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People taught at church to believe that millions of their neighbors are Satanic baby-killers are susceptible to conspiracy theories that claim that millions of their neighbors are Satanic baby-killers.
People whose central, non-negotiable tenet is that we and we alone stand up against Satanic baby-killing are ripe for a conspiracy theory that tells them the exact same flattering lie.
Please don't misunderstand, I'm not suggesting that there is some vague similarity between the self-aggrandizing, willful delusion of QAnon and the abortion-is-murder ideology that wholly reshaped white Christianity and politics in America over the past 40 years. ...
What I'm saying, rather, is that they are identical. QAnon, like the "Satanic Panic" that began in the '80s, is simply a variant popular manifestation of the same Satanic baby-killer superstition that changed white churches & reached its culmination in Shelby County & Trump. ...
(I say "culmination" as an optimist, but these are not necessarily end points of the trajectory here. Trump may not be the nadir of what this ideology produces. Shelby County may not be the worst of the Second Redemption/Second Gilded Age judiciary it has installed.)
QAnon, the Satanic Panic, and abortion-is-murderism all bear the same false witness against the same neighbors, all to the same ends. They contain the same wildly intoxicating narcotic form of hyper-self-righteousness that allows addicts to rationalize ANY atrocity.
Abortion-is-murderism introduced a staggering, massive, horrifying new claim that accused TENS OF MILLIONS of our otherwise ordinary-seeming neighbors of grotesque horrors & wanton evil. It cast suspicion on ALL of our neighbors -- ANY of them might secretly be in on it. ...
It taught that those neighbors were doing the worst thing imaginable for the worst motives imaginable. The hugeness of that claim & the swiftness with which it became an un-questionable, defining dogma for white Christians, knocked millions of those Christians off balance. ...
They reached for some steadying narrative to embody what they were now required to believe and latched onto the pop-culture expression of it from hucksters like Mike Warnke & Bob Larson. "Pastor says they're killing babies in service of Satan. We've heard about this before!"
Warnke told lies for money. The Internet trolls who invented QAnon did it for the lulz. Both succeeded because they were telling wild stories that explained the otherwise inexplicable lies that millions were already being told they had to accept about their neighbors.
These wild stories -- secret tunnels under daycare centers and/or pizza shops -- may be glaringly implausible, but those implausibilities & impossibilities are nothing if they allow one to also accept the euphorically flattering lie such stories tell believers about themselves.
That flattering lie finds purchase wherever there's an audience dealing with the anxiety of, as the sketch puts it, "Are we the baddies?"

No, it says, reassuringly. You're not the Bad Guys. You CAN'T be the Bad Guys. Satanic baby-killers are the Bad Guys, so you must be Good.
QAnon is not new. It's just Pizzagate plus "adenochrome." And PizzaGate was just Warnke's shtick plus clumsy fast-food references. And Warnke's shtick was lifted from Hawthorne's nightmare fables of Salem. Salem was cribbed off of the "martyrdom" of Little Saint Hugh. It's old.
This ancient libel has always hung around & always surges in popularity in some new popular form whenever Are We the Baddies? anxiety is well-founded & widespread.

The message is always the same: Your neighbors are doing the Worst Possible Thing for the Worst Possible Reason.
Believing that slanderous lie -- whether it's the original blood libel, or tales of black masses in the New England woods, or QAnon, or abortion-is-murderism -- "will make us into devils ... fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred."
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