Saturday, November 14, 2020

When People Believe Crazy Things: Qanon, Fundie Religion and Conspiracy

Reality itself seems to be cracking up in America. When people no longer know what is true, society itself can crack up. This is happening in America. We can't trust our institutions, social ties have been frayed to barely existing outside of social media, it seems everyone's reality testers have broken. I find myself confused often, going online, to ask the scientists I can find, "Is this true?", "What about this?" So much just doesn't make sense anymore. 

In my case, to avoid new pitfalls in critical thinking, it was okay to say "I don't know." and admit it. I believe when a population is gaslighted to hell, told to believe in the joke known as the American dream and also taught to avoid the reality in front of their face it has a major effect. Add in all the toxic positivity as everything is stripped away and people's economic and other plans crumble to dust. It takes a psychological toll. America could be labeled a cult itself.

 Yesterday I got emails from a friend I care a lot about, I've been friends with her for around 20 years. I feel like she is slipping away being dragged by the ankles by Fox news and Republican websites into scary stances. She writes me stuff all the time about how the protesters are going to burn down her city, and sends me pro-Trump stuff. Sometimes she seems frustrated with both parties and I have shared my frustration with the DNC. However she defaults to the "socialism is bad" and "they are going to take over" racist defaults, illustrating the endless hatefulness of the Republican party. Sometimes I feel like I am getting through telling her, telling her "don't give in to these hateful ideas", and she knows I have struggled, and I have asked things why be against all ideas of societal progress?  I just don't know what to say anymore. 

I am trying to rescue someone from a cult and failing to do so and already have lost others to the cult. One thing I have noticed is how afraid she is, I am too, but her fear is taking her into the arms of the sociopaths who don't give a damn. Our view of reality itself has cracked in half. I am on one side and she is on the other. At least she believes Covid is real. 

 Then there was the time a few weeks ago, when six classmates came out against me for wanting to wear masks and they were against the wearing of any masks and any lock-downs. The majority of my Gen X high school class are all Trumpsters and evangelicals. As my state implodes, and Covid takes over, I feel like folks like this have directly destroyed our lives. Their view of reality doesn't match either. Covid is "just a flu" in their world and they see masks as government oppression. They shouted at me online for being a "socialist" and a "sucker" for thinking Covid was real. I unfriended them all.

Reality testing in American society is breaking. Qanon and conspiracy thinking is spreading like wildfire. While I still examine some things and believe some conspiracies are true, when I was a conspiracy theorist. we were rare. I found this QANON board for people whose relatives and loved ones had their brains taken over by that brain worm. People were writing stories of how their spouses, parents and more had adapted extreme views and conspiracy. Most was related to them all becoming Trumpsters. There are endless stories of ruined relationships and growing cruelty among the conspiracy people.  One thing to remember is if Trump leaves the scene, the conspiracy will continue.

I decided to share with these folks my history as an ex-conspiracy theorist, and there were a few other people on there like me describing how hard it was to dig one's self out of conspiracy thinking. I have found it interesting to read the story of others who broke out of extreme conspiracy. Others like me had deconverted from fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity as well. Interestingly enough, a couple fellow Aspies said they had fallen down the same hole.

 I posted this to them: [quotes edited for grammar and space]

 "I was majorly in the conspiracy world as a Christian fundamentalist. I even had a blog, [not under this name] that explored conspiracies and bible prophecy. I am an ex conspiracy theorist. Google my user name, and then conspiracy.

 People don't seem to get the religion part of Qanon, when the evangelical and Christian fundamentalist world teach people that the world is run by Luciferians or Satanists. This messes up people's minds, did mine and created fantasies about the world and magical thinking. In extreme fundamentalism, [I was in the IFB Independent Fundamentalist Baptist and Calvary Chapel church],this is where people go. 

Ironically as a conspiracy theorist I rejected Qanon, and questioned Pizza gate as distractions and diversions. I also thought Alex Jones was a shill. I also never became a Republican and saw both parties as "evil" though I did a few guilty dem/third party votes based on being disabled, I would not tell my churches about. 

 However there was overlaps with Qanon in my conspiracy beliefs. I did believe the global elite were Satanists, in Agenda 21, in "the new world order", and that celebrities were making Satanic signs and symbols.

I rejected racism and antisemitism and that sort of stuff but used the Bible to create a new reality. I did believe too like the Qanons, that bad things were done with children and human trafficking but rejected Qanon thinking that a certain politician was some kind of rescuer. I did question other conspiracies I thought were nonsense like the Mandela Effect, etc. 

Christian fundamentalism and bible prophecy cooked my brain. I wish I could go get therapy, because now I worry about vestiges of conspiracy. I still believe some bad stuff goes on, after all humans do plot and plan but it's hard to know what is really going on. I believe conspiracy has arose because the world is so complex and often people have found out many institutions and other things are not trustworthy. People are trying to put the patterns together. 

Being Aspie, I often do see things differently. In some ways it may have made me more vulnerable.

I deconverted from Christianity around 4-5 years ago, no longer believe and no longer consider myself a Christian. My husband never converted in and never was a conspiracy theorist, and I believe he is the main reason I didn't sink as deep as some people, he would question things I believed but not in a mean way.

I was smart enough when I was in conspiracy to keep my mouth shut about it except at fundie church with a few people. No one knew I believed this way. I mean I was into conspiracy as early as 2002, ironically even in online conspiracy it was discussed only 3 percent of people "understood" how the world worked. It was extreme FRINGE back then. 

Watching so many of the populace march into extreme conspiracy has been scary.  I was against Dominionism and Christian Nationalism even during my conspiracy time, and one reason I deconverted was endless layers of major cognitive dissonance. I war protested and did not like authoritarianism but I was in this messed up religion. I am so happy to be free.

