop” I would like to take another email I got. Let me actually read the email to you. It reads: 

“Thank you for trying to tackle this difficult issue in Question Number 17.” 

That was the one about voting for Trump. 

“I might have an added burden because of a grown son of mine who is deeply committed to Q Anon, so much so that it is taking over most of his thoughts and time while he is losing relationships with family and friends, insisting that they must know ‘what’s really going on.’ I too believe that humans are indeed capable of the horrendous things reported by Q Anon, but after looking into this movement, I also believe—because of how God and the Bible is misused—that Q Anon is really a cult. Trump is featured quite heavily in the Q Anon narrative and he does nothing to dispute it, and even gave a shout-out to a conspiracy theorist named Emily Belz who is running for a political position, claiming that he doesn’t know much about them but he hears that they like him. And then as a believer, and also as a mother, this is concerning to say the least. So I would appreciate any thoughts or possible insights you might have concerning Q Anon’s misuse of the Bible and how one is to think about the seeming approval of something that to me looks like a work of Satan. Thank you for your consideration.”

Before I go any further, I think the email mis-names a person and I want to make that clear. The email talks about a conspiracy theorist named Emily Belz who is running for a political position. Actually, Emily Belz is an editor and writer for World Magazine who actually did what I would consider to be an expose of the Q Anon phenomenon. It didn’t look to me like she is in favor of the phenomenon at all in the article I read. So I think there must be another person in mind that she actually meant who is running for a political position. 

Ok, I am gonna do my best here. My knowledge of Q is very limited. It was interesting that the email got me to the article by Emily Belz because, up until reading that article, I was confounded when I would hear people in the media talking about Q Anons as a bunch of nuts and as a cult and all the various labels that they use to describe them, because I have a handful of friends and family members who are very interested in Q and none of them are a bunch of nuts, none of those labels fit them at all, so I was completely confused and confounded by those kinds of labels. But when I read the article by Emily Belz, I realized that there’s a very important distinction that needs to be made. There’s Q and then there’s a whole movement of Q Anons. And while the Q Anons take their point of departure from Q, what Q Anons say is not necessarily what Q is saying. And so it’s very important to make a distinction.

So keep that distinction in mind, and I am gonna do my best to try to explain what I understand to be what Q is all about and evaluate that as a phenomenon and then I will make some comments about Q Anon. Now, I don’t have any first hand knowledge of Q. It’ll become apparent why as I go on here. All of my information about Q comes from friends and family who have given some attention to it and have explained to me what it’s all about. 

So what is Q, as I have been led to understand it from them? Q is either a person or more likely a group of people who use publicly available information to seek to focus attention on various occurrences and realities in our world that would likely go unnoticed and underappreciated if the Q people did not draw attention to it. That’s the first thing to understand. 

Second thing, it is assumed that they have access to much greater knowledge than the public does of those very realities that they are trying to draw attention to because in all likelihood they are highly placed in United States military intelligence. That’s the assumption that the people that I talk to make. 

Thirdly, Q—these people that make up Q—do not reveal any classified information which they know. They only draw attention to publicly published information, usually through a link to some published source, and then they draw attention to that information by simply asking questions about it and inviting the reader to examine further how and why that might be significant.

Fourthly, any assertions that are made by Q, in a Q drop or a Q post, are posed in a highly cryptic and riddle-like form. So Q asserts very little, if anything, that is explicit and clear. The purpose of the post seems generally to invite those who follow the Q posts to do further research in the public records to try to make more and further connections between various things that have happened and various realities that seem to be taking shape in our culture.

Now, on an aside, that’s why I have no independent knowledge of the Q phenomenon. Because anything that Q is actually asserting is not explicit. It’s not clear. It’s cryptic and riddle-like and I have my hands full studying the Bible. I don’t have time nor motivation to take on the very real challenge of making sense of Q posts. Now I am not criticizing anyone who is motivated to take it on. I’m just saying I’m not one of those people. So any knowledge that I have of Q comes from other people who’ve given it a lot more attention than I have, which is basically none.

Now, those people who are trying to understand Q, then, have suggested to me that there is a fundamental Q narrative, and as best as I understand it, the fundamental Q narrative is that there is a network of wealthy and powerful individuals around the world who have been working toward amassing power to themselves both for its own sake and in order to afford themselves protection for their practice of some pretty horrible evils. They cite things like pedophila, Satan worship, and other pretty horrible things. 

