ron watkins, qanon creator
Reading Time: 9 minutes The problem is, QAnon followers do not care.
Reading Time: 9 minutes

In the past, we’ve discussed QAnon — the new moral panic and conspiracy theory that has consumed white evangelicals in America. QAnon claims more white evangelicals than any other religious group. Mostly, these QAnon followers are the rank-and-file of white evangelicalism. Unfortunately, their religious leaders have no idea in the world how to deal with the increasing numbers of their flocks rushing to QAnon’s banner. And that ignorance will cost them dearly. Because now, QAnon’s masters have identified their real enemy to the flocks. The attack on that enemy has already begun.

a smokescreen for channers
Smokescreen. (Tom Roberts.)

(Previous QAnon posts: Evangelical Leaders Have Finally Noticed QAnon; How the Satanic Panic Led Straight to QAnon; QAnon Finally Gets Personal for Ed Stetzer; How Evangelical Leaders Gift-Wrapped Their Flocks for QAnon; The REAL Cabal for QAnon: the Friends They Made Along the Way; Ed Litton Wants Evangelicals to Stop Listening to QAnon ‘Fables. When I talk about evangelicals in this context, I’m referring to white evangelicals. Largely, Black evangelicals have wisely stayed out of this increasingly-awful mess.)

The Great Con of QAnon.

More than any other group, white evangelicals have flocked to the QAnon banner. QAnon seems to have been the brainchild of a former administrator of 8kun, Ron Watkins. (8kun, formerly 8chan, is a descendant of popular imageboard forum 4chan, and a particularly disreputable one at that.) Watkins has accidentally admitted he invented and acts as QAnon a couple of times that I know of, most recently in April during an interview.

ron watkins, qanon creator
The problem is, QAnon followers do not care.

I don’t think anybody could ever accuse this weirdo of being a TRUE CHRISTIAN™, much less a highly-placed informant in the United States government as Q claims to be. However, one thing he does know very well how to do is spread conspiracy theories. After all, conspiracy theories, really, are just way-more-evolved memes, and chan culture largely began our modern obsession with memes.

It took a little bit for QAnon to figure out who his main followers would be. But he very quickly zeroed in on white evangelicals. About a week after QAnon’s debut, 538 tells us, he was quoting Bible verses to his fans.

Bible verses are essentially meaningless to non-Christians (and even to non-evangelicals). But to evangelicals, they represent powerful magic spells.

Though evangelicals largely disapprove mightily of chan culture and customs (when they know about them at all), Watkins’ ruse grabbed them hard.

What Ron Watkins Figured Out.

If Ron Watkins hadn’t lucked into white evangelicals as an audience, chances are good that QAnon would have come and gone just like many similar “anons” before it, having failed to find purchase in the rocky soil of chan culture.

But white evangelicals don’t understand chan culture or have the internet savvy to understand what Watkins created.

Ex-Christians joke sometimes about becoming “re-Christians” and striking gold as evangelists or preachers, now that we understand the manipulative tricks successful pastors use. It’s a silly joke about how easy it is to fool evangelicals just by speaking their language well enough.

Ron Watkins, though, actually went and did it.

Nowadays, white evangelicals make up most if not almost all of the fanbase for QAnon. I wonder sometimes if Ron Watkins even dreamed of creating a ruse so big it would one day co-opt a major branch of Christianity and inspire a formal insurrection attempt on the United States government.

the face of qanon
Not exactly a gubmint agent, is he?

The White Evangelical Takeover of QAnon.

As of May 2021, PRRI reports, about 25% of self-identified white evangelicals believe in key components or sub-beliefs of QAnon.

They might not buy into the endgame beliefs of the movement: a “deep state” Satanic cabal of actual, literal baby-murdering cannibal pedophile Democrats; Donald Trump spearheads a shadowy underground movement sworn to take them down; Trump will one day totally bring about a “storm” to finish these evil Democrats.

(It really says something about QAnon believers that they don’t recognize these platforms as literal, probably-intentional knockoffs of the Satanic Panic.)

Heck, QAnon believers might not even realize that some belief of theirs originates in QAnon. There are, after all, many sub-beliefs:

  • Donald Trump actually won the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Democrats totally stole the presidency from Trump.
  • Legitimate news sources cannot be trusted; only far-right news sources should be believed.
  • Scientists deliberately created the virus causing COVID-19.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is dangerous.
  • America has gotten so off-track in recent years that American “patriots” must resort to violence to fix it.

