New survey shows more belief in QAnon nonsense while most “Nones” cling to reality

There’s been an ominous uptick in the belief of QAnon-related claims between 2021 and 2023 spanning every demographic measured, reveals a recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). This includes the religiously unaffiliated, although they still score better than any other religious demographic.

The study importantly recognizes Christian nationalism as a significant threat to American democracy, finding that one-third of the country believes “God intended America to be a new promised land where European Christians could create a society that could be an example to the rest of the world.” Even 16–17 percent of non-Christian respondents agreed with this ludicrous statement, underscoring an urgent need for education on the secular roots of this country (an episode of Freethought Radio includes a discussion on the deep-rooted nature of this problem).

The same study included several worrying indicators across every demographic. Support for political violence in response to the country’s direction rose from 15 percent to 23 percent overall, with Republicans and white evangelicals each peaking at 30 percent but with other groups not far behind. The percentage of Americans labeled by PRRI as “QAnon believers” has risen from 14 percent to 23 percent over the past two years. This means nearly one-fourth of the country completely or mostly agrees with the following three statements:

(1) The government, media and financial worlds in the United States are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation.

(2) There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders.

(3) Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.

This is terrifying. And while, predictably, white evangelical Protestants are the most likely to believe these claims (30 percent), and the religiously unaffiliated are the most likely to reject them, the percentage of religiously unaffiliated Americans who are QAnon believers has doubled over the past two years, from 9 percent to 18 percent.

“Secular Americans are generally clinging to reality against a national trend toward madness, but for many the grip seems to be slipping,” comments FFRF Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne. “We desperately need Americans, especially those who have risen above religious dogma in their own lives, to recognize sensationalist conspiracy theories when they see them. There are real, urgent problems demanding our attention, and these results show a disconnect between that reality and an increasing portion of nonreligious Americans.”

FFRF is an educational nonprofit that works to promote skeptical thinking and meaningful civil action. We will continue to urge all Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack thereof, to reject dangerous rhetoric and calls for political violence. Freethinkers, at their core, are capable of calling out lies even when those lies are popular, and we need freethinkers to do so now more than ever.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with 40,000 members across the country. It protects the constitutional separation between state and church and educates about nontheism. FFRF advertising is made possible by kind contributions from members. 

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