DEVASTATED QAnon followers could start new religion after the conspiracy group was thrown into crisis by Donald Trump’s fall from power, it’s claimed.
A respected religion expert believes this is one possibility after Joe Biden's inauguration confounded their predictions that Trump would remain president to fight the "deep state".
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QAnon is an unfounded conspiracy theory that claims Trump was fighting a "deep state" network of political, entertainment, business and media elites.
Dark sub-theories have spun off from these claims, some involving Satanic and pedophiles plots.
Since the election in November, QAnon followers had been promoting Biden’s inauguration as a day of reckoning, when prominent Democrats and other elite would be arrested and executed on the orders of President Trump.
Yet as Biden took his oath and no one was arrested.
Many followers have been struggling with the new reality and the future of the group looks bleak.
But, writing in the Daily Beast, professor Candida Moss said a new religion could rise from the ashes of QAnon.
The Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham said: "Now that Biden is actually president and QAnon predictions about Trump’s continuing hold on power have failed to come to fruition, it would seem logical that they would pack up shop and admit that they were wrong.
"But if history has taught us anything it is that failed prophecies and frustrated predictions don’t always mark the beginning of the end for radical social movements."
This has happened numerous times in history, she said.
One example was a Christian movement from the 1830s called the Millerites.
This was named after New York farmer and Baptist preacher William Miller, who prophecized the Second Coming to happen in 1844.
When this failed to materialize on the first date, he said it would happen on another date — but again it didn't occur.
But the legions of distressed followers then morphed into the Seventh-day Adventist faith.
Today it is said to be the fifth-largest Christian communion worldwide.
Like the Millerites, QAnon followers have been grappling with anger, confusion, and disappointment after their Inaugration Day prediction did not come true.
Suspected QAnon leader Ron Watkins told his followers to "go back to their lives".
Some believers found a way to twist the conspiracy theory's convoluted narrative to fit their belief that Biden’s victory was an illusion and that Trump would secure a second term in office.
Others clung to the notion that Trump will remain a shadow president during Biden's term. Some even floated the idea that the inauguration ceremony was computer-generated.
If history has taught us anything it is that failed prophecies and frustrated predictions don’t always mark the beginning of the end for radical social movementsReligion expert Candida Moss
But for many others Trump’s departure sowed doubt and desperation.
Many posted their devastation on Telegram, which is popular with QAnon believers.
One said: "I’m just devastated. "I am so scared right now, I really feel nothing is going to happen now."
Another wrote: "I just want to throw up. I'm so sick of all the disinformation and false hope."
Mike Rothschild, author of a forthcoming book on QAnon called The Storm is Upon Us, said it’s too early to gauge whether the wave of disillusionment that swept through the QAnon ranks was a turning point or a fleeting setback for the movement.
He said: "I think these people have given up too much and sacrificed too much in their families and in their personal lives.
"They have believed this so completely that to simply walk away from it is just not in the realm of reality for most of these people."
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It comes as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, known for supporting QAnon, filed impeachment articles today on President Biden in his first full day in office.
Greene, tweeted: "I've just filed Articles of Impeachment on President Joe Biden, we'll see how this goes."
But Greene’s impeachment bid to remove Biden from the White House would almost certainly go nowhere.
For it to work, it must first go through the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
Here House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — Donald Trump’s archenemy — would have to consider taking up the impeachment articles in the first place.