What is ironic, is the worldview I had during the 2000s, conspiracy theory people were extreme weirdos, I never met anyone who believed in the "new world order" like I did, and now I am freaked out everything took over and conspiracy people became these people I wanted no association with, racist, loving Christian nationalism and more.

 When I was recovering from conspiracy, Covid has been a major set back. Like 9-11 which was kind of the feeder event for me to become a conspiracy theorist in the first place, Covid has not helped. I wanted to believe the world was a more sane, and together place.

I lost almost all the Christian friends. Even recently I got in fights with people about Covid where they did not believe in wearing masks. one of my friends of 11 years was basically Qanon from what I could tell. I've lost many friends from the deconversion. The friendship ended when I told her Covid was real and was directly honest about my deconversion. Evangelicalism and fundamentalism, its like being in a whole other world. I mean I got out. For you people who want to get people out, since I was a conspiracy theorist, maybe I will post about how to do that, and what worked on me. 

One thing too that worked on me, is I am a reader, and I was reading books on science, evolution of birds, the epochs of the earth which was cracking apart the Christian fundamentalism. I also reread "A Candle in the Dark" by Carl Sagan and realized with horror I had been led down a really bad intellectual path. 

I still have vestiges of some conspiracy beliefs, don't trust Bill Gates, and wonder if Covid is about a global economic re-set. I still think some stuff goes down, but Qanon is lies. I will not promote conspiracy here, or tell you to believe in conspiracy. In fact I wish I could find a scientist or other to help me examine some beliefs I want to re-examine and can't make sense of. I talked to a few online that broke me out of other conspiracies.

 I am an Unitarian Universalist and a progressive now and very embarrassed about my conspiracy and ultra fundie past. If anyone knows of recovery places or ideas for EX-Conspiracy Theorists, please tell me too." 

I was a very different sort of conspiracy person, what gets me now, with the Qanons is how ALIKE they are in beliefs. Some seekers and true independent thinkers can find themselves in the conspiracy world wanting to know more about how the world works, but sadly most people are not personalities who are exploring things but who are adopting a world view handed to them by others. Of course religion makes people more vulnerable. 

One thing I discussed on that board was how the people I was around all had broken reality testers. My old small rural town has gone extreme. I have Facebook contact with groups from there. Here I had to end friendships too on Facebook, where one man had obviously joined up with the Proud Boys and their fascist beliefs. I have one libertarian friend left, who doesn't like Trump but he rails about the "socialists" so I have distanced myself from him as well. He is against the minimum wage which is absurd. He is a wealthier sort and owns a business but that is definitely selfishness especially in a rural town where the poverty rate is at 37 percent. My old rural town has had endless rallies against the Lock-downs, and they have had mask-less parades. Reality isn't in vogue there. Extreme religion and politics grew after I left. While these things are are a problem here, this area has more wealth and education, so it is not as severe. 

I have had serious deep thoughts, about how the way my family worked to limit critical and independent thinking, I was taught to trust in "authorities", and to shut down any independent thought. I went to a uber Catholic school educated by nuns who all believed an Invisible Man up in the sky directed all our lives and taught me fairy tales like the apparitions of Fatima were real. One teacher was so obsessed, she talked about nothing but Fatima and we would hear more about the Visions of the Virgin Mary, than we would about math.

One day I was lamenting to my husband, "What would my life have been, if I had been allowed to explore things intellectually, or been introduced to the basics of critical thinking, I had some interest in science, that was stamped out!"

I lived in that fundie rural town, my family was mostly uneducated "new money" sorts, where even my father kept his true beliefs a secret to do my mother's bidding, I went to high school in the land of pitbulls and evangelical Christianity, and I was surrounded by religious nut cases.

Another layer of the onion I am peeling, is that in 2000 after I escaped Chicago and my endless traumas there, I got a therapist in my rural small town, who told me, God would fix my life and my problems. I hadn't thought about this in years. I was questioning what the hell happened to me, that I left the UU church [we moved to a rural place hundreds of miles away from any] and went into religion and all this other crazy stuff. It occurred to me that one reason I went for religion was a therapist I had.

 This therapist was both good and bad. She introduced me to Aspergers, which I had never heard about and believed I had it, and other therapists and a psychologist would back this up later on, but she guided me into religion too and that was a major problem. I wonder what she would say if I told her, "You telling me that God and Jesus would fix my life, led me on a 14 year long rabbit trail to nowhere and more misery". What is sad is I was very close to this therapist and liked her a lot. She honestly told me as a UU, "I had turned my back on God" and this is one reason my life had gone astray with the health problems and poverty. I remember her giving me a book on Christianity and returning to the Lord. I do not remember the exact title of the book as it has been years. I read and discussed this book with her. What is scary is that this was a SECULAR office.

 For years I had been put down, ostracized, shamed by the family and told I was going to hell for being a UU. I moved to this fundie religious town and hear more of the same and even therapists joined in on the socio-religious messages. "You need Christianity to make your life right". Of course they told me to reconcile with all my abusers as well. 

Was I handed critical and rational thinking to recover from my traumas?

Was I handed empowerment to stand up for myself and my rights? This therapist was one of the many who stressed reconciliation with my abusers although she admitted my abuse was "severe".

This is like America on the macro level. 

Are Americans being handed critical and rational thinking to fix their society?

Nope, most are being handed more religion and more lies. 

Are we being handed empowerment to stand up for ourselves and our rights?

Sure, in a few leftist circles, but most of the messaging is to submit. 

