Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey are part of a blood-drinking, child-abusing Satanist group that controls the world, according to extreme right-wing QAnon conspiracists.
Their belief in this cabal, and many other theories, are the subject of a new book, Trust the Plan, that charts the rise of QAnon.
Author Will Sommer is a political journalist for the Daily Beast who has dedicated his work to investigating right-wing conspiracy theories.
QAnon is a conspiracy theory based on clues posted by an anonymous figure named Q which started back in in October 2017, Sommer tells Nine to Noon.
“QAnon believers, they think Q is someone close to Donald Trump, maybe his son, maybe his National Security Adviser.
“And they basically feel that these clues sketch out a worldview, that the world is controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles, who eat children and murder them and drink their blood.”
They also believe that Trump was recruited by the military to run for office and to take on this cabal, which includes, but is not confined to, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Tom Hanks, Oprah Winfrey and financier George Soros, he says.
“They think that someday, there will be this moment called ‘The Storm’ where essentially Donald Trump will execute all his enemies, and we’ll live in this sort of Trump Fascist dictatorship.”
QAnon beliefs are evolving and impervious to events not unfolding as Q predicted, Sommer says. There is also considerable crossover between QAnon believers and evangelical Christians.
“QAnon believers see Donald Trump in messianic terms. Sometimes they call him the God Emperor.
“So, it's not exactly subtle. And they think that he's fighting the devil that Satan is a real guy and he is out there causing trouble and that if Donald Trump's fighting him that they, by extension by supporting QAnon, are doing the same.”
To some evangelicals who have been swept up by QAnon, Trump represents a “second coming story,” Sommer says.
Sommer started following right wing groups on message boards in 2017 which was when he first noticed QAnon.
“As I saw QAnon growing and growing and gain more influence, I thought this is so crazy, this is surely where it's going to stop with QAnon, but it just kept going.”
These outlandish theories spread like a virus, he says.
“People talk to me about how suddenly their family member has been sucked into it like it's an illness that just came out of nowhere.”
And so, what started as niche theory, soon became widespread, he says, all as an actual virus spread around the world.
“Suddenly, with the pandemic, you have people all over the world who are looking for answers about something that is unprecedented in modern history; people are losing their jobs, they're suddenly thinking, how do I get any sort of agency over this.
“And for some that was, rather than facing the complex sources of the pandemic, it was blaming someone like George Soros or Bill Gates.”
People also had a lot more time to be online during lockdowns, he says.
“The pandemic functioned as really a big recruitment vector for QAnon.”
The movement can give some people meaning and purpose, he says.
“They really feel they're in God's army, they're in QAnon’s army or Donald Trump's army, it gives them that sense of community and meaning.”
QAnon has torn families apart, he says
“In the book I follow a family whose son gets into QAnon. This father who reached out to me said, ‘how do I get my kid out of this?’ His son was in his 20s and gets deeper and deeper into QAnon, he doesn't really come back, he divorces himself from society, and just spends all his time online, he thinks he's fighting to save children.”
There are numerous such heart-breaking stories, he says.
The Republican Party is now infected by the QAnon virus, he says.
“Kevin McCarthy, who's now the Speaker of the House, he initially said QAnon is fake, this is obviously ridiculous.
“But then once [QAnon believer] Marjorie Taylor Greene won office, and he realised he was going to have to deal with this faction in the party, he said, Oh, what's QAnon? Let's not talk about that.
“Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who is obviously gearing up to run for president again, he's been posting more about QAnon than ever.
“He's constantly posting memes of himself wearing Q buttons and things like that. So, I think in 2024, we could see Trump appealing even more obviously to QAnon believers.”