QAnon Has Gone Local

QAnon Has Gone Local

Mia Bloom for LA Times writes about how QAnon helped push the Shasta County Board of Supervisors to upend the county’s election process, canceling its contract with Dominion Voting Systems and potentially opting to hand-count ballots instead. Bloom writes that in 2020, adherents coalesced around “stop the steal” allegations that machines manufactured by Dominion had somehow changed the results in key states, including some locations in which Dominion machines were not used. She also notes that dozens of elected local officials have promoted QAnon conspiracy theories like the one surrounding Dominion, trickling down to local government and affecting policymaking on voting and education. Across the country, school boards are teeming with parents who urge “patriots” and “digital soldiers” to join the movement and prophecies that nothing can “stop what is coming.” PRRI data show that as many as one in three Republicans believes key tenets of the QAnon conspiracy theory, and Bloom notes that far-right media echo chambers played a crucial role in achieving this level of acceptance of fringe beliefs.

Florida Republicans Propose 6-Week Abortion Ban

David W. Chen and Patricia Mazzei for The New York Times report that earlier this week, Florida Republicans introduced parallel bills on Tuesday in the state House and Senate that would further restrict the state’s abortion ban to six weeks of pregnancy. In 2022, DeSantis signed a law banning abortions after15 weeks of pregnancy that did not have exceptions for rape or incest. The current bill in Florida would allow for exceptions to the proposed bans in cases of rape or incest until 15 weeks of pregnancy, or if the mother’s life is in danger. DeSantis said of the bill: “I think those exceptions are sensible. We welcome pro-life legislation.” Representative Fentrice Driskell said the bills would adversely affect “people from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and other states in the South who otherwise would have looked to Florida for abortion access.” PRRI research finds that 64% of Florida residents believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases. There are currently at least 13 states that have bans prohibiting most abortions.

Most Parents Don’t Like School Culture Wars, New Polling Shows

Philip Elliot for TIME reports that the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines welcomed back students with a set of new policies for the 80-parish strong organization that bans students, patients, or congregants from using the gender identities or pronouns of their choice, as well as restricting transgender students’ options for sports, healthcare, and bathroom use. American Federation of Teachers chief Randi Weingarten stated, “It’s a keep-the-base-angry strategy. It’s a keep-things-chaotic, keep-things-divisive political strategy.” In a survey from the Democratic pollsters Hart Research Associates, just 1 in 5 parents told the pollsters that they see teachers promoting wokeness, two-thirds of parents said the culture wars are a distraction from schools’ primary mission of education, and 2 in 5 parents say transgender students playing sports on school teams is an issue that should be taken seriously. PRRI data additionally shows that a slim majority of Americans (53%) oppose laws that would prevent parents from allowing their child to receive medical care for a gender transition.

How Baptist and Pentecostal-Charismatic Theologies Fuel Belief in American Exceptionalism

PRRI Public Fellow Leah Payne writes in a recent spotlight analysis that “[t]he idea that the United States has a divinely ordained purpose in history is waning in the general American population.” PRRI research from 2022 finds that 43% of Americans agree that “God granted America a special role in human history,” versus 51% who agreed in 2011. At the same time, the belief has held steady among white evangelicals, with two-thirds agreeing with this statement in both 2011 and 2022. Payne writes: “Understanding how Southern Baptists and non-denominational white Charismatics, two of the largest, most influential forms of evangelical Protestantism in the nation, understand God’s plan for the United States may help explain the continued belief that God has granted the nation a key role in human history.” Throughout the 20th century, white Baptists considered themselves “beacons of democracy,” with the U.S. designated as protector of Christianity and democracy worldwide. Charismatics and Pentecostals, on the other hand, view the U.S. role in protecting Israel as a key part of the country’s role in human history.

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Read the full report, “A Christian Nation? Understanding the Threat of Christian Nationalism to American Democracy and Culture” here.