So that’s on the one hand, as part of the narrative. And the other part is that there is a network of individuals within the United States—presumably individuals in military intelligence in the United States—who are working to oppose that evil network to bring as many of them as they can to justice and in general to remove them from the positions of power and influence to which they have attained. 

So that’s basically the fundamental Q narrative, is this declaration that there’s this battle going on between a network of people intent on evil and another network of people intent on opposing them and putting a stop to their evil. 

Q Anons are followers of the Q posts who offer their own facts, theories, observations, narratives, and so on. So that’s why it’s so important to make a distinction between Q and the Q Anons. Because what the Q Anons are claiming may or not be what Q would claim. And in fact, as you could imagine, I mean, just think about people who source their beliefs in the Bible. There are people who are disciplined and rational and intelligent as they approach the Bible and they discipline themselves to try to find out what the Bible is actually asserting. And then there are other people who take the Bible as a starting point, as a launch pad for all kinds of wild and crazy and weird and fantastical theories and doctrines and beliefs. 

So just as Christians do all kinds of different things with the Bible, apparently the Q Anons do all kinds of different things with Q. And some of them get pretty far out there, pretty creative, pretty imaginative, and very possibly pretty out of touch with facts and reality. So, when, in the mainstream, people accuse Q Anons of being a bunch of nuts, those people who are saying so, they don’t know anything about Q himself nor anything about the more rational Q Anons. They’ve apparently been exposed only to some of the more far out claims of the more creative, imaginative, and undisciplined Q Anons. So they’re prepared to call them a bunch of nuts, and maybe they’re right. You know, I’m not going to say. But maybe they are right about that. But I think that the people that they have in view when they say that are not the more disciplined, rational Q Anons nor Q himself but some pretty wild and crazy followers.

Now, what is my reaction to Q? In the final analysis, I really have no idea whether Q is for real. Whether it’s true. Whether his claim that there’s a network of people that are out to put a stop to this other evil network. Whether that’s actually true. I don’t know. It may just be very attractive and intriguing fiction. And I am not prepared to say—I’ll get into this in a second—but it doesn’t really much matter to me, because nothing hinges on it for me. I’m just going to wait and see. And either it’s going to materialize and that network of the good guys, it really is going to make a difference in putting an end to some network of evil guys, or maybe none of it’s true. We’ll find out in time. And my position is just, ok, that’s really interesting. We’ll wait and see. 

I do find it appealing. And there is a part of me that really hopes that it is true. Why do I respond that way? I think I respond that way because I have lived through several decades now with a sense that truth and righteousness and justice and godliness are losing to the forces of evil and deception in the world. The really appealing thing about the Q narrative is that something is happening to turn that around to a degree. And that’s appealing to me for a couple of different reasons. 

One, is just, it’s wrong that evil and deception should win out against truth and righteousness and justice and godliness. That’s just wrong. So there’s a sense of the rightness of goodness in some sense, relative goodness, coming along and pushing back against the evil. It’s wrong for folly to win out over wisdom. So for wisdom—some kind of semblance of wisdom—to come and push back and defeat the folly, there’s something right about that. And for righteousness to come and push back against the unrighteousness in the world and win for a change. There’s something just right about that. So obviously it’s appealing for that reason. 

And then also, in the years that I have left in my life and for the grandchildren that have their whole lives in front of them, I would love to see our culture restored to some kind of sense of decency and a civilized world where people feel answerable to morality and righteousness and goodness. I would love for my grandchildren to have that experience. So obviously, if the whole Q narrative is true, I would love to see the good guys win for a change, and I would love for my culture to be turned back away from its headlong gallop into evil and insanity and destruction. 

But, as a follower of Jesus, I know that it would be utter folly on my part to place my trust in Q’s plan or Q’s narrative and to trust in that rather than God. The only thing I trust, I hope, you know I know that I must, I know that it would be wrong otherwise, to trust anything except God’s plan. God’s script is the only infallible plan there is. 

And if—I have read enough of Q, that if there’s one real criticism I have of Q, is he will often say, “Trust the plan.” Now, in fairness to Q, that could be contextualized in a way that doesn’t necessarily imply that you should trust the plan that Q has in mind rather than the sovereignty of God, and rather than God. He doesn’t necessarily mean that and wouldn’t necessarily have to mean that. But, I fear that there are way too many people who would be prepared to literally put their hope and trust in Q and not in God. So if I had any criticism, that would be it. 