I was surrounded by people who had left all vestiges of critical thinking. I posted this on that board too. It's occurred to me, that people with loving families that do not beat them down for independent thought, questioning and critical thought probably have less chance of being taken in by conspiracy or extreme religion. My family since they fell for Tea Party lies, and I knew they were all rabid Trumpsters after I went no contact, probably dabble with a lighter version of Qanon. They definitely were against "socialists", gay people, and others Trump told them to be against. So I described the people who had left reality too, who I was surrounded by:

"See this link: 

I went back to my old spiritually abusive deliverance minister's website. She has gone crazier and every time there is a holiday, writes that there is going to be "human sacrifice".

I noticed too she is now a full blown Trumpster, she downplayed that stuff to me because I hated the Republican party and now has links up against Biden and how Trump should be president. The effect of this person on my life was very bad, thank goodness she lived 1000s of miles away in another state. I always wondered what craziness she has gotten into. Some of her other victims did contact me, one who actually lived with her, and ended up homeless. One of the other victims who contacted me went deeper in conspiracy and believes she is a "targeted person".

 [The deliverance minister would fit full Qanon beliefs today especially with her embracing of Trump] I saw a newspaper article after I cut her off where cops did visit her looking for someone, so they knew of her and her so called "ministry". I do wonder how many people's she's preyed on though. I was invited to visit and live at her "compound". This is where having a husband still living in reality helped me. I refused. She's gone deeper into insanity. I did seriously wonder how did I get involved with this deluded person? I feel sorry for her because she's trapped in the extreme fundie bubble now ruining her life and looks like she will never escape.

Then there is my first IFB minister. I was close enough to him and his wife to be over at their house all the time. His wife seemed to be a friend but I really was a "charity case" something that happens to disabled people in churches. They were homeschoolers, well most of my church members were. He would leave that church and move away after I moved away first. I was friends with him on Facebook. After I deconverted, I unfriended him. 

He told me I probably was never born again when I told him I had doubts and said "you focus too much on the dark side of things and question too much". Anyhow he has a blog, I knew about and I checked it out. He quit his IFB pastor job of a small to medium sized church of around 150 people, bought this sail boat, and decided he was going to have his family live on it full time. He sold their house and got rid of just about all their possessions and decided he was going to preach the gospel from his sailboat. His kids are preteens, and he has 4. His wife seemed like a practical person when I was around them so I could not believe this. 

I didn't say or write anything because I had unfriended him but was looking at his blog in shock and that none of the church people around him questioned him or what he was doing to his children. It is legal for some nut to deny his kids schooling and to make them live on a boat that had about 200 square feet of living space? Anyhow they hit the water and then Covid hits about a month into their new way of life. Guess the Lord screwed up on his planning, he decided to return to the USA.

I don't know if he sold the boat, but they live in a RV camper and are driving around for him to "preach" and for them to grift, and are essentially homeless people. So he forced his family into poverty for his illusions.

 I find myself hoping his kids run away or turn themselves over to social workers. I've had to sit on my hands to write things like "Your kids deserve a home and schooling" on his blog, but didn't do it. This was my first pastor after I was "born again". He and his wife are crazy too and not living in reality. At this IFB church he was not as far openly down the conspiracy path like me, but he told us America was going to collapse soon all the time and we may be looking at total destruction. There was a lot of doom and gloom and we were told we had to depend wholly on the Lord. Church members and I used to talk about "new world order" and conspiracy stuff. About 20-30 percent of the place were full preppers. One guy I befriended was really into Art Bell.

There were these two "friends" in my old rural town who refused Social Security numbers. I wrote them until about 5 years ago. They were homeless and lived behind a farmer's barn, I talked them into being caretakers because they were getting old and I showed them websites were couples could get caretaking jobs--they went on computers at the library. They got one, moved out of town and were no longer homeless. I don't know what has happened to them since. They were major Q people, and believed in the "new world order" like me. We disagreed on social security numbers, I was disabled The self sabotage due to religion was extreme. They could not even get driver's licenses due to their refusal to have social security numbers believing it was the "mark of the beast". They could not get regular jobs because of this. 

I befriended this one guy online where we ran a board to "witness" to Catholics but it was mostly a fundie conspiracy board. I still don't like the Vatican and Catholic religion but of course see all this differently today. Because I was married, I would not talk to him on phone and shared correspondence with my husband. This guy sent me DVD after DVD of Calvary Chapel stuff and this one extreme pastor [Russ Dizdar] who claimed Satanic Super Soldiers were going to take over America. He didn't agree with some of my IFB stuff but I moved and was in a Calvary Chapel for a time before going to a second IFB church. I think about the crazy conspiracies and other BS we discussed online. He was an uber Republican and we argued too much over politics, so the "friendship" ended. As far as I know he is still on the web ranting about the "Whore of Babylon" I am sure he is a Trumpster today if not a full Q person. 

There were these older ladies in my old rural town, in that town everyone was religious and one told me her daughter was a "witch" who could do astral travel and came into her home to spy on her and her husband and cause trouble. I was close to this lady but this was some extreme weirdness when I went to go visit her. She considered her daughter completely evil. [This being a pre-no contact friendship, today I am wary of anyone who focuses on one child as the "bad one".] 

This other lady was very nice in her case her son became a missionary to China. Everything was about religion to her. She was nice and kind but Jesus was definitely the center of her world. She believed all non-Christians would go to hell. I am sure she would stop talking to deconverted me. Our friendship broke up from distance, and my move but she had become very elderly.

This is just tip of the iceberg but I was surrounded by all these uber religious people. I was dancing around with toxic troubled people whose reality testers were all broken. Even my therapist got me into fundie religion in that town. I was still UU and we moved to a rural town--no UU churches for hundreds of miles. She kept telling me Jesus could fix my problems and remarked you turned your back on God in the UU church. I had extreme disabling medical problems. I lost my career due to illness, gone through severe poverty and that career was troubled and faced extreme problems. This was at a secular office. 

