man kneeling before glowing Q, QAnon church

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Inside the first church of QAnon, where Jesus helps fight the deep state

QAnon has its first church, where Jesus is aligned against the Democrats.

May 30, 2020, 2:29 pm*

Tech

 

Mike Rothschild

“We’re not a cult. We’re not conspiracy theorists, we’re conspiracy analysts,” announces QAnon researcher Kevin Bushey in a YouTube video after discussing a recent “Q drop” about the mainstream media “expending ammo” writing about QAnon’s growth. 

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Specifically, Bushey tied the drop to the burgeoning popularity of a “QAnon church,” one that holds weekly services on YouTube that blend Q mythology with Biblical theology.

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None of Bushey’s analysis of Q is out of the norm for Q researchers except one thing: Bushey is part of that same YouTube-based “QAnon church,” called Omega Kingdom Ministries. And his “interpretation” was being presented in one of their services.

Since its first 4chan posts in 2017, the QAnon conspiracy theory has become a movement encompassing everything from commerce to politics. 

And increasingly, this includes religion, as QAnon believers infuse their complex mythos with elements of spiritual warfare and Biblical theology. 

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But some Christian QAnon followers are taking this merger even further, using the text of Q drops as scripture to form what seems like a hybrid Q/Christian denomination.

And it might be the future of QAnon.

Scriptural content isn’t new to the Q conspiracy theory. The mysterious Q “drops” posted on various message boards often quote various Bible verses and make frequent references to God “winning.” Q is especially fond of reposting Ephesians 6:10-18, including passages about the “Armor of God” and the “Sword of the Spirit.” They seem apt for a movement based around the violent removal of its enemies.

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But until now, this mix of the spiritual and the conspiratorial has only been one aspect of Q belief, not the foundation for an actual religious movement. 

Then came Omega Kingdom Ministries and its fusion of Protestantism and QAnon. 

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It has no official doctrine, ordained clergy, or a building in which to gather. It doesn’t even consider itself a church. But this model of public services broadcast on YouTube might serve as a more palatable and acceptable new direction for a movement that struggles to break out of its perception as a violent prophecy cult full of racists and lunatics.

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Each online service is led by two “pastors”: Indiana-based former professional clergy turned home church trainer Russ Wagner and Kevin Bushey, a retired Army colonel who has made multiple runs for the Maine House of Representatives, including one still in progress. 

Wagner handles most of the more traditional Bible-based aspects of the service, while Bushey spends nearly an hour every Sunday morning deciphering QAnon drops, Twitter threads, memes, and updating viewers on “military operations.” When put together, it gives the distinct feeling that you’re being given a pep talk for an all-digital crusade that will eventually involve you putting an infidel to the meme sword.

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If none of that sounds like anything in a traditional Christian church service, it’s because OKM is not aligned with any denomination of Christianity. Instead, it’s an “ekklesia,” an ancient Greek term that denotes a home congregation, but can also mean those who see themselves as “called out” from the great mass of believers.

Those believers have never met in person, instead congregating first in private over Zoom, then recently going public on YouTube. 

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OKM and other home churches have a loose alliance called Home Congregations Worldwide, an organization devoted to training Christians to start their own ekklesia. 

Home Congregations Worldwide, despite the relatively benign, pushes the same anti-deep state conspiracy rhetoric as Omega’s services. But despite the affiliation, it isn’t a church.

Omega doesn’t have the 501c3 tax-exempt status that the majority of churches have. They scorn it, in fact, claiming such “government approved” churches use incomplete and inaccurate translations of the Bible.

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Because tax-exempt status keeps religious organizations from endorsing political candidates (a law that President Donald Trump has falsely claimed to have repealed with an executive order), OKM is free to preach about the righteous fury that QAnon will bring down on the deep state and the Democratic Party. 

OKM’s decidedly low-tech QAnon YouTube services, called “eQuipping the Ekklesia,” freely mix Bible verses and Christian teaching with QAnon drops, conspiracy theories, bizarre memes, loin-girding for “spiritual warfare” against anyone they deem to be a member of the deep state or a Luciferian pedophile, and Trump-era grievances like vaccine refusal and Hillary Clinton’s emails. 

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The QAnon church services, of which Daily Dot watched three, each run about two hours with no hymns, readings of the Gospel, or sermons. There’s nothing for children or families. What you get is hardcore spiritual warfare, using QAnon as the map to the enemy’s location and Wagner and Bushey as the officers briefing the troops. 

Approached for comment by Daily Dot, Bushey blocked this reporter on Twitter and Wagner replied he wasn’t interested in speaking, but that “Q is not a conspiracy and I’m not part of any religious movement.”

Bushey, in particular, isn’t especially vocal about his belief in Q and keeps it separate from his political campaigning. 

