QAnon may be a cult, but it's as big as Methodist, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches combined

There is, not surprisingly, a sizable partisan divide in the people who believe in QAnon, the "outlandish and ever-evolving conspiracy theory" that a "cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles" runs the world, The New York Times reports. A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core, released Thursday, found that 23 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents, and 7 percent of Democrats are QAnon believers.

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Overall, the poll found, 14 percent of Americans believe in QAnon, 46 percent reject it outright, and 40 percent are doubters but don't rule it all out. When the pollsters asked specific questions — about whether "a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles" and child sex traffickers control the U.S. "media, government, and financial worlds," if "a storm" will soon "sweep away the elites" and "restore the rightful leaders," and whether "true American patriots may have to resort to violence" to "save" America — those numbers rose to 15 or 20 percent.

"These are words I never thought I would write into a poll question, or have the need to, but here we are," PRRI founder Robby Jones told the Times. "Thinking about QAnon, if it were a religion, it would be as big as all white evangelical Protestants, or all white mainline Protestants," he added. "So it lines up there with a major religious group."

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Combining the percentage of respondents who said they believed in the core QAnon tenets and the U.S. population, "that's more than 30 million people," Jones told the Times. Pew found that there were 36 million mainline Protestants in 2014, a drop of 5 million from seven years earlier, and both Pew and PRRI say fewer than 15 percent of Americans are mainline Protestants, a tradition that includes the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Episcopal Church.

PRRI and IFYC surveyed a random sample of 5,149 adults in all 50 states who are part of the Ipsos Knowledge Panel. The interviews were conducted online March 9-30, and the margin of error is ±1.5 percentage points.

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