She didn't give me reality but more fantasy. She even gave me a book on returning to Christ. She primed the pump for the fundies. I was seeing her around the year 2000-2001, Add 9-11 and stir with my PTSD and I was converted in by 2002. I would deconvert in 2016. Oh I guess that is 14 wasted years in religion not 16. Well, that is still too damn long. Our environments can influence us. America is becoming a very troubled place.

I live in a very conservative area NOW, where outside of my UU congregation, the MAJORITY support Trump, believe homosexuality is wrong and against gay marriage, and believe that global warming is a hoax. I was not around normal people at all."

I've thought about a lot of this stuff. Today I have entered a mode of self protection. I simply walked away from a lot of people. The sheer numbers of them have been disheartening. How does it feel to live in a world where most people stand against your basic values from your own family to the majority of people you know outside very few? It can feel very scary. There is a point where arguing was fruitless. I suppose as time went on, I was shocked by how many were falling for extreme viewpoints from religion to Trumpster inspired conspiracy.

 It definitely has changed my way of being in the world where now I do analyze the quality of the company I keep and if someone doesn't support basic human rights this is a problem. Losing so many friends is not easy. Many were never real "friends". True friendship does not exist in cults where everything is about conformity to absurd beliefs. 

This may sound bad to some, and I respect freedom of religion but I have no qualms with someone purposefully deconverting a close loved one in a cult or a harmful religion [Christian fundamentalism] like I was in. One thing it is not just Christians too buying into these beliefs but many New Agers and "disclosure and ascension" believers [think of David Icke here] believing in things like the "Great Awakening" and Trump and those like him "rescuing the world". I am glad I was broken out. I was deprogrammed, a lot of it was my own efforts but my husband helped too. 

My husband served a key role in breaking me out. I did live somewhat of a compartmentalized life, where in happiness with him, I was reading alternative comics, going to bookstores and libraries, listening to rock music, watching TV shows like Breaking Bad and PBS, going to concerts, doing NORMAL PEOPLE stuff, that actually broke all my IFB church's rules. We had married in the UU for heaven's sakes.

His friends often used to get upset and asked him why he stayed with such a "fundamentalist" and "crazy" wife, but they didn't realize how our day to day life was really like. He took the tactic of respecting me while not accepting the beliefs. This may have taken more time, he even took me to church at times, but instead of triggering me, he would discuss things he did not agree with.

 Because of my former religious abuse with my family, I did not want to shove religion down his throat or anyone else's so I believe I was far more laid back than most fundamentalists though my churches were constantly harping on me for my "unsaved" husband. 

We got into a recent discussion after my deconversion where he told me he knew I was seeking and exploring answers for the many things we had suffered, from the toxic, abusive and unloving family, the extreme trauma and poverty in Chicago, the crazy health problems that made no sense, going deaf and almost dying, and that I was trying to find comfort and solace. He said you were trying to find answers for a lot of things that didn't make sense. 

We consumed media all the time away from the cult. Reading Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges, and books like that I had reasonable explanations instead of crazy supernatural ones for why the world had gone off it's rocker. 

 With Qanons, fundies and conspiracy people, asking this question may help the people who want to get them out. 

Are they traumatized, old and overwhelmed with the world? 

Are they lonely? 

Trying to find comfort and solace in a fundie cult or conspiracy world that supposedly has all the answers? 

I wanted answers when I got sucked in. I was disabled young, and as I desperately tried to join the "real world" with my disabled body via volunteer work and other things, I was left out on the fringes of society. 

My family even when I was in contact rejected and disinvited me from multiple events. I was isolated from being housebound and disabled. I did not fit in anywhere. I was searching for belonging and answers and well it didn't go well. It does not surprise me my thinking went to the extreme fringe too.

Conspiracy and denial of reality with religious fairy tales are ways for people to cope, it does make the really bad stuff seem less big or that you can fight it or know the "secret" of conquering it. I clung to ideas that God was going to rescue me and make things right. I clung to the idea that I knew the real way the world worked. 

Maintaining the religious and conspiracy facade isn't always easy. Every fundie Christian and conspiracy person has doubts, one thing that will help is leading them to confront those doubts. I had issues with the brutality of Christianity from the beginning, I had moral and ethical issues with teachings regarding hell where I even wrote an article on the Christian conspiracy blog saying that hell bothered me. 

One wants to be gentle but break through the fear that is instilled in both the fundamentalist and conspiracy person to have the courage to dare to examine their doubts. I had issues very early on with Christianity where niggling thoughts would bother me, "Why does God need blood?" and "Why is this religion based on brutality and violence?" They told me all doubts were fueled by Satan, a way they teach people to do their own thought control. I was scared to examine these ideas though finding this link helped me alot. I remember the day I read it, I was still a Christian but it cracked the facade. It admitted that Christianity was based on human sacrifice.

 If you want to break some of the conspiracy theorists out, you got to break the biblical world view many are trapped in. The biblical world view they told me was so "holy" made me fall for the conspiracy lies. They walked hand in hand. 

Authoritative religion that claimed to have all the answers made me ready made for conspiracy people who had developed "answers" for why the world worked the way it did. You have to chip away at this. You have to free people's mind from a cage. 

 Some may deconstruct and become liberal Christians, or explore other religions, others may go full agnostic or atheist, you want to break the fundamentalist trap. Some people recommend Street Epistemology but I would suggest watching Theramin Trees and Darkmatter2525 too on Youtube to get some more hard-hitting questions you know will bring a fundamentalist into question. 

