15% of Americans believe QAnon conspiracy theories, claim ‘true American patriots may have to resort to violence,’ poll shows | #tinder | #pof | #match | #sextrafficking


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Fifteen percent of Americans — including nearly a quarter of Republicans — say they believe “the government, media and financial worlds in the U.S. are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation,” according to a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute and Interfaith Youth Core that examined far-right QAnon conspiracy theories.

The PRRI survey of more than 5,000 Americans in March shows the QAnon conspiracy theories have maintained its grip on 15% to 20% of Americans, becoming just as popular as some major religions even after its accusations have been debunked and several predictions fell flat. The online movement — pegged by the FBI as a “political fringe conspiracy theory” and domestic terror threat — began in 2017 after an anonymous 4chan poster predicted then-President Donald Trump would lead a war against a secret cabal.

QAnon believers — many of whom joined the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a deadly, failed attempt to stop Congress from sealing President Joe Biden’s victory — are closely linked with Trump’s ongoing baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen. Seventy-three percent of QAnon believers think Trump should still be in the White House, where Biden has called out increasing threats to democracy in the U.S. and abroad.

At least 20% of Americans believe a core QAnon tenet that “There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders.” Fifteen percent say the country is “so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country,” according to the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

Twenty-three percent of Republicans buy QAnon’s theories compared to 14% of independents and 8% of Democrats. Republicans are four times likelier than Democrats — 28% to 7% — to believe so-called “patriots” may have to take up arms, the poll showed. Those who follow far-right outlets are more than three times as likely to fall for QAnon’s core claims than those who rely on local news sources. Americans without a college education are three times more likely to be QAnon believers.

The survey results match up with a December NPR and Ipsos poll that showed 17% believe QAnon’s false theories and more than a third of Americans buy into the notion that a “deep state” worked to undermine Trump.

In an interview with The Chicago Tribune, PRRI founder Robby Jones likened the phenomenon to a religion, both in terms of numbers and the fervor fueling QAnon believers’ convictions.

“It’s one thing to say that most Americans laugh off these outlandish beliefs, but when you take into consideration that these beliefs are linked to a kind of apocalyptic thinking and violence, then it becomes something quite different,” he said.

Reed Berkowitz, an alternate reality game designer, wrote in The Washington Post in May that “Q has specifically followed the model of an alternate reality game using many of the same techniques.” Berkowitz called it “the gamification of propaganda. QAnon was a game that played people.”

In April, FBI Director Christopher Wray noted the agency was not investigating the online movement itself, but said there are serious concerns that it “may be an inspiration for violent attacks.”

“We’re concerned about the potential that [people’s vulnerability to QAnon] can lead to violence,” Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Where it is an inspiration for federal crime, we’re going to aggressively pursue it.”

In 2019, the FBI listed QAnon among “fringe political conspiracy theories very likely to encourage the targeting of specific people, places and organizations, thereby increasing the risk of extremist violence.”

In his Memorial Day address Monday, Biden sought to fire up Americans against ongoing attacks on democratic norms, decency, freedom and voting rights, both abroad and at home.

Biden invoked former U.S. Sen. Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, arguing the New England statesman’s 1830 cry of “Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable” resonates “even now.”

“Democracy must be defended at all costs,” Biden said. “That’s the soul of America. And I believe it’s a soul worth fighting for. A soul worth dying for. The soul of America is animated by the perennial battle between our worst instincts — which we’ve seen of late — and our better angels. Between ‘Me first’ and ‘We the people,’ between greed and generosity, cruelty and kindness, captivity and freedom … between dreams for democracy and the appetite for autocracy.”

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