This week, Ron Watkins — the manager of the far-right message board 8kun and rumored to be Q of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement — announced his intent to run for Congress in Arizona.
A new article by the Phoenix New Times is profiling the man Watkins credits with persuading him to run for office: Mesa pastor Jeff Durbin.
"A former karate champion, Durbin has been cultivating influence nationwide over the past decade from Mesa. The media arm of the church, Apologia Studios, which Durbin founded in 2015, has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and millions of views on YouTube, where it produces daily, far-right political content," reported Katya Schwenk. "Durbin also runs 'End Abortion Now,' an anti-abortion group. In an email to Phoenix New Times, Durbin writes that he has 'trained' hundreds of churches nationwide to lobby against abortions ... He also occasionally has drawn national headlines for some of his most extremist moves — calling for women to be executed for abortions, for instance, and refusing to close his church's doors even in the early days of the pandemic."
According to the report, Durbin has stood by his call for women to be executed for abortions, but that he "would not trust our current judicial system" to do this, because it "has led to so many to be falsely accused and incarcerated."
The QAnon conspiracy theory posits that America is controlled by a secret cabal of child trafficking cannibal Satanists. The movement ties together a number of old anti-Semitic tropes and has been linked to terroristic violence threats. Watkins, for his part, has denied being "Q," saying he does not know the actual identity of the anonymous poster.