QAnon beliefs (all of which have been debunked at various times) spread through the media sources white evangelicals increasingly consume and exclusively trust. And those media sources spread them precisely because it’s what their key audience wants to hear.

People who’ve never even heard of Ron Watkins or 8kun can now be completely, fully immersed in QAnon beliefs. The meme has taken on a life of its own.

The Helplessness of White Evangelical Leaders to Combat QAnon.

Increasing numbers of white evangelical leaders vocally oppose QAnon. That opposition increased considerably in numbers and loudness, it seems to me, after the January 6th insurrection attempt that QAnon inspired. Business Insider agrees in a March 2021 article. They describe pastors quitting their jobs and/or going on the information offensive as QAnon divides congregations nationwide.

Unfortunately, white evangelical leaders can’t possibly compete against the nonstop, 24/7/365 flow of conspiracies from right-wing news sources. Worse, I’ve heard a few times that these conspiracy theorists often have become disconnected from church culture.

Even when QAnon believers are faithful church attendees, it must really suck for their pastors to have all the official, on-paper power in a group and yet be completely powerless to command that group. But here we are.

White evangelical churches can be personal kingdoms of their pastors. All too many are. However, plenty of churches aren’t like that at all. If a hiring committee can hire a pastor, then some other committee can fire that pastor. Thus, most pastors labor under the certain knowledge that if they don’t please their congregation by leading them to the destination they wanted to begin with, then their sheep will fire the shepherd (and usually take away the shepherd’s home too, since that’s often a perk of the job).

Keep this in mind as we explore this topic. Pastors who speak out against QAnon often risk their own job security.

QAnon’s Response to This Minimal Threat.

However, like most conspiracy theories, QAnon’s leaders protect their followers from any and all serious threats. As more pastors rise up to speak against QAnon beliefs, QAnon in turn has identified them as a threat — and has begun to strike back.

Recently, Right Wing Watch (RWW) covered the story of QAnon activists attacking high-profile evangelical leaders. A onetime adult film actress, Madyson Marquette, has been gaining attention from QAnon believers by accusing various high-profile evangelical leaders of having sex-trafficked and raped children (including herself).

Her list of names is atmospheric, to say the least: Kenneth Copeland, T.D. Jakes (a Black prosperity gospel preacher well-loved by various white evangelical leaders like Mark Driscoll), Tyler Perry (I think she means the Black filmmaker, who was once a minister), Greg Laurie, Rick Warren, and Billy Graham! Weirdly, she names Joel Osteen only as an attendee of the parties (but he never did “stuff,” she specifies).

Some of the current targets of QAnon attacks are, themselves, QAnon believers.

But this fact, too, doesn’t surprise me. Most of the people Marquette accuses oppose various beliefs in QAnon. Here, for example, is T.D. Jakes talking about COVID-19’s devastation. In that interview, he touches upon his ideological opposition to Donald Trump. I’m sure we’d find similar opposition in every other name she names.

The Outgroup for QAnon Evangelicals.

Remember how recently we talked about the outgroup for white, college-aged evangelicals? Their outgroup isn’t Satanists, atheists, or pro-choice advocates. It’s other white, college-aged people who aren’t evangelical. This group represents the closest one to themselves — but with one very key difference that these evangelicals just can’t abide or allow.

In this case, the intolerable difference is these other college students’ lack of affiliation with evangelicalism. That makes non-evangelical white college students into Beach Reach volunteers’ outgroup.

That’s how it works for QAnon evangelicals too. Their outgroup — their most-hated and feared enemy — isn’t Democrats, or pedophiles, or even Satanists. It’s other evangelicals who reject QAnon.

Thus, the biggest outgroup to QAnon evangelicals is made up of other white evangelicals who reject QAnon.

Once I realized that the other day, I knew I had to find out if QAnon was beginning to focus on evangelical leaders who push back against this conspiracy theory that is so consuming white evangelical churches these days.

Why QAnon Might Be Focusing on Evangelical Leaders Now.

When I first decided to tackle the topic of QAnon attacks on evangelical leaders, I searched online for key phrases. In this case, I input “qanon attacks evangelical pastors.” And here are the results in non-tracking engine DuckDuckGo.

Almost every result in the first two pages involves evangelical pastors attacking QAnon. Only one return came back with the results I actually wanted — and it was the RWW article I just showed you.