So if there is anything Satanic or diabolical about Q and the Q movement, it’s this: that it seduces individuals away from putting their trust and hope in God and his plan, and it encourages them to trust in the plan of Q instead. And that would be diabolical if that’s actually what’s going on. 

Now, if the Q narrative is not true, and it is not factual, if it is fiction, or perhaps it is true and factual, perhaps there really is this network that Q is declaring is there, but it’s not infallible so perhaps it will fail even though it is there, but either way, then I can also be excited about that. For in my estimation, if God allows the American experiment to collapse—and as I look around, it looks like we’re very vulnerable to collapsing these days—if God does allow the American experiment to collapse, it’s tantamount, I think, to God stepping aside and allowing the secret evil conspiracy of Satan to undermine the purposes of God. God is allowing that conspiracy of Satan to advance. 

If you remember back a few sessions, I looked at 2 Thessalonians and we talked about the mystery of lawlessness, which I think is the secret, evil conspiracy of Satan, and the man of lawlessness, the evil man who is one day going to be revealed when God stops restraining the secret, evil conspiracy of Satan. When God steps aside, and lets Satan have his way, then we’re going to move right toward the final evil of the end of history itself. 

And I may be wrong about this, but something in me tells me that if the American experiment collapses, then that is some kind of harbinger that God is stepping aside and allowing the secret, evil conspiracy of Satan to finally begin to have its way. And we’ll be marching towards the end of the present age. But that’s exciting as much as it is scary as well. It’s exciting because it means we are close to the return of Jesus our King. And I really could get pretty excited about that prospect as well.

So for me, whether Q is true and factual or just really good fiction, it doesn’t matter to me because any way it turns out I think it’s exciting that God is on the move, one way or the other and we’re going to see something pretty unique develop here in the future. Now remember I’ve been talking about Q. I am not talking about the kind of Q Anon phenomenon that Emily Belz was talking about in her World article. She described some people that I don’t think have a particularly accurate and balanced and wise perspective on the biblical worldview and biblical truth and the biblical gospel. And so what they’ve done instead is supplanted their hope in God with this attractive and seductive hope in this Q narrative that they have greatly embellished and added all kinds of fanciful interpretations to. And I would not defend that. That is not interesting to me. What’s interesting to me is what appears to me to be the essential, basic Q narrative.

Now I do want to talk about—I did read an article as well in a Christian magazine that was talking about how evangelicals are coming out and condemning the Q Anon phenomenon. I think I understand that article better now that I’ve read Emily Belz’s article, ‘cuz now I understand what they mean by Q Anon. I was unfamiliar with that before. But I, but let me assume that they would also include a more measured and disciplined and reasonable interpreter of Q. If they are including them in their criticism, then I want to talk about various reasons that people have given for rejecting the Q phenomenon that I don’t think are valid.

One of them is that it’s too far-fetched. Well, far-fetched of course is a totally undefined term and there’s no clear criteria for what makes something be beyond the pale of what one should accept as plausible and what is not beyond the pale of what one should accept as plausible. That’s never defined and there are no clear criteria ever defined. It’s just kind of a reaction that a person has—and if something just seems implausible to them, they call it far-fetched. And the way it gets used, and the way it gets used in these articles, is: it’s a way of simply dismissing something without having to make an argument. If I can say that something is far-fetched, then ‘nuff said. That settles it.

But let’s get that in perspective: the Gospel itself is too far-fetched for most of the people in the world. Many people won’t even begin to consider the Gospel because it strikes them as completely fanciful. Really? Somebody raised from the dead? Really? Human beings are sinful and are gonna be condemned by a good and loving God because they are depraved? And somebody, God sent somebody, and he died so that God would show them mercy but God raised him from the dead? 

I mean, step back and squint at that. Imagine yourself not believing it. Look how far-fetched all that sounds and yet we believe it’s the truth no matter how far-fetched it might sound to somebody else. Why does it seem fanciful and far-fetched to the average person? Primarily, I think, because it requires a significant shift in a person’s ordinary perception of reality—if not a wholesale paradigm shift in their worldview. But certainly a significant shift in their ordinary perception of reality in order to even begin to believe it. So it requires departing from my normal perspective and most people are unwilling to do that. That seems threatening. That’s not safe to depart from my normal perspective. So the way we describe that, when we know it’s gonna demand that of us, is: well, that’s just way too far-fetched. I can’t do that.

