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Fifteen per cent of Americans believe Satan-worshipping paedophiles run government, media and finance: poll

Detailed breakdown of political groups shows core QAnon beliefs run particularly strongly among certain tendencies

Andrew Naughtie
Thursday 27 May 2021 17:28 BST
Reuters (A sticker that references the QAnon slogan is seen on a truck that participated in a caravan convoy in Adairsville, Georgia)

A new poll has found that a startling proportion of Americans believe that the government and major institutions are run by a child sex trafficking cabal, with Republicans notably more likely to hold that belief than other groups.

According to the survey from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 15 per cent of all Americans agree with the statement that “the government, media, and financial worlds in the US are controlled by a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles who run a global child sex trafficking operation” – a central tenet of the QAnon conspiracy theory ideology.

When broken down by party affiliation, 23 per cent of Republicans agree with that statement – against 14 per cent of independents and 8 per cent of Democrats.

Alongside the bizarre statement about satanic child abusers, the pollsters also asked respondents whether “There is a storm coming soon that will sweep away the elites in power and restore the rightful leaders”, a statement that drew the support of 1 in 5 people. More than a quarter of Republicans agreed, with 18 per cent of Independents and 14 per cent of Democrats behind them.

And in a third question, they tested a statement with clear roots in the real world: “Because things have gotten so far off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country.” Only 15 per cent of Americans agreed – but among Republicans, the figure is an alarming 28 per cent.

These three statements are what the PRRI calls “tenets” of the QAnon belief system, which holds that a “globalist” cabal of paedophiles – among them celebrities, top politicians, financiers, and other members of assorted elites – have for decades or longer been trafficking children around the world to sexually abuse them and (in some versions of the theory) drink their blood and/or hormones as part of life-preserving satanic rituals.

Starting with discussions on online forums several years ago, QAnon has swept up thousands of Americans into a rapturous, religious-level belief in its core claims, isolating many fervent believers from their families and motivating more than a few to acts of violence.

However, the anonymous “Q” – who motivated the movement with online posts foretelling the “storm” that would sweep away the cabal – stopped posting once it became clear that Joe Biden had defeated Donald Trump at last year’s election. Still, plenty of believers remain, some of them convinced not only that the cabal exists but that Donald Trump is still fighting it, or that he is planning to return to the presidency at some secretly planned upcoming date.

As part of its research, the PRRI used the data from its poll to create a “QAnon conspiracy scale”, dividing respondents into “believers”, “doubters” and “rejecters” based on how many of the statements they agreed with.

Not only were Republicans most likely to be QAnon believers (23 per cent), they were also the least likely to be rejecters, with only 21 per cent rejecting all three statements.

The PRRI also broke down respondents by the type of media they consumed – and found that among those who most trust far-right news sources such as Newsmax and One America News, a full 40 per cent agreed with the satanic cabal statement. And while only 18 per cent of those who put their trust in Fox News subscribe to the same belief, one in four agree that “true patriots” might have to resort to violence against the government.

The question of whether “patriotic” violence against the government is warranted has particular resonance as the Senate debates the passage of a bill that would create an independent, bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection of 6 January, the most violent event on Capitol Hill since the war of 1812.

The insurrection led to the impeachment of Donald Trump on charges that he helped incite the rioters with false claims that the election was stolen. Only 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to impeach him, and only seven senators voted to convict him; they all face furious reprisals from the party’s base and from their own colleagues.

Most notable among them is Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a vocal Trump critic who lost her position in the House Republican leadership for speaking out against the former president for his attacks on the rule of law.

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