You have to get people to examine their beliefs. The same goes for conspiracy. Doubting some popular conspiracy theories, like Pizza Gate or the "Crisis Actor" nonsense I was reading, actually opened the door for me to analyze, doubt others and than stop believing them. This doesn't mean I believe all conspiracy is wrong, people do plot and plan and do bad stuff for profit, but breaking my mind out of fantasy and magical thinking and extreme religion freed my brain to finally examine things the way I should. Sometimes asking hard questions, while being hopefully respectful of the person, will help....

One question that someone asked me that led to my deconversion was, "Why do you think you are so special for God to answer your prayers when there's little kids being bombed in foreign lands"? Now some of this may take someone who still has a vestige of introspection left and isn't in full deep on NPD. It takes conscience and introspection for someone to examine beliefs and change them. 

 Extreme religion and conspiracy work via keeping people isolated. They limit their information to little bubbles and tell them "You can only trust me". The conspiracy world taught me to doubt scientists, and experts. Fundamentalist Christianity also bolstered those messages. 

One hobby broke down my false beliefs. I loved PBS, I watched it all the time. Please donate to Public Television. I swear PBS cracked things down. Put a lot of PBS on around your Qanon or extreme religion addled relative or friend. I think it will help. Be subtle about it, you don't have to put on a full blown Paleontology show even some average wonder for the earth and nature will have it's affect. 

Try and have them read fun books, "The Genius of Birds" is one book that helped to deconvert me.

 There's some conspiracy websites that even expose Trump as NWO and evil. I would be in a strange place with a Qanon person now because I could tell them about Trump's father's connection to Tammany Hall and other weird stuff. You could use conspiracy to fight their flavor of it. I went so deep in conspiracy world it's like I dug a hole to China and popped out on the other side into the fresh air. 

There's a point where I grew tired of all the hands sign and Satan supposedly running everything and the constant fear and the rest where I got tired of it all. Maybe your Q-addled person would too. 

 Another thing that happened was, my husband who was never a conspiracy theorist and always an agnostic turned to me and said, "So what if this is true, what are you going to do about it?" That stumped me. This is the one question that broke me away. There is this desire for control in conspiracy. I realized the time I was wasting trying to find things out. So what was I going to do if I found out? What could be done about it? 

I had deluded people including two of the ex-friends going on about MK Ultra, one of the most extreme conspiracy theories, so perhaps crazy experiments were done, but how does it improve your life today? We should stand against all injustice, but I noticed people complaining about MK Ultra were the ones preaching the most unthinking obedience to the powers that be. 

My husband, also broke me away making jokes about some of the religious extremists I was around. Of my deliverance minister, the one that wanted to move me to the compound he would say, "She sounds like Skipper on Gilligans Island with the Tiki statues!" Humor can be an elixir. He put doubts in my mind that helped me never go too deep with her.

 With your loved one going into extreme religion or conspiracy ask yourself: 

 Is it trauma? 

 Is it loneliness? 

Conspiracy and fundie religion offer a faux community. In fact one reason many people will join cults or fundamentalist churches is because they will preach, "we are your family now, and we love and care about you!" My first IFB church was heavy on the shared meals and preaching we were a church family, that should remain close and take care of each other. That was something that was very appealing to me.

With conspiracy, there was some narcissism in it, where us conspiracy theorists considered ourselves special people who were true seekers wanting to find the answers "beyond the matrix". With the Calvary Chapel friend, who sent me the DVDs, he told me all the time how us conspiracy people were special and we numbered only 3 percent of the population back in the early 2000s. 

I know isolation from my disabilities and Aspergers took me down these paths, outside of my marriage, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I still struggle with this now. This feeling of never feeling at rest in the world or like I have a place. I am sure it is left over from the toxic family too. I remain very deeply disturbed at the isolation Covid19 is imposing when I was finally succeeding in building somewhat of a life. 

 Is it wanting answers for why the world is such a confusing and dark place now? Let's be frank, there's a lot of weird shit going on. There really are some bad people out there doing harm. Even trying to apply critical thinking to this mess is exhausting. 

 Tell them this..."It's okay not to know everything". One main damage of fundie religion is they tell you in it, you have to be CERTAIN of everything, you better get your beliefs 100 percent or god burns you in hell, this spills onto everything else. It is okay to say "I DO NOT KNOW". 

When I had this realization, I realized it was okay not to know everything and it helped break the chains of religion and conspiracy. It freed me from this exhausting drive in my personality that wanted to know why things happened. 

 Another question to ask, "Is it really working like you thought it would?" Trust me every Christian fundie deep inside is having thoughts like, "why aren't these prayers working" but the peer pressure and thought control where they are taught that to doubt means Satan is messing with them shuts that down. Same for conspiracy, when I was in it, they told me scientists, were all liars and that I was falling for their lies. This is gaslighting that can be broken through too. Just teaching a Q-addled person about the realities of gaslighting will break them out. Studying NPD, manipulation and how abusers operate broke the chains. 

Now in some cases many of you may be dealing with predators and NPD people but if you have some people with consciences and who have some ability for introspection and love left, they may be able to be reached like I was. I look back now and feel some uncomfortable feelings about how I was manipulated. Leaving religion and conspiracy behind was a maturation process. The more people that can be freed from false conspiracy and religion the better. Walking around thinking Satan was running the world was screwed up, bad stuff happens but they had no answers just more fear and destruction and now the whole country is in danger from it.


