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Do Conspiracy Theories Thrive In Religious Groups?

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In May, a Public Religion Research Institute survey found that nearly one in five members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes in QAnon — placing them just about in the middle of the Christian denominations polled. 

Scholar Matthew Harris traces conspiracy beliefs among LDS church members back to the influence of church president Ezra Taft Benson (1985-1994), who was convinced that Communism was running rampant through the American government. His political leanings influenced his religious rhetoric, which found a home in LDS teachings and beliefs. But what accounts for the quarter of white evangelicals who the PRRI survey found also subscribe to the QAnon conspiracy? As with LDS church members, the answers are complicated. To help us untangle the relationship between religious conviction and conspiracy theories, we’ll talk this Friday at noon with Harris, Idaho Statesman reporter Jacob Scholl, political scientist Quin Monson and Rev. Derek Kubilus, who has made it his mission to persuade members of his Methodist congregation to let go of conspiracy theories. 

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Doug Fabrizio has been reporting for KUER News since 1987, and became News Director in 1993. In 2001, he became host and executive producer of KUER's RadioWest, a one hour conversation/call-in show on KUER 90.1 in Salt Lake City. He has gained a reputation for his thoughtful style. He has interviewed everyone from Isabel Allende to the Dalai Lama, and from Madeleine Albright to Desmond Tutu. His interview skills landed him a spot as a guest host of the national NPR program, "Talk of the Nation." He has won numerous awards for his reporting and for his work with RadioWest and KUED's Utah NOW from such organizations as the Society of Professional Journalists, the Utah Broadcasters Association, the Public Radio News Directors Association and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.