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Unlike most mainstream Christian denominations, there’s almost no proselytizing in OKM. Bushey and Wagner have little interest in spreading their services to those who aren’t ready to hear about them.

Their goal, as noted on their website, is “Discipling a Nation by Training and Coaching Leaders to Begin Home Congregations.”

qanon church service
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And to OKM, QAnon is the vessel through which this nation will be “discipled.” In this church, God and Trump and Q are destroying Satan, absolutely nobody in the mainstream media (even Fox News) is to be trusted, the military has time travel technology, coronavirus is a scam, and the Illuminati and their Council of 13 are on the verge of crushing freedom with their one-world government and currency—if “prayer warriors” don’t stop them on the field of “kingdom warcraft.”

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Wagner’s preaching freely mixes Christianity with deep state conspiracy theories. 

In one of his lessons, you’re just as likely to hear Wagner rant about how “there are pastors who receive their 4am talking points from the Illuminati” or that “Hugh Hefner was set up by the CIA as an operative” as you are to hear a traditional lesson about love or grace.

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Meanwhile, Bushey dives into analyzing QAnon drops, often simply reading them back to viewers and comparing them to news items. Current events like Michael Flynn’s charges being dropped and the “Obamagate” scandal mix with attacks on forced vaccination and coronavirus contact tracers, deemed as “the enemy” who should be “treated accordingly.”

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He frequently falls back on inflammatory memes, insults, generic rants about culture war tropes like trans rights and 5G technology, or vague proclamations like “we have to ensure the deep state doesn’t figure out the game plan.” 

QAnon Church Service
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Both Wagner and Bushey quote heavily from prominent QAnon influencers like David “Praying Medic” Hayes and the “Firefighter Prophet” Mark Taylor, the author who claims prophetic dreams told him Trump was chosen by God to usher in the Second Coming. 

Taylor is also an adviser to Home Congregations Worldwide, and at one point, Wagner refers to him as their “supreme commander, department of spiritual warfare.” 

But while QAnon gurus like Hayes, Taylor, and others have been criticized for their constant monetizing of the Q movement (and in some cases have even run into legal problems because of it), OKM doesn’t do any of that. Other than a donation button on their website, Bushey and Wagner aren’t interested in merchandising their faith—they don’t sell T-shirts or supplements and they haven’t even monetized their YouTube services. Instead, Bushey and Wagner see QAnon as combat against demonic forces, with no quarter given or asked for. 

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The concept of belief in Christ as a kind of military action is constant in OKM. Wagner and Bushey load their lessons down with references to “the armor of God,” “the sword of faith,” “scrambling the enemy’s radar,” “prayer warriors,” “operators,” and war in general.

They refer to Jesus as their “general” and “commander-in-chief.” At no point do either of them directly advocate violence, but the implication is clear— there’s a battle going on between good and evil, and you’d best get on the right side. 

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QAnon Church Service
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Or, as Wagner gravely intoned after referencing a news story regarding elementary school girls being forced to wear plastic penises as part of “the trans agenda,” (Daily Dot found no such story) “we need to wake up and go to war.”

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Taken over six hours of broadcasts, OKM’s theology seems like a more Jesus-y version of the conspiracy theory world that Q believers already soak in.

Some of it even seems to conflict with itself, and it’s surprisingly New Age. Bushey and Wagner are just as likely to tout organic foods and silent meditation as they are to claim that Q had inside information on John McCain having been executed. They scorn government in general, but elevate Trump himself to the status of near-prophet and are outwardly patriotic. Wagner’s background greenscreen is an American flag.

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It should be noted that OKM and Q is absolutely outside mainstream Christian theology.

In a podcast for mainstream evangelical magazine Christianity Today discussing conspiracy theories and faith, theology professor Dru Johnson shoots down the idea of any observant Christian falling into such movements, saying “If there’s a lie from Satan, it’s that conspiracy theories are neutral and they’re fine, or that you’re better off believing them then you are walking away from them.” 

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Even as more attention is being paid to the intersection between the cultish and religious aspects of Q, Omega’s viewership is small. They have fewer than 4,000 subscribers on YouTube, and none of the services they’ve posted on their channel have more than 5,000 views.

But the point here isn’t viral traffic—it’s to prepare the people watching, who already believe in QAnon’s role in “spiritual warfare,” to train other home churchgoers in that same kind of warfare. 

As such, the gospel of a QAnon church might mean nothing to most people, but it will mean everything to the right people. And those people, ideally, would go out into the world and start their own QAnon churches, where more of the faithful would be hardened for battle. 

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Because, frighteningly, they really do believe a war is coming.

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*First Published: May 29, 2020, 7:51 am