We had to depart from our ordinary perception of reality, we who believe. We had to depart from our ordinary perception of reality in order to believe it. But nevertheless we did. Through rational thought, imagination, and careful investigation. We overcame the obstacle of the far-fetched nature of the Gospel and came to embrace it as true. We came to embrace it as fact and not fancy. So, far-fetched is in the eye of the beholder and it’s just not a valid reason to reject anything. I have to come up with a better argument than that.

The Q narrative—it is often referred to as a conspiracy theory. Or these are conspiracy theories. And there’s a common belief that conspiracies are not possible. Human beings are incapable of keeping secrets that well. So there never is a real thing such as a conspiracy because human beings would inevitably spill the goods. And the conspiracy would be revealed. So, that kind of reasoning leads a lot of people to immediately dismiss any suggestion that there’s a conspiracy.

I just viewed a three-part series on Netflix called Fear City. It’s a documentary about the mafia control of New York City in the 70s and early 80s. It was a conspiracy. It was a conspiracy of five mob bosses who cooperated with one another and coordinated with one another, had organizations under them to implement their purposes. And they managed to control the concrete and construction industry, the unions, the garbage collection, some hospitals, judges, people on the police force, and they kept control of them. It was so extensive that, according to this documentary, it even threatened the national security of the United States. 

That was a documented conspiracy. But notice the conspiracy did not rely upon hiddenness and secrecy. That conspiracy operated on fear. They just simply made people fearful enough that they wouldn’t talk and they wouldn’t do anything to oppose them. There were probably thousands of people who knew at least the various pieces of what the mafia was doing in New York. And they were well aware of it. It was no secret to them. But they were too afraid to be able to speak up or to do anything about it. 

So, is it possible, is it plausible, today that a network of wealthy and influential individuals could gain power over various segments of our society, in collusion with one another, using fear, using their power, using their influence in a variety of ways, not necessarily being hidden from everybody but having enough influence over people that no one would expose them or seek to oppose them? And if they did, they’d kill them, like the mafia did? That’s not fanciful. It’s not far-fetched. 

Think back to 1980. How would a farmer in the middle of Iowa in 1980 have responded if someone had come along with the conspiracy theory that there are five men who had managed to gain control of the construction industry, garbage collection, unions, transportation, and several other aspects of New York City? From where he sat in his cornfield in Iowa, wouldn’t that have seemed far-fetched? I think so. His initial reaction would have been, “That can’t possibly be true. That’s outlandishly fanciful.” And yet we know that it was true. 

So I don’t see any reason at all why the narrative that a network of individuals have attained to that kind of control and power over large segments of our society today can simply be dismissed as too fanciful to be true. Furthermore, we have to keep in mind that not all conspiracies succeed simply through the ability of humans to keep control. Satan also can create or affect a conspiracy without employing obvious human conspirators. Or in any case, in conjunction with human conspirators. 

Let me give you just a couple of examples. It’s noteworthy to me, in recent days, how something that is patently false and concerning which it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that one could possibly believe it, can nevertheless gain widespread acceptance and become the basis for official action in America today. But it’s happening all around us. Things that are patently false and that nobody in their right mind would believe are being believed—and not just being believed, but are being acted on even by officials in official capacity. 

Let me give you a couple examples. One is, the thing that should not be believed and is crazy to to believe, is this: a person who is genetically male may actually be female and vice-versa. A person who is genetically female may actually be male. That is patently false and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever that anyone would ever believe that. But I was just reading the other day, that Kerry Kennedy—a grandchild of Robert F. Kennedy and currently the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization—criticized the novelist, the writer J.K. Rowling, who earlier was given the, I think it’s called the the Ripple of Hope Award by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization. But she was criticized now by the president of that same organization because she was transphobic. 

Why is she transphobic? Because she tweeted something that audaciously suggested that women were women by virtue of their biology. That’s just nuts. And yet it’s not just that one individual. That’s becoming more and more widespread in polite society in America. That we should believe the patently false claim that a person who is genetically male may actually be female. It seems unlikely to me that the widespread acceptance of such a nonsensical idea is the result of a merely human conspiracy. Granted, there may very well be a component of human conspiracy involved in that. But it seems likely to me that the power and force that it has in our culture has more to do with supernatural deception at work than human conspiracy.

Another example. A patently false, and a nonsensical idea: after sixty years of people taking hydroxychloroquine for malaria and other ailments (I have taken hydroxychloroquine twice in my life), the claim that hydroxychloroquine is dangerous. Not only has that gained wide acceptance, but it’s been acted on. My allergist the other day told me that all but one state have made it illegal, or at least against protocol, for a doctor to prescribe hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 treatment. I think—I may be wrong—but I think that is completely unprecedented, that doctors have not been allowed to use their own medical judgment in treating their patients and prescribing safe drugs for whatever they think it may help. In any case, it’s crazy.

