The end of QAnon: Religion expert explains how the conspiracy movement could unravel

The influence of specific conspiracy theories, while they may seem all-encompassing when they're going viral, doesn't last forever.

That's according to Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Global Studies at UCSB, Mark Juergensmeyer, who studied the demise of recent violent religious and religious-related movements around the world, including ISIS.

"The QAnon conspiracy and the extremist movements related to it are like summer storms," Juergensmeyer writes in Religion Dispatches. "They boil up from the hot air with fierce intensity. Just as quickly, they can disappear, with only lingering gusts and gales to remind us of the turmoil they've left behind."

Juergensmeyer acknowledges that there's a possibility QAnon will endure, since it's enmeshed with other forms of religion, particularly premillennial evangelical Protestant Christianity. "Anyone who believes that the Rapture will come and sweep righteous Christians into heaven before the cataclysmic events of the Book of Revelation and the coming of Christ will recognize a familiar theme in the QAnon prophecy of the 'storm,' and the return of Donald Trump to save society," he writes.

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When ideological movements crumble, it's usually due to infighting and growing distrust of the movement's leader, and Juergensmeyer sees the same parallels with QAnon.

"The bona fides of Donald Trump seem increasingly to be in question in right-wing extremist circles. His encouragement of followers to be vaccinated against Covid at a rally this summer was greeted with boos. Some have criticized his fund-raising and openly suspect that it's not really for legal defense purposes as described," he writes. "If greater dissension emerges within the ranks over which elements of QAnon to believe, and if Trump himself is seen as fallible, the conspiracy might begin to unravel."

Read the full article over at Religion Dispatches.

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