The year 2020 has been an odd year for many reasons, one of the main ones being the rise of the internet conspiracy group QAnon.
QAnon makes many claims about a shady, deep state that exists to secretly rule the world … and also something about pedophilia in the government and creating COVID-19 to kill off the population … but also that it’s a hoax? It’s hard to keep up with Q theories, especially as it’s grown in popularity and much of it is probably written by internet trolls. However, despite the fact that Q theories are constantly debunked by experts, people flock to it as a source of truth. Especially evangelical Christians.
Seven signs of a cult
The unwavering, unquestioning loyalty that QAnon followers have to QAnon is not unlike that of a cult follower. There are seven signs of a cult that you should know about to make sure you’re not falling into the trappings of one, whether it be QAnon or something else:
- The leader has ultimate authority — The leader’s authority is beyond questioning and criticism, even if you have concrete evidence warranting questions and concerns. The leader is above the law and is not subject to the same rules as the rest of us.
- Skepticism is suppressed — Critical thinking and investigation are suppressed. If you do not accept the group’s teachings willingly, you’re likely to be ostracized or cast out.
- There is paranoia or distrust for those outside of the group — The cult establishes itself as the sole paragon of hope in a world full of evil. It knows the truth while everyone outside of it is following a lie. The group does not trust any news, science or anything from the outside world, unless approved by the leader.
- The group delegitimizes former members — People who leave the group or speak against it are immediately ostracized as hateful, dishonest or bitter to prevent them from infecting the thoughts of others in the group.
- The group uses shame as a tool — The group imposes strict expectations and rules, and those who act outside of them or have criticism about them are shamed as evil or foolish.
- The group uses indoctrination methods — The group uses thought reform and other methods to break down your sense of identity and ability to think rationally. If you’re told not to ask questions and simply follow, then you’re probably in a group that is trying to wear down your identity.
- The group performs secret rites — Once you join a group, if they introduce rites or rituals that weren’t made transparent prior to joining, you’re probably in a cult. Rites and rituals are used to solidify your membership to the group and break down your self-identify.
If you believe you’re in a cult and want to get out, organizations like Cult Watch can help. Your mind is your most valuable tool. Don’t let it become someone else’s playtoy.
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