There was a doctor from LA, an emergency room physician, who got a group of doctors together to publicize the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in their own experience with patients who had Covid-19. And after the press conference, where these doctors gave testimony after testimony, testimonial about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating Covid-19, what happened to that doctor who put that group of doctors together? Their hospital fired her. That’s crazy. The rest of them were vilified by the press. Social media blocked and banned any audio and video testimony on their part. That’s just nuts. What’s going on there? Is that a human conspiracy? Is Dr. Fauci, among others, attempting to destroy any competition to the cure—the very expensive cure that he wants to put forward and make a bunch of money from? Maybe. I don’t know. But it seems just as likely that there may be something more directly Satanic at work. 

It’s hard for me to believe that all the people that are involved in believing that and advancing that false idea, that patently false idea, are actually doing so just as a part of some kind of human conspiracy. That seems more implausible to me than that there’s something more supernatural at work. And I can’t think of them all, but it just seems to me that there’s just been dozens of examples kinda like that that have arisen in the past several months. And with a frequency that is breathtaking. I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime.

So all that’s to say, just because something is a conspiracy, doesn’t mean it has to be a purely human conspiracy. And so any argument that you make against the implausibility of human beings being able to pull it off doesn’t take into account the supernatural element behind some conspiracies. And as I said in an earlier session, when I was talking about 2 Thessalonians, I think that’s what Paul was talking about in 2 Thessalonians, when he talks about the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. I think what Paul is talking about is his recognition that, from the very beginning, Satan has had an agenda. And his agenda is to secretly and as surreptitiously as possible deceive people in such a way that he can sabotage the purposes of God. Satan has always been doing that, he’s always been seeking to do that. And could it be that we’re in a time where Satan is pushing hard to deceive people and defeat the purposes of God right now? I don’t see why not.

So if the mainstream culture, when they refer to the “far-right conspiracy theories of the Q Anons,” have in mind the whole phenomenon and not just some of the more fringe elements of it, keep in mind that there are very few arguments that are given against the Q narrative. They’re just labels that are attached to it. Conspiracy theory is one of them.

Conspiracy theory is a four letter word. It’s a way of getting people, moving people, to reject something without having to make an argument for why you should reject it. Calling it far-fetched is like that. Calling the people a bunch of nuts has that same effect. Calling, the word that the evangelicals tended to use, was to call the Q Anons a cult. Well, we all know that by calling something a cult, you can just dismiss it out of hand. You don’t need to really refute it or make an argument against it. You can just dismiss it by calling it a cult. And for that matter, the label right-wing plays that same role in our culture. If something is right-wing, well then automatically we know that it’s not to be taken seriously.

So in the article that I read in the Christian magazine that was talking about evangelical rejection of Q Anon, there were some really bizarre arguments. Al Mohler, from Southern Baptist Seminary, said that we need to reject the Q Anons and the Q Anon phenomenon because it’s like Gnosticism. The comparison he was drawing is that only a privileged few are able to see and that particular, secret knowledge is what enables salvation. Then he goes on to claim that’s not consistent with the Gospel because Christians don’t have a secret truth. We have a public truth that we share with the world. 

Well, I know a little bit about Gnosticism, and I don’t even recognize Gnosticism by what Mohler is saying. Just saying that there’s only a privileged few who are able to see, that doesn’t make something Gnosticism. The Bible itself teaches that only a privileged few are able to see. It’s Jesus himself who said, “He who has eyes to see, let him see. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus recognized that there are only a few who are going to be able to see the truth that is revealed from God through Jesus. Does that make him a Gnostic? No, absolutely not. What makes Gnosticism, Gnosticism—and what makes Gnosticism false and misleading and deceptive—is the whole worldview of Gnosticism that is completely different than the worldview of the Bible. So it’s really disingenuous to call something Gnosticism and therefore heretical just because it appeals to something that not everybody can see. 

Furthermore, Q is not making that claim. Q is not making the claim that only a privileged few are able to see. He’s a part of a group that has some knowledge that other people don’t and he’s seeking to share it with the world. Granted, it’s in a cryptic kind of way and in riddle form. But he wouldn’t be posting if he weren’t trying to draw people’s attention to things that they know that they want a wider audience to know. So that’s just a pretty hysterical analysis by Mohler. 