  1. Yes, I too believe (and see) that the country is definitely into conspiracy theories, and if you read radical right and radical left wing publications, the conspiracy theories abound in terms of the the "disempowerment of every day Americans". The blaming is going in different directions certainly, but in many ways they sound exactly the same.
    I'm actually touching on a lot of the same issues while writing my newest post and it is interesting to me that our thoughts are running along the same lines, more or less.
    You touch on religion in your post which is something I hadn't considered at all to be a large factor in all of this national division, but I'm glad you did as it opened my eyes to a lot of things, "reasons".
    My own background is Quaker on one side (which many people don't even consider a religion, except that they espouse peace, but it is: it is just a very different manifestation of Christianity than the others and the church, called a Meeting House, that I went to with my father only the teachings of Jesus were emphasized and repeated, and none of the miracles). The other side is atheist. The atheism wasn't always there ... UU was the original family religion from pretty far back.
    Anyway, a very good long post, well written, good ideas to ponder.

    1. I think all the conspiracy is being promoted via disenfranchisment and economic despair. We aren't being given real solutions so people retreat into fantasy, religion and more. You are right it's both right and people on left [David Icke, etc] being scooped up. I am looking forward to your next post Lise. Yeah religion decides a lot of this. Christianity itself has even grown more extreme. Maybe this is due to the decline of it--- it's dying gasps, but there are enough numbers in it to still wreck havoc. Yeah there is a lot of overlap between Unitarianism and Quakers. It also leans towards independence and anti-authoritarianism, one reason Quakers were involved more in the abolition movement. My family was all Catholic though one grandfather joined an Orthodox church for a while. Doing geneaology I am the first family member to leave the Catholic church in any official capacity in centuries on one side. That was kind of weird to think about. Thanks, I am glad I gave some good ideas to think over.

  2. I remember lots of conspiracy stuff being around in the 80s and I'm sure it was around in the 70s too. I think the reason it's gotten so big are:

    Up until about the year 2000, everyone watched the same TV channels, tons of people subscribed to the same newspaper that arrived on their front step, they listened to the same radio stations which were under "Fairness Doctrine" regulations, and so on.

    In the 80s and even 90s you had to subscribe to printed conspiracy magazines and newsletters, none of the present poisonous type of conspiracy stuff was on TV and as for radio, you have to find it on shortwave.

    Post-2000, "Fairness Doctrine" had been removed which meant odious creatures like Rush Limbaugh could blather away on the radio, more people had cable TV and post 2005 they had YouTube online. So people have been able to stay in their own little bubbles and those little bubbles got kookier and kookier.

    Then there's the big push for homeschooling. So you've got kids who have been homes-chooled or charter-schooled all their lives and are now voting age. Short and simple: A lot of those homes and institutions are turning out fully indoctrinated Nazis.

    Then there's something Chris Hedges talks about: When your job has gone away, the rent costs more every year, food's more expensive, and your life is getting worse and worse into a hell-world that's going to chew you up, but you can join the local Christian church where they well you you can go back to an all-white society with a $50/hour blue-collar job and weekends off etc., just like it's fabled to be in the 1950s (which for some it was, and some it was not) and all they have to do is arm up and be ready to kill off all the non-whites and any "traitor" whites, they'll happily jump onto that program. So the steeply declining standard of living for the bottom 2/3rds in the US is a real factor. This is what Germans were told, also - get rid of all "non-Aryans" and their lives would be great.

    Even where I am, in "Silicon Valley" where are some of these Christian churches set up in industrial spaces and they're nasty, nasty people. I'm extra careful going by because they all drive like angry maniacs who want to run someone over. I guess those sermons all about killing off the Jews and the coloreds gets them all hepped up.

  3. Yeah it's gotten big, I remember the niches of conspiracy in 70s and 80s, some to be found in tabloids or where you would order the special books about UFOs, or new world order in the back of tabloids. You had to get special magazines or newsletters. I had a giant NWO collection of conspiracy materials, some people sent me materials, I got rid of it all, maybe should have kept it to study it, but I would be a hoarder if I kept everything, all the crazy news letters, "Last Trumpet Ministries", tapes on the new world order, Jack Chick newsletters, various nutty preachers and others, Cathy Burns articles.....and more.

    You are right media was far more mainstreamed, we had three main channels everyone watched, I am old enough to remember the days before cable and internet too. We can tell removing the Fairness Doctrine and making propaganda legal in America has done a LOT of damage.

    You are right people could join there own nutty bubbles and they got weirder and weirder. I was in the strange IFB circles but even in the nutty online circle with the deliverance minister and others, some of whom believed all churches were fallen away. I had contacts with Calvary Chapel people online who believed all this crazy Nephilim stuff and into Roger Oakland, Chuck Missler and Tom Horn. The fundamentalist world had all sorts of little nooks and crannies.
    I think home-schooling has destroyed education too. Just look at how slow the Duggar adults are, and the basics they don't know. Now we have a whole population who don't believe viruses are real. And we are all paying for it. I've been around home schooled kids, and they are MORE NAIVE, socially stunted and to be frank simply KNOW LESS.
    I think it should be outlawed. I have seen the books and they are full of political and religious indoctrination so sure they were prepped for Republican party authoritarianism and Nazisms. After I went no contact, before I was no contact with cousins, I could see some relatives on Facebook, they were all dating and marrying extremists and homeschoolers, ultra right wing types. The grunting cousin who got married and the wedding I did not go to, she came from a fundamentalist Lutheran family where she was homeschooled.
    All those educated boomers who went full fundie and then shoved homeschooling down their children's throats have denied them real education and knowledge.

    1. I always thought Christianity was weird and stupid, but I actually got interested in Nazi circles. To a half-educated person, their theories actually make sense. The thing is, even Richard Dawkins, arch-Darwinist, has concluded that altruism and co-operation are real. And I've realized that there's no superiority of any race and in face the concept of "race" is bogus given that a given small tribe of bonobos or chimps has more genetic diversity than the whole of humankind. We're a worldwide pest species, like those "house sparrows" (actually African finches) that are all over and have local variations in coloration. House cats have more variation than we do, and they're a modern (last few millennia) thing.

