Home Christian News Russell Moore Warns Against Capitol Conspiracy Theories: ‘We know who was there’

Russell Moore Warns Against Capitol Conspiracy Theories: ‘We know who was there’

While the evidence indicates that Wednesday’s disturbing events at the U.S. Capitol building were driven by supporters of President Trump, many are claiming that antifa incited the violence. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. suggested that the rioters were not actually Trump supporters, but were antifa members masquerading as Trump supporters. The FBI has told reporters that there is “no indication” those claims are true. Those arrested in connection with the riots who have been identified include Young Republicans of Oregon Vice Chairwoman Kristina Malimon and “QAnon shaman” Jake Angeli.

Moore believes the riot at the U.S. Capitol building was a “culmination” of various conspiracy theories, such as QAnon and the Deep State, that have been proliferating throughout the past year. QAnon is a conspiracy theory that, among other things, promotes the belief that Trump is a heroic figure fighting a battle against pedophiles in Washington. “We’ve had years and years of lying about underground pedophile rings taking place in pizza shops in Washington,” said Moore, who referred to QAnon as a cult. “It is insane stuff, but it is useful to some people to be able to put that out there.” 

Believing conspiracy theories gives people a “flush of the feeling of life,” said Moore, but these narratives are “very, very dangerous” for individuals and for society. All year, Moore said he has been concerned that someone is going to die because of these conspiracy theories and now people have. “Once you say, ‘There’s a secret cabal of people who are trying to take everything away from you, and nothing you see around you is real,’” he said, “that’s dangerous.” 

Scripture provides guidance for believers regarding how we should respond to situations like this. “Paul warned repeatedly about those who have an unhealthy craving for controversy and who seek to be quarrelsome,” said Moore, alluding to 1 Timothy 6. Christians also need to be careful not to promote a falsehood even for a seemingly good reason, something Paul warns against in Romans 3

But you can’t “reason people out of something that they were not reasoned into,” said Moore. It is not possible to have a productive conversation with a dedicated conspiracy theorist. Moore says he is “more concerned” about people who are confused because they’re getting second-hand information about the Capitol riots, and they are not sure whom they can trust. In this case, Moore said we should remember Philippians 4:5-6, which says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything.”

“Both parts of that are important,” said Moore. “Being driven by fear and the limbic system and the adrenal system is not the way of the [Holy] Spirit. And acting in ways that are unreasonable is not the way of the Spirit.” He advised people not “to be drawn into endless social media back and forth. I rarely think that can do anything.” Instead, he recommended first assessing the nature of your relationship with the person you believe is supporting a false narrative. If you engage in conversation, try not to get drawn into a fight, but model a different way to them. Moore also said that if pastors have reason to think that any people in their congregations are drawn into justifying violence, pastors need to address that mindset directly.

“I was glad to hear from so many people really across the spectrum who all saw this for what it was,” said Moore. “I’m just fearful of the way that we’re operating in America right now. There is always a way for people to walk their consciences back and to seek to justify something that is unjustifiable. And that’s what we have to be watching for. [The violence that occurred] is unjustifiable. Doesn’t matter what your politics are, doesn’t matter what your religion is, doesn’t matter what region of the country you’re in.”