A guy named Tyler Huckabee in Relevant Magazine just calls it far-fetched and it’s fueled by confirmation bias. Now, maybe he has in mind the more extreme forms, in fairness to him, and maybe there’s some validity to that criticism there. But he does go on to say that the Q Anon phenomenon is a logical extension of the culture war—which I think in his mind is a bad thing— providing real plot and vocabulary of the us-versus-them model that became popular with the rise of the Moral Majority.

Now I think he’s criticizing what he’s calling the us-versus-them model because he thinks that the us-versus-them model necessarily leads to hating the them by the us. But that’s just false. Jesus clearly knew that reality was rightly viewed as an us-versus-them. He says so explicitly. He tells his disciples: They are going to hate you and they are going to persecute you. They persecuted me—and I’m the teacher. Don’t you know that as my students they are going to persecute and hate you as well?

So, Jesus knew clearly that the reality of human sin and evil and folly and darkness and ignorance was that there are going to be two kinds of people in the world: sons of the devil and sons of God. And the sons of the devil are going to hate the sons of God, just like Cain hated Abel and murdered him. I mean, that couldn’t be clearer in the teaching of Jesus and the teaching of the apostles. So he clearly teaches an us-versus-them model of reality. 

But Jesus didn’t hate the them. He loved the them. And he instructed his disciples to love their enemies. Were there going to be enemies? Yes, there were going to be people who made themselves enemies of his disciples. And what were they supposed to do in response to those enemies? They were to love them. And that’s the clear and explicit and unquestionable teaching of Jesus. So, it can hardly be a criticism of Q that it sees the world in terms of an us-versus-them when Jesus himself saw the world in terms of an us-versus-them.

He also writes—and by the way, with all these people, I’m taking these quotes from an article about them, I cannot vouch for the fact that these quotes are in context and give a fair view of these particular individuals—my point is to critique the article about evangelicals rejecting Q Anon, not the individual people that are cited. Because I can’t speak fairly and justly to what they actually said and what they actually believe. But they quote this Tyler Huckabee as saying, “There are no easy answers about what can be done about Q Anon. But the fact that Christians seem extra open to conspiracies does reveal that something is deeply broken in how people of faith are spreading their worldview.” 

Now, again, maybe that’s a fair statement about the extreme edges, fringe edges, of the Q Anon phenomenon. But if we’re talking about a more reasonable approach to Q, if a Christian had noted how the mafia had taken over New York in the 1970s, and had made a point of that and had made a point of highlighting how the mafia had taken over New York, would that indicate that those Christians were “extra open to conspiracies” and would it have indicated something was “deeply broken” in how they were spreading their worldview? I don’t see how. If the narrative that Q tells is actually describing a reality that is actually at work right now, then there is nothing that should be done about Q Anon. And it doesn’t tell us anything about the, you know, psychological needs of the people who are paying attention to that. They’re just simply tapped into something very real and something very true.

Furthermore, Huckabee goes on to say, “When Christianity is set up as a cultural battle, instead of an opportunity to serve, others are seen not as people in need of love but enemies who need to be feared and mistrusted.” Well, again, that’s a false dichotomy, and it makes me question the actual grasp of Christianity that Huckabee has. Jesus himself said we are to be wise as serpents but gentle as doves. We should fear and mistrust our enemies. 

In John 2, after he had performed a whole lot of miracles in Jerusalem—it was the very first miracles that Jesus performed in his ministry—he was at Jerusalem for an early Passover and he performed a lot of miracles and he got a lot of people interested in him and attracted to him and intrigued by him. And John makes a very telling comment: “He did not entrust himself to men for he knew what was in their hearts.” In other words, the popularity didn’t impress Jesus much. Why didn’t the popularity impress him much? Because he knew the response to him was for evil motives. And it was fickle. And it would not be a lasting commitment. So he didn’t allow himself to be overly impressed by the newfound popularity that was in front of him. He feared the evil that was in the people. He did not trust the enemy that he knew was in their hearts. 

Did that mean that he hated them? No, he loved them. You don’t need to hate people just because they are your enemies. But you also don’t need to fail to recognize that they are enemies in order to love them. You can do both. You can have your eyes wide open and be wise as serpents and know exactly the lay of the land and know exactly who the other people are that you are dealing with—and yet you can love them and be gentle as doves. So Huckabee is creating a false dichotomy there, and it’s very unfortunate. There’s nothing about taking Q seriously that would lead you to make yourself, and act like, an enemy of nonbelievers in our culture. 