And that list of search returns alarmed me.

However, it’s clear that the attacks are beginning. Madyson Marquette has definitely found an audience with her delusional “testimony.” (Remember Glenn Hobbs? I still haven’t seen any replies from him.)

Part of the problem is that these attacks are carefully worded. Jesus sure won’t help these prophets fight a libel/slander lawsuit! For that matter, I’m pretty sure the reason Marquette herself vanishes after early July is that she got hit with some very quickly-sent and ominously-worded cease-and-desist orders. (Lawyers drive iron chariots.)

Other white evangelical leaders, like Restore7’s Johnny Enlow, have taken up and repeated her accusations in similar cryptic ways, like this vaguebooked “prophetic alerts” from Johnny Enlow, or featured accusations in YouTube videos like this one.

Sidebar: Johnny Enlow Has a List, Y’all.

Johnny Enlow, by the way, is a complete QAnon fanatic — with over 80k followers. His entire Facebook page is a goldmine. On July 21, he offered up an interesting new “prophecy.”

We are entering a very complicated moment for the Body of Christ. The word EXPOSURE has been used by almost every prophetic voice and with good reason as that has been the season we are in. We have all known it is necessary. The “complicated moment” comes when EXPOSURE gets too close to home. [. . .]

On June 30th I received and gave a word that we were about to have many of our most famous in the Body of Christ exposed as sexual deviants, pedophiles and even human traffickers. As to what does “many” mean, the number I actually got from the Lord was 50. 50 well-known “Christian” individuals. That is a lot. It is representative of 100’s not-so-well-known predators in the pulpits that are also to face exposure. I had no idea what I was about to discover in short order. The first 10 “big” names alone that I have FIRST-HAND testimony of is shocking.

Of course, I don’t think Enlow ever tells his followers what these ten names actually are, much less his 50 names, much less his “100s.” Nor will they ever think to ask.

Joe McCarthy also claimed to have a list.

As the news erupts every day with some new scandal, Johnny Enlow can just rest on his laurels and say he predicted all of it. And they will believe he did indeed.

Even if Enlow ever did name names, however, this isn’t even close to being “a very complicated moment,” as we’ve discussed in the past.

It’s an increasingly-safe bet for Christians to cryptically predict that a bunch of evangelical leaders will, any day and sometime soon, be exposed as sexual predators and abusers. 

Dogs Don’t Bark At What Don’t Move.

My first pastor used to say, Dogs don’t bark at what don’t [sic] move. He meant, by this, that enemies don’t attack TRUE CHRISTIANS™ unless they sense a threat there. At the time, he referred to demons, of course, who were thought to attack TRUE CHRISTIANS™ more and harder than any other group.

(That’s why evangelicals often assert that their rampant, near-complete hypocrisy actually isn’t a problem at all. Demons just totally attack them harder, GYAHH, y’all.)

But this grammatically-painful saying could apply even more to moral panickers like those in QAnon. When their swivel eyes turn to focus on other evangelicals, it means something significant. They’ve started to sense opposition there.

And even as minor and as small as that opposition is still and as obvious as it is as a ploy to gain attention and traction for its accusers, it matters that they’re attacking some of the biggest names in evangelicalism.

If more QAnon leaders and attention-seekers start picking up on these accusations, this schism could easily result in a full and formal decoupling of white evangelical QAnon believers from church culture. Pastors will lose whatever influence they still have over QAnon believers — unless they play ball.

Keep that in mind as more and more Republican politicians (like this guy) push back against QAnon beliefs.

This is a QAnon development we should watch carefully.

NEXT UP: The lethal QAnon endgame might well be their resistance to the COVID-19 vaccine. We’ll check it out tomorrow — see you then <3

Please Support What I Do!

Come join us on FacebookTumblr, and Twitter! (Also Instagram, where I mostly post cat pictures, and Pinterest, where I sometimes post vintage recipes from my mom’s old recipe box.) Also please check out our Graceful Atheist podcast interview

If you like what you see, I gratefully welcome your support. Please consider becoming one of my monthly patrons via Patreon with Roll to Disbelieve for as little as $1/month!

My PayPal is (that’s an underscore in there) for one-time tips. You can also support this blog at no extra cost to yourself by beginning your Amazon shopping trips with my affiliate link — and, of course, by liking and sharing my posts on social media!

This blog exists because of readers’ support, and I appreciate every single bit of it. Thank you. <3

ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments