God rescued me from a conspiracy theory and terrorism, and he can save others as well.
We live in a time of social upheaval, and social upheaval is fertile soil for conspiracy theories. Most of them are based on error and misinformation, and some can be downright dangerous. The ones that ensnared me in the turbulent 1960s drew me into racial hatred and political extremism and led to a shootout with police that killed an accomplice and very nearly killed me—all in the name of Christian patriotism.
My story is just one of many that ended in tragedy. Back then, conspiracy theories were on the margins of society, but today, with the advent of the internet, they are proliferating. They have moved mainstream and now into the church, where low levels of biblical literacy and high levels of cultural seduction make people more vulnerable.
Some conspiracy theories are relatively harmless, like the idea that the moon landing was faked. Others, like the theories I believed, are dangerous. By intensifying fear, anger, and hatred, they led to violence.
The most common conspiracy theories today are not as violent as before but can still deceive and lead people astray with serious consequences. QAnon, a right-wing theory that believes former President Donald Trump was fighting an underground ring of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, is probably the most popular right now and is making significant inroads in our culture and the church. Recent research from the American Enterprise Institute shows that 25 percent of white evangelicals affirm part or all of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
QAnon makes frequent use of scriptural references and eschatological allusions, giving it unmerited credibility and even leading some ministries to propose a merger of QAnon and Christianity. The Institute for Strategic Dialogue reports that QAnon …