‘Mormon Land’: Why so many Latter-day Saints — and others — fall for conspiracy theories like QAnon and the ‘big lie’

Yes, sometimes it’s about politics, but it’s also about belonging and the sources people trust.

(Dario Lopez-Mills | AP) In this Nov. 5, 2020 file photo, Jacob Anthony Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, a QAnon believer speaks to a crowd of President Donald Trump supporters outside of the Maricopa County Recorder's Office where votes in the general election were being counted, in Phoenix. A recent survey shows Latter-day Saints rank among the highest believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sprang from a young boy’s quest for religious truth, so it may seem strange that sizable numbers of its members are falling for political claims that stretch so far from the truth.

A recent survey shows, for instance, that 46% of Latter-day Saints believe the “big lie” — that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Another poll lists Latter-day Saints — along with white evangelicals and Hispanic Protestants — as the most likely to believe in the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, alleging that the world is run by a shadowy cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles.

Why are so many members and others embracing these outlandish tales? What’s the appeal of such conspiracy theories? Are these strictly about politics or could more be at play?

Matthew Bowman, head of Mormon studies at Claremont Graduate University who will be teaching a class on conspiracy theory in America this fall and who just completed a book about UFO belief for Yale University Press, discusses those questions and more.

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