Apocalyptic Narratives As the Basis for Conspiracy Theories

Apocalyptic Narratives As the Basis for Conspiracy Theories

Writing for The Conversation, American literature and religion professor Christopher Douglas explores the emergence of far-right conspiracy theories. Douglas suggests that beyond Fox News, OANN, and Newsmax, the propagation of conspiracy theories stems from the concept of apocalypse within Christian theology, which remains highly relevant to conservative white Christians—chiefly, he notes, evangelicals. What marks apocalyptic theology, Douglas writes, is extreme moral dualism in which one’s political opponents are the enemies of God, controlled by demonic forces. Though this theology is not new to Christianity, it was reclaimed in the 19th century and became prominent within white evangelicalism. In Douglas’ recent peer-reviewed article in the journal Religion, he deduces that Christians portray themselves as victims due to shifts in religion and the landscape of our country, forced to “share” their cultural and political power. Abbie Richards, an American disinformation researcher, created a conspiracy theory chart that exemplifies this shift. Douglas writes that the most “dangerous conspiracy theories are those detached from reality,” with Satanic, religious, or supernatural components, and are “close cousins” if not descendants of an apocalypse. PRRI found that 18% of Americans believe that 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” (a core tenet of the QAnon-fueled conspiracy theory). Similar percentages of Americans believe “a storm is coming soon” and that “true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.”

Storytelling as a Tool of Resilience for Black LGBTQ Christians      

Lindsey McGinnis for the Christian Science Monitor recently recounted the personal story of Terria Crank, a 19-year-old who left the church because of the difficulties she faced hiding her identity from her family. McGinnis writes: “None of the seven religious denominations that historically make up the Black church are queer-affirming, but LGBTQ people still exist in these spaces, often quietly.” The experiences of LGBTQ members within the Black church “challenge” the long withstanding idea that the two are “inherently and irreconcilably” incompatible. She reports that an increasing amount of Black, queer Christians are reinventing tolerant communites and standing up for their place within the church. PRRI data from 2021 found that among Black Protestants, 86% now support LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws, up from 64% in 2015. McGinnis describes how the “deeply ingrained narrative” makes it challenging for Black congregations, even ones that support LGBTQ equality, to openly embrace those around them. Rachel M. Schmitz, an Oklahoma State University professor who researches LGBTQ resistance and resilience, stated: “[Queer people] are religious. People’s experiences in that overlap tend to get overlooked because we just want this easier, neater explanation.”

Muslim Women in America Weigh In on Abortion Rights

Dalia Hatuqa with Al Jazeera reports on the response of Muslim Americans to the possible elimination of access to safe abortions tied to the battle over reproductive health rights before the U.S. Supreme Court. Hatuqa writes that Muslim scholars and jurists generally agree that a woman’s life should be prioritized over an unborn fetus, and that Islamic law is not static and has adapted to respond to societal changes. That said, she notes that experts in Islamic jurisprudence provide a range of time when it would be appropriate for a Muslim to have an abortion, ranging from several weeks to a few months. “But the key reason they said the procedure is allowed at all is that verses in the Quran–the Islamic holy book–indicate that a fetus is not a ‘life’ until the soul is breathed into it; that does not happen at conception, but at some later time,” she writes. PRRI data from 2018 found that 54% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal. Hatuqa cited additional data from the survey: “…70% of Jews, 69% of Buddhists, and 62% of Hindus support a woman’s right to abortion.” According to the same 2018 poll, a majority of Muslims, 51%, said they supported legal access to abortion in all or most cases.”