Then there is a man—a pastor named Joe Carter that is quoted—he is a pastor of McLean Bible Church in Arlington, Virginia. And he’s a part of a group called the Gospel Coalition. And in one of their newsletters, I did read his article. He wrote in response to the Q Anon phenomenon. He calls it a political cult, he calls it a Satanic movement, and he calls it a threat to the global church. 

Now, why? Why does he say all that? He says because it deals in slander, lies, and demonically inspired falsehoods that divide professed Christians from true believers. I’m not exactly sure what he’s referring to, what slander is he talking about. I suppose he might be talking about calling some Hollywood celebrity a pedophile, is slander. Well, it is, if they’re not a pedophile. But if they are a pedophile, that’s not slander. Lies? I’m not sure what lies he’s talking about or what demonically inspired falsehoods. 

But it is certainly no less slander to call a movement Satanic than it is for them to call some celebrity Satanic. I mean, if one is slander, the other is slander as well. So is it ok for Joe Carter to slander the Q Anons, but it’s not ok for the Q Anons to slander various celebrities in our culture? Now, granted, everybody should save their critique of other people until they know that the facts are there. That’s true. But to call it Satanic just because somebody has gone beyond the evidence available to them? That’s careless, it’s sloppy, it’s unkind, it’s uncharitable. But then, isn’t that what human beings are? To go on to call that Satanic, I think is a little hysterical.

I do want to make a disclaimer at this point. The emailer wonders in the email whether Q Anon is not a cult and Satanic but I want to make a distinction between this author, this pastor that I’m critiquing, and the email. I don’t mean any of this to be a criticism of the emailer because the emailer is doing something that the pastor is not doing. The emailer is searching, is asking, is enquiring, wondering out loud whether it might be a cult and it might be Satanic and expressing her fear that that may be the case. But she’s not actually accusing them out and out of being Satanic and a cult. She’s simply asking the question. And I’m not critical of the question. It’s a very understandable and valid question to ask. 

The criticism that I just leveled at this pastor is that he’s gone on record actually confidently accusing them of being Satanic and that’s why I’m being critical of. And then, Joe Carter goes on to say the Q Anon movement has a tendency to call evil that which is good and good that which is evil—and to put darkness for light and light for darkness. I have no idea what he’s talking about there. The things that I do know that Q stands for is he stands against the evil of injustice, human trafficking, pedophilia, Satanic worship, and so on. Is that actually good stuff that they’re calling evil? Is that what Joe Carter is saying? That would be ridiculous. That would be hysterical. So I don’t know what he’s talking about. 

Now, maybe there are some wild, fantastical claims made by fringe groups that I’m not just aware of that have prompted that kind of analysis. But if that’s the case, then all of these evangelical critiques of the Q Anons have been very uncharitable in refusing to make a distinction, or at least failing to make a distinction, between Q himself and the extreme fringes of it.

Now, in the email that I received, the emailer refers to the misuse of the Bible by Q. Unfortunately, I don’t know what that refers to. I’m not sure in what ways Q uses the Bible. And again, maybe she has in mind the fringe groups and their use of the Bible. Any brief and casual references to the Bible that I’ve seen—granted, I think they don’t interpret the Bible accurately all the time—but it’s no more inaccurate than what you’d find at your local Baptist church or any other of a number of evangelical teachers, including these evangelicals who are critiquing Q Anon. There’s a whole lot of misunderstanding of biblical text and misuse of biblical text. That doesn’t make it a cult and that doesn’t make it Satanic. It just means that the Christianity underlying it is mainstream, traditional evangelicalism, rather than a more careful and informed biblicism. And yes, I would criticize that, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s Satanic and cult-like anymore than I would accuse evangelicalism of being Satanic and cult-like.

So, finally, let me just end with this. In my research I did run across a comment that one person made to one of the articles that I was reading, and I thought it was a very helpful, a very good and balanced kind of statement. Let me just read it because I think he seems to be more informed than I am about the Q phenomenon. He writes, 

