Do Conspiracy Theories Thrive In Religious Groups?

Jul 15, 2021

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.