    2. Most race is a social construct even as they study where people came from. Humanity survived and thrived with altruism and co-cooperation, our society is literally dying because those things have been thrown out the window. I think of how socially I've been just separated my whole life, every time I find a group, I am forced away from them. People weren't meant to live in these little impersonal bubbles where you end up having to "sell yourself" your whole life so strangers or people who barely know you will like you. There's no superiority of any race, I agree, those who push that crap, have their own horrible agendas. It's true other species have more genetic diversity, this probably helps the plagues along when it comes to mankind. The refusal to stop this pandemic is very much tied to racist eugenics in America.

  4. Many Christians have become nasty people, not all of course, but there has been discussion about how Christianity especially in conservative forms destroys empathy...

    I mean if your God is one that doesn't care about giving someone eternal suffering it breaks down human love, and compassion especially for those who are different. Lots of white supremacy is taught in these churches too even if it is kept subtle.

    Chris Hedges is right that the economic despair and rest has led people desperate for answers. That led me into the conspiracy and religion snake pit, my life had gone to hell, even though I tried to "do everything right" and it all went bad, so I was trying to find answers and solutions and none of them worked. God failed me, religion failed me, it's answers explained nothing, conspiracy just led to busy-body rabbit holes--if the elites have that much power, I notice one thing conspiracy never gave answers on WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT, beyond have tons of money to go build a bunker and prep. I never accepted the racism, but all the racism is used for a system of scapegoating, the monied powers do better to get the poor and desperate whites to blame black and latino people instead of the billionaires ripping them off. I agree about wanting to avoid the meanness, including the scary driving. When people refused to wear masks even when risk themselves of a deadly virus, you know they are shut down people who have no feelings for themselves or anyone else. Empathy is gone. It has been scary to watch. We do have to avoid them for our own safety.

    1. My youngest sister is a Jesus freak, and it's sad, I can see completely why.

    2. Has she had a hard life? They prey on the vulnerable.

    3. We all had hard lives, but I'd say hers was the hardest. Youngest and smallest, she damn near died of starvation. On paper it would have been due to pneumonia which often kills off starving people, but it was actually that she was not getting anything to eat. None of us were getting enough to eat but in her case it got bad. Things only changed for her (and the fest of us) when we moved out of the hills and down near the ocean. I caught a look at myself in a window and saw my swollen belly and thin limbs and realized I'd see that look before - starving children in India etc. So I upped my foraging game and learned to fish, and got to work on more artwork I could sometimes sell, looked for odd jobs, etc.

      We were raised to constantly bicker with each other, conversations were supposed to start with, and be framed around, complaints. We were living in fucking Hawaii and yet it would have sounded really weird to say anything nice like, "Isn't the sunrise beautiful today?" or "Dinner was really good tonight" etc.

      A kid doesn't forget things like that. Christians are practically a set of gangs in Hawaii and near the last place we lived, before we all hit age 18 and split apart like an atom exploding, was a sort of "coffee house" called Hannah's that had yoghurt drinks and such for free or cheap, and it was a Christian recruitment place looking for lonely kids in need of help like my younger sis. When you've been treated hatefully and stingily your whole life and for the first time meet nice people, that'll suck you in all right.

      I think Christians want kids to be treated like shit in the US so they can get more recruits this way. They want the larger culture to lack empathy so when they give out just a tiny bit of fake empathy, it sucks people in. It's like ISIS recruiting etc.

    4. That's horrible you were all starved when young. CPS fails so many kids. Yeah they would put pneumonia on paper. I had the crap food when young, crappy cheap carbs but no food, would be hell.
      I am sure you did get a swollen belly from no food, I am glad you learned to forage and eat fish. I wish I was not allergic to fish, seems like an easier way to eat if there was no food around.
      You had to be very innovative to stay alive. No children should be forced to go through something like that.

      Yeah often toxic parents who won't feed their kids or give them access to social programs that would feed them, will separate siblings from one another. All my siblings hate each other. I mean they hate me and were narcissists, but even the two I left behind hate each others guts and have as little to do with each other as possible, an annual phone call on Christmas. So yes constant bickering. My brother and sister fought all the time. It sucked you had to deal with that too. I wish I had an ally and sure you did too.

      LOL you were living in paradise but hey narcissists make everything around them shit and pass the shit to everyone else.

      Wow with Christians being gangs in Hawaii. is there heavy "Jesus Movement" culture, you know Calvary Chapel sold that whole California Dreaming Jesus BS with surfing and baptisms in the ocean.

      I know in some areas of the country they are into coffee shops and places like that to do outreach. Even my deliverance minister in her state hung out at some uber Christian coffeeshop.

      Yeah they do use "recruitment", I remember going to college and seems every nice other kid that sat next to me and smiled was a Christian trying to get a new "born again notch" on their belt. I didn't convert in while in college, but I sadly hung out at this place called "His House" for free dinners on Sunday night and people to talk to. The normal kids wouldn't talk to fat Aspie me, this was the time before I met my ex millionaire friend sophomore year, and there I was with all these hard core born again Christians to have people to talk to. Yeah the nice people sucked me in. I know when I left Chicago and away from crime, extreme poverty and living in squalor, I saw all these "nice" Christians with their pleasant houses, nice yards in a pretty little town, and they were "friendly" to me and yeah it sucked me in too. Like a revist to that time eating spaghetti dinners at "His House" having rap sessions with this one guy I had a secret crush on, but who was like one of those popular Jesus people, he even looked like Jesus and thinking "oh now I can have friends", and I used to hang out there all the time though the pressure got heavy why won't you accept Christ? And then I couldn't do it. I was already taking interest in UU stuff and reading American Athiest at the college library. LOL but I was LONELY.