“Seems like most people who denounce Q Anon as a right-wing conspiracy theory or a hate group or some group of Gnostic heresy haven’t actually looked into it nor understand the origins of Q Anon. It isn’t a religious group, it isn’t right-wing or left-wing, and it isn’t hate. It is a military intelligence information disclosure operation that gives people hope. The Q group”—there is more than one operative, that’s why he calls it the Q group—“post information and questions on the Internet under an identity called Q. They reveal information that is publicly available but not noticed. They ask questions that prompt information-seeking or understanding of topics that they can’t come right out and disclose. They are revealing the truths about the struggle that Trump is undertaking to rid the world of evil rulers at the top. This is a silent war of good versus evil. And the only uncompromised asset that Trump has to rely on is the military. And that includes the military intelligence assets”—of which includes, apparently, Q. “So when you come on here”—and he means the place where they’re posting on the Internet—”so when you come on here acting like you know what Q Anon is and that it is a Satanic cult, you are revealing yourselves as the fools you are, who speak without knowing what you are speaking about. Wise up before you continue being used as shills by the same Satanic forces you accuse Q Anon as being a part of. There is nothing new under the sun. The same evil that we have a chance of being freed from in 2020 is the same evil that was here when they wrote the Bible.” 

By the way, that’s the point that I was making that I think Paul was talking about in 2 Thessalonians 2. There is nothing new under the sun. There is an evil at work in the world and always has been, but God has always restrained it and blocked it and stood in the way and he’s going to do so until he gets out of the way at the end of history, at the end of this age. But that’s the question for the time that we live in: is there something afoot whereby God is going to push back against the evil forces that are at work in our culture? Or not? And it’s the Q narrative that gives certain people hope that God, once again, is gonna push back against that evil and check it. Now this, the guy who’s writing this, well, let me finish his, there’s one more statement he makes. And then let me make my comment. He says,

“This will be biblical. I suggest you get informed and get on the right side of history.” 

So clearly he believes that the Q narrative is true. I don’t have confidence to say that. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s certainly appealing to me, but it may just be a very, very appealing fiction, rather than actually, factually true. He seems convinced that it’s factually true. So, in terms of what I was just talking about, he believes that God is gonna push back against the evil in the world and block it. And I hope that’s true. On the other hand, if it’s not true, and if God is instead going to step out of the way, then so be it, that’s God’s script, that’s God’s plan, and it’s actually kind of exciting, because it means the coming of Jesus our King is not far behind. 

So let me end by directly responding to, I think, the concern in the email. And the concern in the email is for a son who is very much taken by Q and the Q Anon phenomenon. There’s a difference between being intrigued by Q and taking it seriously enough that you don’t dismiss it out of hand, and putting all of your hope and trust in the narrative— or the narratives—that are spun out of the Q Anon phenomenon. 

If we are believers in Jesus, if we trust in God, we need to remind one another, continually remind one another, to continually place our trust in God and God alone. No human being, no network of human beings, no plan of any human being, no purpose of any human being, can stand. The only thing that’s going to stand is the will of God. His purpose, his plan, is going to be done. And no matter how much human beings get together to plan to make history and their lives go the way they want it to go, it ain’t gonna go that way, unless that’s what God has scripted and that’s what God has chosen.

Now could it be, that God is going to use this group of people to push back against Satan? Absolutely that could be. And we will see. Maybe so, maybe not. But I think the thing that you need to impress upon your son is: we can’t make reality go the way we want it to go. We can’t make reality go the way Q suggests he wants it to go. It’s only, it’s gonna go the way God is going to have it to go. And we need to trust in that, hope in that, and rest in that. I think if anybody has that kind of balance of trusting in God, then their interest in Q is innocent and not at all problematic. It only becomes problematic when they become frantic to try to lend their weight to the movement to make it happen because it has to happen. They don’t want to accept it on any other terms. Then that becomes obsessive and disruptive and disruptive of relationships. And that’s not good. That’s out of balance.

But I think I would advise, I mean I would suggest that there are some very thoughtful and intelligent and rational and balanced people who are taking a serious look at Q. And instead of just dismissing the whole phenomenon as a cult or as Satanic or as evil or as deceptive, recognize that there’s a lot more to it than that. And that that may very well be what your son is responding to. And there’s a reason why he might be positively responding to it, that is a good and valid reason why he might be responding positively to it. And so respect that enough that you don’t just dismiss him and his ideas out of hand. But urge him to be balanced and think critically in what parts of it to accept and what parts of it to hold at a distance.

Well, those are my thoughts on Q, such as they are. So I hope that’s been helpful and that’s the end of this session of Dr. Jack’s “Philosophy Shop.”

Published by R.L. Stollar

R.L. Stollar is a child liberation theologian and an advocate for children and abuse survivors. The author of an upcoming book on child liberation theology, The Kingdom of Children, Ryan has an M.H.S. in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University and an M.A. in Eastern Classics from St. John’s College.

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