The Politics of Everything: QAnon and the American Caesar

There has been an uptick of interest among Christians in the QAnon phenomenon in the aftermath of the attack on Congress that has raised alarm within the church. QAnon has been around for a number of years but it has seeming gained more traction since the November election. Articles in both the mainstream media and the religious press are rife with references to the bizarre beliefs held by QAnon adherents along with some insightful explanations of it.

How QAnon uses religion to lure unsuspecting Christians

How QAnon Conspiracy Is Spreading In Christian Communities Across The U.S.

Faith, Apocalypse, and Nationalism: Why Evangelicals Are Vulnerable to Conspiracy Theories

Blind faith in conspiracies leading faithful astray

However, such analyses seem to fall a little short. Conspiracy theories have always plagued the culture. They range across the spectrum from the political, such as the Kennedy assassination plot or the 9/11 attack hoax, to the cultural, such as the faked moon landing or the underlying conspiracies behind the Dan Brown novels in the early 2000 ‘s.

While conspiracy theories are usually confined to small fringe groups not associated with any organized religion what seems different about QAnon is how much it has seeped into the institutional church. Some adherents seem to be closer to the mainstream church than the fringe. In any event, the issue has received more press than usual. This is undoubtedly due in part to the publicity it has received through its association with Donald Trump. He has tweeted about it on numerous occasions. Without such publicity few outside the 4chan world would have ever heard of QAnon.

To put it more precisely — publicity due to the attention it has received from the President of the United States. More on that below…

In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes, “ …For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

There are numerous other references such as this to what are deemed “principalities and powers“ passages throughout the Old and New Testaments. This recurring theme describes the ancient belief that there is an unseen world behind what is seen. What is currently happening on the surface is not all that it appears — there is more going on than meets the eye. People or groups controlled by transcendent forces run things behind the scenes pushing buttons and pulling levers like the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz.

When he ran in 2016, Trump touted “draining the swamp” in government by dismantling the “deep state” as one of his campaign promises. Trump’s detractors scoffed and mocked the alleged deep state as right-wing conspiracy mongering, all the while, ironically, touting their own Russian election interference conspiracies at the same time.

In February of 2018, Congressmen Devin Nunes released a memo outlining abuses by the FBI and other government officials in their attempts to derail the Trump candidacy. At the time, the memo was ridiculed and dismissed by the Democratic establishment as sheer nonsense, but within a year the memo was largely vindicated. Yes, there was a conspiracy amongst certain members of the FBI and others to spy on the Trump campaign in order to smear and discredit him.

Whether deep state operatives in the FBI qualify as “principalities and powers,” the notion was confirmed: Donald Trump was battling against such forces. Ongoing denials by the Democratic establishment and the media were viewed with suspicion and in the end simply confirmed the conspiracy by their denials. More was going on than what appeared and the powers that be were covering it up.

In the run up to the 2020 election the mail-in balloting programs initiated by multiple states and municipalities were an invitation for fraud, of which Trump repeatedly warned. In the aftermath numerous indications of fraud surfaced only to be dismissed or ignored. Those in power who went to great lengths to investigate Russian influence in 2016 seemed uninterested in election tampering four years later. Again, denials and dismissals were further confirmation.

And then there is fake news. The press has become more and more ideologically-driven, and, as some will argue, nothing more than a propaganda machine for the Democratic Party. The recent resignations of Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan from the New York Times bear witness to the blatant manipulation of the news. On numerous occasions, the Times has been caught updating headlines that weren’t sufficiently anti-Trump. The general public has started to catch on as trust in the media is at an all time low. The media is part of the principalities and powers.

The same is true of the social media companies. Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter dominate the industry and have been accused of “deplatforming” (a euphemism for censorship) conservative voices. The recent shutdown of the social media site Parler is proof prime. The Silicon Valley oligarchy is manipulating what can and cannot be published on the internet. More principalities and powers.

By combining fake news by the media and the manipulation of social media by the Silicon Valley oligarchs with the Democratic establishment the circle is complete. For example, the attempted coverup and media downplaying of Hunter Biden’s corruption charges prior to the election provided more indicators that the “principalities and powers” were collaborating to keep the scandal quiet.

There are also the recent scandals with Hollywood moguls Harvey Weinstein and Jeff Epstein. Epstein’s suicide in prison has been questioned because of all the irregularities and because of his association with the Clinton’s.

The list goes on and on.

While there is room for doubt in all this, for people of faith this is proof positive of principalities and powers at work in American society. Whether or not one agrees, such is the rationale behind Trump being seen as an agent of God in the White House.

This phenomenon didn’t start with Donald Trump. The Obama years were rife with references of Obama as some sort of messiah. And not by a fringe element but by well-known and notable names, such as Barbara Walters and Oprah Winfrey among others (see: We Thought He Was Going To Be The Next Messiah, Messianic rhetoric infuses Obama rallies). Jamie Fox raised a few eyebrows by calling Obama “our Lord and Savior” at the 2012 BET Soul Train Awards. The November 12, 2010 issue of Newsweek published a cover with Obama as “The God of All Things,” enraging Hindus. They did it again with the January 18, 2013 cover depicting Obama’s second term as the Second Coming, enraging Christians.

The principalities and powers have long attempted to push religion out of the public square in general and out of politics in particular. The flow is now reversed. The principalities and powers are pushing politics into religion as part of the politicization of everything. This is new; no recent President prior to Obama has been referred to or revered with such lofty titles as “The God of All Things” or the “Second Coming of the Messiah.”

In Ancient Rome Caesar was declared divine to solidify future emperor’s hold on the empire. In both the ancient and modern world, people’s devotion to religion is stronger than their devotion to politics, so Caesar simply made himself into a god. For most of human history kings or rulers were depicted as being quasi-divine or as agents of God. in 1533, Henry the Eighth split with the Roman Catholic church and declared himself head of the Church of England. The concept of the divine right of kings was accepted worldwide prior to the eighteenth century and lingered into the twentieth. In Japan, the emperor was regarded as divine through to the end of World War II.

The flip side of claims that President Trump was God’s chosen man in the White House was President Obama being declared what amounts to a new American Caesar as a secular god.

but the point is that the line between church and state is now blurrier than ever with politics invading the religious arena.

This may seem over the top but that depends on your point of view. Presidents have always dabbled in religious rhetoric to appeal to voters. What seems different is the degree to which such rhetoric becomes reality. Anti-Christian rhetoric has been on the rise in recent years and is starting to show up more in public policy as more as restrictions on religious liberty grow. The line between religion and politics continues to move as religion itself becomes politicized.

None of this justifies or legitimatizes QAnon. Such nonsense needs to be dismissed by the church along any other crackpot ideas that come about in the future . At the same time, the church needs to be ever watchful of what is happening in the culture. Faith, like freedom, requires eternal vigilance. There has always been and will always be more going on than meets the eye. The trick is to discern what’s real and what’s not. The principalities and powers are much too clever to be so obvious.

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