      So yeah it lures people right on in. I have a lot of grief I don't talk about much over the falseness of it all, all the fake friends. Would the friend of 11 years that dumped me over Trump even care about my feelings? Probably not. The inauthenticity of it all is the worse aspect of it. if heaven and hell are real at least hell is where the real people will be. :P

      I think Christians want kids to be treated like shit, everyone like shit, so we are desperate and in need of a Saviour. All "The poor will always be with you:" crap, oh they will make sure of that as they spit on every social justice endeavor. Yeah they want the larger culture to lack empathy, cooperation, social closeness so people will be desperate and scrambling for the fake empathy and whatever crumbs they can get. It will bring profit and butts in seats to lousy pastors.

      I am still wondering if Gilead will be a reality. Trump still refuses to concede and Biden looks weak. The fact Dems sat back while a crazy man trashed the presidential office is unforgiveable to me.

  5. The swollen belly and thin limbs is the beginning at least of a "disease" called Kwashiorkor. You can look it up. It's due to a lack of vitamins and protein, and calories overall. Once I got my fishing and foraging together I lost the swollen belly and my limbs filled out. Of course I was still under 10% body fat but at least I didn't look like something out of National Geographic.

    I had a young guy who works at the local Japanese market, who's interested in politics and such things, ask me what the deal is with American families. I said basically the belief in white American culture is that everyone is an individual utterly separated from everyone else, and family means nothing - you're on your own. This is of course opposite of Asian culture ... I remember a landlady where I rented a room in Hawaii, Mrs. Shiroma, had a son who was paranoid schizophrenic and not even verbal. He looked terrible and could only make sounds, not words. He'd be out in the yard grunting and groaning and wandering around, and I'd say Hi and be polite because after all, if he's family of my landlady then in a way he's distant family to me, also. I was told later that it made a good impression on her that I was nice to him. Of course a good white American family would simply throw him out into the street.

    As for Christian "gangs" there's for instance the surfing church nonsense started by Dr. Dorian Paskowitz, who's dead now but he used to run an article each month in one of the surfing magazines with incorrect medical and diet information and basically was only interested in sucking people into the Krist Kult.

    I've concluded that to cope with modern life if you're working-class is you've got to become religious. It's the only way to keep your boss from forcing you to work 7 days a week and never have a day off. It's the only way to make any sort of friends. Christianity is a rotten religion but it's the dominant one here. But you've got to choose one. I'm lucky to live so near to a Buddhist temple and Jodo Shinshu Biddhism is big, about 8% of the population, back home in Hawaii.

    I agree, Gilead is looking more possible. It could be the 'Rump is merely trying, in his crazy way, to fund-raise before he ducks out, Foghorn Leghorn style, as the last minute. But if he's in for another 4 years, I'm thinking I might greatly accelerate my schedule for getting back to Hawaii before travel restrictions come in or God knows what else.

    1. Yeah that's a horrible disease Kwashiorkor....I think that is the same you see in African famine pictures.
      I am glad you were able to fish and forage for your own food, that's having to learn some real independence when very young.

      Do you think this affected your health long term.
      I wish I could talk to the Japanese man about American families. Yeah white American families, sink or swim, there's no real togetherness, just show up on holidays to brag of your success. So wonder I checked out since they were so much richer then me. I had nothing i common.

      There's no one there to really back you up or care. I had some weird thoughts the other day about how the family was all strangers despite my efforts to "get to know them" or have some closeness. I thought what skin did I have in the game anymore, I mean relationships can't last if there's no shared conversations--I mean real ones, or positive memories--the few from childhood fade with siblings and cousins, and everyone lives so far away. I had no decent car for many years too, it aged out, and well they all live so far away even gas and hotels even if I took our car was way beyond me, so the "center did not hold" anyway.

      Yeah family really means nothing. Now with white Americans it's just a competition club, where the crabs pull down the other crabs, there's no having anyone's back. There's nothing to excuse one family member living in a trailer with no water, [Aunt Scapegoat] while others live in 6 figure suburban houses and have second vacation homes. More and more I am anti-family, I have to curb some of these thoughts in polite company and even joked once to husband, that the Communists had the right idea to dismantle the nuclear family but they got the execution wrong. I think things worked better when there were traditions and closeness and well this idea of kinship, DNA is not enough.

      Glad Asian culture is different. I know I get disappointed having no real cultural heritage, it is depressing. I kind of envy those who can lay claim to one.
      I am glad you tread the landlady's son who was disabled well. That's how things are supposed to be. I think I wrote about this years ago, almost writhing in emotional pain to see loving families of other disabled people. Maybe it happens but yeah with many white [middle class and above?] families you are an embarrasment to be shunted aside. I get the feeling if I had been much more disabled--fully autistic or unable to function, I definitely would have been put in an institution.

      I should look at the Christian surfer yeah that stuff popped up in Calvary Chapel, so California based. They even had Calvary Chapel "communes" in the 1970s.

      I do think there are working class people who don't believe a lick of the Christian myths, but want to have social ties, and churches will be there to help at times when you need it. Yeah some get Sunday off. I think the pews are full of people like this especially those born into a church where much of their family attends and where they live in the same area as an adult.
      Church is a way to make friends and have social ties. I am not fully innocent here, I returned to the UU to get some of those needs met though Covid threw those plans off, I enjoyed a lot of company and conversation since I returned there 4 years ago before all this nonsense broke.

      I am glad you have the buddhists, to be with. I told husband if we move again, there always has to be a UU church in the area, I can't play the Christian part myself anymore to have some community.

      I hope you can get back to Hawaii. Trump never gives up, it is wearing, at least the Supreme Court said no to his latest antics.